OUR SELECTION OF FIRST CLASS LEISURE , TOUR AND CRUISE IN THAILAND
We particularly enjoyed cruising peacefully on the " Manohra Song ", which led us to the timeless allure of life on the Chao Phraya river. Forty years ago, the Manohra Song was a traditional rice barge, traversing the banks of Thailand's extraordinary lifeline: the majestic Chao Phraya River .
Today the Manohra Song continues to make this journey; offering now ultra -deluxe accommodation which makes it look like a floating "Orient Express". Built upon the original teak hull, lovingly renovated by yachtsman Skip Heinecke and nicely decorated by his wife Kathleen, the " Manohra Song " features luxuriously appointed air - conditioned cabins with en suite bathrooms, plus an expansive living and dinning area, bar and sun deck . Interior details are magnificent : with warm teak, padua and mahogany woods throughout, custom- designed furniture, and an array and colorful silks, Indian rugs, and Siamese handicraft: a subtle union of exquisite styles from past and present .
ABOUT THE CRUISE :
SERVICE ABOARD :
TOURS AND TRANSFERS :
Involved in diving and boat operations in Phuket for the past six years, Scuba Cat philosophy is to provide specialized and quality service in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Member of the PADI Retail & Resort associations, this dynamic company adheres to their guidelines in stressing safety throughout our operation. Moreover, and this is one of the main reason why we like to recommend it, Scuba Cat is actually the owners and operators of all vessels used in the excursions. They do not "charter" boats from other companies, and are therefore keeping their guests under their very own responsability during once they stepped aboard. Last but not least, even it may look restrictive at first sight, Scuba Cat does not venture into Burmese waters, contrary to most of the other diving operators in Phuket making a good business in exploring it, because of a genuine concern for the safety of their staff and guests in a period when a major conflict between Thailand and Burma, featuring some gun fighting between the two navies, makes this beautiful area actually hazardous.
The twin cabins MV Scuba Cat, with its 80 square meter sun deck, is Thailand's largest and most comfortable dive boat. It actually used to be the premier live aboard dive boat operating in the Similan Islands: a splendid location, having the best diving in Thailand, with beautiful coral gardens in shallow water, spectacular rock formations dropping into the deep and everywhere a profusion of varied fish species. The islands are uninhabited except for a Park Ranger Station and have many lovely and quiet beaches. This really is the place to get away from it all. Guests can use the regular transfer boats out and back, allowing them to enjoy the wide range of scheduling options to fit virtually any time table. The boat was designed in stability, and anchored amongst the protected waters of the chain islands. Seasickness is rare. This truly is a boat for people who don't like boats and is an excellent choice for someone's first live aboard experience. Don't imagine that kind of holiday only suits divingaholics. Actually not. Scuba Cat management insists a lot on their live aboard concept, which first of all consists in the philosophy of a relaxed atmosphere. "Sabai, sabai" (relax, relax), as Thai people use to say ! While on board you will have the opportunity to meet, enjoy and establish friendships with divers from all over the world. Scuba Cats spacious saloon area is equipped with a TV, video,and stereo. It offers the ideal place to relax after a day's diving. There are games. Coffee, tea, and water are always available. Guests will be dropped on the splendid beaches on any request, provided with ocean kayaks for their enjoyment, as well as arranged a sunset volleyball game. Moreover, non divers get a 15% discount on the global price charged for the journey !
Scuba Cat latest fleet acquisition, the "MV Scuba Adventure", has been designed for live aboard dive safaris to the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock, the Surin Islands, and the Southern Islands of Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Rok, Koh Ha, and Koh Phi Phi. It departs from Patong Beach, Phuket at 8.00pm in the evening, and returns from all trips at 8.00am in the morning. This allows guests to fly to and from Phuket without arranging costly hotel accommodation.
With the efficiency of the operation and convenience of diving, Scuba Cat offers up to five dives a day. Divers of limited experience will not be frustrated, as Andaman dives are quite easy. Anyway, but most dive sites have two or more options available. For divers wishing to upgrade their skills, the Similans provides a perfect setting for Advanced Open Water or Specialty Training and a PADI instructor remains onboard at all times.
Scuba Cat has been recognized as a BSAC school and is offering a 20% discount of live aboard dive trips to all BSAC members.
