Bikram Yoga Media Trip to Khao Lak with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
The iTravel Channel team teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand for a media trip to serene and beautiful Khao Lak, where a yoga revolution is under way. We began our 3-day Bikram Yoga in Thailand Media Trip to Khao Lak bright and early on Saturday morning, meeting at Gate No 1 in Suvarnabhumi Airport to board flight TG 201 to Phuket International Airport. After a tasty Dim Sum breakfast on arrival, we headed to Phang Nga and caught a longtail boat from Ban Bang Pat Pier to explore the bay and some of its most popular natural attractions.
First we visited the famous Tham Lot cave to admire the paintings on the rock face. Beautiful Tham Lot, hollowed out of the limestone cliffs, is a must-see natural attraction and is included on many tourist kayaking trips. Next we stopped off at Koh Panyee, a Muslim village built almost entirely on stilts above the water – the mosque and graveyard are the only parts of the village erected on terra firma. Home to about 200 families, this fascinating settlement is surrounded by jungle-shrouded limestone cliffs and the shimmering waters of the bay. One of its most famous sights is the fully functional floating football pitch – at Koh Panyee even the ‘beautiful game’ is played above water!
After bidding a fond farewell to the village on stilts we headed to James Bond Island, that iconic nail-shaped splinter of rock which appears in early 70’s Bond flick, The Man with the Golden Gun. As well as being Phang Nga’s most famous attraction, James Bond Island is also part of a national park; the entry fee is 200THB for foreigners and 40THB for Thai visitors. Immensely popular with tourists, the isle brings up to 10, 000 people a day to marvel at its unique shape and take that must-have selfie with the island strategically placed in the background!
After heading back to dry land for a mouth-watering lunch of fresh seafood in Phang Nga the iTravel team departed for Khao Lak, a quiet forested corner of the Land of Smiles located a little to the north of Phuket. Khao Lak is known around the world for its tranquil vibe and pretty golden beaches, as well as for its stunning scenery.
Upon arrival in Khao Lak we checked into our hotel, the Sentido Graceland Khao Lak Resort & Spa. The resort is the main focus of our trip, as this luxury seafront getaway will soon be opening the doors of its pioneering Yoga Teacher Training school, with over 300 students from across the globe. Yoga has always been a crucial part of the hotel’s leisure activities, but with the foundation of the Bikram Yoga in Thailand Project, helmed by Bikram Choudhury, the importance of this ancient fitness method is set to soar in Khao Lak – and Thailand in general.
Day 2 of the trip dawned cloudy and wet, but the weather didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed off for a scenic canoe ride down the ‘Little Amazon’ in Takua Pa district. As you drift down this tranquil stretch of water, surrounded by lush foliage, you have plenty of opportunity to spot a vibrant array of wildlife including monkeys, snakes and bright-feathered tropical birds. A Little Amazon boat ride costs 750THB for foreigners and 550THB for Thais.
Back on terra firma once more we headed to Takua Pa Old Town to explore this quirky settlement’s historic streets. There are many appealing examples of Sino-Portuguese architecture to be found in the town, just like in Phuket City, as well as several old but vividly coloured Chinese temples and shrines.
Next stop for the iTravel team were two much more sombre ‘attractions’, if places with such a tragic past can be labelled as such. First we visited the Tsunami Victim Cemetery, final resting place of many of the foreigners and locals who died on that dreadful Boxing Day, 2004. During our visit we learned that 380 unidentified bodies have been buried here beneath the lush grass, all Asian and many of them believed to be Burmese. After the cemetery we headed to the Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park. Founded by a German group, the Memorial Park features many plaques with names and sometimes pictures of the victims; you can also see a rusting fishing boat which was picked up by the waves and deposited some way in land – further proof of the immense power of the waves.
After paying our respects at the memorial park, the iTravel team returned to our hotel for the eagerly awaited Welcome Reception and dinner with all the yoga teaching students. All TAT media teams enjoyed a group photograph with hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury and iTravel was granted an exclusive interview and a tour around the studio!
Our main stop on Day 3 was a third tsunami memorial. 2 kilometres inland from Khao Lak’s quiet golden shoreline you will find the famous Police Boat 813 Memorial. This patrol boat was one of those protecting the king’s grandson as he was jet-skiing in the sea in front of the La Flora Resort. It was carried hundreds of metres inland before being deposited where it now stands.
The weather was too wet and grey for us to do much else but there are plenty of activities you can enjoy in Khao Lak in better conditions, such elephant trekking, ATV riding, jungle trekking and bamboo rafting. We ended our media trip by enjoying the hospitality of Thai Airways on our flight back to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
To learn more about our action-packed trip and Khao Lak’s hot yoga revolution don’t miss our two-part “Angie the Explorer” series, a brand new iTravel Exclusives special which airs in October! Angie will take you on a compelling journey encompassing the thrilling sights of Phang Nga and Khao Lak and gives you an exclusive look into Bikram Choudhury’s ground-breaking hot yoga studio and Teacher Training School at the luxurious Sentido Graceland Khao Lak Resort & Spa!