Tony the Thai Traveler

Revered for their beauty, power, and mystique, precious gems have been fascinating people of all cultures for centuries. As we live in a world that is its own treasure chest, it is nature that has produced in miniature amongst precious stones. Are you looking for something bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style? Introducing Pornchai International Co., Ltd., a gem of a store loaded with treasures not to be missed!

Mr. Pornchai Chuenchomlada, founder and former President of Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association.
Mr. Pornchai Chuenchomlada, owner of Pornchai International.

A wonderful stop for all things rocks, minerals, and gemstones, Pornchai International has been in business for over 40 years’ now. The man behind the curtain is Mr. Pornchai Chuenchomlada, founder and former President of Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association – literally he is the go-to-guy for anything gem related. Mr. Pornchai has been in every field of the gemstone business with over 50 years’ experience and expertise – from a cutter, a broker, to an exporter. Today, the company has grown to become one of the leading gemstone exporter, wholesaler, and retailer in Thailand.

Gemstones are stones with life in them, which is why they are sourced from all over the world from different continents – they all differ in properties and their colour speaks. Ranging from Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite, Agate, Jasper, Sapphire, Ruby, Opal, and much much more, Pornchai International’s collection is a combination of the riches of nature and a form of art in jewels. Set your mind to rest because only authenticity is guaranteed, phonies are not endorsed here. And if you’re a customer unacquainted to the gemstone realm, the staff can instill some knowledgeable details of the physical properties and aesthetic value of them for you.

Gemstones into jewelry.
Gemstones into jewelry.
Blingsmith, storytelling jewelry.
Blingsmith, storytelling jewelry.

Ask about their Blingsmith brand jewelry. They are a uniquely designed brand of jewelry that is not only for show but focuses on portraying a story – because behind every story there is a meaning and it is that important meaning as to why a person should wear Blingsmith!

With traditional and unique designs that are made to last a lifetime, it’s no wonder why many foreign buyers flock to Bangkok for a special piece of ornament. Whether you’re looking for something small or something large, at Pornchai International, their product range can start from a few hundreds of baht all the way to millions of baht, especially for those finer pieces in your life!

Jewelry Trade Center Building (JTC).
Jewelry Trade Center Building (JTC).

A prime location, Bangkok is the hub of gems and jewelry, and has been for several years. 70% of the customers are foreigners while the remaining 30% being Thais (which is on the increase). You can find Pornchai International situated at the Jewelry Trade Center Building (JTC), G Floor, on Silom road. JTC also serves are a fashion shopping outlet with many brand names. It is easily accessible and is within walking distances from the Surasak BTS station.

For more information on products offered and store location, please visit their website:

http://pornchai-international.com/ 

http://blingsmith.net/

bangkok amusement park
The castle entrance.

It’s been well over a decade since I’ve stepped foot at Siam Park City and today marks my return day! The weather wasn’t really on our side today with overcast skies throughout the day but hey, at least we didn’t have to worry about sweating ourselves in the heat. We were fortunate enough to go through our day without any rain where in the end it decided to give us a pouring welcome. Luckily our day was already at its end so it didn’t matter.

Siam Park’s Different Activities

Rockin' the viking!
Rockin’ the viking!

Siam Park is divided into 5 different zones: Water Park, X-Zone, Family World, Fantasy World, and Small World. Deciding to fearlessly try out some of the rides, we underestimated the adrenaline rush these rides can put on us despite their age. Take for example The Viking Ship, now this is so common that most of us have been on it as a child. All grown up now who would have knew it’ll be more frightening now than previously was when we were young and fearless compared to being old and fearful!

I found the Black Canyon!
I found the Black Canyon!

The amusement park itself is quite large in size. Walking in different zone makes you feel like you’re walking into another world, especially the one where it felt like being on an Indian Jones movie set. The attention to detail towards the architecture and plantations makes it a great caption for those selfie craze people!

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Park history on the restaurant walls.

Love food? So do I! When heading towards amusement parks, I’m always thinking “Mmmm carnival food”. On the quest to find some great carni food, we were a little let down by the options available. Just your ordinary Thai street food you can find anywhere else, especially grilled meatballs. We opt to try out the restaurant called Log Flume Restaurant. Dining in here you are presented with many portraits along the walls that will also inform you of the Park’s history. Although being let down with the food options, we just decided to finish the day off at the Water Park zone.

