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Phuket – the gateway to the Indian Ocean

To be the only yacht in sight from horizon to horizon, anchored off a pristine, deserted, tropical island beach, may seem like a distant dream to most sailors – but sailing in Phuket it is everyday reality.

Unique, too, among cruising destinations is Phuket’s climate. There is no winter; there are no hurricanes and no typhoons. Temperatures range between 25° and 32°C throughout the year, and the sea rarely varies from 28°C.

Located in the Andaman Sea (off Thailand’s southwest coast) Phuket is best known amongst regional sailors for the most advanced sailing infrastructure in Thailand. As a cruising base, Phuket is unbeatable. The mystical waters, islands and limestone karsts of Phang-nga Bay are just a few hours’ sail east from the major anchorages; the stunning Similan Islands are a day’s motor-sail to the west, while Myanmar’s practically unexplored Mergui Archipelago is easily accessible to the north.

To the south is the almost uninhabited Butang Group – part of the 51-island Hat Chao Mai National Park – teeming with an abundance of fascinating and unusual wildlife. A short sail east brings you to the mysterious unspoiled island of Tarutao, just 6 km (4 miles) from the Malaysian island of Langkawi, and just one day out of Phuket. A former penal colony, Tarutao abounds with interesting caves and hidden creeks leading into the mountainous interior; a primeval world where time stands still.

Phang-nga Bay itself, bounded by Phuket, Phang-nga and Krabi provinces – boasting over 100 islands and sheer-sided mountains rising vertically out of the sea – has produced some of Thailand’s most spectacular tourist images. As a result, it is a popular destination with day tours and kayakers exploring the bay’s islands and sea caves. Yet, despite its international renown, the bay is practically deserted by mid-afternoon.

For enthusiasts who prefer as much luxury and convenience as possible combined with their sailing, Phuket is already home to three international-standard marinas, The Yacht Haven Marina, Boat Lagoon Marina and the recently-opened Royal Phuket Marina, which was voted “The Best of the Best Marinas” by British Airways’ First Class in-flight magazine, First Life. Many more marinas are planned.

Yet, for those who prefer to sail away from civilisation, just a couple of hours sail from Phuket – will seem like a world away.

Boasting only one regatta until a few years ago, there is now a multitude of choice, in terms of time, style and location, for those who prefer to mix a touch of action with their sailing holiday in Thailand.

The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, now in its nineteenth year, attracts around 100 yachts and is held in early December. Phang-Nga Bay Regatta, bringing together up to 40 competitors for a more relaxed week, takes place at Chinese New Year, against what must be the most dramatic scenic background of any regatta in the world. Phuket Race Week in its second year also plays an important part in the regatta calendar, being staged in the windy month of July during the southwest monsoon.

Whilst the competitive fun of racing in tropical waters is why people take part in Phuket’s regattas, they all leave with fond memories of the beachside regatta parties. These relaxed, informal parties have become a keynote feature of yachting events in the kingdom.

Whether racing in a tropical regatta or simply cruising among Phuket’s pristine islands, the warm Thai welcome, superb cuisine and the cultural charm – that together make Phuket one of the world’s favourite cruising destinations – make for an unforgettable experience not to be missed

Get ready to experience this wonderful area yourself with a sailing charter in Thailand

Thailand – your Vacation Destination

The Kingdom of Thailand is Bangkok.

Offering some of the world’s finest luxury holiday accommodation, Thailand provides the ultimate getaway for you and your family. Luxury villas are fitted out to the highest standard. Aimed at the discerning traveller who needs flexibility of movement away from the holiday crowds, many property owners will help customers construct a holiday that allows them to move at their own pace. Exploring or relaxing, our clients are able to enjoy the delights of Asia.

