BANGKOK: THIS BIG, COLORFUL, noisy, larger-than-life city positively bursts with energy. The air feels supercharged, and the legendary non-stop traffic jam seems downright overwhelming. This city comes at you like a whirlwind, yet few can resist its seductive charms.
The city tantalizes visitors, from the shimmering gold- and jewel-colored mosaics of Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace complex to the fascinating river life along the canals off the Chao Phraya River and the slightly chaotic but interesting Bang Noi Floating Market. But Bangkok’s national treasures tell only part of the story. Plenty is happening on the business front, and Bangkok’s business-savvy inhabitants have some clear guidelines for doing business with foreigners.
First and foremost, visitors should respect the Thai culture. Do not ever make negative remarks about Thailand or the royal family, and never touch or take selfies with statues or images of Buddha. Also, the bottoms of feet are considered offensive and should never be pointed toward another person or a sacred image. The Thai people value courtesy and saving face, so they may see aggressive Western sales techniques as rude. Business culture in Thailand tends to be hierarchical and based on respect for elders and for position. Thais like to develop relationships with business partners, so business might progress more slowly than Westerners are used to.
In Thailand the traditional greeting is a wai (pronounced “why”), performed by placing the palms together as if in prayer and bowing your head toward your fingertips. The person of lower status offers the greeting. Business cards, an important business tool in Thailand, are presented with the right hand to the most senior person first. And it is important to read the card offered.
Business attire at the executive level is formal and conservative. To be on the safe side, stick with dark suits or slacks but avoid black, as it is associated with funerals. Men should wear dress shirts and ties, while women’s skirts should fall below the knee and shoulders should be covered. Because shoes are removed in homes and some businesses, socks and stockings should be in good repair.
Though all of these rules may sound a bit overwhelming, the Thai people, particularly in the business world, are incredibly hospitable, with friendly smiles and perfect manners. Quite forgiving and patient with foreigners, they will likely politely overlook any unintentional faux pas.
Food figures prominently in Asian culture, and Bangkok offers a multitude of dining options, with every country and type of food represented. When business meetings include a meal, food is only one part of the package. Ambience and service also play a large part and are considered a reflection of one’s business persona. The problem is not finding a venue but choosing the one among many which will serve best for that important business breakfast, lunch or dinner.
For an early-morning meeting, the Mandarin Oriental breakfast buffet is sure to impress almost any business associate with its tantalizing assortment of fruit and mouth-watering pastries served on the veranda in full view of the Chao Phraya River. Housed in a 100-year-old building, the Blue Elephant includes not only an innovative restaurant but also a cooking school. Featuring both set menus and a banqueting option, it proves perfect for small business conferences. For an elegant business dinner, Evergarden offers a classy ambience and superb food. Specializing in traditional Cantonese cuisine, its steamed snow fish in soy sauce is perfection.
While Thai food’s reputation is legendary, and the wine’s not so much, this is changing. In September Bangkok will host the seventh annual Wine & Spirits Thailand, a leading international trade exhibition for the wine and spirits industries. Thailand’s Monsoon Valley Vineyard makes award-winning wines from international grape varietals. Wine Enthusiast included Bangkok as one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations of 2019.
Without question, one cannot discuss Bangkok without addressing the traffic issue. It often seems the city is in a permanent state of gridlock, and getting anywhere takes forever, but transportation options can make getting around doable. The BTS Skytrain and Silom Line linking Bangkok’s central business districts offer the quickest way around central Bangkok. The MRT, Bangkok’s second mass-transit system, covers the northern section of the city. Except during morning and evening rush hours, taxis can offer a surprisingly fast and cheap way to get around. Two things to remember: Have the name of your destination written in Thai, since few drivers speak English, and make sure the driver agrees to use the meter.
Once you’ve boarded Regent’s Seven Seas Grandeur, it is immediately apparent this recently launched cruise ship delivers what the name promises. Jewel box opulence dominates in most of the public areas, while quiet luxury teamed with clever function defines the cabins (save for the individually decorated top-tier suites). The ship, designed by internationally acclaimed Studio DADO and constructed by Ancona, Italy, ship builder Fincantieri, holds up to 746 guests and is serviced by a staff of 548 for optimal passenger-to-staff service.
Known as one of the best airports in the world and voted Best Airport in the Middle East by Global Traveler readers, Hamad International Airport aims to set new standards for the airport industry that exceed the expectations of travelers through its facility.
The St. Regis San Francisco recently debuted a Lunar New Year-themed The Art of Tea to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. Available for only a few more days, through Feb. 25, the afternoon menu boasts Asian-inspired sweet and savory items, a selection of tea and a complimentary welcome toast with Champgane Lallier R.018.
Incentive travel has long been a way for organizations to drive sales and reward employees with opulent trips to exotic destinations. Today it encompasses even more.
After a stressful pre-holiday season and a busy work schedule, there was no better time for a relaxing spa experience than during my recent trip to Pasadena with the FXExpress Publications, Inc. team. We headed to The Langham Huntington, Pasadena for the 20th anniversary of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards, which meant a jam-packed trip, but I managed to carve a little time out of our busy schedule to visit Chuan Spa at the hotel.
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
Keep New Year’s resolutions going with a stay at The Westin Tempe. The hotel recently launched a wellness stay offer in partnership with Lululemon. The limited-time Lululemon In-Room Fitness Experience includes accommodations in a guestroom equipped with a Lululemon-branded yoga mat and yoga block.