Twenty years ago I travelled to South East Asia, then a back packer doing the usual route to Australia and back, stopping off at the typical destinations for sun and beaches. So when I was asked to return to Bangkok by Business Events Thailand, I couldn’t wait to see how the City had changed. As an event organiser I know that that it is important to keep attendees happy, So when TCEB (Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) invited me to Thailand to try out their ‘Spiceupyourbusinessagenda’ I was intrigued to discover more.
Spice up your business agenda:
“Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways,Thai Smile Airways, Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Visa International (Thailand) Ltd., are adding spice on your business trip by offering an ultimate special privileges and e-discounts for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) travellers by providing incentives for air tickets, airport
transfers, accommodation, spa packages, golf packages, dining, shopping, entertainment and tourist sim cards, meeting packages, treatment packages and expanded to MICE cities and top tourist destinations for you to enjoy much more!’.
I hadn’t flown long-haul in over 20 years and was worried about the prospect of trying to sleep on the flight, but I was pleasantly surprised by my Thai Airways flight. I was comfortable, well looked after and even slept for a good 6 hours of my 12 hour journey.
Arriving in Thailand I was made comfortable immediately by being shown my room at the Dusit Thani Hotel in central Bangkok. The hotel, one of the oldest and grandest in the City and known for it’s spectacular view of Lumpini Park and the skyline beyond, is sumptuously decorated, with large bedrooms and huge bathrooms. After a long flight, I couldn’t wish for a better place to rest before the evening meal and the upcoming events over the next few days.
After a long rest, we headed out to the Holiday Inn for a welcome talk by the team at TCEB and a delicious Thai meal at the Cham Thai restaurant. A fusion style banquet, with typical Thai dishes given a modern twist. I was kindly offered food I had tried before and found it all wonderful – my first taste of contemporary Thailand and of things to come.
The next morning my fellow bloggers and I were whisked away to the business district of Bangkok to visit an events space with a difference, IMPACT, and an impact it did give. The largest exhibition space in the East, with ‘space age’ styling and shiny walkways. Whilst we were there, we visited the Bangkok Furniture Fair 2016 and saw just how one of the many spaces at IMPACT can be used.
The blogger familiarisation team took us around the halls explaining the many uses of the space, and how it could be used for all manner of events, conferences, exhibitions and even weddings. IMPACT is vast, we even had a little train to take us around the sites. In the exhibition restaurant, the Terrazza restaurant, we were treated to more Thai fusion food, a delicious coconut Thai soup for starters and this langoustine for main. YUM!
Next up on our Bangkok adventure – shopping! I was taken to the Em District– a brand new shopping district in central Bangkok. Now, I’m not a big ‘shopper’, not really interested in designer clothes (which in Em, there were many) but what I did love about Em was the greenery. Plants dripping from the walls, waterfalls and a sky garden. Even if you aren’t interested in a designer handbag, you would love the architecture and the sky garden restaurants at the top.
Thailand has seen a huge rise recently in third wave coffee shops. My guides Kwang and Tao, took me to many of their favourites, including a pretty little cafe hidden inside a boutique boho shop. It was heavenly! One corner housed a tiny kitchen, and the other a stack of vintage Vogue magazines. Amazing space.
After a cooling iced coffee, we headed on to the evenings entertainment, a river cruise along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. A perfect way to spend an evening after a busy day of events. Arriving at the harbourside, I took a few moments taking in the view. This ancient river has been used as a ‘highway’ for centuries. Local Bangkok residents using it as their daily commute to work, to visit friends and family, or to go shopping. Small vessels jostle alongside larger ‘party’ cruises as they take in the sights and temples of this City.
Our evening cruise, took us along the river at night. Temples and the King’s palace shone bright against the night sky. The cooling breeze on the river meant we could eat outside with the best view of the City. A truly memorable trip.
The following morning I was up early to catch a Thai Smile internal flight to the Northern region and the city of Chiang Mai. Excitedly I boarded the plane, delighted to find I was in first class! Never flown first before, so this was an unexpected pleasure. The flight took a short hour to get there, flying high over mountains and rain forest below.
Before my trip to the north, I expressed a need to visit the Buddhist temples and to see some of Thailand’s ancient culture. My guides gladly took me on an adventure! First, we stopped off for a coffee at Mao, another of the regions ‘hipster’ coffee shops, then onto lunch at the Maraya Hotel.
A pool with a view, and amazing fusion food. We happily spent a few hours eating in the restaurant looking out over the river to the temple.
In central Chiang Mai stands the impressive Wat Chedi Luang temple. Now in ruins, but still magnificent this 15th century Buddhist temple stands tall and proud, surrounded by the bustle of modern Chiang Mai. I adored the elephants carved out of stone, and the golden Buddha at the top.
My guides took me to visit the other Buddhist temples surrounding Chiang Mai, they explained everything about their religion, how to give blessings, how they prayed to Buddha and the meanings to the many symbols inside. I felt privileged to have seen this charming side to Thailand through their eyes, and learn a little more about Buddhism.
My accommodation in Chiang Mai was at the Jirung Health Village, about 45 minutes drive out of the City into the lush rain forest. Arriving hot and tired, I was instantly treated to a 90 minute massage, oh bliss! The massage, my guide explained, was designed to align my chakras and to bring calm and wellness. Yes please!
I was taken to a small pyramid structure, air conditioned and cushioned inside. I was asked to slip on a cotton pyjama suit and lie down on the star in the centre. A gentle Thai style manipulation began, followed by a chance to meditate. I used that time to doze, listening to the bird song and the sounds of the forest.
The following morning I woke to monsoon rain, luckily we were leaving back to Bangkok for my final day in Thailand. Chiang Mai from what I saw, is a beautiful city and perfect escape from the bustle of business events in the capital. A great place to unwind and explore.
Back in Bangkok, and a final stay and swim at the beautiful Eastin Grand Hotel. That pool, the view! What a way to end my whirlwind Thai adventure. A chance to freshen up and relax before catching my Thai Airways flight home.
Visiting Thailand again, after all these years was an incredible experience. Bangkok has changed, dramatically. Large skyscrapers dominate the skyline, busy streets filled with high-end shops – there is definitely a destination feel about the place. A city with culture, temples and ancient streets, sit side by side businesses, shopping malls and luxury hotels.
With the Spice up your business agenda campaign and the incentives on offer, discounts to many great hotels, destinations and locations across Thailand, it does seem a fantastic place to host any event.
Bangkok is not just a place to visit on your way to the beautiful Thai beaches, but a destination to bring your business and to deal with the far East and Europe too.
If you are looking for something a little different, then take a look at their website for more information.
Collaboration Note: I was invited by TCEB (The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) to review this blogger familiarisation trip. The TCEB is a public body tasked with promoting and developing business events in Thailand. Since 2004, they have worked towards establishing Thailand as Asia’s premier business events destination and offer support to meeting-goers, incentives winners, convention attendees, and exhibition participants before and during their visit. Thank you to TCEB for inviting me. All words and images are my own.