Guinness World Records – The Biggest Artificial Sea in the World

Water Park Zone. Yeh, it's pretty big!
Water Park Zone. Yeah, it’s pretty big!

You know what… I like the water park more than the amusement park! I think my amusement park ride days are over. You really can tell that a lot of people who go to Siam Park go for the water park. The amount of people here exceeds the amount at the amusement park.

The cherry on top of the cake here is the World’s Largest Wave Pool. I dislike beaches because of the sand and salty water. Here you have the best of both worlds. No sand and salty water but with continuous wave currents. That I like!

Remember my disappointment on “carni food”? Well, disappointed no further as this is the zone to find it! Overall, the food is better here.

To conclude, Siam Park City may be a little outdated from the looks of it but from the experience side of things, the thrills and spills are still there! So beware or be scared…

Sometimes we get all tied up with the big city life that we forget about the beauty of nature.

My destination, Sa Kaeo province, which is located approximately 245 kilometers from Bangkok (about 3 hours drive) and right on the edge next to the Cambodian border. You won’t find any high rise buildings here but what you do find is lots and lots of greenery and mountains. Being from the city, one can tell that the air quality is completely different, fresh and delightful.

On arrival and stepping out of the car, I gasp deeply, feeling in my lungs with that hint of purity in the air. So fresh, so good!

For this trip, we were visiting the missus family that lived in the Klong Had district, so that means we didn’t get to experience the main town of Sa Kaeo. Within this area, we witness fields and fields of agriculture; from sugarcane plantations to potatoes and lots more! We really were in the countryside.

The dirt here is rich in red colour. From a distance, we witness many mountain ranges which in fact are tourist spots where you can adventure into the caves or take a scenic approach at the viewing points for some awesome photo takings. Simply put it, the views here are amazing!

Compared to the city life, there is not much to do here besides being with nature. The closest thing to the city is the town Wang Nam Yen (just before Klong Had). Here you’ll find stores, restaurants and the Tesco Lotus supermarket.

Luckily, there are those hidden gem spots that only the locals know about and of course I was taken there. Take a glimpse of the image taken below and there is no denying that this is a great chill out spot with a great view, especially going along with the food, drinks and karaoke!

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Thai style BBQ.
Thai style BBQ.

So what can we expect here when we dine? Well for sure you won’t be expecting any international cuisines here, not even a McDonald’s. Expect Isaan food and “nam prik” (Thai dip or hot sauce) to satisfy your taste buds but just beware, people here love their spiciness on another level!

On one of the nights, we dine inside due to the pouring rain. Not even the rain will stop us for a BBQ session. All of our produces were bought at the local markets’ nearby and boy, the quantity we get here is just outrageous compared to Bangkok prices. You can live like kings and queens here!

You won’t find fancy 5-star hotels around here but there are decent accommodations that can be found. I’ve taken refuge at Klong Had Resort numerous times and it’s cheap too! For those who are looking for decent but something better, try the Wangnamyen Garden Hotel. Although I haven’t stayed at this hotel before but have driven passed it on many occasion, it does look good! And just a couple of metres down the road you’ll find a driving range for all those golf fanatics!

So being back in Bangkok with the big city life, what do I miss about the country side? Overall, it’s got to be the atmosphere over there. The simplicity of life there, the air quality, even the night sky where you actually can witness the twinkling stars – this is what can be experienced and definitely cannot forget! Once we got back to Bangkok and opened the doors, we were reunited with the “Bangkok air” again, oh wells…


When you want to witness the sun going down on the edge of the sea with the scent of the fresh sea breeze, most would consider Pattaya City. Well don’t be too quick to make your decision as there’s another place that is just as beautiful, minus all the ruckus that Pattaya offers. Take a getaway trip to Bang Saen instead! It’s not that far from Pattaya and rest assure that you won’t be bumping into tourist anytime soon when your there. If you want to party go to Pattaya. If you just want a relaxing time, go to Bang Saen where things are more peaceful and clean. Got it?!

