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Southeast Asia’s Hidden Safari

Koh Phra Thong (2)
Image credit: Visit KhaoLak

About 124-miles north of Phuket, Koh Phra Thong is an island in Khura Buri district. The island’s ecosystem is a rare sight not only in Thailand, but all of South-East Asia. It is a tropical savannah that impose a resemblance to those in Africa.

Though instead of having lions and gazelles, Koh Phra Thong is mainly inhabited by deer, wild boars, monkeys, pythons, otters, leopard cats and a plentiful of carnivorous plants. The savannah is also a prime bird-watching destination where if you’re lucky, you can chance upon the endangered lesser adjutant stork.

With this said, Koh Phra Thong is listed as an Important Bird Area by the Bird Life International. The airspace of the island is frequented by at least 137 species such as eagles, kingfishers and even the Malaysian pied Hornbill.

With a scarcity of its natural predators—tiger and crocodiles—the Sambar deer has also thrived in Koh Phra Thong. The animals retain their skittish nature, making it hard to spot these jumpy creatures. One of the few ways to spot a sambar deer is by going into the savannah at night on foot as cars frighten them.

Koh Phra Thong (3)
Image credit: Rudraksha Chodankar

Biologists believe that the reason why these animals survived in this habitat is because of the lack of human interference. Apart from from the two concrete roads on Koh Phra Thong, there are no buildings that resemble any form of a concrete jungle.

Koh Phra Thong is only visited by 3,000 tourists each year, but with its rising popularity, electricity pylons are being set up and may soon be connected to the grid by November. This issue raises some concerns from locals, fearing that Koh Phra Thong will be transformed into a unregulated tourism development that has changed many of Thailand’s most stunning islands.

Despite being a paradise for many animals, the island is pretty inhospitable to humans. The days are almost unbearable due to the heat and the white sands are difficult to trudge. The ideal time to visit the savannah is during the dawn, when most of the nocturnal wildlife is still semi-active.

Koh Phra Thong (1)
Image credit: Visit KhaoLak

Many of the islands in Thailand has been connected to the mainland by ferries and speedboats, but to get to the island of Koh Phra Thong is by chartering a fishing boat from the Mangrove pier near the town of Khura Buri. The hour-long journey takes course through a mangrove canal that makes its way to the tidal mouth of the river, revealing the blue-grey backdrop of Thailand’s Andaman coast.

The Border Town of Sa Kaeo At a Glance

Just 3 hours away of Bangkok is the popular border town of Sa Kaeo. The town may be overshadowed by Aranyaprathet’s popularity and is often passed by tourists but Sa Kaeo is full of historical and natural beauty.

Sa Kaeo (1)

The ‘frontier of the east’ is the perfect place to be if you’re a history buff. Since the 11th century, the Prasat Sdok Kok Thom is a sandstone sanctuary that has survived the test of time. This laterite is also the largest one in all of Eastern Thailand. Prasat Sdok Kok Thom is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva and a stroll around the temple ground will show you traces of ancient Khmer history.

Another ancient religious site that one can visit in Sa Kaeo is the Wat Tham Khao Chakan. The Mahayana Buddhist temple is located on a towering mountain that dates back 2,000- 4,000 years ago, Khao Chakan. The temple is surrounded by multiple caves though the Thalu Cave is the only one open to the public in which a beautiful Buddha statue can be found.

Sa Kaeo (2)

Wat Tham Khao Chakan is blanketed by trees and greens, be sure to greet the monkey residents there too! If you stick till the sun goes down, you will also be able to see millions of bats flying in and out of the caves.

See Mother Nature’s artwork at Lalu in Ta Phraya National Park. The sculptures are sculpted by rain and wind, coming in all shapes and sizes. Let your creativity run wild and have fun imagining what each sculpture looks like!

Sculptures is not the only thing you will marvel at, Lalu lies close to mountains and rice fields, painting a whole different scenery for you to take in.

End your trip by passing by the Rong Kluea Market, the mecca of thrifty shoppers. Located in Aranyaprathet, Rong Kluea Market is one of Thailand’s biggest markets. With over 3,000 shops and stalls selling items such as souvenirs and even second-hand items brought over from Japan, Korea, USA and other countries through Cambodia.

You can buy and bargain almost anything at Rong Kluea Market, from clothing to fresh food, you name it you get it. The market brims with vendors from Thailand, Cambodia and even Vietnam. Even if you aren’t going for the shopping, the market is still a great place to experience some multicultural window shopping.

Discover the Charm of Khao Yai

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you mention Thailand? Most of us would think of the famous sites be it Chiang Mai in the north, Bangkok in the central region or Phuket in the southwest. Plus, it’s not surprising that the yummy local eats and shopping trips top our must-do list, but you’ll be thrilled to find out that there’s another side to the country that has not been explored yet.

Quietly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Khao Yai, which is only a 2-3 hour drive away from Bangkok. It is also probably one of the most picturesque regions that Thailand has to offer:

Primo Piazza
Primo Piazza (1)
Image credit: Primo Piazza Facebook

You no longer have to travel halfway across a globe to get a taste of Italy, you can step into an Italian town right here at Primo Piazza. Decked out in Italian architecture and cobbled streets alongside lush green sceneries, you might just mistake yourself for being in a faraway Tuscan village.

