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Did You Know? Songkran Is All About Traditions

in Culture by

The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions.

Mornings begin with merry-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is a common practice. Water is poured on Buddha statues and the young and the elderly. This is a traditional ritual during Songrkan. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.

As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved-ones and elders. Giving reverence to ancestors is also an important part of the Songkran tradition.

The Elite Havens Phuket office celebrated Songkran with Country Manager Femke Beekers and General Manager Andy Parkhouse being blessed by the office’s Chief Engineer, Jook. The entire Elite Havens Phuket 30-member team was blessed one by one, for about a minute each. 

Songkran is known for its water festival. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues a “Miss Songkran,” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress, is crowned. 

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Luxury Weekends in Phuket and Koh Samui

in Destinations/Families by
  • Phuket-beach.jpg
    beach with coconut palm and sea
  • Tawantok-Beach-Villas-In-villa-breakfast.jpg
  • Waimarie-Dedicated-staff.jpg
  • Villa-Nandana-Villa-view.jpg
  • 1.-Villa-Nandana-A-tranquil-location-to-relax-2.jpg

Picture this: you’re hidden away in a breathtaking haven away from the rest of the world, sitting atop a plush cushion beside a monumental door opening onto a lush garden. A flute of champagne in hand and a gastronomic spread before you, you hear only birds and your four-year old singing a soft rhythm. Your husband is floating in the pool in this hushed oasis, on his torso an outlined shade of a large leaf fluttering with the breeze.

Settle In

Welcome to Thailand’s quintessential experience of relaxation and rest, where you can stay holed up in an enormous villa replete with sumptuous lines of coconut wood and padauk, or nara wood, a hardwood that’s sturdy and pleasing to the eye. The furniture is simple and sleek amidst the high ceilings and glass walls. The master bath contains a stone bathtub, the perfect complement to your call to respite. You’re surrounded by space, space everywhere, and there’s nothing to keep you from running through the rooms in excitement.

You came to relax and enjoy a long weekend break, but also for discovery and local culture. Nestled in an idyllic retreat between ivory sands and jungled gardens, this villa feels like the home you’ve imagined in musings of grandeur. Yet, there’s a calm, tranquil atmosphere.

Phuket
What To Do
Get Splashed

Rest is abated when you venture outside on 13th April, the first day of the Songkran Festival. Songkran, one of Thailand’s most famous festivals, is an important event on the Buddhist calendar. It is the beginning of the traditional Thai new year – and what’s known as the day of the biggest water fight. Large water guns and hoses leave you drenched because every road you pass has a splash station.

But there are many things you can do besides get wet, including asking your private villa chef to indulge your taste buds. Savor the sweet, spicy and sour all at once. The villa managers and staff cater to your every whim and even take care of your children for the day. A private yoga teacher can help you unwind and a massage therapist will slowly knead city-stress away. Home spa services are just a call away.

Sun and Games

The sand stretches for miles and miles in Phuket.

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Chef du Jour: Villa Baan Bon Khao

in Dining by
Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao

One of the highlights of staying at a private villa on your vacation is that you get to sample superb food prepared exclusively for you by skilled in-house chefs – many of whom have trained at internationally renowned restaurants. Elite Havens’ villa menus showcase an extensive range of Asian delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own particular specialties that shouldn’t be missed.
 
With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve persuaded some of our chefs to spill the beans and share their favourite recipes. In the Baan Bon Khao kitchen, Chef Poo cooks up a classic and much-loved Thai dish, Pad Thai with Prawns in an Egg Parcel.
 

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao 5

With spectacular sea and sunset views, Baan Bon Khao is an ideal getaway for families or groups.  Luxuriating on a hillside estate near Surin Beach, this four-bedroom villa features an infinity pool and stately living and dining pavilions.  Guests are well cared for by the villa manager, chef and personal driver.

Here’s an exclusive from the  Baan Bon Khao kitchen. 

Egg wrapped Pad Thai with Prawns Recipe
(Serves 2 – 4)

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao ingredients

Ingredients :

The sauce

  • 35 grams palm sugar, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp water

Pad Thai

  • 4 ounces dry rice noodles (choose one that is about 2mm wide)
  • 6 – 8 prawns, or as many as you’d like, peeled and deveined.
  • 1 small head shallot, thinly sliced, about 3 tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp, chopped
  • 1-piece of pressed tofu, cut into small pieces
  • ½ tsp of chili flakes, or to taste
  • 4 eggs – 2 for Pad Thai, 2 beaten for egg parcel
  • 5 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup garlic chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 lime

Directions :

The Sauce: Mix all together and set aside.