When arriving at your destination, some people may want to find accommodations and check-in straight away. In this case, no! Head directly to Bang Saen beach where you can dine fresh seafood on the sand under the umbrella looking out to the sea. Consider this as a Thai beach as you hardly find any tourist around here. With the scenery and everything being picture-perfect, the weather was rather not. Sometimes you just need to escape from the heat and head to somewhere nice and cool. There’s the Laem Thong Shopping Mall which is located in close proximity from the beach road and just across the road from Burapha University, but who has time for that – we’re here to do some sightseeing! If you want to shop, the infamous Bangkok city awaits you with its countless numbers of shopping malls.

At Khao Sam Muk meeting the local monkeys.
At Khao Sam Muk meeting the local monkeys.

Keep travelling on the beach road you’ll come across some awesome viewpoints. Travel down even further you can change the angles of your views – great for those selfie imposed people or just taking shots of the spectacular views insights. Better yet, how does some cold coconut ice-cream served in a coconut sound whist enjoying the sunset? Well it was “view-delicious”! So if you see a coconut ice cream cart, don’t resist it, especially if it’s hot! Opted for the evening when the weather cools down while watching the sunset.

A visit to Bang Saen wouldn’t be complete if you don’t head up the small hill of Khao Sam Muk – make sure you buy some bananas because you’ll be feeding a bunch a monkeys up there. Oh and the view up there is stunning!

A slow and steady drive up and down the hill trying to avoid these monkeys can be a little tricky, especially when you’re trying to give them some bananas out from the car window. The inconvenient truth, these monkeys will jump on the car waiting to be feed so be careful!

Feel like your trip is over and you need to buy some gift back for your friends and family back home, then head to Nong Mon Market which is the shopping venue for food and souvenirs of Chon Buri. It is a convenient stop before returning to Bangkok. Don’t forget about the sweet rice in bamboo pipe, sweet coconut wrapped in palm leaf and many more!

Nong Mon Market.
Nong Mon Market.

Miyazaki Skewer Thai Style.

Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste, not just exact measurements. This is where you’ll find a unique culinary experience which meets the needs amongst foodies and cooking enthusiasts. A combination of great ambience, lovely people and the perfect ingredients are elements of a match made in heaven – welcome to Siamese Studio!

Ken, owner of Siamese Studio.
Ken, owner of Siamese Studio.

Housing a commercial kitchen with a touch of contemporary feel to it, this place becomes the perfect location for all things gastronomic! A cooking studio that can be transformed into private dinner functions or play host to fabulous parties – they can cater and orchestrate to your needs. The most eyegasm thing that diners will experience is being able to witness the chefs working their magic from preparation to final execution, something this place highly prides itself on offering as a culinary experience. And one cannot ignore the aromas that makes the kitchen smell delicious, the wonderful smells is just part of what makes food enjoyable.

Food is our common ground. Food is one way to make people happy. Food can unite people from all walks of life and cultures. When we sit together and eat, we promote better understanding and harmony. Food brings love, peace and compassion to the table. Consider all of that because that’s exactly how feelings were emitted from my first time experience private dining at Siamese Studio – even though we never met, dining together was the icebreaker!

Miyazaki beef is beautifully marbled.
Miyazaki beef is beautifully marbled.

Who doesn’t love the taste of a tender steak fresh off the grill? A great-tasting steak begins with a good cut of meat. That night, was a special night with a very special component – Miyazaki Beef – a collaboration between Siamese Studio and Espasia Company. Considered as the number one and best of the best beef from Japan, the Miyazaki Beef was carefully prepared for the construction of the 9 course meal.

Miyazaki Charcoal Grill.
Miyazaki Charcoal Grill.

Personally but not limited to, the main highlight of the night was the Miyazaki Burger which was cooked to perfection – the first bite simply overwhelms with its tenderness and juiciness! Overall, there was no dish where there is any dissatisfaction. The Miyazaki Beef really shines through in every dish and it goes to show the importance of having high quality produce that brings out the best in any type of dish!

Miyazaki King of Burger.
Miyazaki King of Burger.

Besides cooking and dining, Siamese Studio is also a compact serviced hotel at a very affordable price located behind Central Rama 9 and is less than 5 minutes walking distance to nearest MRT station. But as you can tell, it’s not just the accommodation of this place that stands out, it’s about the food! If you think food and travel are inextricably intertwined and you are in search of world-class foodie experiences, Siamese Studio should be on your bucket list.

Miyazaki Suki Yaki.
Miyazaki Suki Yaki.

