Chiang Rai – A gem in Northern Thailand
Chiang Rai is located in Northern Thailand; a small city with diversified attractions, historical, rich geography, cultural legacy and amazing gastronomy. Mostly mountainous, it reaches the seventh longest river in Asia (4,000 Km long), the Mekong River to the north and borders on both Myanmar (ex‑Burma) and Laos which constitutes a tourism gateway for these countries. Before reaching the Golden Triangle, we passed by Mae Sai, the energetic trading town border of Thailand and Myanmar. Then crossed the Sai River and walked into Thachilek on the Burmese side. Here, we visited the Shwe Dagon Pagoda on a hillside from where you have a spectacular view of the Burmese hills. We took a rickshaw to explore the town and temples, ride through small side streets and ended into a local market. We continued to the Golden Triangle Viewpoint, a unique experience to see the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos. Then, took a boat trip to view the splendor of the mighty Mekong River and see closer the borders of these countries. In the past, this vast land was used to grow and traffic opium among the three countries and the deal was in gold or precious stones. Nowadays, Thailand has substituted opium for cold-climate fruit, vegetable, cut flowers and even coffee harvest.
Experiencing a peaceful and luxurious resort
I stayed in this beautiful and peaceful resort: with chic design which encompasses traditional Lanna architecture and warm Thai hospitality. Specifically designed for the well-travelled, it is situated on the banks of the Kok River, close to the centre of Chiang Rai town and airport and one hour drive from the Golden Triangle.
What I appreciated in this hotel was its natural beauty, top services, comfort rooms, food, and its hospitality. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious almost like a suite, with modern decorations and placed around a lovely garden with an artificial lagoon. The swimming pool is special as it is strategically placed next to the river with a great view. The pool has different levels very convenient for families with smaller children who could also enjoy the pool time without any worries.
The food is excellent and my favourite was breakfast time: It is an interactive buffet with lots of choices, using international and local authentic ingredients from around the world. The chef changed the menu often. As a tourist, I had stomach problems and the chef prepared a special dish based on yogurt to alleviate my symptoms. I also went to the Italian Restaurant “Favola” which overlooks the river and outside terrace. The restaurant offers the passion and culinary traditions of rustic, tasty authentic Italian cuisine. The foccachia bread served with all dishes was amazing; the pizza I ordered was crispy and well seasoned and baked in a real pizza oven. I highly recommend this 5 star hotel which responds to most criteria that a traveller look for when going abroad.
Bangkok – The Vibrant capital
It was my first time in Asia and landed in Bangkok, a very unique capital with nice contrasts. I discovered stunning palaces and temples, world-renowned floating markets but also a modern busy city with gigantic skyscrapers, attractive shopping malls and great cuisine. It is a vibrant capital because you never get bored here; there is no end to enjoyment. As soon as I got off the car into the hotel, I looked around discovering the street vendors, the tuk tuk (moto taxi) waiting to get some passengers, the colourful fruits and merchandise and the noisy traffic as Bangkok has around 750,000 cars. The way Thai people greet you is special consisting of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.
Amari Watergate – Magic stay in the heart of Bangkok
The hotel is well situated; in the heart of the vibrant Pratunam neighborhood in downtown Petchburi, just steps away from the city. The lobby is a contemporary showcase of Thailand’s traditional charms, with murals at the reception desks depicting scenes from the Thai way of life, illuminated wall panels at the lounge area.
The hotel has 569 rooms which are spacious, ranging from deluxe rooms to presidential suites; all of them have panoramic views of the city skyline. There is a roof terrace which offers breath-taking city view. We enjoyed the 5 to 7 p.m. cocktails and snacks before supper offered by the hotel. The Amaya Food Gallery represents “food from streets” as its menu is inspired from the street food of Asia complemented by a variety of diverse food. It has more than four food stations: Western, Thai, Italian, Indian, and Seafood including Canadian lobster. The Chefs of the hotels are diverse, the executive chef, Mr. Fernand Roman, is from South Africa, we also have two Indian chefs, a Sri-Lankan pastry chef and the rest are all Thai.
I had the opportunity to talk to Anna Elisabeth Rohm, the Hotel Manager, who said: “The hotel has been opened 23 year ago, the lobby and the Amaya Food Gallery have been recently refurbished and in August we will renovate the Cascade, the lobby restaurant”. Anna also explained that the owner is Ital Thai, one of the biggest construction companies in Thailand. They started very small as a family business. “The head group is Onix Hospitality and we currently have 76 properties mainly in South Asia”, she added. According to Anna, the reason why tourists prefer Amari is that it serves all the 5-star facilities, it has great value for money, its exceptional location, the Thai hospitality and the fact that is owned by Thai people makes it a very local feel.
“Thailand is the perfect destination to run away from the winter. You have a temperature all year around above 26 degrees, in the summer up to 35 degrees. We will be pleased to welcome Canadian tourists in our hotel”, she finalized.
My experience in Thailand was enriching, and it is one my top favourite destinations. I wished I could have stayed longer to explore other regions. It is diverse, exotic, food is delicious, and people make the spirit of the country. There is space for everyone, you can come with family or alone, you will never get bored and it is very affordable. I encourage you to visit the Kingdom of Thailand.
By: Frida Velade