Thailand is Seeing Serious Growth in Property Sales

Thailand’s recent tourism push is reaping dividends and it is on schedule for ten per cent annual growth in international visitors. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, there were 13.82 million visitors in 2006; 14.8 million visited in 2007 and 15.5 million are targeted this year.

According to Liam Bailey of David Stanley Redfern: “The Thai economy got off to a scintillating start in 2008, with first quarter growth up six per cent on the same period last year, and up 5.7% on the last quarter of 2007. After two years of political turmoil culminating in a coup last year, it seems the new government is finally settling in, and has made economic growth its top priority. The main thrust of its efforts is centred on generating internal and regional investment, with global investment currently slowing.”

This economic growth is reflected in the rude health of the property market. The stratospheric capital growth of the early years of this century – in the region of 25 per cent per year – is a thing of the past, but a regular five to ten per cent a year is expected for the next few years.

Much of the interest from overseas property buyers is centred on two distinct and very different areas: Chiang Mai in the north – the highlands – and the islands of the south, where buyer activity is at its highest in Phuket, followed by the emerging markets of Koh Chang and Koh Samui.

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second city – in atmosphere and character it is very much the slower-paced, laid-back cousin to the frenetic capital Bangkok. But this is no sleepy backwater. Famous for its superb food, varied nightlife, temperate climate and incredible mountain scenery, Chiang Mai is a fascinating mix of history and modernity. It was founded in 1296 and is home to more than 300 temples, including some of the most beautiful in the Buddhist world. It has an excellent infrastructure, a spate of newly opened five-star hotels, golf clubs, international schools and investment from numerous multinational companies. Outside the city and into the countryside, visitors find themselves in a world of adventure, with jungle safaris, whitewater rafting, elephant rides and visits to hill tribes all on offer.

The property market in Chiang Mai offers similar variety, and, according to Todd Jones of Elephant Real Estate, it is currently a buyer’s market, with domestic market activity falling: “The local real estate market has experienced an overall slowdown in response to numerous political and economic pressures. The number of transactions registered at the Chiang Mai Land Office declined from 15,000 in 2005 to 10,000 in 2006 and 9,800 last year, but in the middle and upper tiers, where around 20 projects are under way, sales remained strong. Major developers are moving forward with numerous residential projects in and around Chiang Mai.”

Around 80 per cent of the region’s property sells for under £32,000, while overseas property buyers are most active in what Jones describes as the mid-tier market, with prices from £90,000 to £180,000. The market goes all the way up to custom homes on huge plots that can cost as much as £1 million.

A significant recent development is the provision of freehold residences attached to the region’s five-star hotels. Most of the top resorts offer this option, with the best known being those at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai which are strictly for those with very deep pockets.

A more typical property would be a newly built, three-bedroom, three-bathroom house with swimming pool, carport and guest apartment for around £130,000 or a two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment with an area of 110 square metres for £50,000.

Heading to the islands, you find yourself in a true tropical paradise. Phuket is one of Asia’s most popular beach destinations thanks to its combination of stunning beaches, great diving, high-octane nightlife and great food.

It is also increasingly popular with overseas property buyers. Agent CBRE estimates that there are now more than 2,000 foreign owners on the island: “Virtually all of these property buyers have seen their investment increase in value. Capital appreciation over the past four years has varied from 15 to 20 per cent per annum, although some properties have seen the value of their asset rise by as much as 50 or 100 per cent between the launch of a project and the transfer of title.”

As well as capital growth, Phuket is popular with property buyers looking for rental income. The island is a popular holiday destination and has its own international airport, which hosted more than eight million passengers in 2004 and 2005. CBRE says that a well-managed property should produce between six and 12 per cent gross returns annually based on 100 nights’ occupancy.

Development on the island is spreading fairly quickly. From the west coast, where the property boom started between Nai Thon and Kata Noi and where new plots are scarce or very expensive, developers have moved to the formerly overlooked south and east coasts. Inland properties overlooking golf courses are also becoming popular.

Prices on Phuket are among the highest in the country. As a rough guide, CBRE says you can expect to pay up to £240,000 for a ‘low-end’ villa and £160,000 for a ‘low-end apartment; up to £500,000 for a middle market villa and £300,000 for a middle market apartment; and if it’s the very top of the market you’re after, expect to pay upwards of £750,000 for a villa and £500,000 for a luxury apartment.

