Your Royal Thainess
- Ching M. Alano () - February 5, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Truly, there are so many amazing things you can do in Thailand. Of course, there’s shopping until you feel like dropping! If you love the nightlife, there’s so much to like about Thailand’s scintillating nightspots. In and out of Bangkok, you can treat yourself to the awesome toothsome eats from the different parts of the globe. You can imbibe a slice of Thai life and get high on Thai culture, too. You can get married by the beach or under water or whatever and honeymoon on a secluded island or wherever you fancy. You can have the most amazing East meets West body massage or a sensuous herbal foot soak, warm sand bed therapy, Tibetan sound therapy, etc. at RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort or any other treatment at any of the countless spas all over Thailand. You can play golf on some of Thailand’s world-class golf courses.

“Or you can come in as a man and go home as a woman,” says Phanom Kaributra, executive director, ASEAN South Asia and South Pacific Region Department, Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In all seriousness, Phanom is referring to the sex change clinics in Thailand that are part of the country’s medical tourism attractions.

Care for tee?: Thailand boasts world-class golf courses designed by professionals like Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo.

I ask, “But won’t there be a problem with the passport?”

“No problem because Immigration understands,” comes the quick reply.

We wipe the naughty grins off our faces and buckle down to business. “Every year, we do a product presentation,” Phanom explains. “The objective is to update you on our products. We have a variety of products in Thailand, of course, but this year, we’re going specific on some niche products. For example, we’re pushing our golf, wedding and honeymoon destinations as well as health and wellness, eco (green) tourism, and medical tourism attractions. For the Thailand Travel Mart in July, there will be special booths with emphasis on these products.” 

This majestic Wednesday evening, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) rolls out the red (or is it royal purple?) carpet for guests to the “Amazing Thailand Products Presentation 2012,” making us feel like royalty.

An amazing event: Tourism Authority of Thailand launches “Amazing Thailand Products Presentation 2012” at Dusit Thani Manila.

Dave de Jesus, marketing representative, Philippines, Tourism Authority of Thailand, tells us that this major road show event has 23 organizations coming to discuss the potential and development of the tourism businesses around Thailand. Like the new Madame Tussaud Wax Museum, Rose Garden Riverside, Siam Niramit, Siam Oceanworld, to name a few. Hotels, airlines, and land operators from Thailand are attending this all-important table top sales meet.

Filipinos count among Thailand’s top tourists. “Last year, there was a 15-percent increase in the number of visitors from the Philippines and the revenue was quite good, it increased by 20 percent,” shares Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Phanom wasn’t complaining when he said, “Last year, we got only 272,000 Filipino tourists. If we didn’t have the floods, we could have made about 300,000 tourists from the Philippines.”

“Although you have a lot of beautiful beaches in the Philippines, Thailand offers maybe another kind of beach resort,” says a beaming Kanokkittika. “Like what we have in Phuket and Krabi, which is more peaceful than Phuket. It’s in the southern part of Thailand, only one hour by plane from Bangkok. Here, you will spend less money than in the big town.”

“For the eco or green tourists, we have a lot of little-explored places that are developed, but here you can see lots of birds, plantations, wild elephants, animals,” says Phanom, making us green with envy.

If you’re a golfer, Thailand fits the bill to a tee. “You have a lot of golf courses in the Philippines, we have over 200 all over Thailand, and maybe our main draw is that our caddy is very beautiful,” says Phanom with a mischievous chuckle. “And she’s no ladyboy (Thailand’s famous third gender). I’ve been playing golf in many countries, but Thailand is the best. Price-wise, you can afford to have three caddies — one to hold the umbrella over your head, another to carry your golf bag, and another to hold your bottle of beer.”

Tom yum goong: Classic spicy shrimp soup

For backpackers and those traveling on a shoestring budget, Khaosan Road, a short unpretentious street in central Bangkok, offers an assorted budgetarian menu. Here, you’d find boutique hotels, pubs/bars, food stalls, restos, Internet cafes, stores, massage parlors, etc.

“There are different classes of hotels there; you can get a room for as cheap as P1,000 per night (twin sharing), nice and clean,” says Phanom.

Of course, let’s not forget shopping! One of the newest shopping malls in Bangkok is called Asiatique The Riverfront, an open-air mall with a river view, colonial-style architecture, and a selection of shops and restos.

Surely, in Thailand, there’s something to pamper the senses, nourish the body, and nurture the spirit. It’s simply amazing it leaves you tongue-Thai-d!

Two for the road show: Phanom Kaributra and Kanokkittika Kritwutikon of the Tourism Authority of Thailand

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