Teen pop star Shawn Mendes due to play Bangkok concert

Canadian singer Shawn Mendes is due to make a stopover in Bangkok next week on his Illuminate World Tour. The teen singing sensation will play live on stage at the Muang Thong Thani complex’s Impact Arena on Monday 11 December.

Teen pop star Shawn Mendes due to play Bangkok concert

The Illuminate tour is taking in around 60 global concert venues and includes dates in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as Bangkok. The tour is in support of the album, the singer’s second, of the same name.

Illuminate was released last year and has already spawned the singles Treat You Better, Mercy and There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back. This trio of hits plus other tracks such as Don't Be a Fool and Bad Reputation typically feature on the Illuminate World Tour set lists. 

In a recent review, the Associated Press noted that Mendes’ second album and the support tour had revealed a new maturity. The article explained that the former teen idol had made the successful transition to authentic pop and rock star.  
 
12GO ASIA says tickets have been on sale since May, but there are still some available at ThaiTicketMajor outlets and the agent’s website. Ticket prices begin at THB2,000.

King Bhumibol Remembrance Day public holiday in Thailand tomorrow

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Thailand in honour of the memory of the late King Bhumibol. The main branches of banks, post offices, provincial immigration offices and local government offices will be shut for the day.

King Bhumibol Remembrance Day public holiday in Thailand tomorrow

12GO ASIA notes that border and airport immigration checkpoints plus bank branches in shopping malls will be open as usual. There has been no official confirmation so far as to whether restaurants and pubs will be barred from selling alcoholic beverages.

December fifth was King Bhumibol’s birthday and had been a public holiday and also national Father’s Day before he passed away in October 2016. After the king’s death, the Thai government decided to preserve the holiday as a tribute to his memory and enduring legacy.

While King Bhumibol was alive his birthday was celebrated with the likes of fireworks displays and the erection of huge portraits festooned with yellow streamers.  This year’s King Bhumibol Remembrance Day is expected to be more sombre with people limited to laying flowers at royal monuments such as the King Chulalongkorn Statue in Bangkok’s Royal Plaza and the Three Kings’ Statue in Chiang Mai.

Langkawi Island to host international music fest

Authorities on Malaysia’s Langkawi Island have confirmed the 2017 edition of the popular international music fest will take place. The two-day musical extravaganza will take place at Pantai Cenang Beach and will kick off on the 23 December.

Langkawi Island to host international music fest

The organisers say the event will feature an eclectic mix of musical genres including Indonesian keroncong and calypso plus top Melbourne DJ Stick Mareebo. Among the acts scheduled to appear are Mayu Wakisaka, Aru and the Republic, and Bustamento. The music is set to start at 17:00 each evening.

As well as music, the fest will feature great food and drink, firework displays and educational workshops. Additional details can be found on the Facebook page for the Langkawi International Island Music Festival. Advance tickets are available online from AirAsia RedTix.

12GO ASIA says the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months are the best time to enjoy Langkawi and Pantai Cenang. The weather is warm and rainfall is sporadic. Airlines such as AirAsia fly here from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang and make the island easy to get too.

Qatar adds Pattaya Utapao Airport to route network

Qatar Airways recently confirmed the addition of Pattaya’s Utapao Airport to its fast evolving network of flight options. The service will launch on the 28 January 2018 and will operate four times a week in each direction between the Thai eastern seaboard airport and the Qatari capital of Doha.

Qatar adds Pattaya Utapao Airport to route network

In a statement, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said he was pleased to announce the airline’s fifth destination in Thailand. He carried on by saying demand for travel to Thailand was at an all-time high and Qatar always tried to give customers what they wanted.

Qatar will utilise Boeing 787 Dreamliners to serve the route. These are configured with 254 seats, 232 economy class and 22 in business. The outbound services from Doha will leave at 20:05 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Arrival at Utapao Pattaya Airport is the following morning. This means return flights will depart the next day.  

12GO ASIA says Utapao is slowly gaining popularity as an alternate to Bangkok’s two airports when heading for Pattaya, Rayong or even Koh Chang Island. It is currently served by local carriers such as Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Airways with connections to domestic and Asian locations.

Iconic Bangkok bar Cheap Charlie’s officially reopens tomorrow

The proprietor of Bangkok’s legendary Cheap Charlie’s Bar has confirmed tomorrow will see the reopening of the facility in a new location. According to the bar’s Facebook page, the bar will officially rise from the ashes just eight months after it closed.

Iconic Bangkok bar Cheap Charlie’s officially reopens tomorrow

Cheap Charlie’s has moved around seven kilometres and six BTS Skytrain stops down Sukhumvit Road from its original location on Sukhumvit Soi 11. The new venue is among the collection of shops, cafés and restaurants at the Beacon Place complex on Sukhumvit Soi 50.