Scuba Cat head quarter is located in the
Hotel, along Patong Beach, in the center of all the action. All levels
of diving instruction are teached in air-conditioned classrooms beside
the swimming pool. This is a PADI 5 Star Facility, running PADI
Courses goes from the basic one day PADI Introduction to
to the PADI Dive master Course: first step to a professional
career. There is also a dive shop displaying a complete
of quality dive equipment and accessories, with helpful, friendly
ready to assist your selection or answer any questions you may have
Phuket. Here is the widest range of dive supplies and equipment
in Phuket. The management assures that the prices are super
and suggests visitors to check up price of whatever they need at home,
and make the comparison.
When dreams come true ... Explore the world of diving & canoeing in the Andaman Sea through the expertise of Santana Diving & Canoeing, which has been one of the premier dive operators on Phuket for over twenty years.
As a PADI. 5 Star IDC. center, Santana does everything from "Discover Scuba" programs for people who just want a taste of what the underwater world is like, to open water certifications, specialty certifications, going all the way to divemaster and instructor development.
And they do it well in just about every language!!! Whether teaching or taking out daytrips to excellent local diving spots, or touring the famous Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, the beautiful serene Surin Islands and now fabulous Burma and the Mergui Archipelago, Santana does it with style and a heavy emphasis on safety, excitement and of course fun...
Whether on the dayboat or their fabulous live-a-bord ship, the MV Discovery, Santana's professional, experienced guides lead your group (never consisting of est fish, the whale shark at Richelieu Rock or, now, the swarms of ocean going sharks in the Burma Banks.
This year in addition to their famous whale shark expeditions, Santana has added Burma to their itinerary.
Arrangements have been with authorities on both sides of the border tor ensure the safety and enjoyment of their guests.
When Santana bought the MV Discovery, they completely refurbished it as a dive boat designed by divers for divers who want to be comfortable... and comfortable it is. This 25m twin diesel ship accommodates sixteen guests in eight roomy double cabins, has an enormous sun deck for those who want to work on their sunburns, a huge covered lounging area to relax in, a great video lounge. They also serve splendid food most generously.
A typical four dive a day itinerary would read as follows: dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat….Well: you get the idea. Add in long surface intervals with opportunities for shore side exploration, time to share stories with your new found dive buddies from all over the world, and efficient friendly staff. They've found the right mix.
Besides the great dive operation, Santana also does sea canoeing into the famous "hongs" of Phangnga Bay National Park. Taking a maximum of twelve guests in six canoes, the professional guides (and paddlers) explore an area of age-old beauty in the middle of incredibly beautiful islands. And they like to go where the others don't, where they have a better chance of seeing the rare monitor lizard, hornbill and macaques (monkeys) which some of the others miss. Their guest book attests to the fact that these trips consistently exceed guest expectations.
Santana's office is located at Patong Beach. The diving instruction is handled at Santana's air conditioned, multi-media classroom on Patong. Of course, Santana transfers all clients, whether to one of the boats or the classroom. You didn't bring your gear: they've got it all ! From fins to regulators, computers and cameras: all first class gear at reasonable rates.
The large amount of repeat and
referral business enjoyed by Santana attests to the fact that they are
doing it right - lots of great, safe, exciting holiday
We selected this English-Thai travel agency due to the wide range of services its managers, Christopher Creagh and Oi, can efficiently provide. Putting the customer first, they DO refuse to practice that very short term approach so many Thai travel agencies tend to apply by giving half truths at often extremely high prices.
Whether it is a simple flight confirmation or the planning of a tour around SE Asia, the customer can make sure he will be treated fairly by skilled peoples. Oi is Thai, speaks excellent English, and has been in travel in Thailand for over 10 years. She is an expert on the international flight market, and we will soon operate on the online booking system Travel Solutions is now installing in its office. Christopher is British, and will book in minutes good value trips and accommodation fitting any budget. They'll handle you keys to Thailand, as a matter of fact, and are also specialized in excursions to North Malaysia. If, just like more and more tourists nowadays, you feel interested in Vietnam, Burma and Laos, they will also be of best help. With their office on the pleasant and animated Chaweng beach, where day and night life concentrates in Samui, they are of course experts on the islands of South Thailand and North Malaysia. You will easily drop by them, with or without prior notice, for inquiring about cruises, fishing, or scuba diving: Travel Solutions represents many different PADI schools, dispatched all around the main island, or in little paradises like Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, which among the nicest place in the world for sea safaris in still crystal clear waters.
