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Destination Specialist Update on Thailand: 10 Questions with Patrick Carleton

Patrick Carleton, one of our Destination Specialists, recently returned from a trip to Thailand. We caught up with Patrick to get his expert insight on travel to Thailand and some key recommendations on how to sell it to your clients.

1. Where did you travel?

I travelled through Thailand, specifically Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Golden Triangle around Chiang Rai.

2. What is the number one thing agents should know about Thailand?

There’s so much to see and do in regards to both culture and scenery. Your clients should make three stops at a minimum across the country: quintessential Bangkok, up north to Chiang Mai and surrounds, and finish in the beaches of the south. They should try for at least 2-3 nights in each destination, if possible. Avoid 1-night stays as they are stressful and don’t let travellers really enjoy the destination.

Making friends with an elephant. (Credit: Patrick Carleton)

3. What is the biggest misconception about Thailand?

The biggest misconception is that Thailand is all about beaches, nightlife, Buddhist temples, and budget travel. It’s so much more than this. For instance, the local hill tribes up north are fascinating people to visit. As well, the hotels available throughout Thailand accommodate a range of budgets, including 6-star travel.

4. What was your favourite hotel?

Tower Club Lebua in Bangkok. This high rise has a rooftop lounge setting, offers classical hotel style with 360° views of the city, and is reasonably priced. It’s not for the faint of heart or any folks with a fear of heights. In pop culture, it’s perhaps most famous as a filming location for The Hangover Part II.

5. What new things did you learn about Thailand?

If nothing else, rather than learning new things, it reinforced things I learned and enjoyed back in 2011. I had forgotten to some degree the reasons why I loved the destination in the first place way back when: the quality and flavours of Thai cuisine, the low costs of food and transportation, the ubiquity of the Thai smile, and the massages—the quality of which are exceptional and for a fraction of what you pay at home. This recent trip also helped hone in on the fact that there is a wide variety of scenery to be enjoyed. It’s a diverse landscape.

6. What was your favourite local experience?

The last Thai massage I received—knowing full well it would likely be my last one for a very long while. Few wellness treatments are as relaxing and limbering.

7. What was your favourite individual destination?

Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand and offers so much to see. There are so many attractions, from the Old Town in the centre of the city to the surrounding mountains with waterfalls, summits, and temples such as Wat Doi Suthep, and nothing is too far away.

8. What were your favourite local dishes?

My favourite was pad thai with crunchy pork. We got it at a Michelin-starred restaurant that was recommended by our guide and included in our tuk-tuk excursion in Bangkok.

The White Temple in Chiang Rai. (Credit: Patrick Carleton)

9. What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?

The best suggestion I can give is to add on Chiang Rai, which is often omitted in the standard Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and beach itineraries. It’s a fascinating part of the country and the White Temple and nearby hill tribes surrounding Chiang Rai are worth the 2-night extension. Hike, Bike & Hill Tribes Northern Thailand is a good travel option including Chiang Rai.

10. What are your top three tips for agents who want to sell Thailand?

One: Thailand is welcoming and offers the widest variety of things to see and do in a single country.

Two: The local cuisine is typically on the spicier side. For folks like me, that’s great, but not for everyone, so it’s something to be mindful about when selling to your clients and discussing the amazing food.

Three: The guides are fantastic and will do their utmost to ensure your clients get the most out of their stay.


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