Step 1: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour, until the noodles turn from translucent to completely white and are very pliable.

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Songkran Festival in Phuket

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation by
songkran waterfight

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous Festival and possibly the largest water fight in the world.

WHEN IS SONGKRAN?

Songkran Festival starts 13 April. In some areas of Thailand it only lasts for three days, the 13th, 14th and 15th, and in other areas it lasts for seven days.

Songkran is not only Thailand’s most famous festival but it’s also one of the most important events on the Buddhist calendar. The event marks the beginning of the traditional Thai new year.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SONGKRAN?

The festival originated centuries ago as a purification rite, in both a physical and spiritual sense.  Temples, Buddha images, and houses where tidied and cleaned as a way to clear away negative influences. Traditional celebrations involved a gentle sprinkling of scented water.

HOW IS SONGKRAN CELEBRATED?

Over the years, Songkran like many other centuries-old festivals has become commercial. Water guns and bright-coloured Hawaiian shirts (more on these later) are on sale in shops weeks before the event and every marketing department scrambles to get their Songkran message heard through a downpour of advertising.

songran festival crowds

Songkran has become arguably the biggest water fight in the world. The throwing of water (er, mass water fights) have become a huge part of the celebration over the past two decades everywhere in Thailand, so don’t be surprised if you get splashed with icy cold water, well when we say splashed, we mean drenched in water, shot at you from every angle form a variety of colored water pistols, buckets and anything else that can hold water. You will also become covered in powder, which is… Well, even to this day after being in Thailand for eleven years, I have no idea what it is.

WHAT IS SONGKRAN LIKE IN PHUKET?

The whole of Phuket island stops on the 13th of April when families, friends and communities set up make-shift water splash stations on the side of every road. Think of a fun road stop checkpoint, with blaring music coming out of a 1980 speaker which has been blown out ten years ago, and everybody drenched in water and covered powder, dancing around in these bright Hawaiian shirts. Everyone from 3-year-olds to 87-year-olds is out having fun and of course,

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Phuket for Families

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation by
Villa Amanzi - Family fun

Tropical Phuket, with its miles of golden beaches, has obvious appeal as a family holiday escape. But Thailand’s largest island also holds plenty of charm beyond its sands, with many outdoor attractions and a rich cultural heritage that travellers of all ages will love to explore. 

First, those beaches. With more than 30 beaches around the island, you could spend weeks in Phuket simply relaxing on the sands, but those with kids in tow may want a beach with some fun activities and a bit of shaded comfort. Kamala Beach is one of the most family friendly with its shallow bay for swimming, beachfront eateries, shops, cafés and sea-view foot massages.

And with several luxury villas in Kamala along its lush headland, discerning families looking for a private holiday hideaway are well catered to.

Kata Beach is also a fine spot for families, its powder-soft sands ideal for idling away a day and excellent surfing conditions from May through October. If the sea is too smooth for surfing, then hire some standup paddle boards, or stop at Surf House on the Kata beachfront with its continuous man-made wave offering fun flowboarding action. 

 Villa Sammasan - Family friendly

Villa Amanzi in Kata Noi is a perfect holiday haven for friends and families looking to explore Kata Beach.

On the quieter northwest coast is Nai Thon Beach, an idyllic one-kilometre length of soft sand that never gets crowded. Simply relax on the sand or do some snorkelling, standup paddle or boogie boarding, with a number of low-key restaurants offering a cosy place for families and friends to dine at an unhurried pace with sea and sunset views.

Nai Thon is also home to the award-winning Malaiwana villas and residences, luxurious sea-view havens with private pools and friendly service that offer the perfect family retreat after a day at the beach.

phuket-for-familiesNai Yang Beach just to the north is another decent surfing spot and a favourite place for kite boarders and windsurfers. Not far away near the airport is Splash Jungle Water Park, offering some wet and wild fun away from the beach with waterslides, a wave pool and a lazy river.

Villa Saanti - Natai Beach, Phang Nga

Home to the idyllic Villa Saanti with its beachfront pool and lawn,

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