Recent research from Knight Frank reveals an average price per square metre on Phuket of £1,800, while prices went up 11 per cent in 2007. Rental properties achieved an average return of 6.8 per cent.

As prices of property for sale in Phuket continue to rise, property buyers are looking to other, less developed islands, where they can get more for their money.

David Stanley Redfern (DSR) describes Koh Samui as a semi-mature market. The island has more five- and six-star resorts than any other in the world, according to the company and prices of property for sale in Koh Samui went up by as much as 50 per cent during in 2006 and 2007. DSR is selling two-bedroom villas for £100,000 in the island’s Maenam Hills area. Other islands that are attracting attention include Koh Chang – the second largest Thai island after Phuket – and Koh Phangan.

Thailand Vacation Series – Chiang Mai

Experiencing the merging of the past into the present in Chiang Mai where locals are proud of the city’s 700-year history. Its rich traditional heritage and unique culture is a perfect foundation for the development of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to find in the heart of the city centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. The original city layout still exists as a neat square surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and its four main gates offering prime access to the old town.

For years, tourists have mistaken Chiang Mai as the northern junction and the base from which they can explore other provinces. The phrase “a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around” was common. Today, tourists are surprised by the fact that there is always something new to discover Chiang Mai. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes coupled with breathtaking scenery makes Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations. Two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for serious travelers.

The old city of Chiang Mai with its fascinating indigenous cultural identity such as diverse dialects, cuisine, architecture, traditional values, festivals, handicrafts and classical dances is a prime location in its own right. In addition, the presence of hill tribes and their wealth of unique cultures enhance Chiang Mai’s distinctive diversity.

Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources of mountains (dois), waterfalls, and other nature-based tourist attractions. At the same time, Chiang Mai residents are warm, gracious and congenial providing authentic hospitality making visits memorable and meaningful. Moreover, visitors from all walks of life can collect handicrafts of silk, silver and wood produced locally as timeless souvenirs. Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy themselves to the fullest.

Chiang Mai literally means new city and has retained the name despite having celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai founded the city as the capital of the Lanna (A Million Rice Fields) Kingdom on Thursday, 12th April 1296 during the same period of time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai the Great conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded.

From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northern Thailand. King Meng Rai himself was very religious and founded many of the city’s temples, which are still important today.

At the height of its power, the Lanna Kingdom extended its territory far into Burma and Laos, and southwards to Kamphaeng Phet a province above Sukhothai.

The Burmese conquered the Lanna Kingdom in 1556 ending the dynasty founded by King Meng Rai that lasted over 250 years. As Burma had occupied Chiang Mai for nearly 200 years, Burmese architectural influences are visible in many temples. At the end of the 18th century, King Taksin the Great regrouped the Thais in the south and finally drove the Burmese out with the help of King Kawila of Lampang thereby regaining Thai independence from Burma. Chiang Mai was then governed by a succession of princes who ruled the north as a Siamese protectorate under the Chakri dynasty. In the late 19th century, King Rama V appointed a high commissioner in Chiang Mai and it was only in 1939 that Chiang Mai finally came under the direct control of the central government in Bangkok the same time the country was renamed Thailand.

In the past, Chiang Mai was only accessible by river and elephants. More convenient access was achieved only when the railway line was completed in the late 1920′s. Moreover, the first motor vehicle driven directly from Bangkok arrived in Chiang Mai in 1932. Such isolation was more favorable to Chiang Mai as it helped to nurture and preserve the unique Lanna culture.

When we look at Chiang Mai today, it is the economic, cultural and communications hub of northern Thailand complete with excellent infrastructure, good roads, by passes and road tunnels, and reliable communications infrastructure.

Most of Chiang Mai’s mountains are oriented from north to south. Together they create a multitude of streams and tributaries including Mae Chaem, Mae Ngat and Mae Klang. One of Chiang Mai’s distinctive features is Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak, which is 2,575 meters above sea level. In addition, the province boasts flat, fertile valleys, which spread along the banks of the largest and most important river in Chiang Mai Mae Nam Ping (Ping River) which originates from the Chiang Dao mountain range.