Beacon Place is just five minutes on foot from Onnut Station. A sneak preview of the new bar reveals much of the memorabilia from the original has been teleported. 12GO ASIA notes that as Beacon Place is a more modern venue, bathroom facilities should be a tad better than at the old location.

Such was the fame of Cheap Charlie’s during its 35-year tenure on Soi 11, taking a cheap drink at the bar was almost a rite of passage for a generation of international travellers. It ranked along with the likes of the glitzier bright lights of Nana Plaza and Patpong as a must visit spot on one night in Bangkok odysseys.

Annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta sets sail at the weekend

One of southern Phuket island’s most eagerly anticipated annual happenings will begin this weekend. The 31st King’s Cup Regatta will see 80 sailing boats cutting sleek wakes in the seas off the west coast of the Thai holiday island.

Annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta sets sail at the weekend

The Beyond Resort Kata is the start and finish point for the regatta events. Pre-registration is on Saturday. Sunday the 3 December will see the yachts and dinghies taken out for practices before the racing proper starts on the following day.

Four days of racing are scheduled to take place over the five days before Saturday’s prize giving ceremonies and closing speeches. The head of the Phuket King’s Cup organising committee, Kevin Whitcraft, said a record number of entries for this year’s event should be exciting for competitors and spectators alike.

12GO ASIA notes that the Phuket King’s Cup scooped up the prize for Best Asian Regatta in last year’s Asia Boating Awards. The 12GO ASIA image of the 2016 regatta comes with courtesy of King’s Cup.

Thai AirAsia ramps up Phuket flight connections

Thai AirAsia is increasing the number of flight connections to Phuket with the forthcoming launch of two new services. A four times weekly service from Khon Kaen to the southern Thai island will inaugurate on the 22 December.

Thai AirAsia ramps up Phuket flight connections

This will be followed on the 8 January 2018 with a direct daily service between Phuket and the Asian gambling capital of Macau. Commenting on the new routes, AirAsia Phuket manager Arun Lilapantisitt explained that demand for travel to and from the island was steadily increasing and warranted the additional options.

He said that flights to and from the hub airport were always above 80 per cent full and this included the pre-dawn service from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport. He finished off with the codicil of the peak tourist season on Phuket was underway and there was no better time to introduce new air travel choices.

12GO ASIA says Khon Kaen-Phuket flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The outbound service from Khon Kaen will take off at 08:45 and land at Phuket Airport at 10:40. Return flights will depart at 11:10 and arrive in Khon Kaen at 12:50.

On the Phuket to Macau route, the outbound service will leave at 05:20 and land in Macau at 10:05. Return services are scheduled for takeoff at 10:40 and arrival back on Phuket is 13:10. The times quoted are local at each location.

Katy Perry returns to Bangkok, tickets on sale in January

Thai concert promoter BEC-Tero Entertainment has confirmed US songstress Katy Perry will be playing in Bangkok again. The pop icon will be live on stage at the Muang Thong Thani Impact Arena in Bangkok on the 10 April 2018.

Katy Perry returns to Bangkok, tickets on sale in January

The Bangkok date is a part of the world tour to promote the singer’s fifth and latest album, Witness. The tour kicked off in Montreal in September and judging from the set lists so far, the audience at the Bangkok gig can expect to hear the likes of I Kissed a Girl, Firework, Swish Swish and Roar.

BEC-Tero only confirmed the Bangkok date this week. The promoter noted that ticket prices had not been finalised yet, but would go on sale on the 13 January. ThaiTicketMajor is the main agent for tickets and they will be sold at official outlets and on the firm’s website.

12GO ASIA says demand for tickets is expected to be high. Katy Perry played to a full house the last time she visited Bangkok back in May 2015. The Bangkok stopover is only one of six on the Witness tour. Perry will have played Singapore two days before arriving in the Thai capital.

China to Hanoi freight train services inaugurated

The weekend saw the arrival of a pioneering freight train service from China at Yen Vien Station in Hanoi. In what could be the precursor of a passenger service from Nanchang, the 33-container long train arrived at the Hanoi suburban station on Saturday after an epic three-day journey.

China to Hanoi freight train services inaugurated

The cargo containers were loaded up with the likes of Chinese furniture and parts for cars and trucks. From Vietnam, containers for the return trip were filled up with agricultural and natural products as well as electronic appliances and accessories.

A source at Vietnam Railways confirmed the plan is to run the goods trains once weekly in each direction to start off with. He noted that although the train took three days to travel between the two end destinations, this was far quicker than the average 15 days needed to ship products by road or road and sea.