Offering a staggering array of activities, Thailand is firmly established as the Asian destination of choice, the infrastructure is such that traveling the length and breadth of the country is easy, cheap fast and reliable. Vacationers’ minds are put at ease with world class hospitals, extremely low crime and amenities to match any country in the world. From Bangkok, guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury villas for rent. Stunning locations are within hours of the capitol making weekend breaks very popular these days, High flying professionals can fly in from Hong Kong and be relaxing beside their private pool a their Thailand villa in no time, and enjoying the Thai pace of life.

Thailand Villas are attaining a global reputation for luxury, quality and value. Luxury villas in Phuket are on the same level or above of anything anywhere in the world, and regularly feature in magazines and newspapers as promoted as the peak of living. When choosing a luxury villa guests must decide whether they want solitude or a more hectic atmosphere with hustle and bustle of street markets and beach activities. Luxury villas on the east coast offer the kind of peace and quiet that is more akin to Samui or Krabi. There is a sense of remoteness here, with traditional Thai fishing villages, and quiet serene beaches dotted along the coast.

It is not just the luxury villas that people are drawn too. The Andaman coast is certainly one of the most striking areas, and Phuket is famous for its beauty and wealth of attractions. Southern Thailand stands apart from the rest of the country as being more tropical. It has the highest rainfall, giving a deeper green to the vegetation, while the geological make up of sheer limestone formations adds drama to the landscape.

Thailand also has a reputation as a golfing paradise with a wealth of world class courses that have attracted many of the best pros over the years – including American-Thai Tiger Woods. Thailand frequently stages the Johnnie Walker Super Tour and other Asian classics attracted by the excellent course facilities and clubroom accommodation found across the kingdom. These are all available to our customers and despite the top-notch conditions a first-class round of golf is possible for about US$60 to US$70.

The six provinces along the Western coast are characterized by the Andaman sea which has numerous excellent coral reefs making it a paradise for divers. The water is warm year round and so is always comfortable to swim in. The Similan islands are rated amongst the top dive destinations in the world as are the climbing sites in Krabi province meaning that vacationers will never be bored with what is on offer.

Luxury Thai Holiday Villas: the Way to Stay!

Luxury Thai Holiday Villas: the way to stay!

Thailand has, over the past few years, seen a large increase in the number of private villas available for holiday rent. Here we investigate the villa market, and make our recommendations as to how to find and book a villa, and where to stay on your next holiday.

These alternatives to hotel or resort accommodation often offer exceptional quality and high standards, but a number of very second rate properties are also broadly advertised on the internet and in some cases offer no more than a room in a tired condominium in a poor location: it is important for the holidaymaker to know how to find an appropriate villa, and to understand the pricing structures generally in place, in order to be sure of securing an enjoyable, clean and properly serviced villa at the right price.

It is perfectly possible to rent your own villa in Thailand for your holiday and to enjoy not only superior accommodation, but also a plethora of services, at rates that in fact make such a holiday the sensible alternative to booking a room – or indeed for those with friends and family, a number of rooms – in a resort.

Why Thailand?

Thailand is a perfect destination for those who wish to rent their own house or villa, for a number of reasons:

- the Thais are widely recognized as a welcoming, smiling people

- The kingdom’s cuisine is world-renowned; whilst most visitors will know the famous dishes such as Tom Yam Kung, the variety of cuisines and regional specialties is great, and even a serious glutton would have trouble trying to experience the exhaustive array of Thai food dishes in just one stay.

- Thailand is a shopper’s paradise, offering unique silks, handcrafted furniture and a plethora of exotic items at a fraction of the cost of such goods in the West. Clothes, leather goods and decorative items are often at the top of the visitors’ shopping list.

- Thailand offers exceptional value for money: even five star hotels cost a fraction of what they do not only in the West but even in other Asian capitals such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

- Thailand welcomes millions of visitors to its shores annually, and personal safety is generally excellent. Any reported crimes tend to be minor, involving jewellery scams and the like, but the more experienced traveler is hardly likely to fall for these. Most visitors will feel infinitely safer in Thailand than they ever would in equivalent capitals such as London, Paris, New York etc.