A special thanks go out to Mr. Somkiat Rungreongpaitoon (Ken), owner of Siamese Studio for hosting an unforgettable dining experience that simply had myself leaving in a good impression that is beyond my taste buds. Delightful dinners or cooking classes, you’ll arrive as guests but leave as treasured friends!

For more information, please visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/siamesestudiobkk

Beside serving delicious food, Siamese Studios hosts a contemporary designed guest house.
Beside serving delicious food, Siamese Studios hosts a contemporary designed guest house.

Are you ready to step into the Dreamworld?

I remember being in Bangkok’s Dreamworld amusement park as a kid, but now I’m back, older and bigger, and there’s no one to stop me from getting to the big boys’ rides!

To avoid crowds and long lines, we opted to go to the Dreamworld on a weekday rather than the weekends. Usually that would have been the case, but upon our arrival we were greeted by the sight of multiple school tours, and they were a huge bunch! So much for short lines, oh wells.

Dreamworld statues offer some great Kodak moments.
Dreamworld statues offer some great Kodak moments.

Dreamworld has been around for ages, but it still has its charms and beauty in spite of its age, and there is something for everyone, even if you’re not a thrill seeker.

Wherever you go or look at, there are always plants and gardens, which have been beautifully cultivated and decorated. You’ll also find sculptures and cartoon characters scattered around the vicinity silently in their positions for you to snap some pictures with.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll come across Mr. Bean under his umbrella.

Giant’s House in Dreamworld

Want to know how it feels like to be miniaturized? The Giant’s House is it! Everything is supersized in here! You will either feel like Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, or that you’ve been shrunk like those kids from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Either way, it’s a pretty impressive sight viewing things from a smaller perspective. Plus The Giant’s House was air-conditioned, and we wanted to get away from the outside heat!

Arctic Atmosphere in Snow Town

Tony's dream companions at the Dreamworld.
Tony’s dream companions at the Dreamworld.

But for those who really want to escape the heat, head over to Snow Town where the temperature is guaranteed below negative zero in an arctic atmosphere.

Dreamworld’s Best Rides

Dreamworld has some great amusement park rides.
Dreamworld has some great amusement park rides.

Looking around, doing some sightseeing, capturing the moment, and finally it started to feel like it’s time to take a flight on the rides. The first choice was the Sky Coaster (hanging roller coaster), and it was definitely worth the wait! Exhilarating drops and fast turns at high speeds got my adrenaline going that’s for sure!

And next The Hurricane… Hold on tight as this baby tosses you about like a rag doll as it flips and somersaults in the air – not for the faint of heart.

The Raptor for its turn bounces and spins a hell of a lot too! It’s thrilling, but it just never ends! The Raptor was the least favorite of mine but undeniably the girls liked it a lot.

There’s a bunch of other exciting rides that awaits you, but just make sure you choose wisely as waiting in line you could lose valuable time for having fun somewhere else.

We averaged about 30 minutes waiting in line for most of the rides, and we still didn’t get to go on all rides.

“Hollywood Action Show”

One thing you miss if you come visit Dreamworld on weekdays is the Hollywood Action show with real live thrills and spills with spectacular special effects and loud explosions since the show is performed only on the weekends.

Water Fun and Animal Farm for Kids

Kids' will love the small water park.
Kids’ will love the small water park.

For the smaller children Dreamworld has kid’s activities such as the ‘Water Fun’ for those who love the water, and the ‘Animal Farm’ for the animal lovers.

And don’t forget about those amusement park games. Try winning them to get your girl a souvenir teddy bear so they stop complaining later is a must!

Dreamworld’s Cable Car

Cable car takes above the Dreamworld.
Cable car takes above the Dreamworld.

Ending off the day on a perfect note and for the most spectacular views of the amusement park, get on the ‘Cable Car’ and you won’t be disappointed! As you cruise through the sky at a steady pace you are endowed with the amazing scenery at your glimpse. This is the perfect opportunity to snap those unforgettable shots!

For a second, being up there you think you’re a drone because of the similar viewpoints you have but in reality, you’re not a drone and you don’t fly! So be cautious and keep all hands on deck!

How to Get To Dreamworld

Dreamworld is located in Rangsit area in Bangkok. Take BTS (Skytrain) to Mo Chit Station, leave through Exit No. 3, and catch bus no.188. Or catch a taxi.

