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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Popular Exotic Holiday Destination Phuket

Phuket has long been a popular exotic holiday destination with almost all of the world's 5 star chains having a hotel or resort located there. Places like Pattaya, Samui and Phuket are now enjoying significant rental yields during the peak season when visitors are willing to pay thousands of dollars per night to accommodate their families in luxury villas. Villa rentals often work out cheaper and are more convenient for families and large groups of people and so are becoming more and more popular, especially amongst European and North American's as well as wealthy Asians seeking regular breaks from the stresses of daily life.

Phuket is very controlled in terms of the planning and environment. Fittingly the market is dominated by people who invest into a lifestyle. The villas are built to specifically please foreign visitors with large open terraces that run seamlessly into large living quarters and nearly all villas include a swimming pool and excellent amenities. Despite the development on the island of Phuket, the market is still in its infancy, however is set for a large growth period. The island's growth is guaranteed as the property is resilient to domestic economy fluctuations because most of the investment is from oversea companies. The developers are all established and proven, with only the most professional and dedicated developers surviving the high end market.

Phuket features white sand beaches, clear seas, jungle and waterfalls and no pollution making it a desirable place to holiday at. Traffic, while on the increase, is still insignificant. Over the last 10 years Phuket's infrastructure has burgeoned with international hospitals, schools, marinas, golf courses, restaurants, bars and shopping malls, offering everything a tourist could need.

Another major benefit is that 32% of the world's population resides within 5 hours flying time of Phuket. The International airport has increased not only the number of flights from Asian capitol cities but Australasia and Europe too, making the prospect of relaxing holidays in Phuket more appealing for many people. For Europeans the lure of Phuket is helped by the fact that the Mediterranean is pricing itself out of the market for many people, so a few hours further is Phuket, providing more desirable property at a fraction of the cost of European villas. In addition to these benefits is the health system in Phuket and Thailand, again, a fraction of the cost of Europe, North America and Australasia but providing world class service without any waiting times. This provides peace of mind for all people staying in Phuket.

Over the last 10 years Phuket has built up an impressive portfolio of leisure, entertainment, dining and commercial venues, so much so, that Phuket has become Hong Kong's playground. The islands golf courses are partly responsible for wooing many of these high end buyers. Phuket boasts 5 International golf courses with some of the most scenic and challenging holes in Asia. As the costs of renting property near the sea increases, many villas are now being built inland, located near these gold courses and now developments built along the green pastures of a golf course have become the second most popular choice for lifestyle investors. Other than the attraction of the golf course, other advantages include the seclusion of the property often closer to commercial and entertainment venues.

guest post by Dan Wallace

Top 10 Things to Do and See in Krabi Thailand

With so many activities that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy, Krabi Thailand has framed itself as a laid-back resort destination where the emphasis falls on comfort and relaxation instead of on high-energy parties. The natural landscape is accentuated by limestone outcroppings known as karsts that pop up all over the countryside. With abundant plant life and beautiful coral reefs, there's plenty to explore while you're staying here.

Exploring the archipelago
One of the most remarkable ways to experience the limestone rock formations and spectacular beaches is to take a daytrip from one island to another. Many tour guides offer organised daytrips to the highlights of the archipelago, which are worth it and a chance to break away from the crowds of the mainland resort. For the more independent explorer, sea kayaks can be rented for trips out to some of the nearest small islands. A boat day trip to Phi Phi is a must too!

Than Bok Khoranie National Park
If you have a tent and would like a place to set up camp, consider heading out to Than Bok Khorani National Park, a secluded place with no concrete accommodation but an abundance of plant species culminating in a very picturesque pond surrounded by gardenias and apocynaceae. The park also boasts several limestone caves and some lovely mangrove forests. Many visit on a day trip from Phuket.

Rock climbing
Many rock climbing outfitters in Krabi also give lessons at various skill levels to help you improve your rock climbing abilities. The limestone cliffs and unique stone formations have helped Krabi carve out a global reputation among rock climbing circles. Ton Sai is the first stop for most climbers, as it’s the most frequented climbed spot in the area. Other climbing outings to more secluded areas are easily arranged with the help of climbing outfitters.

Koh Lanta Marine National Park
The sea gypsies, or Chai Leh, still live and work on the island of Koh Lanta—now a marine national park. For centuries they have practiced their own form of spirit worship and spoken their own distinct language. This island also has the region's standard fare of beautiful beaches, unique rock formations and stunning coral reefs for exploration. Some of the rainforest on this island is virtually untouched and remains protected. Visitors can rent bungalows and stay a while. It’s also connected to Phi Phi island by ferry.

Shell Fossil Cemetery
Thirty five million years ago, the site of Ban Laem Pho Cape was an enormous freshwater swamp that hosted millions of small snails. The remains of these creatures formed a fossilised composite that has grown almost 16 inches thick. This huge slab has become one of Krabi's most popular attractions and can be reached via a 10-mile drive from the town of Krabi.

Krabi nightlife
Ao Nang Beach resort area is the primary tourist hub of Krabi, with Krabi Town itself not offering a whole lot to out-of-towners except for a glimpse of everyday life for the locals. While not quite as exciting as Phuket, in the resort area you'll find bars and restaurants whose doors remain open past midnight, though you'll be hard-pressed to find any exhilarating parties or discotheques. Instead, this is a more family-oriented holiday spot with some nice restaurants and a relaxed, quiet atmosphere.