Which Thai region should I visit?

The visitor to Thailand today is spoiled for choice, with villas available throughout the kingdom.

For shorter stays, we would recommend a single destination stay, so that you can avoid the hassles of travelling and fully explore your chosen location. For longer stays, why not combine a stay in two very different locations, allowing you a greater exposure to the country and its diversity, whilst taking advantage of its inexpensive domestic travel networks? (see below)

Thailand is generally divided into four main regions.

Bangkok and the central Plains

Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis which, despite its famous gridlocked traffic and teeming streets, offers a great variety of things to do and to discover, to those with patience and a will to explore. The restaurants in Bangkok are second to none, whether you seek Thai or foreign cuisines, and its weekend and other markets deserve to be explored, as do many of its lesser know temples. A cruise on the Chaophraya river – perhaps by privately chartered long-tail boat – is an excellent way of seeing much of the city without being reduced to tears by the traffic.

The North

The North of the country is home to cities such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. With tropical jungles and hills, the North attracts those looking to go trekking or seek out places of natural beauty. Do try to avoid the larger cities, as tourism is so developed here that you run the risk of simply being “processed” through a number of popular elephant camps and well-trodden hill tribe treks.

The Northeast

The Northeast is the largest region of the kingdom, yet has been largely untouched by tourism. The Northeast (or isan) is the rice-bowl of the country, and is predominantly agricultural, producing rice, sugarcane, tapioca, eucalyptus and, increasingly, rubber. Major centres include Khon Kaen and Udon Thani, and the mighty Mekong river twists along this region’s borders. The people here are perhaps the most open and fun-loving in the country, perhaps because their lives are based on village traditions where overt consumerism has been much slower to advance than in the other booming parts of the nation. Travel to the Northeast is recommended for those looking for a unique experience, to get away from the tourist crowds, and to immerse themselves in something new.

The South

The south of Thailand is renowned for its famous beaches and seaside resorts, such as Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui. Some of the country’s most expensive holiday villas are found here. Travellers should be aware of the security issues in the south of the country and avoid journeys to the southernmost provinces: your local government’s website will post updated advisories with travel recommendations and warnings.

The vacation villa market

Holiday villas in Thailand tend to fall into one of two categories. They are either privately owned, self-contained homes, or villa units forming part of a resort complex. These are quite different propositions!

Resort Villas

The resort-centred villa essentially comprises a resort’s superior room inventory, and will be priced accordingly. In many cases, these villas will have been professionally designed by the hotel designer itself, and then sold to a third party buyer, who in turn joins the letting pool operated by the developer to provide a return on investment on the villa buyer’s acquisition.

The advantage here is that the villa occupants will generally be able to avail themselves of the additional facilities or services provided by the resort, albeit at ‘resort” prices. The disadvantage is that, for those seeking a more genuine experience, they will find themselves simply a guests within a resort complex, and considered as additional – if well-paying – “keys”.

Private stand-alone villas

Private villas are generally second homes owned by individuals, located on an individually-held land plot.

These may be rented “as is”, with the guests picking up the keys at the start of the trip and returning them at the end, either with or without a cleaning or security deposit. Alternatively, the villa may have its own staff, generally living off property but available throughout your stay to take care of cleaning, laundry, cooking or local visits etc.

Whether you choose a resort villa or privately held property, you should expect to pay a partial deposit at the time of booking, either by credit card guarantee or by a wire transfer.

Tried and Tested

We tried a number of villa vacations in Thailand, and below highlight one resort villa and one private villa – each offering an exceptional holiday but altogether different experiences.

Green Gecko, Northeast Thailand

Green Gecko is a privately owned villa located on a large country estate, surrounded by woodlands, plantations and rice paddies in the heart of Thailand’s rural northeast, near a town called Udon Thani. Free airport transfers were arranged from the airport, which is accessible via a 50 minute flight from Bangkok on Thai Airways, or budget airlines Nok Air or Air Asia.

