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Samui Elephant Sanctuary Review

in Destinations/Recreation by

“For the herds of wild elephants show no resentment when domesticated animals join them. They have none of that herd instinct directed against the stranger that one finds in cattle, in small boys, and among many grown-up men. This tolerance is just one of the things about elephants which makes one realize they are big in more ways than one.”

― J.H. Williams, Elephant Bill

Samui Elephant Sanctuary opened on 16 January 2018 by Founder Wittaya Sala-Ngam and is the first ethical elephant sanctuary in Koh Samui. Currently, there are five elephants in their care; Cartoon, Kham San and Sri Nin (50 – 60 years old) who came to the sanctuary from the local riding camp on Koh Samui. The sanctuary also has two younger elephants; Nong Pech (7 years old) and Moloair (9 years old) who came to the elephant sanctuary from Surin province.

Samui Elephant Sanctuary offers tours that educate visitors about the importance of these extraordinary, majestic giants. You will be able to feed and walk and observe the elephants as they forage, socialize and play, and do what elephants do, and that’s be elephants.

These five elephants that now live, at the Samui Elephant Sanctuary, have come from an extremely hard life, working long hours in the entertainment or logging industries. These stunning animals have been beaten and made to do what their owners wanted by use of force and torture. Having a chair strapped to their back or painting a picture has never been part of their natural environment. The positive news for elephants is that times are changing and projects such as the Samui Elephant Sanctuary are becoming the new way for a tourist to experience elephants. 

The Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the perfect opportunity for families, couples, and friends to discover the life of elephants in a stunning natural setting and enjoy these beautiful creatures in a way that does not take advantage of the animal. The project works under the Save the Elephant Foundations “off Saddle” program.

On arrival, you will be welcomed by extremely friendly and highly dedicated team of staff, many of whom are volunteers, that are all committed to the well-being of the animals. The tours focus on observation of the elephant’s natural behaviors and as such, they do not allow guest to join the elephants in the mud pit or swimming pool and of course NO RIDING.

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Best Seminyak Villas 4 Kids

in Families by
Casa Brio Seminyak Family Villa

Great places to stay in Seminyak with more than two kids? Sure. Somewhere for all ages to enjoy? Yep. Bringing your friends? Nice. Oh they have kids too? Okay. It’s gotta be gorgeous and memorable? Photogenic, got it. Safe, convenient, comfortable? Of course. Classy and affordable for four adults? Sure thing. Near the beach? Naturally.

We have plenty of that. Rent your own tropical oasis, a fully-staffed luxury home away from home with plenty of space for everyone to spread out. Elite Havens’ Bali luxury villas come with a private chef equally adept at preparing gourmet feasts for the adults and fun children’s meals to tempt even the fussiest eaters. Some villas are better set up for toddlers than others, but any extra amenities you may need, such as pool fence or car booster seat can easily be arranged for a small hire charge. One of the great advantages of staying in a villa is the highly personalised service, and if need a little adult-only time, friendly staff will happily help keep an eye on the kids, or organise a baby sitter so you can hit the island’s latest hotspots.  

Our 4 Best 4 Bedrooms 4 Kids… in vibrant seaside Seminyak, Bali?

Here they are. With sensible sleeping arrangements for holidays with kids (some with adjacent rooms for parents and children, others with a designated bunk room for a bunch of kids) they’re all just minutes from the palm-fringed beaches, fabulous restaurants, cool bars and stylish boutiques that Seminyak is famous for. 

1 Casa Brio

Featured in the hero at the top of the page. 

Brio is Italian for liveliness and the whole family will love sunny Casa Brio, a vibrant, recently refurbished villa with a stunning roof top terrace and fabulous location in the Golden Triangle district close to Petitenget Beach.

Seminyak family villa Casa Brio

The 21-metre pool fringed in lush tropical gardens is a definite high point and features a shallow section perfect for toddlers.

The open-sided living pavilion overlooks the pool making it easy for parents to keep an eye on the little ones.

Older kids will happily kick back in the over-sized pool beanbags, and the media room with home theatre and selection of DVDs.

Well configured for families,

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Open Studios at Phuket Art Village

in Shops by
girl at phuket art village

A colourful and quirky artists’ enclave hidden away in the southern neighbourhood of Rawai, the Phuket Art Village is a hippy chic collection of working art studios; home to some of the island’s most outstanding local artists. Both eclectic and charming, the Phuket Art Village oozes artistic flair.

Home to a group of unique studios that were built by their artists (and are in many instances lived in) the Phuket Art Village functions as a creative space for both the artists in residence and the local community… travellers included.

phuket art village

As well as selling their wares on-site, the artists host painting classes, sculpture workshops, environmental awareness seminars and jam sessions. A visit to the village makes a good outing for art-lovers and groups of all ages including families (contact the venue in advance to find out about scheduled art workshops and shadow puppet shows for your kids).

