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Michael Cullen

Freelance Travel & Food Writer, Travel Photographer

Location icon Thailand

An Australian national currently based in Hua Hin, Thailand.

I love discovering new places, delving into the culture, and experiencing the local food and drink wherever I venture. My articles covering travel destinations, luxury to local hotels and resorts, food and wineries, along with expat living and overseas retirement have been published in select regional and international magazines and e-zines. Eco-friendly and sustainability as these relate to travel are of particular interest. I'm a member of TravMedia, and IFWTWA (International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association).

I welcome freelance commissions related to destinations and story ideas for my SE Asian region.


Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Thailand's Best Eco-friendly Hotels

Sustainable travel is front of mind for many travellers right now, as we all try to lessen our impact on the planet. We've curated a list of the best eco-friendly hotels in Thailand so you can plan your next planet-conscious holiday. These Thailand properties, in the most entrancing of locations, offer their own version of luxury-meets-nature – and minimise your eco-holiday footprint. Take a look at our guide to the best eco-friendly hotels in Thailand.

The Hotel Journal
6 Best Design Hotels on Thailand's Royal Coast

While many flock to holiday at hotels in Phuket, just over a two-hour drive from Bangkok, Hua Hin remains a darling of Thai aristocracy and in-the-know travellers from Asia and Europe. Long stretches of wide sandy beaches, championship golf courses, three national parks nearby, an award-winning winery, and tantalising food tours await.

HOT Magazine, Issue 4, Volume 9
Let's Stay - Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, Krabi

Arriving at Centara Grand Beach Resort Krabi by boat, it feels like we are coming to an island. The resort's shuttle speed boat whisked us from Ao Nang's Nopparat Thara Pier to Pai Plong Bay, exclusively occupied by Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi. Pai Plong Bay's long golden sand beach sparkles in the sunlight. Towering palms line the beachfront. Teal-colored rooftops of the resort's low-rise buildings blend with the verdant tropical jungle surround. A 400 plus meter high...

HOT Magazine
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui - Paradise Found

A tropical resort nestled across a crescent-shaped hillside, a natural amphitheatre, overlooking a small cove with private beach on the Gulf of Siam. Towering coconut palms gently sway in the cooling ocean breeze, and spectacular uninterrupted views of surrounding islands enthral. Looking down from Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui alfresco Arrivals Sala, I see the lush tropical jungle and catch glimpses of teak roof tiles of nearly hidden villas and glints of sunlight off villa pools. The only...

HOT Magazine
Elite Havens – a Luxury Holiday Alternative for Families and Groups

Could this style of holidaying be the new and COVID safe way for friends and family to holiday together in this current travel restrained world and on into the 'new normal'? That's what I pondered as I luxuriated in the exclusive and private Angthong Villa on Koh Samui's north-east shoreline. Angthong Villa is one of 300 private luxury havens in the most desirable holiday locations of Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand; Indonesia's Nusa Lembongan, Bali and Lombok; Sri Lanka; the Maldives and...

Hot Magazine
Spa InterContinental at InterContinental Hua Hin Resort

Arriving at Spa InterContinental, I step from the tropical heat and ambient traffic noise of central Hua Hin into a serene space. Dark timber wall panels of an Oriental style cover the walls - blending aspect of Thai, Balinese and Japanese themes distinctively.

Travel Post Monthly by Great Escape Publishing
Luxury Lodgings on Thailand's Royal Coast

Another glorious day is coming to life for the coastal city of Hua Hin on Thailand’s Royal Coast, and here I am right in the middle of it. Returning from my early morning beach walk, two imposing bowing elephant statues, trunks extended appear to offer a respectful welcome as I enter the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa. One of central Hua Hin’s prominent landmarks, the hotel is in the final stages of a near twelve-month refurbishment program, and I’m enjoying a staycation to experience facilities...

Hot Magazine
Let's Stay - Evason Hua Hin Resort

Evason Hua Hin Resort is all about restoring balance to your life, and it is your senses that feel that rebalancing first. Scents of floral, sweet and herby pandan, the heady fragrance of frangipani, and the fresh, salty sea breeze fill your nostrils.

Restaurants, Food & Wine

HOT magazine
Modern Med Delights @ Beach Society, SO Sofitel Hua Hin

Located beachside, Beach Society is about alfresco dining with the ocean as your outlook and cooling sea breezes as accompaniment. Its lunch and dinner menus offer a modern western culinary style with French influences. Lunch is about lite bites while dinner has a more sophisticated feel though still with a relaxed resort feel. Read on to learn more...