For more information about Chiang Mai, or Thailand tourist spots. See http://thailand -vacation-info.blogspot.com.

Budget Travel In Thailand: How To Travel In Thailand With Style And Without Bankruptcy

Thailand was my first tourist destination outside Europe and North America. Based on the sage advice of my Thailand-experienced friends, I was sure that this paradise vacation would be carried out on ridiculous costs. However, back home, I have found out too late, that during my little Thailand adventure I have spent almost the same amount of money as one of my regular surges to Europe. If only I knew that carefully planning your trip to Thailand can manifest itself in huge savings. The following list includes some solid advice that can help those novice Thailand visitors to save significant amounts of cash and still enjoy their vacation:

1. Season choice. Traveling in Thailand Islands during the low season can save you up to 25% of the accommodation costs (up to 25$ per bungalow per night if you choose high standard – not luxury – accommodation). Similar to many other world locations that are based operate seasonally; there is a significant price fluctuation across seasons. Not less important is that fact that the weather in Thailand is quite pleasant even during the low season. The temperatures’ difference between the “hot season” and the “peak season” is miniscule, and during the “wet season” one can experience only a mild occasional rain. Therefore, in Thailand one can lower accommodation costs by avoiding the peak season without paying the price of suffering from unbearable cold or coping with endless monsoon.

2. Transportation. Getting from Bangkok to your final destination in one of the Southern Islands by train or bus instead of by plane can save you up to 80$ each way. You can save a bundle if you arrive to Bangkok International Airport in the evening. In this case you save, besides the gap between relatively expensive airfare and train or bus ticket, the first night’s accommodation cost as well (40$ – 100$ per bungalow per night in high standard – not luxury – accommodation).

3. Food. In Western style countries, the more you pay for your dinner the better it is, so everyone can make a personal decision about getting an appropriate cost – benefit balance. In Thailand, and especially in the Southern Islands it is much simpler: in most cases, the cheaper the better. Expensive restaurants in Thailand Islands usually specialize on Western food that is neither authentic nor of superior taste; a standard dinner will cost you 10$ – 30$ in a restaurant of this kind. Alternatively, the dinner in a cheap restaurant with plastic chairs will cost you 3$ – 8$ and it is usually both tasty and authentic. My most disappointing Thai dinner was served in a fancy restaurant in Bangkok and had cost 120$ for a couple, whereas my best dinner was served in a cheap family restaurant in Koh Phangan. The owner – young mom named Mam – prepared the meal for us exactly as we wished it would be and charged us with measly 5-6$ per person.

4. Air Conditioning. The presence of air conditioning in your room can make a huge difference in accommodation rates. For example, the same room rates in the same resort can vary from 15$-30$ for a bungalow with a fan to 40$ – 100$ for an air-conditioned bungalow. Although choosing an air-conditioned room during the hot season (such as March – April) is crucial, if you visit Southern Thailand during the rainy season – a bungalow with a fan can both satisfy your needs and cut your expenses in more than a half.

5. Location choice. Similar to the principle held in most places in the world, the accommodation rates in Thailand Islands depend on your location choice. The bungalow in the central beach, close to the airport or seaport full of thriving nightlife will probably be twice as expensive as the same bungalow in a remote quiet beach. However, accessibility is an issue in the Thailand Islands, and the taxi fares and taxi boat fares operate under the same principal as the accommodation rates. So there is a rule you may adopt: if you are looking for social activities and busy nightlife– stay close to the airport or seaport; otherwise make a little effort and move after your arrival to a remote beach. You will save up to 60% on the accommodation rates this way.

6. Communication. It will probably not come as a complete shock, but the use of cellular phone from outside of Thailand could be extremely expensive. To save on communication costs you can either buy a local cellular phone with prepaid SIM card or use the Telephone & Internet centers services. Mind you that the cost of these services may vary. As usual, if you’re calling overseas from your resort’s office – it will be more expensive than using a call center in the town. The cheapest solution is probably giving your phone number to your friends or relatives overseas since every call center has a phone number that can be used for calling back.

7. Price negotiation. In tourist locations in Thailand negotiation is a necessity or a way of life. Likewise, in the less touristy islands and areas price bargaining is accepted as well. Just try it – in Thailand price negotiation isn’t considered an embarrassing behavior, so you have nothing to lose.