Dreamworld Opening Hours

Dreamworld is open:

Monday – Friday from 10.00 hrs -17.00 hrs

Saturday – Sunday and public holidays from 10.00 hrs -19.00 hrs

Dreamworld Admission Fee

Thai Adults 150 baht and children 120 baht

Foreigners 650 baht (including admission to all rides except Snow Town Go-kart)

Forget the temples, Thais love to party too during the Songkran.

There are two ways to welcome Songkran (the Thai New Year) the Thai way: either spend time with the family (perhaps going to temples and having dinner), or hit the streets for an all-out water fight.

For most younger Thais the obvious choice is to get out there and have some wet n’ wild time!

Songkran – The Day 1

Tony on the party mood.
Tony on the party mood.

For me the first thing to do is to head straight to the ice factory with some friends to make sure our water bins are filled with huge blocks of ice. Playing with water is fun, but playing with icy cold water makes the water fight even better, especially seeing the reaction of those who are sprayed with it!

There are many spots for water fights in Bangkok. Most foreigners celebrate Songkran in the backpacker area of Khao San Road, but my favorite spot to start the celebration is the less touristy Chok Chai 4 street around Lad Prao neighborhood.

The whole street turns to a huge party with DJs playing music from oversized speakers, and booze flowing like there is no tomorrow from early morning.

Nobody passing by stands a choice of safe passage. Everyone is bound to getting sprayed by icy cold water!

With the afternoon sun setting, it’s time to move on to the next destination, party street RCA, where the “S2O – Songkran’s Official Electronic Dance Music Festival” takes place. Take a taxi; finding parking space would be a nightmare.

Upon arrival, you’ll be slapped in the face by the sheer volume of people. It can take up to 40 minutes just to buy a ticket (1,800 Baht each), and make our way through the entry gates.

Bangkok's official Songkran party!
Bangkok’s official Songkran party!

It’s all worth it; you’ll find good music accompanied by good company, not forgetting to mention the endless views of attractive women, it is a blast!

Once in, forget about buying individual drinks, instead plow yourself through the crowds towards the Smirnoff booth to get some drinks – a bucket filled with Smirnoff and Red Bull will set you back some 500 Baht.

The downside of the good times is the night coming to an end, and finding a taxi home. It can get pretty frustrating. It’s typical during Songkran that taxi drivers want a specific fee instead of turning on their meter. Either you’re lucky to find a decent cab and pay by the meter, or you’ll have no choice but to negotiate a price.

My word of advice: if you’re not overly intoxicated, walk a little and away from the crowed areas, and you’ll eventually find a taxi driving by the meter… that’s if you’re lucky.

Songkran – The Day 2

Maldives hosts a foam party during the Songkran.
Maldives hosts a foam party during the Songkran.

After recuperating from the previous day’s wet n’ wild affair I would head back to my favorite spot at Chok Chai 4 for round 2 pm, and look for a hangover cure, that is more drinking while eating some Esaan food such as spicy papaya salad (somtum) with some yummy barbeque.

As night falls, it’s time to go to the Maldives (not the real island nation, you silly!). The restaurant/bar is located at Meng Jai area. It usually has relaxing atmosphere with great food with live bands in an outdoor setting. But during Songkran it will be anything but chilled.

Music bumping and party foam filling the dance floor, you will be looking for a wild night!

songkran--3

I highly recommend this place, on any day of the year, as it is really a comfortable place just to take a seat to dine and drink while taking in the welcoming atmosphere.

And one more thing or two about this place: Maldives is located just outside the congested city center, and you’ll mainly find locals here instead of tourists – a place to be if you want to get away from touristy crowds.

Songkran – Day 3

There’s supposed to be a Day 3 of Songkran too, but for me, I can just party so much. Happy Songkran!

Text by Tony Poowananon

Wine harvesting at the PB Valley Vinery.

Looking for a weekender away from the capital city? Are you bored of the usual beaches and coastlines? This weekend’s getaway takes us to the northeastern parts of Bangkok to Khao Yai and Korat. Travel through the mountainous terrain and into the gateways of Isaan. We visit some of the must-go-to places that should be on anyone’s itinerary – from vineyards, temples and monuments to the delightful foods.

Wine Harvest at PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

During the wine harvest kids are asked to do what they do the best: make a mess!
During the wine harvest kids are asked to do what they do the best: make a mess!

