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Phuket’s first ethical elephant sanctuary

in Recreation by
Sophie Monk at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

“Bow your head. Show them respect. The elephants created this jungle. Where they made furrows with their tusks the rivers ran. Where they blew their trunks the leaves fell. They made all that belongs: the mountains, the trees, the birds in the trees. But they did not make you.” – Disney’s The Jungle Book movie

Sri Nuan elephant at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Growing up in Essex in the UK, my only experience with the majestic beast that is the elephant was on TV. Although I had travelled half the world by my early thirties it wasn’t until I landed on the tropical shores of Phuket, Thailand that I came face to trunk with these huge, intelligent animals.

In the UK I had been used to cats, dogs, and guinea pigs, and there weren’t any elephants in Antigua, Turkey or Greece, so when I first came up close and personal with the largest land mammal in the world it was rather overwhelming. I will admit that I was a little scared, not sure I had pachydermophobia, (the fear of elephants, adding to my word count with that one), but I was definitely nervous.

I have, of course, done what every tourist has done when coming to Phuket – book an elephant ride. So far in the ten years I have been in Phuket I have gone out twice. Both times has been a good experience, although not amazing, it wasn’t until I visited the new pioneering Phuket Elephant Sanctuary that I finally fell in love with Thailand’s national animal.

PHUKET ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

Located in the lush tropical jungles of Phuket’s east coast, bordering the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers the most idyllic retirement for sick, injured and old elephants, all of whom have had exhausting lives, either in the logging trade or working in the many elephant trekking companies around Thailand.

Founded in a partnership with Mr. Montri Todtane, ex-owner of an elephant camp in Phuket, world-renowned elephant rescuer and conservationist Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation, and Louise Rogerson, founder of EARS Asia, the Phuket Elephant sanctuary is a tranquil home for these majestic beasts and a place where they can be elephants again.

Elephant tourism

ELEPHANTS IN TOURISM

After the logging industry declined,

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Koh Samui with kids

in Families by
pink elephant samui water park

Koh Samui, Thailand is not a big island – it’s just under 230 square kilometres, and much of that is still pristine forest-covered hillside – but it offers a wealth of fun and interesting things to do with kids.

CASUAL OUTINGS
Our list of child-friendly activities in Koh Samui begins with five easy excursions for the whole group. If a relaxed family holiday is what you want, you got it. If you’re up for anything, and looking for the best attractions and accommodation, keep reading ’til the end. 

1. Kids will love the Dusit Deva Cultural Centre, a slightly eccentric garden filled with creatures from Buddhist and Hindu myths.

2. Treat the family to a poolside Sunday brunch. Although there are several family-friendly restaurants in Koh Samui, our top picks for a gorgeous sea-view brunch with kids are the Four Seasons and Beach Republic.

paradise park koh samui

3. Take a trip to the petting zoo at Paradise Park Farm Samui in Lipa Noi, where you’ll also encounter exotic birds and other wildlife.
(IMAGE FROM FACEBOOK)

4. Visit nearby Nathon Walking Street Night Market on Tuesdays or the bigger Fisherman’s Village Night Market in Bophut on Fridays.

5. Samui Football Golf is a unique physical activity and all ages can share in the fun.

WATER FUN
It’s not a tropical holiday without some wet n’ wild fun for the whole family.

koh samui na muang waterfalls

6. Samui has a number of spectacular waterfalls. We love the Na Muang Falls where there’s a an inviting pool. For younger children, Lin Had Waterfall is most child-friendly. Please note both are not recommended during the rain season Oct-Nov.

7. Go island hopping in Ang Thong National Marine Park, which encompasses a cluster of islands. The heavily jungled islands are carefully controlled to keep them in pristine natural condition. A trip to them is a must.

Koh Samui water park

8. Splash and slide in the sun at Pink Elephant Samui Water Park in Maenam.
(IMAGES FROM SAMUIWATERPARK.ASIA)

ADVENTURE
Older kids and athletic teens with energy to burn have an opportunity to experience some thrilling sports in Koh Samui.

9.

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Elite Guide to Phang Nga Bay

in Tips by
Island Phang Nga Bay

Between Phuket Island and Krabi on Thailand’s mainland is a remarkable 400-square kilometre inlet known as Phang Nga Bay. Named after the indigenous people (pangan) of the Malay Peninsula and its surrounding islands, the province of Phang Nga is rich with stories of pirates, sea-gypsies and Malay fisherman dating back hundreds of years. Many people of Phang Nga still maintain the humble, traditional way of life of their forefathers, pulling fresh lobsters from the sea to sell in Phuket, whilst others have embraced the area’s growing tourist trade and now work as guides.

While Phang Nga Bay is rich in folklore, it is most widely famed for the hauntingly beautiful limestone karsts that jut out of the sea, many resembling unfinished clay vessels upon a potter’s wheel. These colourful islets with their toupees of lush tropical vegetation were carved out over millions of years, and now host some of the world’s most spectacular sea caves, along with Thailand’s largest mangrove reserve.

SIGHTS

The unbelievably emerald-green waters of Phang Nga Bay are a delight to explore in a traditional long-tailed fishing boat, canoe, kayak or speedboat. Here are some of our personal favourites for when it comes time to plan your visit to this natural wonderland.

