"As a child, my father used to take me on his tours. One was a cruise on a junk between Pattaya and Koh Larn and I remember, what a wonderful way to see my own country. I think I was inspired then to create experiences that are meaningful and authentic for travellers who want to experience travel as it should be felt.”Chananya PhataraprasitFounder, Asian Oasis
How It Began
As a little girl, Chananya remembered being taken out on her father’s tours. One of these was a junk that cruised between Pattaya and Koh Larn and another was a trip on a rice barge on the San Sab canal of Bangkok. The first became the inspiration for the June Bahtra and the latter, the Mekhala – two of Asian Oasis’ signature experiences.
Growing up with tourism in her blood – her father is pioneer tour operator Peter Larsen (Anant Sirisant) – it was clear from the very beginning that Chananya would find her groove in travel, and that she would derive joy from staying true to her Thai roots.
Connecting local tribe villagers with travelers
In 1995, she built Lisu Lodge, a small lodge in the remote hill tribe village of Lisu in northern Thailand. She wanted a place where visitors could learn about local culture directly from their hosts, the Lisu villagers. She also wanted the village to earn income directly from tourism. Parts of the income earned at the lodge go towards the village fund to support educational, cultural and economic projects to improve the quality of life of hundreds of villagers.
Hmong and Lahu hill tribes
This same model was also adopted when she built Lanjia Lodge in the Hmong and Lahu hill tribe village in Chiang Rai. The two lodges are now trailblazers in community-based tourism in Thailand, having won local and international awards.
Continuing with her journey, she set up Asian Oasis in 2006 with the aim of creating unique travel offerings for a growing segment of travellers looking beyond Thailand's beaches, temples and cities for more meaningful and authentic experiences.
Asian Oasis Today
Today Asian Oasis has offices in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket. It operates its own community-based lodges in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and a fleet of classic cruising boats that ply the waters off Phuket, cruise the legendary Chao Phraya River between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. It also offers cruise programmes in Laos and a customized cruise from northern Thailand to the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang.
Chananya is driven by a passion to sustain, protect and improve local culture and the environment through economic growth, education and employment opportunities. As in her early years, she still travels to places in Thailand, scouting locations to create new interesting experiences for travellers who want to connect with local people and cultures.