In contrast to more mainstream locations, our stay here allowed us to discover and experience the real Thailand, off the beaten tourist track.

The villa’s architecture was traditionally Thai: an impressive wooden staircase led up to the raised and enclosed wooden deck, where our delightful private swimming pool was located, with bucolic views of the surrounding countryside and the evening sunsets. The steeply pitched roofs made of terracotta tiles gave the house an almost temple like appearance. A raised “sala” here offered protection from the strong midday sun and became our favourite spot, with its views over the pool.

Accessible from the deck in two separate buildings were the two bedrooms (each air-conditioned), as well as the living and dining room and kitchens. The master bedroom had a sturdy teak four-poster, king sized bed, with a cotton duvet and feather pillows, a large adjoining bathroom and WC and an outside garden shower. The second bedroom had a queen sized four poster, again with a spacious adjoining bathroom / WC.

The main air-conditioned building housed a dining room with a dining table and seating for six, a living room with comfortable sofas and views onto the pool deck, and a sunken area decorated with futons for lounging in front of the large screen LCD television (complete with a separate high-end home theatre system and international satellite channels). Leading off from this area (behind sliding wooden panels) was an additional WC, and a fully equipped Western kitchen (with built in microwave, oven etc), that in turn led out to a stainless steel Thai kitchen.

We must confess that this all looked very user-friendly, but that we never used the kitchens – with the exception of helping ourselves to a few iced beers from the refrigerator! As the owner is a former chef, he prepares all his guests’ meals throughout their stay, varying the spiciness or composition of these to his guests’ tastes. We were delighted to be shown around the gardens to collect a number of herbs and spices, which we were then shown how to spirit into deliciously fresh and tangy Northeastern dishes. We tried the classics too: Thai food certainly is mouth-watering, and staying at a villa like this where all meals are prepared for you, by a chef who is willing to share his secrets, was a boon!

We spent a good deal of time just lazing by the pool in complete privacy, but also enjoyed a number of excursions with our hosts to experience some of the sights and sounds of the Northeast. These included a spectacular trip in a small wooden boat, across a lake that was fundamentally a vast expanse of pink lotus flowers, interrupted only by the occasional fisherman or wallowing water buffalo (marriage propositioners, take note!) We also visited a local museum that seemed to denominate Thailand as the home of the bronze age, and a number of rowdy, colourful local festivals and wet markets, as well as silk and cobra farms. But our lasting impression was one of rural simplicity and ever-friendly locals, keen to ensure we enjoyed our stay and sample an unending variety of indigenous foods and drinks!

Green Gecko may be booked for stays of 2 nights or more via their website, where availability and rates may be checked online (from around US$280 including all transfers, service and meals.)

Green Gecko

134 Moo 13

Baan Um Jaan

Tabol Um Jaan

A. Prajak Sinlapakhom

Udon Thani

41110 Thailand

Green Gecko

Green Gecko’s sister property, Gecko Villa offers a cheaper three bedroomed alternative to those on a tighter budget (from around US$160.)

The Villas at Napasai, Southern Thailand

The villas at Napasai are located within the seafront resort complex on the luxury North coast of the island of Koh Samui, in Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani. Koh Samui is accessible via Bangkok Airways from Bangkok, with flights taking approximately one hour (depending or aircraft chosen).

The resort is part of Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises: as such, both the villa and the resort were professionally managed, and we were able to choose between cooking up our own Thai meals after a visit to the local markets, or to simply walk to the resort’s excellent Thai restaurant in the evening.

The villas themselves were located at one end of the property, sandwiched between a steep hillside behind our house and the sea in front. Each of the villas is tiered down the hillside to the seafront. We stayed in a two bedroom villa, but three bedroom properties were also available. Beyond the two well-appointed bedrooms, our property had a spacious living and dining room with its own kitchen, a maid’s room, and, at the ground level, a private swimming pool and “chill-out” area. The main living room was well furnished and had a DVD player, satellite TV, and charming sea view balcony, where we spent most evenings.

