Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park, the ‘new’ Maya Bay

With Thailand’s Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Ley remains closed
indefinitely to allow the tourist-magnet some much-needed time to
recover, it’s time to look for another natural wonder.
 
One of Thailand’s astonishing natural wonders, not as well known as Maya Bay,
is the Ang Thong National Marine Park, located about 40 kilometers north
west of the coast of Koh Samui. Some would argue it’s even more
spectacular and worthy of at least a full day visit. 
 
There are manytours available to the National Park.
 
The Ang Thong National
Marine Park is made up of 42 islands spread over 102 square kilometers. Travelers will find beautiful beaches, limestone cliffs, caves, rock
formations and countless photo opportunities. Enjoy some views from the
air…
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It will take you about an hour to travel there from either the Surat
Thani mainland or from Koh Samui by speedboat. There are slower
ferry-style boat trips as well but you’ll lose a lot of time travelling
there (usually for day trips) and the speedboats can get into much
shallower waters.
 
Tours usually also squeeze in a visit to Koh
Phaluai, the park’s biggest island, where there’s a popular  stilted
restaurant in the island’s fishing village, serving a delicious seafood
lunch.
 
Another popular island worth visiting is Koh Wua Talap,
famed for wildlife spotting and what might just be the most beautiful
viewpoint in the entire park.
 
FUN FACT: Though
the 2000 movie “The Beach,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed in
Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay in the Andaman Sea, the book by Alex Garland upon
which the film was based was actually set in Ang Thong in the Gulf of
Thailand.
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Source – The Thaiger
 
 

 

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Thailand set to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese and Indians

Thailand to open up visa-free stays
 
BANGKOK, 7 August 2019: As China and India emerge as priority targets for Thailand’s latest tourism promotions, visa-free-travel is back on the table for urgent consideration.
Last week, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, told Prachachat Business he intends to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese and Indians later this year.
Currently, citizens of both countries need to apply for a visa-on-arrival although the THB2,000 service fee has been waived until October this year.
The new minister says all that might change with both countries joining a long list of countries that enjoy visa-free entry for a stay of 14 days, possibly as early as 1 November.
This year’s target for tourism revenue, including domestic travel, has been set at THB3.4 trillion. Earnings from international tourists will reach around THB2.2 trillion while tourist arrivals should exceed 40.5 million.
The move is part of a broader policy to increase tourism revenue and reverse the slow down in the tourism growth rate.
Pipat says the Chinese market could still deliver as many as 11 million tourists this year up from 10.5 million. While tourist arrivals from India in 2018 reached 1.5 million, making it the sixth-largest source of visitors. The growth rate was an impressive 27% over 2017.
The latest proposal will introduce a one-year pilot project offering Chinese and Indian tourists visa-free entry starting 1 November, a day after the current Visa-on-Arrival project ends.
Pipat told Prachachat Business: “This time I would like to propose visa-free travel, not a free Visa-on-Arrival. I believe it would stimulate the tourism industry and result in a much stronger conclusion for the high season later this year.”
Source – ThaiVisa

 

 

 

Thai bay made famous by The Beach shut till 2021

Thai Bay

THE closure of the glittering Thai bay made famous by the movie The Beach has been extended for another two years to allow a full recovery of its corals and wildlife, an official said on Thursday, drawing a sharp rebuke from the tourism industry.

Maya Bay, ringed by cliffs on Ko Phi Phi Ley island and surrounded by azure waters, was made famous when it featured in the 2000 film starring Leonardo Dicaprio.

It was shut last June by Thai authorities due to worries the white-sand paradise was suffering from the pressure of thousands of day-trippers arriving by boat.

Authorities had initially said the beach – a massive draw for Thailand’s more than 38 million tourists – was going to be closed for four months, but the re-opening was repeatedly postponed.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, adviser to the Department of National Parks, on Thursday said the ban on visitors will be extended until mid-2021.

“The resolution of the Department of Parks yesterday [May 8] is to extend the closure of Maya Bay for another two years to allow its ecology to fully recover,” he said.

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After it is reopened, measures such as limiting the number of daily visitors and banning boats from parking within the bay’s waters will be enacted, Thon said.