Primo Piazza (2)

Spend the afternoon indulging in some savoury treats from the restaurants and cafes located within Primo Piazza. If you love animals, you’ll be thrilled to find out that you can get up close and personal to meet some adorable furry friends, from donkeys and alpacas to sheep as you’ll get to feed them personally.

Address: Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
Entrance Fee: 200THB (~S$8.20) for Adults, 100THB (~S$4.10) for Children
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm, Daily

Midwinter Green
Midwinter Green
Image credit: Midwinter Green Facebook

Enjoy a unique dining experience at Midwinter Green. Feel like royalty as you’ll be having your meal in a German castle, where the design of the building was actually inspired by Shakespeare’s play. Dig in to general portions of European style dishes and complement your meal with an extensive selection of wine.

The castle grounds are decked out in whitewashed buildings accompanied by medieval styled roofs and towers which are perfect icons of a medieval European castle. If you’re dining indoors, you’ll find yourselves seated amidst the posh and elegant decor. Alternatively, if you’re having your meal at the Al Fresco dining area, it provides a spectacular view of the mountains in the distance.

Address: 10 88/88 Soi Ban Sai Thong Mu 24 Soi 2, Nong Nam Daeng, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm Sun – Thu | 10am – 11pm Sat – Sun

Hobbit House (Baan Suan Noi)
LOTR
Image credit: Baan Suan Noi Resort Facebook

If you’re a Lord of The Rings fan, this one’s definitely for you. This unique accommodation allows you to live your Hobbit fantasies right here at the Hobbit House (Baan Suan Noi) in Khao Yai and you don’t have to travel all the way to New Zealand just to catch a glimpse of these quaint little houses. With the resort nestled amidst nature and themed gardens, the owners have recreated the area to resemble the Hobbit House down to the finest detail.

There are several styles and interior themes for guests to choose from: White Cave, Bag-End House, Little Hole, Little Cave, Bagshot House, Dragon Inn, Dale City and Little Santorini. Complete your Hobbit adventure by dressing up with the costumes and props provided by the resort. Choose to dress up as your favourite character and pose with your weapon of choice for an unforgettable photoshoot.

Address: 292 Moo 15, Tambon Lat Bua Khao, Amphoe Sikhiu, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park covers over 2,000 square kilometers of forest and grassland in central Thailand. It was the first national park to be established in Thailand and has since become the third largest park in the country today.

Trek through the beautiful countryside scenery and lush evergreen forests to bring yourselves closer to nature. Explore the mesmerising waterfalls via the hiking trails and at the same time, take the opportunity to spot the wildlife residing in the national park. The national park is home to majestic elephants, these gentle giants are said to roam the park and it’ll be a memorable experience should you be able to spot one along the way!

Address: Hin Tung, Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Explore Khao Yai and discover the region’s charm on your next trip to Thailand!

Meet a Brand New Khao San Road

Khao San Road
Image credit: Guillén Pérez

Bangkok, Thailand’s famed capital is more often than not a stop that all travellers would make while on an adventure around the world. From the culture to the food and the shopping, there’s something for everyone. On top of that, there’s also the famous Khao San road – a short street in central Bangkok that was constructed in 1892.

“Khaosan” translates to what we understand as “milled rice”, a slight indication that in former times the street was actually a major rice market in Bangkok. Over the last 20 years or so, Khao San Road has evolved into a world-famous backpacker ghetto. This is where travellers can find cheap accommodation such as “mattress in a box”-style hotels to reasonably priced three-star hotels. This is also where many first timers get introduced to Thailand’s vibrant night markets, colourful tuk-tuks and mouth-watering street food.

Tuk-tuk

Travellers who are visiting after 1st August would be seeing a brand new side of Khao San Road as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has since imposed a ban on street vendors selling cheap clothes, souvenirs, snacks and other goods during the day. Khao San Road has previously been known for its bustling crowd throughout the course of the day, but the street has remained relatively quiet during the day after the implementation of the ban.

At the moment, street vendors are permitted to set up their stalls from 6pm till midnight in preparation for the night market. The BMA does however has plans to devise controlled zones for different items such as food, clothing and massage services.

Being the vibrant city it is, Bangkok still continues to offer a ton of other things to be explored during the day, especially around Khao San Road such as the historic district or having a meal along the nearby street food stalls. At the northwest end of Khao San Road you can find the Phra Athit neighbourhood, which is home to vintage shops, pretty cages and local restaurants. Alternatively, visit the Grand Palace or the giant gold reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.

Short Trips from Udon Thani

Red-Lotus-Lake-Color-Pink-Lotus-Udon-Thani-Talay-Bua-Dang-Wallpaper-Hd-For-Desktop-Full-Screen-1920x1080-915x515

Situated in northeastern Thailand, the regional hub of Udon Thani – or Udon for short – was once a sleepy, far-flung provincial town until it became a major USAF airbase during the Vietnam War. It has since grown into a multiculturally-diverse base you see today, home to one of the largest expat populations in Thailand.

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