James Bond Island

Featured in the James Bond films, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), the sight commonly referred to as ‘James Bond Island’ is also called Koh Tapu.

Here one can pace the twenty steps made famous by the suspenseful duel scene starring Roger Moore, or venture along a shaded path past an enormous limestone fissure to a smoothed-out sea cave that opens to breath-taking views of the Andaman Sea. Two small beaches line its shores and offer a great place to burrow in the golden sands while oohing over the marvellous scenery.

Limestone Caves and Hongs

Many tour operators provide the opportunity to explore the countless limestone caves and hongs (rooms) of Phang Nga Bay. The best way to witness these extraordinary natural wonders is by canoe, where local guides leisurely paddle one into vast cave systems littered with stalagmites and stalactites. These skeletons, created by a build-up of calcium carbonate, are visually stunning, especially when contrasted with the lush tropical backdrops that glow during the day.

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Another island

in News by
Koh Samui island destination Thailand

Four stunning beachfront villas in Koh Samui, Thailand have joined Elite Havens Luxury Villa Rentals’ exclusive portfolio. Samui is our sixth outstanding island destination and the new properties are a consistent addition to our existing collection of over 200 carefully selected holiday villas on Phuket, Bali, Lombok, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Introducing Elite Havens’ first Koh Samui villas:

BAN SURIYA

Ban Suriya

LUXURIOUS SIX-BEDROOM LIPA NOI, KOH SAMUI BEACHFRONT GETAWAY WITH 20-METRE POOL
www.bansuriya.com

VILLA WAIMARIE

Villa Waimarie

LIPA NOI, KOH SAMUI BEACHFRONT HOLIDAY VILLA WITH SIX BEDROOMS, 15-METRE SWIMMING POOL, TENNIS COURT AND KIDS PLAYGROUND
www.villawaimarie.com

TAWANTOK BEACH VILLAS

Tawantok Beach Villas

GORGEOUS PAIR OF FIVE-BEDROOM VILLAS WITH A TENNIS COURT AND OCEANFRONT SWIMMING POOLS ON KOH SAMUI’S LIPA NOI BEACH
www.tawantokbeachvillas.com

 

These villas come brimming with facilities, fitted out and fully-staffed. They are perfect for family or group holidays and a supreme choice for weddings among Koh Samui event venues. The in-villa pampering is beyond compare and the outdoor activities are endless. Booking with Elite Havens ensures five-star service from the moment you enquire.

On-site at every holiday home is a team of hosts including a private chef and villa manager handling much more than the cooking and cleaning. Working alongside them to ensure hospitality of the highest standard is Elite Havens’ local Koh Samui branch, which opened in September 2017 and is Elite Havens second Thailand office. Elite Havens also has an office in Phuket and represents over 40 of the very best villas from Natai Beach to Cape Yamu.

 www.elitehavens.com

BALI, LOMBOK, SRI LANKA, MALDIVES, PHUKET and now KOH SAMUI

 

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Must-see in Thailand: Phi Phi Islands

in Recreation by
koh phi phi thailand islands

Ready for an adventure? Take to the sea Herman Melville style and visit the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast of Phuket. This beautiful bundle of isles in the Andaman Sea offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Add these must-see islands to your Thailand itinerary.

Koh Phi Phi Leh

Early birds get the worm, or in this case stunning views of Maya Bay featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. A private chartered speedboat departing at sunrise from Royal Phuket Marina near Cape Yamu offers the best chance to witness this remarkable site before the hoards arrive.

The approach to Koh Phi Phi Leh is an experience in itself, as the 100-metre-high limestone cliffs encompassing unbelievably azure water come into view. Silhouetted by dense jungle, the two silky-soft white-sand beaches of Maya Bay are gradually warmed by the rising sun with the allure of lazy lounging. But wait, there’s more.

Snorkelers rejoice! This remarkable bay with depths of two to three metres is teeming with marine life in its northern section where coral reefs are more prevalent. Leap from the deck of your private charter boat or dare the 150-metre swim from the beach. Either way, be prepared to see large boulders laden with enormous sea anemones, parrotfish and photogenic giant clams posing with mouths agape.

Before departing to the next destination, venture barefoot into the jungle along a short trail shaded by a lush tropical canopy to a wooden staircase and terrace overlooking Loh Sama, reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you’ll see a picturesque tiny islet surrounded by crystal clear waters with traditional long-tail wooden boats moored alongside.

Phi Leh Lagoon

Opposite Maya Bay on the eastern edge of Koh Phi Phi Leh is the unbelievably green Phi Leh Lagoon. Stretching nearly 600-metres, this stunning natural wonder twists and turns down a canyon-like waterway ending in a wide picturesque lagoon with vertical limestone cliffs on all sides. Its full beauty is unveiled around midday, when the sun, like a brush to canvas, brings to life its colours, tones and textures. This is a spot to linger awhile and appreciate how nature’s artistic hand can create such a glorious site. 

If it weren’t for the ripples, you could be forgiven for thinking you were diving into a putting green on a world-class golf course.

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