Christopher and Oi long term aim is to make Travel Solutions the most reliable, friendly, and honest English speaking travel agency in SE Asia. Their local activity is now being currently extended to extra assistance to make you feel like comfortable ten thousands kilometers away from your country. Point of reference 24h a day within the country, they provide these little "plus" we particularly enjoyed: general and business advice for corporate travellers, Internet facilities, and very convenient visa extension service. Try to extend your visa for a period of one month, or deal with overstay on your own, and you will understand how precious help can be on this very sensitive domain...
Traditional travel agent activities are also nicely provided with a smile: rent a car or motorbike, train or boat journeys, and worldwide hotel booking.
Always consider that plane tickets are vastly cheaper inside Thailand, and do not hesitate to contact Christopher and Oil directly, by e-mail, before purchasing your trip from the West. They will make you save your budget and enjoying great holiday.
TRAVEL SOLUTIONS: 159/2, Moo 2, Chaweng
Samui Island (Koh Samui)
Though this reputed tour operator, working in partnership with J.R. Chiang Mai Travel, is spanning his tours in any geographic direction worth of great interest, we wished to recommend it for its excellent trekking. Organised a very personal way for distinctive travellers, wishing to discover the authenticity of the legendary Northern Area: best know under the name of "Golden Triangle". Nothing to do with the gregarious tours for packaged tourists, those treks are the best -let's say the unique- way to meet the unfortunately vanishing authentic hill tribes, hidden among breathtaking mountainous landscapes between Chiang Rai and the remote Mae Hong Son. In their catalogue is, for instance, one of the best invitation to share the actual life of one of the most culturally interesting and still authentic tribes: the Lisu. The Thaiway multilingual guides are proficient for this three days trek through the Mae Taeng jungle, accessible after a four-wheel ride along a breathtaking picturesque road through plains and curves, steep drops and dramatic plunging valleys. After a two hours walk, one reaches Lisu village for an unforgettable evening: witnessing activities and customs few travellers would be able to see on their own in South East Asia! This is also one of the rare tour not only "showing" the people; but also giving travellers the opportunity to have dinner and overnight with one of those welcoming families also very curious to know more about the strange Westerners we are... Day 2 is not less exciting: with a three hours trek through the dense forest to the Skaw Karen village. This is where lunch will be served in hosted by the most famous tribe from the Triangle of Gold, followed by a two hours elephant ride to the White Karen village on the river, with overnight with local peoples again. Day 3 is impressive indeed, with a three hours raft trip through the curves and rapids of Mae Taeng River, and lunch at a Shan village the way back to Chiangmai. Reference of this tour is J11: it is warmly recommended by the manager of Thaiway, Yvon, a Frenchman who knows better than any local tour operator what European and American travellers are looking for in his country of adoption. Regarding prices, and just using the example of the latter tour, imagine that it would you cost you only US$ 55! Amazing Thailand, indeed: this is what we recently paid in Sarawak, for a short half morning raft on a mosquitoes infected river... Note, what makes the difference between Thaiway and many of its concurrents, that those prices are net: taxes and insurance included, subject to confirmation upon making reservation. and these prices remain valid until further notice. Last but not least, also note that all tours are private.
Besides trekking and all the more touristy though fundamental tours of Bangkok, Pattaya and other coral islands, we enjoyed very much the golf packages offered by Thaiway. Should it be either Green Valley Golf Club Chiangmai or Waterford Valley Golf Club Chiangrai, those greens are among the most beautiful in Asia, for very affordable fees usually much under US$ 50. Very successful and attractive also are the Thai cooking lessons. American visitors are fond of them. The Thaiway "Thai Cookery School" is very, very personal: it doesn't welcome more than eight peoples. This is where gourmets will prepare then taste the super spicy Tom Yam Kung (Prawn and Seafood Soup), the Khai Yat Sai (Stuffed Omelette over the Wong) or the delicious and rich Kaeng Buad Fuk Tong (Pumpkin in coconut cream). Alternatively, you may swim in the pool, enjoy the sauna and fitness. At the end of the course, the chef will present you with a certificate as proof of your success!
but not least, that Thaiway
is offering custom tailored incentive and educational
tours: it goes from the visit of industrial sites till introduction of
Thai schools and universities to westerns students. Their
is very complete with information about tours,
tickets sale and even, as they could make you love Thailand that way
that you would wish settling there!, about their legal
very efficient to obtain work permit... or get married!
THAIWAY: 24 Kampaengdin Road, Chiang Mai 50100
PHONE: +66 53 276310 FACSIMILE: +66 53 276311
MOST LUXURIOUS HOTELS IN BANGKOK