Exotic travels, Chinese touch

Updated: 2012-05-14 09:32

By Xu Xiao (China Daily)

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Exotic travels, Chinese touch

Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok facing the Chao Phraya River stands in the neighborhood opulent of Thai food stands and busking musicians playing guitar. [Photo/China Daily]

Hotel profile | Thailand

Xu Xiao discovers that Thailand's Shangra-La Hotels feel almost like home.

Traveling to a foreign land is not always about exploring the differences, but sometimes seeking similarities.

Many Chinese travelers to Thailand are finding they can keep their own cultural pace while experiencing a distinctive new one, especially when they choose to stay in a five-star hotel.

The Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai is just a 10-minute walk from the city's famed Night Bazaar, which seems like the United Nations with so many languages spoken, but Chinese comprises a considerable proportion.

Chinese people can be seen indulging in an ocean of cotton T-shirts carrying a range of elephant pictures or considering local-style loose trousers that can almost hold two ladies. The bazaar's various antique shops and handicraft stalls are also places where they linger.

They love to bargain and can't help smiling when they get a "made in China" lamp for just 10 baht (2.5 yuan.)

Another prime location is the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River. Amid some of the most exclusive property in Thailand, the surrounding neighborhood still provides local Thai food stands and busking musicians playing guitar under dim street lamps along with exotic cats for which Siam is famed.

A room with a view of the Chao Phraya offering a sweeping riverine panorama could give guests from Guangzhou or Zhuhai a sense of home.

Chinese gourmets are usually thrilled with the cuisine, whether Thai delicacies or real Cantonese cooking in the elegant setting of the hotel's Shang Palace restaurant.

It is particularly noted for its delicious steamed seafood, noodles, dim sum and tasty barbecued meats.

Executive Chinese Chef Jacky Chan - not the famous kungfu film star - comes from Hong Kong with more than 30 years of experience. The hotel's Chi Spa draws its inspiration from the Shangri-La legend itself - a place of personal peace, enchantment and well being.

Decorations at the hotel group's spas in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai incorporate many Chinese elements.

Chi Spa in Chiang Mai is reminiscent of the Grandeur Garden in the masterpiece A Dream of Red Mansion, one of the great works of ancient Chinese literature.

A walk along several fine pavilions built on a brook brings patrons to a peaceful building with a pair of wind chimes swaying in front of the door. On a rainy day, raindrops tickle the chimes and play a soft pastoral music.

China is currently a major market for Thai hotels, according to a survey by the China-Thailand Tourism Association.

The survey found increasingly affluent Chinese customers have extended their average stay to six days. The proportion of Chinese travelers choosing a five-star hotel has risen to 15 percent from the previous 10 percent.

"Last year, we had around 10,000 guests from China staying with us. Of our overall business, it's about 10 percent," said Martin Brenner, hotel manager at the Shangri-La Bangkok.

"The Chinese leisure market for us is becoming more and more important, and that's why the hotel is leaning towards that market." Brenner told China Daily during an interview by the Chao Phraya River.