Food, Wine & Travel magazine
Travel writers share favorite local wines and wineries

Members of the International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association to share a favorite wine and/or winery that is close to home, wherever that may be. My contribution is about the wines of Thailand's Monsoon Valley Vineyards. Scroll to the end to read all about my favourite Monsoon Valley red.

Hot Magazine
Thailand's Vineyards - A Visitors Guide

Thailand has long been known for its beautiful beaches, Buddhist temples, welcoming people, outstanding natural environment and world-renowned cuisine. Not so well known is the regional image it is cultivating as a wine destination.

Hot Magazine
Organic Dining @ The Restaurant, Dusit Thani Hua Hin

Dusit Thani and the Royal Resort Beach Town of Hua Hin have a long connection, with their Hua Hin Resort recently celebrating its 30th year of operations. Not content with that milestone, this is a hotel that's definitely moving forward with purpose and innovation, particularly on the food side.

Hot Magazine
Contemporary Thai @ Jaras, InterContinental Hua Hin Resort

Hua Hin has a new chic and sophisticated beachside restaurant in a stylish setting, pairing contemporary Thai cuisine with traditional service and promising a unique fine dining experience. We are talking about Jaras Hua Hin at the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort.

International Living
In Photos: 10 Must Try Thai Dishes

With influences from China, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and a royal culinary tradition, Thai cuisine is the best of many worlds. Thai cuisine mixes spicy, sour, salty, and sweet, as well as various textures into one dish. The combination of herbs and spices produce complex flavors that somehow come together like a fine-tuned orchestra.

Hot Magazine
Sky High Spanish in bustling Bangkok - UNO MAS

UNO MAS, Spanish for “one more” is about celebrating Spain and its Mediterranean cuisine, sky-high right in Bangkok’s heart. Executive Chef, Sandro Aguilera is originally from Barcelona. He has worked at Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona and gained extensive experience elsewhere in his home country, France and Chile before moving to Thailand. UNO MAS has been awarded a Michelin Plate for the last three years (2018 through to 2020) under his guidance. Read on to learn more about our UNO...

Hot Magazine
Modern Mediterranean @ Kampu Restaurant, Mövenpick Asara Resort, Hua Hin

The giant rain tree's enormous umbrella-shaped crown towers above and easily shades the open-air deck of Kampu, Mövenpick Asara Hua Hin's signature restaurant. And by no coincidence, Kampu is also the Thai name for rain trees.Our party is undercover in Kampu's two-tiered alfresco dining area.

Hot Magazine
Dim Sum with a View @ White Lotus Restaurant, Hilton Hua Hin

Dim sum that highly social Chinese breakfast brunch or lunch offering can be found in specialist restaurants in major city Chinatowns across the world. Hong Kong is often heralded as the epicentre of Dim Sum restaurants. For Hua Hin residents and visitors, the great news is you don't have to travel that far to indulge.

Hot Magazine
Japanese delight @ Hagi, Centara Grand Hua Hin Resort

Have you ever walked past a restaurant or café and said to yourself "That looks really nice. I must try that one day!" I have, and thankfully I can now cross one of those restaurants off my list. And given our party so enjoyed the experience, I have to tell you about it!

Hot Magazine
Award-winning Italian @ Andreas Italian Restaurant, Hua Hin

To be recognised among the best restaurants in Thailand is an outstanding achievement. This month's Let's Eat column features Prachuab Kirikhan's only restaurant in Thailand's Top 10 Best Regional Restaurants. Let's explain the Best Restaurants guide first.

HOT Magazine
Hua Hin's Best Steakhouse - Prime @ Black Mountain

A Hua Hin dining icon, Prime Steakhouse, finds a new home at the award-winning Black Mountian Golf Course. And what a setting it is. The large alfresco dining area with its vaulted ceiling, timber and burnt orange tones throughout overlooks the course's original back nine. The sweeping lines of this championship course stretch out before us with Black Mountain as the ultimate backdrop. A cooling afternoon breeze adds to the welcoming ambiance. Our food journey begins with...

Hot Magazine
Cozy and comforting Italian @ Trattoria by Andreas, Hua Hin

Who better to explain what a Trattoria is then Andreas Bonifacio, the Chef Patron of Hua Hin's newest eating establishments - Trattoria by Andreas. As he describes it, Trattoria's are family-run, relaxed, and often cosy eateries, typically serving food of the region they are located. For this restaurant, Andreas is presenting food from his home region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in north-eastern Italy, and more broadly, quality Italian cuisine.