8. Psychology. Although, in Thailand everything is perceived to be cheaper than in your home country, don’t be fooled by the seemingly low prices and control your expenses. Buying an enormous amount of inexpensive things can really add up to a surprisingly large sum of money.

During my last visit to Thailand, I followed these guidelines with persistence and I was happy to disclose, that budget travel in Thailand can be more than just an economical issue, it can also be enjoyable. Interestingly enough, in Thailand, the less you spend – the closer you get to the local authentic experience.

Thailand Transportation

BY TRAIN

All trains depart from Hualamphong Station except the twice – daily service to Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi, and a couple of the Hua Hin trains, which leave form Bangkok Noi Station (also refered to as Thonburi Station). The “Information” booth at Hualamphong station keeps English language timetables, or you can try the State Railway of Thailand website (www.srt.motc.go.th) carries and English – language timetable and fare chart for major destinations. Tickets for overnight trains and other busy routes should be booked at least a day in advance (or at least a week in advance for travel on national holidays), and are best bought from Hualamphong. The clued-up English-speaking staff at VC Travel and Tour on the mezzanine floor of the station concourse (daily 5am – 8pm), above Coffee Bucks, sell all types of rail tickets at no commission, and can also book discounted mid-range accommodation at your destination. Alternatively, during normal office hours you can buy rail tickets from the clearly sighed State Railway advance booking office at the back of the station concourse (daily 8.30am-4pm).

BY BUS

Bangkok’ three main bus terminals are distributed around the outskirts of town. Leave plenty of time to get to the bus terminals, especially if setting off from Banglamphu, from where you need at least an hour and a half (outside rush hour) to get to the Eastern Bus Terminal, and a good hour to get to the Northern or Southern terminals. Seats on regular long-distance bused don’t need to be booked in advance, but air-conditioned ones should be reserved ahead of time either at the relevant bus station or through hotels and guest houses. Agencies sometimes provide transport to the bus station for an additional charge.

The Northern Bus Terminal or Sathaanii Mo Chit (departure info for both air-con and regular services) is the departure point for a few buses to the east-coast destination of Pattaya, Chanthaburi and Trat, through there are more regular services Thanon Kamphaeng Phet 2, near Chatuchak Weekend Market in the for north of the city; the fastest way to get there is to take the BTS Sky-train to its northernmost terminus, Mo Chit on Thanon Phaholyothin, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the bus terminal. Alternatively, you can take several city buses to Mo Chit, metered taxi and Tuk Tuk.

The Eastern Bus Terminal, or Sathaanii Ekamai, at Thanon Sukhumvit Soi 40, serves east-coast destinations such as Pattaya, Ban Phe (for Ko Samet) and Trat (for Ko Change). The Sky-train stops right by the bus terminal at Ekamai station, as do city buses, metered taxi and Tuk Tuk.

The Southern Bus Terminal, or Sathaanii Sai Tai Mai is at the junction of Thanon Borom Ratchonni and the Nakhon Chaisri Highway, west of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi. If handles departures to all points south of the capital, including Hua Hin, Chumphon (for Ko Tao), Surat Thani (for Ko Samui), Phuket and Krabi (for Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta), as well as departures for destinations west of Bangkok, such as Kanchanaburi, Regular and air-conditioned buses leave from different sections of the Southern Bus Terminal, and anyone there will be able to point you in the right direction for your bus. To get here, take city buses, metered taxi and Tuk Tuk.

BY AIR

Domestic flights should be booked as far in advance as possible, though tickets can be bought at the airport if available; the domestic departure tax is included in the price of the ticket. Thai Airways is the main domestic carrier and flies to over twenty major towns and cities; Bangkok Airways currently covers just a few routes from the capital, including Ko Samui, Ranong and Hua Hin. All domestic flights leave form Don Muang airport.

The fastest, most expensive way of getting to the airport is by metered taxi, which can cost anything depending on where you are and how bad the traffic is. If you leave the downtown areas before 7am you can get to the airport in half and hour, but at other times you should set off at least an hour before you have to check in.

