DeeGee Razon, Thai Airways GM for the Philippines and Guam Polapat Neelabhamorn and Chuckie Dreyfus at Hinoki Land.
Amazing Thailand, indeed!
THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee (The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2019 - 12:00am

Thailand is one of my favorite travel destinations. Recently, I was able to explore more of this amazing country as Thai Airways Philippines and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited me, along with mostly millennial social media influencers, to Chiang Mai for three days and to Bangkok for one night.

Our flight from Manila to Bangkok, then connecting to Chiang Mai, was as smooth as silk. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, our group met with other members of TAT for our first Thai dinner. I suddenly remembered how good Thai food really is after not having it for a while.

After dinner, we checked in at the centrally located U Nimman Chiang Mai Hotel. Just after I got settled in the hotel, my feet brought me to the night market nearby and ate more Thai street food. Yes, that’s how much I missed Thai food!

Rediscovering Chiang Mai

The next day, after a very satisfying breakfast at the hotel, the group headed to the 7th-century Wat Phra That Doi Kham or The Golden Temple known for its 17-meter-tall Buddha. After exploring this temple on a hill, we headed to a specialty tea shop called Monsoon Tea that sells specialized and sustainable tea. Its Rainbow Blend and fruit-infused teas are to die for so I brought back some of those in Manila. Its main shop is in Chiang Mai but it can also be found in Bangkok. Its restaurant also serves delicious tea-infused dishes like tea salad and fried chicken with fermented tea.

We also went to Tai Village, where we learned pottery, made some Thai sweets, checked out its beautiful hand-embroidered clothing, and the most exciting activity of all — we tie-dyed our own fabric!

Heading to the Oasis Spa, reputedly the best massage place in Chiang Mai, was a treat! Its two-hour “King of Oasis” massage both relaxed and energized me after a long day of exploring.

We had dinner at Krua Ajarn Saiyud or Saiyut’s Kitchen, arguably one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in Chiang Mai. Every single dish that came out of the kitchen was a work of art. Its owner was a culinary professor at the University of Chiang Mai and left the teaching profession to open her own restaurant. Everything was absolutely amazing. During dinner, we were joined by Thai Airways general manager for the Philippines and Guam Polapat Neelabhamorn and TAT marketing officer Wipaporn Waleesajjakarn, who explained the dishes we ordered and how to eat them, and talked about the difference between Northern and Southern Thai dishes.

The next day, the group was ready to explore more of Chiang Mai. We had so much fun taking photos at Hinoki Land, a Japanese-inspired park complete with a temple, toriis, a Japanese store, and soon, a Japanese restaurant! The park is not yet complete but it is already gaining popularity with local and foreign tourists alike.

Also worth visiting is Mon Jam, which reminded me of Baguio City, particularly the Mines View Park. Stores that lined its hillside sold souvenirs, beautiful tribal and monk-designed clothing, and fruits. Here, one can try the local version of go-karting, which actually looked fun! There were also beautiful flower farms on the hilltop and fields of verbena blooms.  

After our Northern Thai dinner, I headed to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. I looked for that world-famous roti stand in front of McDonald’s and found that it was still there and the queue was still long as it was when I saw it first four years ago. I strolled around, bought a couple of souvenirs and ate more street food before heading back to the hotel.

Shopping in Bangkok

After three days of exploring Chiang Mai, our group flew back to Bangkok and went for some shopping at Icon Siam, also known as Sook Siam, one of Bangkok’s largest and newest shopping malls. I was impressed with the sheer size of this mall and the variety of food offerings it had in its basement, including fresh and dry food items from the North to the South of Thailand. On the same floor, food from other parts of the world were sold, including milk from Hokkaido. It is a food lover’s dream!

For those seeking retail therapy, Sook Siam is the perfect place to shop as high-end brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta and Gucci stand alongside more affordable shops like Zara, Cos, H&M, Adidas and Nike. 

Right before going to the airport to head home to Manila, the group swung by Bangkok’s first luxury outlet, the Central Village. This relatively new outlet carries brands like Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Ermenegildo Zegna, Coach, Kenzo, and so many more opening soon. There are also wonderful restaurants like Fuji at the Central Village, where one can easily spend half a day in.

This trip was a refreshing break to have, especially with the company of wonderful young influencers, who I now call friends. Chiang Mai had so much more to offer since the last time I was there four years ago. And it is always nice to go back to Bangkok.

Thailand has something new to offer all the time but my favorite hunts are also worth visiting back. I cannot wait to head back to Thailand soon!

(Thai Airways was voted by travelers as one of the Top 10 of the World’s Best Airlines at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2019. A founder member of the Star Alliance Group, the airline flies twice a day from Manila to Bangkok to connect to 63 international destinations and 10 domestic destinations (including Thai Smile). For reservations, call 8580-8424 or

visit www.thaiaiarways.com.ph.)

 

 

BANGKOK CHRISHA UY VINA GUERERO
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