Thailand surprised me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Its people welcomed me with the vibrant smiles they’re known for, and its culture immersed me through all my senses—tasting the local foods, listening to the all-encompassing sounds of nature and monks’ chants, and feeling the elephants’ skin and people’s embraces. It was a magical and spiritual journey that your clients will be fortunate enough to explore once they step on Thailand’s soil and get to know the “Land of Smiles,” which will no doubt give them many smiles of their own. These five experiences will have your clients feeling that same joy I did during my journey.
1. Temple Visits by Tuk-Tuk
While in Chiang Mai, we visited four temples in one afternoon, arriving at each via tuk-tuk. The tuk-tuk ride was just as exciting as exploring each temple—as we rode along the streets we soaked up the scenes of Thai life. First up was Wat Chiang Man, a Buddhist temple showcasing lanna architecture, then it was off to the 14 th-century Wat Jedilaung. Here, guests can also take in the tallest Jedi in Chiang Mai standing 262 ft. tall. The third stop was the 500-year-old Wat Pan Tao, which is unique because it’s made of teak wood; and the final stop was Wat Phra Singh, built in 1345, featuring wax-figured monks, which are thought to be a symbol of high greatness—locals make offerings to these wax figures and pray to them.
2. Elephant Hills Experience in Surat Thani
Here your clients will get to do more than play with the elephants. While glamping in a tent in the Khao Sok National Park, guests will get to take part in various activities, such as a canoe ride on the Sok River before reaching the elephant camp. During the canoe sail, guests can spot various wildlife; we had the opportunity to see a water monitor lizard, a mangrove snake, and an Asian toad, but wild boar, bears, wild elephants, and monkeys can also be seen.
The elephant experience, a 10-minute ride from where the canoe experience ends, was pure magic as we started off with a quick history lesson on the elephants, followed by spending time with them in their natural habitat as they played in the water, then it was time to bathe them, prep their food and feed them. These enormous, sweet, majestic animals were so loving as they frolicked and competed with each other for more food.
Next, it’s a day trip to the rainforest camp, secluded from WiFi, surrounded by the Cheow Larn Lake and the rainforest, gives guests the time to disconnect, go for a swim, go on a hike, or enjoy the kayaks. elephanthills.com
3. Food Offerings at the Temples
We were fortunate enough to experience the early morning alms offerings in Chiang Mai—a spiritual and humbling experience. A 4 a.m. wake-up started the experience—we took an hour drive up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand, where we arrived with time to listen to the monks participating in their morning chants. Then we had the unique opportunity to be blessed by one of them with holy water and a Thai chant. Before parting, he gifted each of us a white thread, which we were told to wear for good luck. When the monks came by for the offerings, we dropped a packaged meal in their bowls and they thanked us with a unified chant at the end.
4. Thai Massage
What’s a visit to Thailand without experiencing a Thai massage? There are lots of intimate spas on every corner offering a Thai massage experience, but for the optimal luxury treat book your guests at the InterContinental Pattaya Resort. If your clients have never had this type of massage before, let them be surprised, as I was when my masseuse climbed on the table and began to knead my back and legs with her arms, legs, and elbows. It’s definitely a delightful treat after all the walking and exploring they’ll be doing.
5. Night Markets
The night markets in Chiang Mai are a must-do. For blocks and blocks, the streets are lined with booths selling everything from crafts and art pieces, to clothing. Even the surrounding areas of the higher-end shopping district of Nimmanhaemin offers many local finds in outdoor shops.
For more on our 15-day journey through Thailand and Laos,
What’s In it For Travel Advisors
The Tourism Authority of Thailand offers advisors a 6-chapter specialist program, The Thai the Knot Specialist Program. The program is available online as well as via a downloadable app.
In addition, advisors have access to an incentive program at thaitheknotspecialist.com/rewards or by clicking the rewards tab from the Specialist Program. Agents who report their Thailand bookings will be eligible for incentives including additional marketing support, as well as a FAM to the destination. Bookings must be reported by Sept. 30, 2019 and only bookings made between Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019 will be accepted.
Tourism Authority of Thailand: tourismthailand.org/home