There are several studios and galleries to explore within the village. Most are open daily, although hours vary depending on the season. Here we introduce two of the artists you might meet:

niran art gallery

Niran Art Gallery

A slight, kind and softly-spoken man originally from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, artist Niran Chanhom relocated to Phuket several years ago because of his love for the sea. And it is the sea that has become his greatest inspiration.

painting at niran art gallery in phuket

Driftwood in all shapes and sizes collected from Phuket’s various beaches are the beating heart of many of his creations. His artistic flair is perhaps best captured in his life-size wooden sculptures of fish and other marine life. These driftwood sea creatures are not only beautiful, but also reflect Niran’s hopes of protecting the ocean.

phuket art village

While making art from driftwood will always be his favourite medium, in recent years Niran has evolved his craft and taken to large canvases – often depicting a lonely fisherman with his fishing pole or catch of the day – to let his creativity explode. His abstract paintings are both bright and colourful and introduce new characters to his artistic line-up. Niran’s latest works are a series of mismatched faces and a few smaller pieces that highlight the bond between mother and child.

phuket art gallery

A visit to Niran’s art gallery in Phuket is an opportunity to admire his work and get up close and personal with the artist himself.

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Learning and Leisure with Leap & Hop Kids Guides

in Families by

We reckon most parents will agree that keeping the kids happy on holiday is the Golden Ticket to making sure everyone has a good time. So here’s a great suggestion to keep your kids happily occupied while teaching them about Balinese history, geography and culture at the same time. The interactive kids’ guide Leap & Hop Bali is a winner.

About Leap & Hop guides

Part-French, part-American Isabelle is mum to three boys and the author of the Leap & Hop guides. Her first Leap & Hop guide started as a little surprise for her kids on their Christmas trip to Cambodia. Her plan was to prepare a journal for them to record their impressions of the Khmer temples which later became a 100-page book with games, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts and fun snippets of information about the country’s history, geography and religion. Isabelle also encourages drawing and scrapbooking through her books.

“For me,” says Isabelle, “a good kids’ guide is a book that covers adult topics in a way that kids can understand without ‘dumbing it down’. The idea is also for the kids to ‘own’ the trip; they can pick and choose to learn about the places that interest them and the activities they enjoy. The illustrations are essential. I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing illustrator, Emilie Sarnel. Kids really relate to her unique style, which is whimsical and colourful without being childish.”

Leap and hop Bali Cover web96

leap and hop Bali SPREAD kites WEB96

Isabelle’s top 5 things to do in Bali with kids

  1. Go on a nature walk to explore Bali’s picturesque rice paddies in Ubud or Canggu.
  2. Visit marvellous village temples. You might get lucky and see a traditional ceremony while you’re there.
  3. Make and fly your own kite on the beach. Sanur is famous for its kite festivals, but many other beaches in Bali are excellent for kite flying.
  4. Eat fresh seafood at a restaurant on the sand in Jimbaran. The tanks of live seafood will fascinate the kids, and the beach provides an excellent place to play.
  5. Explore Bali’s fascinating underwater world. Blue Lagoon and Padang Bay are great for snorkelling. If you are looking for something more adventurous head to Tulumben and explore the WWII wreck of the US Liberty.

We’ve got plenty more fun things to do with kids in Bali up our sleeve.

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Sammasan

in Destinations by
Surin family villa

Villa Sammasan owners tell us about their stunning ocean view home over looking Surin Beach on Phuket’s west coast.

Surin villa with view

Why did you choose to buy your villa in Phuket and at this location?

We bought the villa because it had an all-encompassing view from every room looking over the Andaman Sea and you can walk to the beach. We saw many places, but they were in the mountains far away from the beach.  The house is perfectly positioned to capture the sunset each night, and you get an immediate view from every part of the house.

We also liked the clean, modern architecture, with its flow and design. There is a sprawling private master suite with its own balcony and Jacuzzi and lots of space. You can walk straight from the living area out onto the terrace and to the pool, so its central to the house.  And you can sit in the living room and see the pool, sala and view beyond. We also have a private TV room and secluded rooms with their own ensuite and balconies downstairs.

Villa Sammasan - Surin, Phuket

What is your inspiration for the villa design?

Sammasan looks outwards towards Surin Beach and the Andaman Sea and the headlands, one of which is home to Thailand’s top resort, the Amanpuri. So we wanted to capture the seaside with a beachhouse feel, a kind of Cape Cod design, with Thai influences. Hence you see lots of white walls, but with splashes of colour and art and design that inspires. You have a modern Poliform kitchen but with a traditional Thai sala. It’s the blend of the traditional with the very modern.

What features make the villa unique?

The view. The spaciousness. The art. The location. The furniture. The colours inside  complement the views outside. This all influences the mood. Anyone who appreciates art and design will enjoy this boutique villa.

Surin private pool villa

What would you like guests to experience at your villa?

A home away from home in a fantastic location. A place to rest and relax after going out into the hustle and bustle of Phuket.  Enjoy the shade in the morning and then at the end of the day, watch the sun set over the Andaman on the lounges or in the outdoor sala. You can go out or you can stay in the villa and watch the beauty of nature unfold outside.  

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