Hot Magazine
Seaside Dining @ Chay Had, Hilton Hua Hin Resort

Dining by the sea has some undefinable attraction. It never fails to be captivating, perhaps romantic, and always memorable. Additionally, it is often supposed that the food just tastes better when enjoyed down by the water.

Hot Magazine
Ocean Gazing @ Let's Sea Restaurant, Hua Hin

Our modern world seems to be so focused on living in the moment. Seeking out the next 'best thing'; chasing the latest trend; being seen at the newest happening. Respect for tradition and admiration of 'long-established' does not always appear to have currency with many in this fast-moving modern-day world.

Tourism Destinations & Guides

Khlong Ong Ang - Award-Winning Urban Renewal in Bangkok

One of Bangkok's oldest urban canals has undergone a massive rehabilitation to transform it into a trendy walking street and night market. Khlong Ong Ang is near many of the Thai capital's major sights. It is rich with entertainment, street art, history, tasty street food, and stalls selling local handicrafts. Here's all you need to know...

Food, Wine, Travel Magazine - May 2021 - the Where We're Going Next issue
Where We're Going Next - Taiwan

Food, Wine, Travel journalists write about the first places they'll be going once the world opens up to travel. For my contribution, I dream of Taiwan and why this island nation so captives me.

Food Wine Travel (FWT) magazine, The Road Trips Issue
Road Tripping – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Thailand is ideal for road tripping and one of my favourite road trips is Kanchanaburi City and Province just two hours west of Bangkok. Come exploring with me.

Khao Sok: A Southern Thailand Nature Adventure

Southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park sits within a 5,000 sq. Km forest complex with remnants older and more diverse than the Amazon. Khao Sok is easiest of this green zone to access and has two ‘star attractions’. The first is the central traveller hub in Khao Sok village with its trekking and nature trails, and Cheow Lan (or Khao Sok) Lake. The lake’s hundred or so limestone ‘karsts’ create evocative scenes that have been compared to the much-visited Halong Bay in Vietnam. This Park...

Discovering Isan: Ancient Temples, Lively Festivals & Food Sensations in Thailand's Lesser Known...

Thailand’s largest region, equating to nearly one-third of its landmass, is still ‘off the beaten track’ as far as international tourism is concerned. The good news is that this northeastern region – Isan – has much to discover. Expect beautifully restored Khmer ruins dating back to the Angkor era, intriguing temples, lively festivals, and diverse national parks. Encounter glimpses of Thailand of old: rice fields stretching to the horizon complete with languid water buffalos; rustic villages;...

Mae Khlong: A Rewarding Escape from Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the most visited cities in the world. There are times that the presence of tourists may feel overwhelming, and you may want to escape for a day or two and enjoy the feel of 'small town' Thailand.

Slow Travel the Way to Connect in Asia

Slow travel is a term used to describe travelling at a pace that enables you to connect to local communities and culture. It's about spending more time in places and discovering the soul of those places through their history, food, language and people, rather than chasing bucket list ticks.

Thailand Travel Guide

Thailand is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world, and the third in Asia after China and Turkey.

Hot Magazine
Let's Go, Melaka, Malaysia

Picture this! Hundreds of boats at anchor. Two-masted Dhows from Arabia and India with their distinctive triangular sails, smaller local trading vessel from neighbouring Sumatra, and a vast Ming Dynasty fleet of varying sized junks. Boat riggings jangle and slap in the prevailing breeze. Bells toll.

10 Best Things to Do in Hua Hin, Thailand - 2020 List

Thailand is renowned for its beaches and tropical islands with locations like Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, and Ko Samui on many visitors' lists. For the more inquisitive traveller, there are lesser-known, yet absolutely worth visiting coastal locations and islands that make repeat trips to the 'Land of Smiles' highly attractive. One such destination is on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand, just 120 miles south of Bangkok. A darling resort town for Bangkok Thais and more especially, the Thai...

5 Best Things to Do in Ko Samui, Thailand - 2020 List

Ko Samui (or Samui Island) epitomizes why Thailand and tropical island paradises are so often used in the same sentence. When roads were first built on the island in the 1970s, it became one of 'the' places in Southeast Asia for backpackers to hang out.