Every year from the end of January to the middle of March, is the wine harvesting period and the annual Harvest Festival at PB Valley. This picture-perfect place is a destination perfect for the family with something for both the young and old.

Tasting the wine.
Tasting the wine.

The vineyard and winery tour including wine tasting of PB’s finest wines for the adults, and for the kids the grape juice is no exception either with its deliciously fresh taste!

Get up close and personal and experience fun activities for all with grape picking and stomping competitions.

As the beautiful sunset drops behind the vineyard, settling down to enjoy the magnificent BBQ buffet at the Great Hornbill Grill was just mouthwatering. From PB Valley’s signature pizza to the tenderized steaks, our taste buds were definitely satisfied, especially ending with their very own homemade grape ice-cream. Just wonderful!

Farm Chokchai – Best Burgers and Ice Cream East of Bangkok

Holy burger!
Holy burger!

If you haven’t heard of Farm Chokchai yet, then you’re missing out. Besides all the variety of activities offered, what many people come here for is the Steakhouse! This is the place to come to taste Thailand’s premium quality beef, which you won’t find anywhere else.

As a burger fanatic, my eyes were on the Chokchai Steak Burger, pretty much the main reason for this stopover. The verdict, all worth it! The beef patty was juicy and succulent, the cheese was sharp, the caramelized onions were sweet, the bacon cooked to perfection, overall it was just a darn tasty burger – you can really taste the quality and freshness!

Besides the burgers, you’ll find the steaks here to be very tender and appetizing.

Set yourself back and take it all in while dining in a farmhouse style atmosphere. After all, you’re on a farm! Don’t forget to taste their dairy products at Umm!.… Milk, especially their ice creams. Nothing but quality fresh milk are used, which compliments to the tastiness!

Thao Suranari Garden

Stop by the Thao Suranari Garden for an extravagant scenic view, a perfect rest over spot before continuing to Korat city. The garden overlooks the Lumtakong Dam and you’ll get that panoramic view of the open lake. Here, we also pay respects to Lady Mo Monument or also known as Ya Mo who was a hero in Korat’s history.

Thao Suranaree Monument

Just the three of us...
Just the three of us…

This memorial to Ya Mo was built in 1934, it is located in the old moated city centre, and shows her holding a sword of the defeated Lao. When in 1826 Lao invaders ransacked Korat rounding up people to take back as slaves to Vientiane, Ya Mo apparently rallied villagers in the area to help fight the invaders and they were successful.

This is a very busy monument where Thai people flock to pray. Situated in a buzzing area of Korat, there is plenty of eating, shopping and people watching places close by.

Fabulous Wat Non Kum Temple

The beautiful temple.
The beautiful Wat Non Kum.

A must for everyone! This temple is an architectural masterpiece that will wow your eyes open. This stunningly beautiful temple itself is spectacular. Outside surrounding by a pond, white and black swans and beautiful gardens.

The Wat Non Kum Temple was built as an act of merit by the Thai film star Sorapong Charchate. The entire complex is dedicated to the memory of Phra Somdit. It is estimated over a million visitors go there each month to make merit.

Take the time to visit and explore the surroundings of the temple as it is well worth it. Be mindful and respectful of the Buddhist culture and traditions while visiting! Don’t forget about the free Lad Na (Thai-style wide noodles in thick gravy sauce) offered as well. It’ll be a good idea to fill up your palate before exploring the temple grounds.

Khorat’s Best Restaurant: Kanom Jeen Kru Yawd (ขนมจีนครูยอด)

It's not the looks but the taste of khanom jeen noodles.
It’s not the looks but the taste of kanom jeen noodles.

Highly recognized as one of the most famous eating spots in Korat, Kanom Jeen Kru Yawd should be your number one choice for dining. Be advised though, this place tends to get crowded during lunchtime. The restaurant serves their infamous kanom jeen rice noodles with four types of curries.

Other Isaan food classics are great too. The salty deep fried chicken wings are fried to crispy perfection. The som tum here was delightful with its garden-fresh taste. You won’t find a large menu here but because of the limited of options, they perfect their dishes that send your jaw dropping!

Text by Tony Poowananon

thongtara house
That's what you can call a cool room to stay. No arctic sleeping bag needed, though.