The island of Koh Samui is a major international tourism hub and as such plenty of activities are available for the guest, from exploring waterfalls, to elephant rides, paintball, sea sports, diving, fishing, golf etc. The hotel also offers boating activities, Thai cooking classes, tennis courts, a fitness centre and a spa.

We booked online at the hotel’s own internet site, taking advantage of a special offer. Rates for a two bedroom villa are seasonal and start at around US$850++ per night, including complimentary American breakfast.

Napasai

65/10 Baan Tai, Maenam,

Koh Samui,

Surat Thani

84330,

Thailand

Tel: (66-77) 42 92 00

Fax: (66-77) 42 92 01

Napasai

Finding your Thai Villa on the internet

Choosing an appropriate holiday villa on the internet is easy using Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. Remember:

• Play with your search terms: use more specific words to help you drill down to receive a more “targeted” property. “Rural villa with pool Thailand” will give a more specific set of results than will “Thailand Villa”, and will be less likely to return a listings site.

• Where possible, book directly with the property owner rather than via a listings site – in all likelihood such a listings site will be charging a commission on top of the normal rate.

• Don’t be afraid to ask for references.

• Travel in the off season, and book early. Book ahead, as when a standalone villa is booked – it is booked!

• Make sure the property you choose has a telephone and address listed.

• Travel somewhere different! What makes a stay in a private villa memorable is the way it can take you out of the tourist centres to enjoy a more authentic holiday.

Thailand’s Airlines

Thailand’s flag carrier offers numerous domestic flights, but travelers “in the know” will turn to the local discount airlines. These offer frequent flights at a fraction of the price and in relative comfort. Try Nok Air or Air Asia.

Koh Samui is served by the “boutique airline” Bangkok Air.

Thailand In Full Flight: Accommodation and Activities For Festival Season

Thailand has long been known as an affable and happy country, with its unofficial motto as the land of the big smile, or another of the many variants.

It is not certain whether all of this happiness is caused by the enormous concentration of yearly festivals in Thailand, or whether they are simply a result of such good nature.

But either way, foreigners come from far and wide to experience the joy and uniqueness of whatever is the monthly excuse for a good time in Thailand!

Here we look at some of the best and most unusual festivals in Thailand, as well as the best and most unusual Thailand accommodation and luxury villa rental in Thailand to recuperate in between all-nighters!

If you are interested in your physical health and the health of your spirit, youll want to see the Phuket Vegetarian festival.

At the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, believers gather to assist in cleaning out the shrine, and then light a candle in preparation for nine angelsarrival. The festival lasts for seven days, and of the penultimate day when there is always a waxing moon, the goddess procession occurs.

It is said, mysteriously, that media of supernatural power is presentedif you join this procession, you are said to be offering divine kindness to all men.

It is a festival of detoxification and purification for both the soul and the body. Celebrating the purification of the mind and body at this festival will leave you wanting some beautifully pristine Thailand accommodation, somewhere tranquil and peaceful – Baan Pa Hin is a luxury villa in Phuket that is perfect.

This Phuket villa for rent is situated on a hill, away from much of the foot traffic, and is staffed by three maids and a chef – so there is no need to concern yourself with the worries of the world after this intensely spiritual festival!

The staff will do your laundry and shopping, leaving you free to relax in the 14m long swimming pool, in one of the six beautifully appointed ensuite double bedrooms, or five minutes away from the luxury Phuket villa for rent on Kata Noi Beach.

If the idea of going without meat, even for a week, just isnt on your radar, then something like the Andaman sea festival that takes place near the end of the year in Krabi would be perfect for you.