What To Do in Phuket, Thailand, in the Rainy Season

Phuket is one of Thailand's most popular holiday destinations year-round. During the rainy season, there will be some wet days, but these need not spoil your visit. There's lots to do and see on Phuket Island whatever the weather.

Community-based Tourism

Beyond the Smiles: Community-based Tourism in Thailand

With tourists increasingly searching for a deeper connection with the destinations they visit and the local people they meet, this trend presents a growing opportunity for community-based tourism. So, if you are looking to discover unique experiences while getting off-the-beaten-path, connecting with real communities, and perhaps feeling that you’re genuinely contributing in a socially responsible way, then check out what’s on offer from one Thailand social enterprise company, Local Alike.

Hot Magazine
Up Close and Personal, Elephant Haven, Kanchanaburi

Thai guide 'Patrick' announced "You'll have seven elephants for company today. They're aged from 65 to 28 and are all female and you are our only guest." And so began our day at Elephant Haven in the Kanchanaburi region of Thailand. An elephant park that offered trekking and elephant shows for 18 years before transitioning to a 'saddles off' and 'chains of' model where these gentle giants live as retirees with we humans permitted to share a day with them as they just be, well, elephants.

Hot Magazine
Community-Based Tourism Comes To Sam Roi Yod

Ever wondered what life is like within the local villages of our Prachuab Kiri Khan province? Questioned how people make their living? Pondered what their daily life looks like? Recently, I had the opportunity to find answers to those questions, and I jumped at it. But more on that in a moment.

Culture, Festivals & Events

Planning Ahead: Thailand's Upcoming Events & Festivals

Thailand is likely to be one of the first countries in Asia to re-open its borders to international tourists in the second half of the year. It's a country with so much to offer and here are some of the 'must experience' festivals and events happening between October 2020 and February 2021.

Vassavasa - Thailand's Annual 'Rains Retreat' and Candle Festivals

Thailand has many Buddhist festivals throughout the year, but some of the most interesting for visitors to the country to experience are the colourful candle festivals held at the start of the annual rains retreat. The parades are held on both city streets and waterways and feature the transportatio

Spirit Houses in Southeast Asia: What Are They All About?

Spirit houses can be seen in different forms all over Southeast Asia and in many other parts of the continent too. They are often draped in colourful garlands of flowers and have offerings of food and drinks for the spirits. But what are they all about? Here's what I've discovered...

Hot Magazine
Music Flows @ Hua Hin International Jazz Festival 2019

Could the Hua Hin International Jazz Festival become THE Jazz festival in SE Asia? That's undoubtedly what leading Thai jazz musician Koh Mr. Saxman told audiences on the first night of the 2019 Hua Hin International Jazz Festival.


Thailand Property Blog and Real Estate News
Riviera Thailand - A Tourism Masterplan Evolves

The word 'riviera' conjures images of palm-fringed beaches, clear blue skies, magnificent hotels, unique dining and entertainment, yachts hugging marinas and perhaps even glamorous casinos. A playground for the rich and famous, or those who aspire to those heights. It speaks to an exceptional climate, comfort, and a sought-after quality of life.

Hot Magazine
Asian Yachting Championship Kicks off in Phuket

Over 450 sailors, families and friends from more than 20 countries made Cape Panwa Hotel their home as they participated in the Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, 17 - 21 July. Raceweek welcomed top sailors from around Asia and beyond, and charterers from as far-a-field as Australia, China and the UK.

Running While Holidaying in the Tropics: Some Practical Advice

Many older travellers to the tropical countries of Asia like to keep fit whilst they are on holiday. One way to do this is through running or jogging. However, if you normally run only in temperate climates, there are some precautions that you need to take in the tropics.

Hot Magazine
WTA Thailand Open 2020, Hua Hin

For the second consecutive year, Hua Hin hosted the WTA Thailand Open, which saw world-class women tennis players and rising stars compete for both Singles and Doubles titles with prize money totaling USD 275,000.

Hot Magazine
WTA Thailand Open 2019, Hua Hin

The WTA Thailand Open 2019 happened 28 January to February 3 at Hua Hin's True Arena sports complex. What a week it was and what a great addition to Hua Hin's annual calendar of events. True Arena has hosted international tennis previously.

International Living (US) articles
Michael Cullen - IL's Thailand Correspondent

"Before we left our home country to come here and start our business, I was caught between the nerves of making such a big move-and the excitement of the adventure we were setting out upon," explains Leigh Higgins, operator of Feast Thailand Food Tours.

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