12GO ASIA explains that Nanchang is in China’s Jiangxi Province and is only around 600kms as the crow flies. The team says that if passenger services are launched somewhere down the line, they would need to be a lot faster than three days.

Adverse weather warning for Thai south

The Thai Meteorological Department says heavy rains and storms will batter Thailand’s southern provinces over the next few days. The alert said the storms would bring downpours, strong winds and choppy seas which are expected to be sporadic through until Friday.

Adverse weather warning for Thai south

Provinces affected stretch down from Phang Nga and Suratthani to Satun, Yala and Narathiwat. The Meteorological Department also noted that the rainwater drain off might cause flash flooding and residents and visitors should be careful.

The weather alert noted that waves of up to three metres in height would make boat and ferry journeys uncomfortable in both the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. It said the skippers of smaller boats would be better off not putting out to sea at all.
 
On Phuket island, governor Norraphat Plodtong echoed the weather department’s advice. He explained that emergency services personnel and disaster relief officials were keeping an eye on the situation and were also on call.

12GO ASIA says no delays to ferry services across to the gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao have so far been announced. The team says the same is true for ferries to islands such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta on the Andaman side of the country.

Revamped Phuket Airport domestic terminal opens tomorrow

The management team at Phuket Airport say the facility’s revamped domestic building is scheduled to open this week. The southern part of the structure will reopen tomorrow, but manager Phet Chancharoen says renovation on the other half will not be completed until next April.

Revamped Phuket Airport domestic terminal opens tomorrow

He noted that the work on the second part of the upgrade would start just as soon as the southern section was fully operational again. The partial revamp already completed is adding an extra 20,000-metres² of space for passengers and this is spread over both the Arrivals and Departures zones. 

Mr Chan-charoen noted the upgrade should alleviate the congestion arriving and departing passengers have faced while the work was being carried out. 12GO ASIA notes the timing of the reopening could not have been bettered as the peak Christmas and New Year holiday is almost upon us.

Aircraft movements are gradually increasing to a forecast 300 daily. The number of passengers expected to use the airport over the next month is 50,000 a day. The domestic terminal revamp is part of a total project to almost double the airport’s annual passenger capacity from 6.5 million to 12.5 million.

Gourmet dining in the sky preparing for takeoff in Bangkok

Global gourmet experience Dinner in the Sky is winging its way to Bangkok and is scheduled to open in time for the Christmas festive season. The hanging dinner table will be hoisted above the Emporium Mall on Sukhumvit Road and provide space for 22 diners to enjoy dinner with the twinkling lights of the city as a magical backdrop.

Gourmet dining in the sky preparing for takeoff in Bangkok

The sky high dinner table will be 50 metres above ground and diners will be strapped in before embarking on the culinary voyage of a lifetime. The dining pod will be dangling from a heavy duty boom crane. Four-course dinners will be prepared by the chefs at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel. 

Dinner In The Sky Thailand’s Friso Poldervaart explained that the new culinary option would add an extra facet to the dining choices in a city already acclaimed as one of the top global destinations for foodies. Dinner In The Sky is already up and flying in over 40 countries which range from Portugal to Colombia and Taiwan. 

According to the 12GO ASIA news team, Dinner in the Sky will open in Bangkok on the 20 December. The Emporium Mall is directly linked to the BTS Phrom Phong Skytrain Station. The image shown comes courtesy of Dinner In The Sky and shows what tourists and the people of Bangkok have in store for them.

WiFi connectivity points set up at Pattaya Beach

Pattaya authorities say hi-speed wireless internet is now available on the beach and the Beach Road esplanade. Municipal spokesperson Pinit Maneerat told media sources the service was being provided for free under the terms of an agreement reached with CAT Telecom.

WiFi connectivity points set up at Pattaya Beach

A total of 24 WiFi hubs have been installed at staggered intervals along Beach Road. These range from the north end of Pattaya Bay at the Dusit Thani Hotel all the way down to nightlife hub extraordinaire at Walking Street and Bali Hai Port.

Registration to use the free WiFi is via the official Pattaya City webpage. This gives connectivity for two hours a day for up to two months. There is a call-centre help-desk number provided on the page for those having trouble with the instructions and connecting.

The introduction of the WiFi service comes as part of a series of improvements to improve tourism infrastructure instigated by mayor Anan Charoenchasri. 12GO ASIA’s man about town in Pattaya says the connectivity is not too bad at all and is latent and fast as claimed by CAT and the council.

Extension of Bangkok Purple Line put on back burner

Thailand’s Transport Ministry has deferred the opening of bids to build an extension to Bangkok’s suburban Purple Line tracks. The add-on in question is a 23km extension from the current southern terminus at Tao Poon Station to Rat Burana.