Before Maya Bay’s closure, up to 5,000 tourists visited daily, causing trees and smaller vegetation to be uprooted, creeping soil erosion, and severe damage to the corals in the bay.

A majority of the visitors were ferried there from tourist hotspot Krabi province by local longtail boatmen or tour operators who touted the movie-famous bay as a key attraction for day trips.

“Maya Bay is the heart of our tourism,” said Wattana Rerngsamut, chairman of Krabi Provincial Tourism Association which represents some 200 tourism and hotel operators.

Calling the two-year extension “unfair”, Wattana said the Department of National Parks should conduct public hearings so they can find “common ground . . . so that local people can earn a living”.

Chinese visitors, making up a quarter of Thailand’s tourists, have “plunged 50 per cent [in Krabi]”, he added.

Thailand experienced a three-month slowdown in tourism last year, most noticeably since July when a ferry sank and killed 47 Chinese visitors off nearby Phuket.

Since the tragedy, the government has rolled out inducements aimed at regaining trust and making travel easier – including exempting Chinese visitors from paying a visa-on-arrival fee.

Less than a year after its closure, blacktip reef sharks have been sighted swimming in Maya Bay, with conservationists saying their return signals signs of a recovery to the ecology.

Source – ThePhnomPenhPost

#Thailand’s most important airports are going smoke-free

Goodbye smoking lounges
Smoking is no longer allowed inside the passenger buildings at six of Thailand’s main airports.

As of Sun, Feb 3, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai and Mae Fah Luang airports, all operated by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), have been declared no-smoking zones with fines of up to B5,000 (around US$160) for any violators.

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https://www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=145054
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The move is in accordance with the 2017 Tobacco Control Act and a
2018 Public Health Ministry announcement requiring all offices of
government agencies and state enterprises, which includes airports, to
assign no-smoking areas.
According to Bangkok Post, the AoT has instructed staff at the six airports to arrange smoking areas outside the passenger buildings
Passenger
traffic at Bangkok’s two airports, Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi, both
affected by the change, exceeded 100 million in 2018.
Source – Thaiger

 

#Bangkok leads ranking of top travel destinations during Lunar New Year

Bangkok has emerged the most popular destination for travelers in
Asia-Pacific during the Lunar New Year period, the world’s largest
annual human migration, which is currently underway. 
.
The Thai capital reclaimed the top spot this year as the most popular
travel destination in online booking platform Agoda’s list of top
spring festival destinations 2019, knocking last year’s winner Tokyo to
second spot, followed by Taipei. 
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The results are based on hotel booking data on Lunar New Year dates for 2019. 
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This year, it’s estimated that Chinese travelers will undertake
nearly three billion trips by car, train and plane in the 40-day period
between January 21 and March 1, an increase of 0.6 percent from 2018. 
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On February 5, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mongolia,
Indonesia and Malaysia will celebrate the lunar new year and usher in
the year of the pig, the 12th and last position on the Chinese zodiac. 
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In general, Pigs are born in the years 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and 2019. 
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https://www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=145054
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 Here are the top 10 most popular travel destinations according to Agoda:  

1. Bangkok, Thailand

2. Tokyo, Japan

3. Taipei, Taiwan

4. Hong Kong

5. Kaohsiung, Taiwan

6. Osaka, Japan

7. Taichung, Taiwan

8; Sapporo, Japan

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

10. Singapore

Source – TheJakartaPost
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Queue No More: Vientiane’s Thai Consulate Visa Appointment Applications Go Online

Visa online

Visa applications to Thailand from Laos via Vientiane are set to get a shakeup with the introduction of an online appointment system, Thailand’s Embassy has confirmed.

Long queues into the Thai consulate in Vientiane are set to become a thing of the past, with all appointments to be made online and walk-ins refused.

Information on the system is set to be released on embassy channels January 28, and come into effect on February 1.

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Apart from saving time, money and streamlining operations in a general sense, the move is set to make the biggest difference in summer, when rising temperatures have occasionally been known to fray tempers and sanity among the queuing applicants of multiple nationalities, many of whom are frequent travelers to or foreign residents of Thailand on “visa runs”, as well as those persons based in Laos seeking visas permitting more than two trips per year overland to the near neighbor via Friendship Bridge.

