Thailand-based Aussie Michael Cullen's first career saw him working in hospitality from vice royal households to boutique and big brand hotels across Australia. New assignments and challenges were welcomed with open arms and he takes that same enthusiasm and expertise for hospitality into his freelance travel writing.
Asia always beckoned, be that backpacking from Hong Kong into Southern China's Guangzhou, a north-to-south honeymoon tour of Vietnam (well before mass tourism), Lombok touring, Cambodian explorations, or boating around the little-visited Andaman Islands of India. Looking for further adventures, Michael moved to Thailand full-time in 2015.
The culture, food, people and history, local architecture and design inspire Michael to keep travelling and sharing his experiences. He seeks places which can bring those elements together in hotels or guesthouses with a strong design aesthetic. Sustainable, eco-friendly, community-based tourism and wellness are also strong areas of interest.
Michael is a member of TravMedia, and IFWTWA (International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association).
You can see what he's posting at: www.instagram.com/travellingaussiesinasia/
Michael welcomes freelance commissions related to destinations and story ideas for his SE Asian neighbourhood.
Who doesn't love a trip to stunning Thailand? And Phuket, AKA The Pearl of the Andamans and the nation's largest island, has long attracted international visitors, with its year-round tropical climate, immaculate turquoise waters, and lush jungle interior. It's no surprise then that this paradise has built a well-earned reputation as one of South East Asia's go-to destinations for wellness.
After two years of no international travel, borders are finally opening, and new travel trends are emerging. People are not looking for more of the (pre-pandemic) same. Many are travelling more mindfully, seeking sustainable travel, boutique and authentic experiences. People want to experience nature and the outdoors, hands-on and immersive encounters, and activities impacting positively on the local community and environment. People are looking to travel with purpose or, put another way –...
Phuket is open and welcoming travellers once again. Expat Aussie travel writer Michael Cullen provides an update on the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. US NEWS recently ranked Phuket number 8 in their top 30 "World's Best Places to Visit." They raved about its outstanding sights, scenic beauty, food scene, and culture.
Hua Hin has a brand new beachside dining experience, bringing the vibrant flavours and cooking styles of South America to Thailand’s idyllic Gulf Coast shores. The grand Dusit Thani Hua Hin is where this new venue – Nómada – can be found. Following 20 years in leading restaurants in Chile, Peru-Argentinian Chef Andre Josef Nweh Severino takes the reins of the kitchen brigade marrying the fire of the Asado (Argentinian barbecue), Peruvian and Chilean love for spicy peppers, fresh seafood, and...
Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom, yet modern and cosmopolitan, is one of the most romantic destinations in Thailand. Nicknamed the “Rose of the North”, she is the ideal destination for fun-filled, active, and opportunity-rich holidays, especially for couples. Her lush green fields, towering mountains, languid waterfalls, ancient temples, great food, swanky bars, serene spas, bountiful boutiques, and inspiring galleries add to the romantic atmosphere. For couples, Chiang...
Thailand is a holiday destination beloved by travellers the world over. From the vibrant nightlife of Bangkok to the beaches of Phuket and the Royal stomping ground of Hua Hin, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Those travelling in the north of the country will undoubtedly love staying at one of the best boutique hotels in Chiang Mai and discovering the region's colourful history and culture. Read on to see which best appeals for your next trip.
Chiang Rai, the lesser-known sister to cosmopolitan Chiang Mai, is well worth exploring, writes guest writer Michael Cullen in this detailed guide to road-tripping this northern Thailand region. With its more laid-back style, visitors experience eye-popping temples, abundant nature, organic foodie trails, cultural insights into the Hill Tribe communities, and easy access to the Golden Triangle region, to name just a few offerings.
Chiang Mai offers so much as one of Thailand's top domestic and international tourism destinations. Layers of rich cultural, historical and religious links, abundant natural attractions, a vibrant creative scene, markets and shopping, and extensive entertainment, cafés, dining, and bar scene. To help with your next visit to Chiang Mai, we’ve scowered the bar scene to present a curated list of watering holes. We are talking about stylish drinking establishments with a great atmosphere and...
Turning from the main road into Anantara's Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort feels like we are entering some grand estate. The drive curves beside manicured lawn, with splashes of colour from tidy tropical gardens and clumps of ancient bamboo leading up to the grand walled resort entrance. Liveried staff are quick to welcome. Elephant motifs, busts and statues are part of the entrance court’s décor. Army green safari jeeps and two gleaming classic Royal Enfield motorbikes with sidecars...
Hotels, Resorts & Spas
A traditional Japanese guesthouse, a ryokan is a quintessential experience that most visitors to Japan have on their 'must-do' list. But wait! There is now a luxe mountain ryokan in northern Thailand where you can enjoy the whole ryokan cultural experience. Read on to learn more...
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.
Paresa Resort is truly unique. Perched cliffside, surrounded by lush tropical forest on the "Millionaires Mile" coastal road between Patong and Kamala, with breathtaking uninterrupted Andaman Sea views the norm, wherever you are in the resort. Paresa is a boutique luxury hideaway-style resort worth seeking out for your next Phuket holiday or island escape.