Water sport competitions, including skiing and diving, are on the calendar, and there are also cultural shows and performances on every year. The Andaman sea festival is mainly a day-time event which celebrates the opening of Krabis tourist season, and the line-up changes every year.

For people from the West, Thailand is an extremely budget-friendly country – meaning that you can afford to stay in amazing luxury in villas for rent in Thailand compared to what you could afford in many European countries, Australia or the US.

If you have spent all your baht living life to the fullest at a festival like the Andaman sea festival, you can still do some intense relaxation at a luxury villa in Krabi like the Pimalai one bedroom pool villas.

These luxury villas for rent in Krabi, are a cozy place to stay, with just a single bedroom, yet have a feeling of space and lightness that the gorgeous natural, wood-and-ocean inspired decor contributes to.

There is actually 204 square meters or so of living area, filled with outdoor living areas, a fully equipped kitchen, and sun deck areas.

There is an outdoor sala, and you can practice miniature versions of the watersports at the Andaman sea festival in a private infinity edge pool at this luxury villa in Thailand.

Thailand Rock Climbing

Mention Thailand and images of beaches, elephants and Bangkok come to mind. Less known is the fact Thailand rock climbing is some of the best in the world.

Thailand Rock Climbing

Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand is bordered by Cambodia, Burma and Laos in the north and Malaysia in the south. The shape of the country is somewhat similar to Italy, and you’ll find similar differences between northern and southern Thailand that you do in Italy. For rock climbing enthusiasts, the south of Thailand is where the action is.

The rock formations in Thailand are almost universally limestone. The level of climbing can be as simple as bouldering or as challenging as tackling over vertical cliffs. This makes Thailand a popular rock climbing destination since it has a little something for everyone.

Krabi

Located on the southern section of the “tail” of Thailand, Krabi has a wide variety of rock climbing challenges. Most of the climbs in this area are of the pre-bolted sport route variety. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of climbs with difficulty levels from beginner to multi-pitch knuckle crushers.

The beauty of climbing in Krabi is…well, the beauty. While you might have visions of jungles and mosquitoes when thinking of Thailand, Krabi is an area of a different sort. Most of the climbs have been set up on cliff faces on the beach. Being natural capitalists, the Thai’s have built hotels, bars and so on at these locations. As a result, you can literally climb a multi-pitch route for five hours, cool off with a swim and then have a beer. If there is such a thing as a rock climbing heaven, many feel Krabi is it.

Before you cash in your savings, keep in mind that Thailand is a seasonal vacation spot. If you go during the wet season, there is a good chance you’ll just end up sitting around drinking beer. While that isn’t too bad, you’ll go crazy looking at the climbs that are so close, but oh so far away.

Generally, you want to head to Thailand from late November through maybe April. The summer months tend to be both incredibly hot and wet. Make sure you pull up forecasts for the area before booking a trip.

Flying to Thailand is inexpensive, but flights are incredibly long with stopovers. Still, it is all worth it once you experience Thailand rock climbing.

Choosing Thailand As Vacation Destination

Offering some of the world’s finest luxury holiday accommodation, Thailand provides the ultimate getaway for you and your family. Luxury villas are fitted out to the highest standard. Aimed at the discerning traveller who needs flexibility of movement away from the holiday crowds, many property owners will help customers construct a holiday that allows them to move at their own pace. Exploring or relaxing, our clients are able to enjoy the delights of Asia.

Offering a staggering array of activities, Thailand is firmly established as the Asian destination of choice, the infrastructure is such that traveling the length and breadth of the country is easy, cheap fast and reliable. Vacationers’ minds are put at ease with world class hospitals, extremely low crime and amenities to match any country in the world. From Bangkok, guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury villas for rent. Stunning locations are within hours of the capitol making weekend breaks very popular these days, High flying professionals can fly in from Hong Kong and be relaxing beside their private pool a their Thailand villa in no time, and enjoying the Thai pace of life.

