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How To Be Culturally Correct in Thailand

in Culture/Destinations/Tips by

Known as ‘The Land of Smiles’, Thailand is a treasure trove of cultural delights, inhabited by gracious and warm people. While Thais are known for being open, tolerant and hospitable, they may not always understand the nuances and eccentricities of other cultures. With this in mind, courtesy and respect in all your interactions with local people goes a long way.

Here are a few tips to help bridge cultural gaps and enhance your stay in Thailand:

THE DOs

Do try to wai.

This much-used Thai greeting involves a slight bow, with hands pressed together at upper chest level in a prayer-like way. Younger people will wai their elders first, and the greeting is then reciprocated. The Wai is also used to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’, and generally to show respect.

Do accompany your wai with a hello: “Sawasdee kha” (if you are a woman) and “Sawasdee khrap” (if you are a man).
Do get travel insurance.

Accidents happen and can be even more daunting when you are away from home. Gravity’s pull on a falling coconut harms more world travelers every year than sharks do!


Do visit some temples.

Thailand is full of beautiful temples (wats) and visiting them provides a fascinating window into many aspects of daily life. Visitors are welcomed, but proper dress is expected. Good temple etiquette requires that your legs, shoulders and upper arms are covered and shoes are removed. Temples regularly visited by tourists will usually have sarongs available for those who turn up inadequately dressed, but when visiting lesser-known temples, it’s useful to bring your own.

Do be adventurous with Thai cuisine.

Thai food is usually lightly cooked and fragrant, with an emphasis on fresh herbs and spices. Sweet, sour and spicy flavours are combined to create dishes that not only taste sublime, but are beautiful to look at too. The food can get quite fiery, so let them know if you can not handle too much chilli.

Do eat with a spoon.

Most Thai dishes are served in bite-size pieces and eaten with a spoon and fork, but the fork is just used to push food onto the spoon.

Do haggle when you are market shopping.

Haggling is expected and taken as a bit of fun.

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

in Destinations/Dining/Recreation by

If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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Breaking the Circle in Yaowawit, Phuket

in Destinations/News by

Situated in the verdant jungles of Thailand’s Phang Nga province, two hours north of Phuket, Yaowawit School is home to as many as 150 underprivileged children from the surrounding areas. Either orphans or children whose families cannot take care of their upbringing, the children of Yaowawit live at the school until they turn 18. Different from other establishments, the school focuses on holistic education and experiential learning to help break the cycle of poverty. It proudly claims that quite a number of its graduates have gone on to university and the older ones have even begun successful careers.

Founded in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Yaowawit is an impressive operation. Dedicated mentors work tirelessly to care for the children and teach them important life skills. While the school generates its own income from several small enterprises and is working towards being self-sustaining through the use of permaculture, it is grateful to receive help from individuals, small groups and corporations that share the school’s vision.

On 15 May 2019, the Elite Havens Phuket team decided to head to Phang Nga for a day of fun with the children of Yaowawit. On the way, Elite Havens Thailand Country Head, Femke Beekers, shared, “As a responsible company, we must also think about the community. So, along with the villa owners, we find out the needs of the community and help out as much as we can. In the past, we have supported the children of local prisoners in Baan Lung Pitak prison and the abused mothers in Good Shepherd by donating food and gifts on Children’s Day and Christmas. And we are always looking for locally-sourced products we can use in our villas. One such product we use is a beautifully scented soap made by abused mothers. We give this soap as gifts to our guests on their birthdays or in special gift baskets and we include a note about the women who make the soap and what they’re doing to make their lives better. We heard Yaowawit has a really good organic farm and that they also make products like detergent, so in addition to giving gifts today, we’d like to look into buying their produce or products for our villas. That way, our assistance is more long term.”

When the Elite Havens team arrived,

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Amanzi Kamala

in Destinations/People by

With cutting-edge design and magnificent ocean views, Villa Amanzi Kamala is an inspiring hideaway near Kamala Beach in Phuket. The modern three-storey villa is a visual masterpiece that complements its beautiful tropical surroundings. It was built around a large boulder to accommodate nature and its magnificence; the boulder acts as a gigantic wall beside the staircase down to the family room, which is replete with an Apple TV, a pool table, a foosball table and a jacuzzi to entertain guests of all ages. The 15-metre pool on the main floor extends towards the sea in a dazzling manner, and is the focal point of the villa at sunset. Each of the villa’s six bedrooms, set on the floors above and below the living level, are stylish retreats, with fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking views. The modern kitchen has indoor and outdoor dining areas, and celebrates easy holiday living.

Hidden away in the Cape Amarin Estate, Villa Amanzi Kamala offers complete privacy and a convenient base for exploring the island, with Kamala and Patong Beach less than 15 minutes away by car. But because of its terrific sunset views and seductive allure, you might just be tempted to stay put in the villa.

We chatted with the amiable Villa Manager who helps deliver the Amanzi experience, to get a glimpse into what goes behind those amazing walls.

Elite Havens:  Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Boom Jaikamham: My name is Apirom Jaikamtham, and my nickname is Boom. I’m 34 years old, having been a Villa Manager for 9 months.

EH: And what did you do before you joined Elite Havens?

BJ: I have always been in the hospitality industry. I worked with different hotels and resorts as a butler, here in Phuket, before I joined EH. Actually, when I saw the job opening for Villa Manger at Villa Amanzi Kamala, it was a part-time position. But during the interview, they asked if I was willing to work as a full-time Villa Manager, and I said why not?

EH: Is the job of a butler the same as the job of a Villa Manager?

BJ: It depends on the company. Sometimes, the job is very similar, sometimes it is a little different.

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Elite Talk with Country Manager Femke Beekers

in Destinations/People by

Elite Havens’ Country Manager for Thailand, Femke Beekers fell in love with the country while on vacation. So much so, that in 2000 she decided to move halfway across the world and build a life there. Fast forward to today, she has now been a resident for 19 years, the first 10 of which were spent in Koh Samui, working in the hospitality industry. New job opportunities brought her to Phuket, and for the past three years, Femke has been managing the Thailand operations of Elite Havens as Country Manager. In her free time, Femke likes to practise yoga, hang out at the beach with her family and friends, and experience all the fabulous things Phuket has to offer. We asked her about some of her favourite spots on the island she now calls home, Phuket.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for Elite Havens.

FB: Ever since I finished school, I have been working in the travel and hospitality industry. Come to think of it, that amounts to more than 25 years. I worked with travel agencies in Europe and later, moved to Thailand to manage several luxury resorts in Samui and Phuket.

I am currently the Country Head of Thailand for Elite Havens, a position I have held for the past three years, developing our destinations and business in the region, with my colleagues Andy and Milos.

EH: How difficult was the transition from hotels to luxury villas? Was it very different from your previous role?

FB: The role itself is quite similar, overseeing the entire operation and the different teams, ensuring the processes run smoothly, which is what I do countrywide for Elite Havens now. However, when you are running a hotel, the rooms and facilities follow a common style, and are all contained within one location. With villas, each property and location is unique and caters to a different audience. Moreover, personalised service provided by Elite Concierge to the guests makes every single stay a unique experience.

EH: What do your daily duties as Thailand Country Head include? Do you deal a lot with the owners? With clients?

FB: Most of the day goes into day-to-day operations.

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