Amidst all the chaos and congestion of Bangkok, lies the neighboring province of Samut Prakan. Travelers often overlook this area, which is why you’ll rarely encounter foreigners and tourist here. Little do they know that Samut Prakan is rich in historical and cultural spots, a place that should be in every curious traveler’s list of places to visit.

As with all journeys, there’s always a need for a place to kick those shoes off to relax and rewind. You won’t need to look any further, as we’ve found a hidden gem of a guesthouse that offers some unforgettable experiences.

Thongtara House Boutique Residence is a newly established, family run hotel that accommodates its guests with the most welcoming and gracious feelings. Just as their slogan says: “Thongtara House Treats You Like Family”; and that is exactly the treatment you’ll get!

Thongtara House makes also an exciting staycation for those Bangkok residents, who wish to get away from the city for a weekend, and experience something surprising and different.

Want to sleep amongst the polar bears? Or in the middle of dolphins like a real mermaid? Thongthara is the right place for you.

thongtara house
Dolphins are the man’s best friend, right?

Fantastic Rooms and Hospitality at Thongtara House

Feel the orange.
Feel the orange.

If you’re wondering what “Thongtara” means, it translates to Golden Water. It correlates to the color of the building, which stands out as a golden orangey tone, and amongst all of that, lies the blue salt watered pool, which represents the water aspect of the name.

First impressions of the place makes you ponder if you’re on an island resort of some kind. The attention to details throughout the hotel, especially all of the woodwork, shows the creativity and passion of its owners.

Stepping inside the rooms is like entering an alternative reality. Guests have the option to choose from variously themed rooms such as the Alice in Wonderland inspired room, all the way to the Next Frontier of the Galaxy room.

What makes each of the rooms special is the hand painted artistry that tricks your eyes and mind will gaze around you.

Out of all of their 17 individually themed rooms, your choice becomes endless to choose from, as each room has its very own look and feel. Needless to say, you won’t be disappointed in any decision you make.

Thongtara’s Home Style Cooking

Hungry? No worries! Thongtara has you covered with their home style cooking. You won’t find those fancy 5-stary dishes whose name you have no idea how pronounce in here, instead it’s the type of dining that closely resembles “mum’s cooking” – and as everyone knows that is the best dining experience one can ever have!

Pool and gym? Check

In addition to the pool, the hotel also facilitates its tenants with an in-house gym. It may not have all the facilities of a commercial gym, however, it sure does feel like it’s a private gym of your own!

A little bit traditional room.
A little bit traditional room.

All that Samut Prakan Has to Offer

So what else does Thongtara House have to offer? At your convenience, the hotel has their very own chauffeur service available to take you and your entourage to your chosen destination.

The owners can also give you great tips what to do and where to go in Samut Prakan, since they have lived in the neighborhood all their lives and know the place like the back of their hands.

Considering your stay at their “home”, they will make you feel like family by taking you to places that they prefer to go, exclusively in terms of dining experience – they know the best of the best places!

Some of the highlighted attractions of Samut Prakan that may tickle your fancy would be the Ancient City (Muang Boran), the Erawan Museum, Asokaram Temple, and the Crocodile Farm & Zoo.

For those looking for a lost kingdom.
Watch out for that forest elf stepping to your dreams.

Shopping Galore in Samut Prakan

Shopaholics don’t need to feel distressed either, as there is something for everyone within close proximity. For shopping malls there are Central Bangna, Mega Bangna, Seacon Square and Paradise Park, and especially not to be missed is the trendy and hip Talat Rot Fai (Train market).

Great Golf Courses at Your Doorstep

For the golfers out there, the greens await you at Thana City Golf & Sports Club, Summit Windmill Golf Club, and Muang Kaew Golf Course.

Thongtara – Hotel Close to Suvarnabhumi Airport

All in all, Thongtara House Boutique Residence is the perfect choice for those wishing to stay just on the outskirts of Bangkok City. The atmospheric experience here is serene and tranquil with no disturbance.

Its location is ideal for traveling, as the hotel is situated near Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

But the critical vital of this place is how they welcome you with open arms, making you feel like part of the family – this is what makes them stand out from the rest!

For more information, please visit Thongthara House’s website.

Tony (on the left) posing with Mr. Prayut Piangbunta, Thailand’s first oenologist and the backbone of PB Valley Winery on a molecular and scientific level.