Thailand Villas are attaining a global reputation for luxury, quality and value. Luxury villas in Phuket are on the same level or above of anything anywhere in the world, and regularly feature in magazines and newspapers as promoted as the peak of living. When choosing a luxury villa guests must decide whether they want solitude or a more hectic atmosphere with hustle and bustle of street markets and beach activities. Luxury villas on the east coast offer the kind of peace and quiet that is more akin to Samui or Krabi. There is a sense of remoteness here, with traditional Thai fishing villages, and quiet serene beaches dotted along the coast.

It is not just the luxury villas that people are drawn too. The Andaman coast is certainly one of the most striking areas, and Phuket is famous for its beauty and wealth of attractions. Southern Thailand stands apart from the rest of the country as being more tropical. It has the highest rainfall, giving a deeper green to the vegetation, while the geological make up of sheer limestone formations adds drama to the landscape.

Thailand also has a reputation as a golfing paradise with a wealth of world class courses that have attracted many of the best pros over the years – including American-Thai Tiger Woods. Thailand frequently stages the Johnnie Walker Super Tour and other Asian classics attracted by the excellent course facilities and clubroom accommodation found across the kingdom. These are all available to our customers and despite the top-notch conditions a first-class round of golf is possible for about US$60 to US$70.

The six provinces along the Western coast are characterized by the Andaman sea which has numerous excellent coral reefs making it a paradise for divers. The water is warm year round and so is always comfortable to swim in. The Similan islands are rated amongst the top dive destinations in the world as are the climbing sites in Krabi province meaning that vacationers will never be bored with what is on offer.

Award Winning Thailand

The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions; the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

The country comprises 76 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand’s revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognized as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.

The Thai tourism industry is projected to end the year with a total of 13.8 million international visitor arrivals in 2006. Revenue earnings from tourism are now projected at 486 billion baht.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has targeted 14.8 million international visitor arrivals in 2007 with estimated target revenues of 547.5 billion baht.

International visitor arrivals from East Asia rose by 23.54% to 5,694,169 in January-September 2007. Markets that have shown good growth include Korea +41.52%, China +36.93%, Hong Kong +33.85%, and Taiwan +26.36%. Other areas of growth were seen from European visitors. International visitor arrivals from Europe rose by 24.66% to 2,423,498 during January-September 2003. Russia was the outstanding market with a growth of 97.45% during this period. Other main markets like the UK were up +10.40%, Germany +21.04%, Sweden +46.06%, Norway +33.11%, and Finland +30.39%.

Many of these visitors are coming to Thailand to stay in luxury villas which are renowned throughout the world for their beautiful surroundings and amazing value. Luxury Phuket villas in particular stand out as being amongst the best in the world. Samui Villas and Krabi Villas are catching up however and are seeing a large increase year on year in occupancy as guests seek something slightly different and quieter than the hustle and bustle of Phuket.

Thailand constantly is winning awards for its tourism infrastructure, recently The Swedish travel publication, Travel News, recently presented the annual Grand Travel Award – the equivalent of the travel and tourism industry’s ‘Oscars’ – for the fifteenth consecutive year.

Thailand ranked first in the “World’s Best Tourist Country” category, making this the fifth consecutive year that Thailand has won the Swedish Grand Travel Award. The other top ten travel destinations deemed to be popular with Swedish travelers include South Africa, the United States, Italy, China, Greece, Denmark, Spain, France and Croatia. Other awards include Asia’s very own award-winning luxury travel and lifestyle magazine, DestinAsian, awarding Bangkok with ‘Best Leisure DestinAsian City’ and The Oriental Bangkok won the DestinAsian ‘Best Hotel, Bangkok’ award.

From Bangkok, guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury villas for rent. Stunning locations are within hours of the capitol making weekend breaks very popular these days, High flying professionals can fly in from Hong Kong and be relaxing beside their private pool a their Thailand villa in no time, and enjoying the Thai pace of life.