Visa update

For those folk wistfully nostalgic about their time spent waiting for a visa appointment in the consulate queue, be sure to make it down in this splendid weather for old times sake.

Source – laotiantimes

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#Bangkok – Khaosan vendors to ‘disobey’ orders from Monday

Khaosan Road vendors will resort to “civil
disobedience” from Monday if Bangkok authorities do not allow them to
sell their wares during daylight hours, a leader of the Khaosan Road
Street Vendors Association said.

“We will defy the order and set our stalls up at the usual time,” Yada Pornpetrumpa said. 

The vendors are also planning to march to the capital’s City Hall at
around 11.30am on Monday to seek permission to sell their wares during
the day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned street vendors from
trading during daytime since August 1. Though the BMA is coming up with
a new regulation to allow trading from 4pm to midnight, vendors at
present can only conduct their business from 6pm. 
https://12go.asia/?z=581915

 This time limit has meant a huge drop in income for daytime traders,
largely because they have to hand their stalls over at 8pm to vendors
who sell at night, Yada explained. 


“It’s like we set our stalls up for nothing. Now, we [daytime vendors] make only Bt500 or Bt1,000 daily,” she added. 

According to the 1992 Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act, vending on
the street is illegal. However, since Khaosan Road is known the world
over for its vibrant street market, the City Hall decided to draft a
municipal order allowing vendors to take over the Khaosan Road footpaths
from 4pm to midnight. 

Khaosan vendors, however, said this order would cripple vendors who make
a living by selling trinkets to backpackers and Chinese tourists during
the daytime. 
Source – TheNation

 

Fern helps her mum sell food in Krabi. She also speaks four languages fluently.

five year old Thai girl,

A five year old Thai girl, who can speak three foreign languages, helps her mother to sell food along the beach in Krabi.

A young beach vendor who sells food along Klong Heng Beach in Krabi, is carrying two baskets with fruits and snacks. She can speak Thai but also Chinese, English and Bahasa Malay languages. She is seen daily communicating fluently with tourists and providing the correct change when tourists buy food from her.

The girl’s name is Warassaya ‘Fern’ Patin. She’s the daughter of 45 year old Sunee Patimin.

Khun Sunee say, “I have a fruit juice shop nearby here. My daughter carries the baskets along the beach. She greets tourists before she informs them what she has in her baskets. Many tourists like her and buy her food.”

“She studies in a kindergarten at Kitiwaitayanusorn School in Krabi. At her school they are also teaching three foreign languages – English, Chinese and Bahasa Malay. She is a talkative girl. She always followed me to sell food since she was very young. She loves listening when I talk with customers and is a very quick learner.”

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“She asks to help me sell food even if I think she is still very young. She should be playing with her friends like other children do but she enjoys doing this. She has never told me that she is tired. She helps me sell food after school and during weekend. She also makes sure she always does her homework.”

Fern says, “I tell tourists that my food is delicious. If they don’t like it I promise to refund their money, but most of them buy food from me. I earn about 500-700 baht per day. I enjoy walking and speaking to tourists.”

If you see Fern or her mum selling their food along Klong Heng Beach in Krabi make sure you try their food.

Source – TheNation

https://12go.asia/?z=581915

Thailand – In celebration of a rich heritage

Rich-heritage-1
A province of temples, old teak houses and stunning wood-carvings, Lampang basks in the slow life

Unlike neighbouring Chiang Mai, Lampang province has little in the way of fancy resorts or stylish restaurants to entice sybarites and well-heeled visitors. Small as it is peaceful, this northern province is a haven for culture buffs and disciples of the slow life. Rich in cultural heritage and proud of its glory days, Lampang is a destination that cries out to be discovered.

“Lampang has a reputation as a quiet northern town,” says my local guide as we make our way to Baan Sao Nak. “In fact, Lampang is very rich. The province earned a fortune from the teak and tobacco industries in bygone days. But the rich mostly left to live in big cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Stroll or cycle through the city and you’ll be amazed by the heritage buildings, the old wooden houses and temples.”

rich-heritage-2
In fact, Lampang was first to enjoy much of the progress that came from Bangkok, the capital, to Thailand’s North. The railway, for example, arrived at Lampang in 1915 and the service to the North ended here for almost 10 years before extending to Chiang Mai through the Khun Tan Tunnel. The Bank of Thailand also opened a branch here to attract business in the North. The Public Relations Department built a television broadcasting station in Lampang, making the province a gateway of information.