Sometimes we seek adventure, sometimes we seek serenity, but how about seeking something out of the norm through stimulating all of your five senses? That is what happens in a vineyard tour: Your tastebuds will be tickled, aromas will accentuate through the air, you will feel the ambience from different environments, you will witness the beauty of nature, and you will hear nothing but peacefulness.

Between the terrains of Khao Yai mountains, lies PB Valley Khao Yai Winery, the source to one of the finest wines that Thailand has to offer. Located 150 km Norht East from Bangkok, this destination is a must for those wanting to witness and experience something new and articulate.

Pb Valley's beautiful grounds.
Pb Valley’s beautiful grounds.

Winery Tour Thailand Style

Take a tour around the 1,000 acres vineyard where onlookers can gaze upon the growth of different wine species (Shiraz, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Dornfelder, Colombard, Cabernet Sauvignon) while being enlighten by the guide on every detail imaginable.

Ever wonder how wine is made or the processes behind it? You will never wonder again as the tour continues through the winery to observe the different phases of wine making.

The wineyards with Khao Yai's mountains as the backdrop.
The vineyards with Khao Yai’s mountains on the backdrop.

Each room of the winery has its own general purpose, and you’ll feel the difference in vibes where light, humidity, and temperature play an important role in the wine making (especially in when storaging the wines). Fragrance tends to change from room to room – one may be the scent of oak from the wooden barrels or the other, the scent of yeast from the fermentation process.

From the excursion through the winery itself, you’ll start to understand the scale of the production size. The winery has a capacity of 600,000 bottles per year compared to its actual annual production rate of more than 150,000 bottles per year – but take a look on the bright side, PB Valley is ready and more capable than ever!

Time for Wine Tasting!

XXX showing wines to Tony.
Mr. Heribert Gaksch showing wines to Tony.

How about some wine tasting? As you know, a winery tour isn’t complete without sampling the wines, and that is exactly how this tour ends – on a good note! Here, your sense of smell will be aroused and tastebuds will be questioned.

For those unfamiliar with wine, all you need to do is ask; ask why do people swirl their glasses, how to hold the glass, how to take a sip to get that full taste, anything!

Special thanks goes out to Mr. Heribert Gaksch (Marketing & Business Development) for the exclusive tour and wine tasting – it was truly a new experience!

PB Valley’s Award Winning Wines

Can I drink all this?
Can I drink all this?

At PB Valley, the winemakers are masters of turning the fruits of nature into sophisticated wines. The main winemaker in charge is Mr. Prayut Piangbunta (Managing Director & Chief Winemaker), Thailand’s first Oenologist and the backbone of PB Valley on a molecular and scientific level – he oversees the fermentation and aging processes that turn grapes into wine.

With Mr. Prayut’s expertise, knowledge and background from his studies in Germany, PB Valley has been turning over award winning wines that compete on a worldwide scale – giving presence and appraisal for Thai wine within the wine industry.

It was a great privilege and honour to meet the man behind the bottle!

Great food at The Great Hornbill Grill

Grilled pork neck, anyone?
Grilled pork neck, anyone?

From touring through the outdoor vineyards, to the indoors of the winery rooms, to the open bars for wine tasting, end your stimulating day by indulging yourself with palates from The Great Hornbill Grill restaurant serving both Thai and Western dishes.

For the perfect combination, spoil your appetite by pairing your dishes with a glass of PB Valley wine whilst enjoying your meal overlooking the vineyards for a scenic view.

Don’t forget about the Wine and Souvenir Shop next door to the restaurant – you’ll definitely want to pick up a bottle or two of your favourite PB Valley wine!

Don't forget to visit the wine shop!
Don’t forget to visit the wine shop!

Know-how from Around the World

With machines and equipment from Italy, oak barrels from France, know-how from Germany, and grapes grown here locally at a picture-perfect location, PB Valley Khao Yai Winery’s combination becomes an impeccable formula that results in Thailand’s finest wines!

Don’t be too quick to judge or turn a blind eye, PB Valley is up to par with the rest of the world and is ready for the big spotlight!

For more information, please visit Khao Yai Winery’s official website.

Read More: Khao Yai National Park

 

Tony Poowananon is Nemo Guides’ Thai blogger, taking our readers to a ride through Thailand’s best destinations through local Thai perspective.

 

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