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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

My favorite place – Khao Yai

  /  DESTINATIONS   /  My favorite place – Khao Yai
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Annabelle S. Daokaew,
PR Manager – Thailand,
Four Seasons Hotel.

A naturalized Thai, and married with three kids, Annabelle (“Annie”) Daokaew, is a friendly, generous, patient, sincere, loyal, hardworking, and hands-on — as she describes herself – PR guru of the highest order, probably one of the kingdom’s best, if you ask many in the media. Besides her usual PR responsibilities such as media relations and others for Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, she also assists with the other three properties of Four Seasons in Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, and Chiangrai; develops and executes innovative PR and publicity programs and activities that will increase awareness and positive perception of the hotel, its restaurants to support food and beverage plans, services and personnel; and ensures that all hotel promotions are in keeping with Four Seasons’ image and reflect the highest level of professionalism in content and presentation to maximize opportunities for publicity in all media channels.

That’s quite a handful. So when she takes a break, she chooses one that conforms to her ideal holiday destination: Convenient to go to; with pleasant surroundings; peaceful; well preserved natural beauty; with nice and hospitable people; good food and abundant, but not overpriced, dining places; reasonable accommodations; good sightseeing places; and not too touristy. For her, that place is epitomized by Khao Yai, in Nakhon Ratchasima not so far from Bangkok, which is home to a national park with the same name, now noted as the wine capital of Thailand, and a haven for both nature and adventure lovers.

“I like the cool weather; the cleanliness of the place; the beauty of nature and its surrounding; the peaceful way of life; the greenery; the clean air; the choices of dining places and accommodations,” Annie says. She’s been to Khao Yai a countless times, since she first visited more than 25 years ago. She was just there over the year-end.

“Khao Yai is basically manageable to visit in terms of traveling time as it takes only an hour-and-a half or two to reach the destination, although not on long weekends,” she says. “The roads are well-paved and wider, giving you ease of travel, and your eyes will feast on greenery all along the drive. The destination is a breath of fresh air, literally speaking, as it has the best ozone in the whole of Thailand. There are choices of attractions to visit, including the Khao Yai National Park; the beautiful waterfalls; vineyards, and others. Activities to pump your adrenalin are a-plenty.” Majority of hotels are aslo value for your money and affordable, says Annie, but expect them to increase price when demands are high. But facilities are topnotch and services are okay, she says. “And most of all, the locals are generally nice and welcoming.”

A downside is the traffic during long holiday periods when lots of Bangkokians go there. During such times, hotels and restaurants might be fully booked. “But this happens to all destinations that Thais and local expats frequent during long weekends and holidays,“ she says.

Expect to find Annie in Khao Yai during one of her holidays, enjoying it all with her family, of course.

Tips to share to other travelers:

Must-Do: Visit the vineyards if you have not been to any. It’s good to know that Thailand produces good red and white wines, which have won awards at international competitions. Beautiful and powerful waterfalls such as Haew Narok and Haew Suwat.

Must-See: Khao Yai National Park, various vineyards such as PB Valley, Granmonte and Village Farm; Sheep Farm.

Sleep at: Kirimaya, Muthi Maya, Bonanza Khao Yai, or Dasada Resort

Eat at: The Smoke House or Banmai Chaynam Resort and Restaurant, Great Hornbill Restaurant, Vin Cotto,

Drink at: Palio, Sky Bar, and Sala Bar

Bring: Hats, sunglasses; sunscreen lotion;

Don’t forget: Camera

Others: Novels or magazines; Laptop or iPad.