Rich-heritage-3

The province also boasted a thriving tobacco business and was for decades the centre of the teak industry – as evidenced by the lumbering elephants at its Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

Baan Sao Nak, the “house of many pillars”, offers a picture of the wealth of Lampang’s teak barons. Built in 1895 by rich and respected Burmese log trader, Maung Chan Ong, the traditional wood house boasts 116 square teak pillars. It served as the family home for decades before being turned into a local museum. The entire house is furnished with mildly interesting Burmese and Thai antiques and pays testament to the lavish life of Lampang. 

rich-heritage-4

“When the British were commissioned to export the teak from Thailand in the 19th century, they brought the Burmese along to look after their business,” says the guide. “Some of the Burmese were master loggers, and earned a fortune. They married local women, built lavish mansions like Baan Sao Nak, contributed to Buddhism and made merit.”

Two kilometres south of Baan Sao Nak is Wat Srichum, the largest Burmese-style temple in Thailand. Home to a pagoda and chapel hall, the temple was built by a rich Burmese teak trader towards the end of the 19th century. Legend has it that U Maung Gyi, or the “big boss” as the Burmese tycoon was known, brought the finest carpenters from Mandalay in Central Myanmar to build the main viharn (ordination hall). Teak carvings and decorations of delicately and exquisitely engraved woodwork reflect the craftsmanship of these masters.

“The walls, ceiling and wooden pillars are traditionally lacquered and covered with gold leaves,” says the local guide, directing my attention to the interior walls.

Surrounded by a wall and accessed through a large, elaborately decorated entrance gate topped with a Burmese Pyatthat roof, Wat Sri Chum has been declared a national treasure by the Thai Fine Arts Department.

One of the finest temples in Lampang is Wat Lai Hin, 40 kilometres west of Wat Srichum. Small yet graceful, the temple is a diamond in the province’s crown. The arched entrance, with elegant plasterwork depicting small angels and guardians, was the prototype for the entrance of Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang – the city’s most sacred pagoda.

Rich-heritage-5

“This small viharn with its multi-tiered roofs makes a bold statement about Lampang architecture,” says the local guide. “Many experts regard it as finer than Chiang Mai architecture.” A tall pillar with a swan on top in front of the viharn pays testament to the Burmese influence. 

From Wat Lai Hin, we head to Wat Pongsanuk on the bank of Wang River. Built in 1886 by the Shan-speaking community in Lampang, the temple won Unesco’s Award of Merit 2008 for restoration. Although it lost much of its character during the renovation, the small, open-sided building stands on a mound is one of the few remaining local examples of original Lanna-style temple architecture. To get an idea of what it was like previously, look at the carved wooden gateway at the entrance to the north stairway.

For the history buff, a trip to Lampang is not complete without a visit to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. Perched on the expansive mound, the visitor has quite a climb up the Naga stairway to reach the main entrance – which is inspired by the arched gateway of Wat Lai Hin. It’s worth checking out for fine plaster designs. 

The main viharn houses a bronze Buddha statue called the Phra Chao Lan Thong. At the end of the viharn is a golden pagoda in Lanna architectural style containing a Holy Relic of Lord Buddha.

“Wat Phra That Lampang Luang draws visitors for the golden pagoda,” says the guide. “But the temple also has beautiful murals on wooden walls and these are said to be the oldest in the North.”

The murals tell the tales of Jataka through paintings of serpents, elephants and Lord Buddha as well as the stories of Ramayana and some Lanna folktales. 

Despite its size and provincial mien, Lampang in many ways maintains a slow Lanna pace. Unlike the big city like Chiang Mai, it charms visitors with its old-fashioned Lanna culture. Whether you choose to move around in a horse-drawn carriage, Lampang’s signature mode of transportation, cycle or walk, you’ll be delighted with the sense of discovery.

Source: TheNation

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