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.
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...
Have you ever dreamed of staying in a European style castle? The good news is that you don't need to travel to Europe to fulfil that dream. Your castle awaits in the verdant valleys of Khao Yai, less than a three-hour drive northeast of Bangkok.
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...
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...
Restaurants, Food & Wine
Chiang Mai's dining scene is exceedingly resilient, even in these pandemic restricted times, if the sixty entries in the 2022 Michelin Guide Thailand are anything to go by. I visited one of these highly regarded establishments recently to see what all the positive 'noise' was about. I'm talking about Redbox, a seven-table restaurant sitting in a quiet residential street just a 5-minute walk from Chiang Mai’s trendy Nimman area. 2022 is Redbox’s second consecutive year in the prestigious...
PRU, Phuket's only Michelin starred restaurant, is 'hidden' within one of Phuket's most renowned and exclusive resorts, Trisara. Thankfully, experiencing Chef Jimmy Ophorst's award-winning cuisine is not only restricted to resort guests. PRU stands for Plant, Raise and Understand, and it is all about sustainably producing food in a farm-to-table concept. That dedication to sustainability saw PRU receive another accolade in 2021 – a Michelin Green Star. Thailand's first and only restaurant to...
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.
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.
Chiang Rai is Thailand's northernmost region and is the primary gateway to the Golden Triangle. Chiang Rai is also a growing tourism hub thanks to its towering mountains and lush forests, rich Hill Tribe heritage and burgeoning community-based tourism. One of Chiang Rai’s leading five-star hotels must be The Reverie by Katathani. Initially operated by the Dusit Group, the recently renovated and upgraded 271 room property is located on an island in the middle of the Kok River, just minutes...
GranMonte Winery in Khao Yai's Asoke Valley has been cultivating grapes since 1999. It started as a hobby for soon to retire Bangkokian Visooth Lohitnavy. Some 22 years on, it has grown from the experimental 10 acres under vine to a vineyard of 40 acres plus a further 35 acres in the neighbouring Wang Nam Khiao region. Our “Let’s Eat” team believes that no vineyard is complete without an onsite restaurant where the local wines can be enjoyed alongside suitable food accompaniments. And...
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Life experiences shape and mould us, and our ability to harness and channel these builds our strength of character. So, it was for Khun Jasvir San-Ghera.
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.
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!
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.
Thailand based organic farmer and Michelin trained Chef, James Noble has long advocated for food sustainability (healthy for our bodies and the environment), provenance (knowing its origin), and finding viable, sustainable quality local alternatives to imported foods. His latest, Ori9in Farm, is a joint venture with K.P. Ho, Founder and Executive Chair of Banyan Tree Holdings and Laguna Resorts and Hotels, though it's not restricted to the Banyan hotel family. Read on to learn more...
Ever wonder how the wealthy individuals of our world book their luxury vacations, get privileged access to VIP events or arrange a bucket list experience? They certainly don't jump on the internet. These always-connected and on-the-go high-net-worth individuals email or message their Luxury Concierge. From private jets to luxury villa rentals and superyachts, off-market hotel suites, or private island holidays, these specialist ‘fixers’ offer the proverbial backstage pass to those...
Visootha "Nikki" Lohitnavy is the Winemaker and General Manager for her family-owned and operated GranMonte Winery in Khao Yai's Asoke Valley. Nikki also has the distinction of being Oenologist and Viticulturist.
Tourism Destinations & Guides
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...
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.
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...
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;...
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.
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 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 is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world, and the third in Asia after China and Turkey.
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.
Bangkok is one of those cities to which travellers return many times.
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...
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.
Conservation, Sustainable Travel & CBT related
The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) is a small Thai registered charity set up in 2005 to help elephants that could not help themselves. GTAEF strongly believes that all elephants would be wild in an ideal world. This is unfortunately not the case, so until that point is reached, GTAEF aims to assist captive elephants, improving their lives and welfare while also taking part in conservation and wild elephant programs to ensure the survival of the wild herd. Despite the...
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.
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.
Culture, Festivals, Lifestyle & Events
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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...
Cross Hotels & Resorts promotion; New hotel in Pratamnak, Places for Valentine date, Valentine promotions etc.
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Phuket is tropical and alluring, surrounded by natural beauty and offers a relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living is much less than in many developed countries, there’s minimal culture shock, and most of what you need is within easy reach. It’s effortless to make new friends, and there are loads of recreational facilities. Expats have been attracted to Phuket, the Pearl of the Andaman, for years. Read on to understand why.
Those following SE Asian business news would have seen articles on the EEC. So, what is it? This article aims to answer those questions and provide some context. Established a few years back at the government's direction, the EEC's mission is to develop its eastern provinces into a leading ASEAN economic zone.
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.
Thailand has long been attracting visitors. With annual numbers of just under 40 million in 2019, it is one of the top 10 international tourism destinations and Asia's second most visited country. People are also attracted to the country longer-term.