Every guesthouse and travel agent in Banglamphu, and many hotels elsewhere in the city, can book you on to one of the private minibuses to the airport. Those running form Banglamphu depart approximately every hour, day and night, though you’ll get picked up from your accommodation, you should book yourself on to a minibus that leaves at least an hour and a half before check-in commences as it can take up to 45 minutes to pick up all passengers, after which there’s the traffic to contend with.

For more information

Take a Vacation to Thailand

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, strategically located in the heart of South-East Asia. Bordering Myanmar to the north and west, Combodia to the east, Laos to the north-east, and Malaysia to the south, this stupendous destination is well-known for its breathtaking islands, incredible beaches, ancient as well as historic Buddhist wats, interesting museums and art galleries, rich cultural heritage, lively nightlife, and above all, the presence of amicable Thai people. Thailand also holds the distinction of being the only nation in South-East Asia that has never been colonized.

Occupying an area of more than 500,000 square kilometers, Thailand has been geographically classified into four different regions such as the mountainous North, the fertile Central Plains, the semi-arid plateau of the Northeast, and the peninsula south. Likewise, by region wise, the country is divided into six distinct areas such as the Central Thailand, North Thailand, North East Thailand, South Thailand, South East Thailand, and West Thailand.

Each of these areas comes with a host of mind boggling attractions. Located on the central plains of the Chao Phraya River as well as the Meklong River Valley, Central Thailand is sometimes acknowledged as ‘the Rice Bowl of the Country,’ since it is the most fertile region in the country. As a tourist spot, this area contains a host of attractions that are of historical significance.

Central region of the country is dominated by Bangkok, with its mind blowing palaces, beautiful wats, hundreds of museums, and expansive shopping areas. Highlights of this region also cover Ayutthaya, which once served as the capital of the country, and now featuring attractions such as the Bang Sai Royal Arts and Crafts Center with traditional Thai handicraft items, Bang Pa In Summer Palace, and Ayutthaya Town; Saraburi, whose focal point is the Phra Buddha Bat Woramahavihan Temple with a rock that is believed to have the Buddha’s footprint; Lopburi, which was an important settlement during the reign of the Khmer empire in the tenth century.

Suphanburi, boasting of one of the oldest national parks in the park, namely, the Khao Yai National Park; Nakorn Pathom, with attractions such as Phra Pathom Chedi – the largest of its kind in the world, and Floating Market; Kanchanaburi, which is home to Death Railway, Raft Trips and Houseboats, and Three Pagodas Pass; Petchaburi, with landmarks like Phra Nakorn Khiri, Khao Luang Caves, and Cha Am; Prachuap Khiri Khan, whose prime attractions are Hua Hin – a beachside resort, and Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park – one of the most enchanting parks in the nation.

North Thailand is regarded as the country’s cultural heart. Among the points of interest in this area are Chiang Rai, with attractions such as Chiang Saen, a fourteenth century town, and Mai Sai, which is on the Burmese border; Kamphaeng Phet, whose centerpiece is the Old City that dates back to the time of the kingdom of Sukhothai during the 13th century; Lamphun, with a highly revered shrine, namely, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai; Sukhothai, which is homes to attractions such as Sukhothai Historical Park and Sri Satchanalai with an incredible elephant temple.

When comes to the Southern Thailand, this area is bestowed with some magnificent as well as excellent beach resorts of international standards. Perhaps the greatest of all beach resorts in the region is Phuket, with an international airport and more than half dozen beaches.

Popular destinations in Southern Thailand also include Samui Island, whose highlights, among many others, are Grandfather and Grandmother Stones and Angthong National Marine Park; Krabi, which is much favored for its breathtaking landscape consisting of dazzling white sandy beaches, magnificent coves and bays, and fantastic limestone cliffs; and Phi Phi Islands. Other places of interest in Southern Thailand are hot springs that are found nearby Ranong town, and Victoria Point, where you can spot a number of casino centers.

Above all, Thailand provides tourists visiting the country with a continuum of facilities in order to indulge in an array of activities such as hiking, trekking, sightseeing, swimming, rafting, deep sea fishing, and much more. In order to cater to the growing number of tourists in the country, Thailand comes with a number of accommodation options from upscale hotels to apartments and villas that are mostly replete with facilities that a world-class resort renders.