Scuba diving
The official diving season in Krabi is from November to Mach, though the conditions are hospitable all year round and divers are here at every time of the year. Snorkelling is also a great way to get a view of the coral reefs. Diving companies on the mainland can get you certified as a diver and will also arrange diving trips out to all of the best reefs in the surrounding area. The diving at Phi Phi is especially good.

Bikes can be rented in the Ao Nang resort area, and a cycling loop that heads out of town guides cyclist through the limestone rock formations that dot the landscape. The road curves through old villages and groves of coconut trees, and riders can stretch this spectacular route into as much as 15 or 20 miles of biking.

Railay Beach
Railay Beach may be the region's most unique coastal area, with its crescent shaped coastline that's cut off from the mainland by huge outcroppings of rock. Only accessible by boat, you can charter a vessel to drop you off for a daytrip to Phra Nang, a sacred enshrined cave, or for an overnight stay in one of the resorts that lay claim to these peaceful beaches. Even the beaches at Phuket don’t even compete!

Daytrip to Wat Tham Seua
Wat Tham Seua is the largest temple in Krabi, and its name means Tiger Cave Temple. It's literally tucked into the limestone cliffs of Ao Luk Thanu mountain range, and the Buddhist monks that live and worship here do so in the caves themselves. The highlight of this temple is 'Buddha's footprint', located at the summit of a 1,272-step climb, a point that affords wonderful views of the countryside spreading in every direction.

guest post by Andy Burrows

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Top 5 Areas for the Best Hotels in Bangkok

Each year many travelers from all over the world head to Bangkok for business and travel, especially in November through April which is the high season in Thailand. All hotels in bangkok tend to be fully booked during that period. For your convenience, you should plan ahead and make your hotel reservations at least a few months in advance.

There are many hotel options in Bangkok. If you are looking for a big, high quality and affordable hotel, you would do well to locate yourself in the business center, which offers great shopping and entertainment. The sky train provides rapid and easy transit. You will find many excellent downtown hotels in the area around Sukhumvit, Silom, and Siam Square.

For a more peaceful, less central situation, you can admire the beautiful scenery along both sides of Chaophraya River. You can travel easily by boat or by road, not far away from areas of historical interest. Those travelers desiring a more laid-back experience will appreciate many of the nice hotels in the Bangkok Riverside area.

Sukhumvit Road
Sukhumvit is always the number one choice in tourists’ mind when they looking for hotels in Bangkok. Along this road you will find various lanes (or Soi) packed with shopping zones, delicious foods, and night entertainment. It is a heaven for tourists. From Nana (Sukhumvit soi 3-4) to Asoke (Sukhumvit soi 21), you will find many shops offering jewelry, leather, souvenirs, costumes, tailors, clothes, car rental, etc. but the most attractive for tourists is Nana Plaza (soi 4) and Soi Cowboy (between soi 21-23). Sukhumvit Road has many foreign residences and hotels for tourists. Hotels and serviced apartments line the road. Leading or economy 3-5 star hotels provide the best choice for tourists and businessmen who want to stay comfortably within easy walking distance of the sky train.

Siam Square
Called “Siam” for short, this downtown square is the hub for fashion, the world of shopping, trendy entertainment, and international food. No wonder this is the most popular shopping center in all of Thailand: it can respond to the shopper’s need for any selection. If you are after original brand name products, you can go to Siam Center, Siam Discovery, or Siam Paragon. If you want a cheaper product, you can find it at MBK. But if you are looking for economy price products like in the Sunday Market, you’ll do well in the retail shops in Siam Square. For entertainment, this location can offer you anything from modern cinema, bowling and karaoke, to a variety of restaurants with menus from all over the world. Hop easily from Siam Square to another shopping center (Central World Plaza, Gaysorn Plaza, The Emporium) or to the business center with rapid and convenient transportation by sky train.

Silom Road
Silom is one of the main business centers of Bangkok, named “Bangkok Wall Street.” Silom has banks, hotels, offices and big department stores lined up along both sides of the road. You will find souvenirs and other goods for sale along the sidewalk at night or in Soi Lalaisap (Silom soi 5). And Silom also offers famous night entertainment that is very popular for all tourists like Silom soi 2, Patpong, and Soi Taniya. Though the traffic on Silom Road is heavy, you can travel by sky train and subway, economical and very convenient transportation connecting to other business and shopping centers like Sukhumvit, Siam Square, Jatujak Sunday Market, Sathorn, and Riverside.

Another interesting area to find hotels in Bangkok. These days boat travel along Chaophraya River is very popular. Besides the beautiful scenery and traditional Thai life style along the river, you will journey through the history of the region. It is no surprise that many tour agencies always include boat travel in their program. Along with many restaurants, the banks of Chaophraya River boast luxury 5 star hotels such as The Oriental, The Peninsula, or Shangri-la, as well as 3 star hotels that can respond to the needs of tourists who prefer a peaceful location, far from the downtown bustle. The scenery along the river at night is so beautiful, not to say romantic. Sites such as Wat Phrakaew (The Temple of Emerald Buddha), Wat Po, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) can be reached by ferry boat. And if you want to pop back into town for shopping or business at Silom or Siam, you can take the sky train at Taksin Station.

Is the main road for entertainment and business. Especially entertainment at night: pubs, bars, cabarets, foot massage, and restaurants. This place is very popular among tourists, in particular Ratchada soi 4 with its many bars and pubs. Plus department stores and low price shopping centers that are very popular for shoppers. With convenient transportation by bus or subway, you can travel easily to other locations like Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam, and Jatujak Sunday Market in 15 minutes. Most of the hotels are located not far from the subway, making Ratchada well worth considering if you are looking for a base to stay.

guest post by Muyong Thailand