There’s more to Thailand than Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. That was the key message from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Kayla Shubert last night at a Vancouver training session hosted by Goway Travel.
More than 60 per cent of the 227,000 Canadians that visited Thailand in 2015 were repeat visitors, Shubert said, adding, “when you think of all the destinations your clients have to choose from, that statistic tells you something.”
Given that high rate of repeat visitors, Shubert focused on lesser-known areas of the country that can provide a new experience for visitors who have been to Thailand many times.
“There are a lot of choices out there,” Shubert noted, “from local villages to the vibrant capital of Bangkok; tropical jungles and forests; rugged mountains; rich, fertile plains; dramatic limestone plateaus and 2,500 kilometres of beautiful coastline.”
She highlighted five off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Chiang Rai Chiang Rai is located in the northernmost part of Thailand, known as the Golden Triangle because of its history as an area where opium was traded for gold. These days, the opium is gone and the land is used to grow tea and coffee, Shubert said. The White Temple, a work in progress that incorporates glass in the plaster to create the impression the temple is sparkling in the sun, is “very different from any other temple you will see in Thailand,” Shubert said.
Sukothai Sukothai was Thailand’s first capital city, dating back to the Kingdom of Siam. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Udon Thani Located in Northeast Thailand, Udon Thani is known for its Bronze Age excavation site, but Shubert noted its real “wow” attraction is the Red Lotus Lake. Red water lilies cover hundreds of acres, and in winter they all bloom in the early morning before closing up in the heat of the day.
Koh Kood This small island in the Gulf of Thailand is a bit of a challenge to get to, but that makes it a unique experience. “It’s a long journey, but you’re visiting the Thailand of 20 years ago,” Shubert said. She highlighted Soneva Kiri, an exclusive resort that flies guests in on a private aircraft. The highlight experience at the resort? Dining in a pod hoisted up into the trees, with waiters serving your meal via zipline.
Trang South of Phuket, Trang has “no nightlife whatsoever,” Shubert said, but is a great option for families. One highlight is the Emerald Cave, where guests swim through a dark tunnel cave into an emerald lagoon.
Agents wanting to learn more about Thailand should visit thaitheknotspecialist.com, which has recently relaunched with better resources, Shubert said. Agents who complete the 30-minute online course gain access to online sales tools including images, video and maps. While the course focuses on honeymoons and romantic getaways, the information and resources are useful for all types of itinerary.
Agents also have a few days left to enter Goway’s “Canada’s Top Travel Agent” contest for a chance to win an 11-day Classic Thailand trip for two including airfare. Enter at gowayagent.com by Sept. 12.