Thailand at Matka Fair 2023

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will exhibit at Matka Fair 2023 in Helsinki during 19-22 January 2023. Meet us and get more inspiration for travel to Thailand. 

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The sunny side of Koh Lanta
Text & Photo : Anders Pihl More relaxed than nearby Phuket, the island of Koh Lanta continues to be a longtime favorite among travelers from all over the world. The island shows a sunny side at the west coast where a string of enchanting beaches lines up. Koh Lanta is a 30 kilometer long island in the Krabi province with a remarkable two-piece character. The west coast lines up first-rate beaches, all with prime sunset locations. The east coast is very different and has vast areas of mangrove swamps between tiny fishing villages. If Koh Lanta was fleeting the island would probably tip over on the west side because it is where all the visitors reside. Exploring Koh Lanta from North to South Exploring the magnificent west coast of Koh Lanta from north to south is a truly fun escape. The road follows the coast more or less all the way, displaying the island in all its diversity. You get to know Lanta while traveling and learn where your favorite spots are right away. Saladan – Center of Koh Lanta I begin in Saladan, a town where most of Lanta’s important infrastructure are gathered, with shopping, banks, police, pharmacy and doctors. Near Saladan the shallow bays of Klong Dao and Long Beach awaits. Both are very popular with Scandinavian families. It is clean and proper here. Hotels and restaurants are definitely a bit more upmarket. Towards the central part of the island the ambience becomes different. It is more motley and vibrant with travelers of all ages and styles. Expensive hotels with pool villas lies side by side with budget guesthouses. Trendy latte cafés rub shoulders with reggae-hangouts. The inviting beaches relieve each other. The longest ones, Klong Khong and Klong Nin, become social scenes in the late afternoon when everybody gathers before the sunset. If you want to be where people are, it is definitely the central part you are looking for. The more south you go, the more beautiful it gets The more south you come on Koh Lanta the more beautiful it gets. The island rises at the height, while the recurrent bays shrinks. Inside them you find beaches with splendid natural beauty. An obvious stop on the way south is the small Nui Beach, embraced by steep green slopes and overlooked from the lovely restaurant Diamond Cliff. Even more striking is the mighty Kantiang Bay with cabanas on high stilts at the far end. The average age among adults are clearly lower here and the vibe more bohemic. At the southernmost end you find the deep rainforest in national park Mu Koh Lanta and Lighthouse Koh Lanta out on a small peninsula. What about the east side then? The east coast of Koh Lanta is absolutely worth another excursion. You get happily surprised when you arrive to Lanta Old Town, the oldest city of the Island. The main street is bordered with cafés and cozy small shops. The alleys between the houses leads out to jetties where you can have a delightful seafood lunch while looking at the sea outside with islets and karst mountains. The local people’s island Still you can claim that Koh Lanta is the local people’s island. Daily markets thrive as always, small mosques remain in the middle of the tourist settlements. On the eastside there are several villages of the where the Chao Ley live, an Indo-Malayan people that sometimes is called Sea-Gipsies. Chao Ley have been living on Lanta for hundreds of years. All the way from north to south you see why Koh Lanta is so loved by so many. There are no deck chairs, no beach vendors, no jet skis, no mega resorts, no high rises and no ostentation. So far Koh Lanta retains a balance between well developed tourism and the small-scale and local society. Location click here
The Gentle Giants of Thailand
Text : Stefan Christensen Elephas maximus is the latin name for the Asian Elephant, but its true meaning is love. It’s love between man and animal you see when the elephant Nokyoong and the mahout Khun Siriwan look deep into each other’s eyes. Nokyoong is 76 years old and the matriarch of the herd of elephants at Elephant Hills in the south of Thailand. Khun Siriwan is quite  a few years younger but he and his family have been mahouts – elephant handlers – for generations. Nokyoong has been an adopted member of Khun Siriwan’s family for a long time now. Mahouts often hail from some of the smaller mountain tribes in Southeast Asia.  It is a traditional occupation most often handed down father to son through generations. Real Bonding Mahouts develop a lifelong bond with their elephant over the years of training and develop a relationship that allows a good mahout to recognize any signs of illness and stress in their elephants. Elephants likewise develop a lifelong bond with their mahout and, therefore, are usually distrustful of new people. Time and patience are the keys to forming a lifetime bond between man and beast. Unemployment Issues Before 1989, elephants were used in the forests of Thailand for logging. When logging was banned, many elephants were too domesticated to be returned to the wild and mahouts found themselves unemployed. The banning of logging coincided with the big tourist boom in Thailand. Suddenly, mahouts and elephants found themselves a notable part of the tourism industry. As before stated, releasing the elephants into the jungle is not an option as these elephants are a domesticated breed and would not long survive. Elephants, like horses and other animals, have been domesticated by and working with humans for thousands of years. Hannibal used 37 elephants to climb the alps in 218 BC in order to conquer Rome. Unfortunately, the number of elephants in Thailand has continued to dwindle in the last 30 years. It is costly to house and feed an elephant – and a mahout! In an effort to ensure the care and survival of these gentle giants, several elephant sanctuaries have sprung up around Thailand. One of the best is Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park, roughly halfway between Surat Thani and Phuket. An All Female Herd The herd of elephants In Khao Sok National Park consists of 14 elephants – all female – with an age range stretching from 14 to 76 years. The sanctuary includes a large area of land that allows for free roaming approximating that of a natural habitat. A new elephant is added to the herd only if: 1.) it fits the structure of the herd and 2.) there are enough funds to feed the elephant, its mahout and the mahout’s family. Bringing a male elephant into the herd would not work well. A full grown bull elephant in musth is an awesome sight. It also is a testosterone-fueled wrecking ball of disruption in an all female herd. Musth is Sanskrit for intoxicated. The “drunken elephant” would shatter any sense of calm.  A Unique Experience At feeding time, Nokyoong is given “special” pieces of sugarcane as she is not only the oldest and the matriarch of the herd, but also is in need of some medication. She refuses to take the oral medicine, so it has to be snuck into her daily food. Elephant Hills also works with veterinarian schools helping to teach trainee veterinarians how to handle and care for elephants. This is an important joint effort in the preservation of elephants. Tourists visit Elephant Hills to observe, learn about, feed and wash the elephants. To minimize disruption to the herd, visits occur during a small time window when the elephants are most placed. The welfare of the herd is always paramount. It is a majestic sight. Seeing these large and very clever animals move around the National Park can be described as nothing less. If you have a chance to visit Elephant Hills or another elephant sanctuary I recommend you do so. It will be an experience you treasure while your donations / fees will unquestionably be contributing towards the preservation and protection of the Elephas maximus – the Asian Elephant. Destination Asien