Extension of Bangkok Purple Line put on back burner

Speaking to reporters recently, transport-minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith explained bids had not been put out to tender last month as originally planned. He carried on by saying the ministry was still putting the finishing touches to the terms of reference and the bidding process would likely kick off in the New Year. 

Minister Termpittayapaisith finished off by saying that working on this scenario, contractors would be able to start work on the project before the end of 2018.  The original section of the Purple Line opened in August 2016 and linked Khlong Bang Phai Station in Nonthaburi Province to Tao Poon.

12GO ASIA notes ridership was low during the first 12 months the Purple Line was in operation. The reason for this was a missing link connecting Tao Poon to Bang Sue Station and the MRT Subway Blue Line was somehow forgotten. The link launched this past August and the number of passengers using the Purple Line immediately doubled.

Hua Hin Waterpark to host Japanese manga cartoon expo for Xmas

Hua Hin’s Vana Nava Waterpark Jungle is set to stage a six-week carnival featuring the characters of Japanese manga cartoon One Piece. The event will begin on Friday the 1 December and conclude on 16 January 2018.

Hua Hin Waterpark to host Japanese manga cartoon expo for Xmas

Thai ainime cartoon distributor DEX Dream Express is bringing the One Piece Carnival ensemble to the Vana Nava Hua Hin. DEX manager Vichien Vangveravongsa explained that One Piece had legions of fans in Thailand and it was time to pay them back for their loyalty with a unique and fun happening.

Waterpark Jungle boss Natha Jamasevi said there would be four activity areas giving interactive experiences with the One Piece crew. A highlight will be a towering seven metre effigy of Monkey D Luffy while a pose zone will be perfect for selfies featuring other denizens of the One Piece world.

12GO ASIA says the One Piece carnival will be an added enticement to visit Vana Nava Hua Hin. The team also noted that it would likely be very busy over the main Christmas and New Year holiday days as well as national Children’s Day on the 13 January.

Thai telecoms bureau clarifies new rules on SIM card registration

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has issued an update on the new regulations for the purchase of SIM cards for mobile telephones. The rules will still be effective from the 15 December but will only apply to new cards and not old ones.

Thai telecoms bureau clarifies new rules on SIM card registration

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith confirmed the ruling that people who buy SIM cards before the deadline will still only have to have their ID cards or, in the case of foreign tourists, their passports scanned. Once the deadline has passed, people buying SIM cards are going to have their fingerprints scanned.

This will only apply to Thai nationals on implementation day as the fingerprints will be matched to the buyer’s entry on the national ID card database. The plan which would have required overseas visitors to have their faces scanned and matched with their passport photographs has been shelved for the time being. 

12GO ASIA explains the reason for the delay is simply down to cost. Citing a statement issued by the NBTC’s Prawit Leesatapornwongsa, the team noted that fingerprint scanners were far cheaper than face scanners. Fingerprint scanners are already in place in the likes of 7-Eleven stores and AIS and TRUE outlets whereas face scanners have primarily been distributed in the far south of the country.

Floodwaters drained from Hua Hin railway tracks

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has resumed services on the southbound route from Bangkok to Suratthani and Hat Yai. Train services were temporarily halted yesterday as floodwaters swamped the tracks near the seaside resort town of Hua Hin.

Floodwaters drained from Hua Hin railway tracks

Heavy rain brought in by tropical storm Kirogi inundated the southern Thai peninsula at the beginning of the week. Local news sources in Hua Hin reported the resulting floods washed over a 400-meter section of the line between Khao Tao Station and Pranburi’s Wang Pong Station.

Municipal workers in Hua Hin set up drainage pumps to expedite the flow of the water. An SRT representative said the line has reopened, but engineers will be monitoring the situation as Kirogi is expected to bring more rain over the next couple of days.

12GO ASIA’s travel advisors say the floods rendered the main highway in Hua Hin impassable and intercity buses and other traffic were diverted onto the Cha Am-Pranburi bypass. Thai Disaster Mitigation and Prevention Department boss Kittiporn Thepyuamnuay said 300 Hua Hin residents living in low-lying zones had been evacuated because their houses were flooded.

Thailand moots extending Royal Crematorium opening period

Senior Thai government ministers are currently debating whether to extend the opening days for the Royal Crematorium. The site of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s cremation was supposed to have been open until the end of this month and then demolished.

Thailand moots extending Royal Crematorium opening period

Authorities say an astounding 1.3 million people visited the site during the first 18 days after it opened to the public on the 2 of November. They say the sheer amount of interest in visiting the Bangkok site would make it worthwhile to keep it open for a bit longer.

Deputy PM Tanasak Patimapragorn visited the site a few days ago and said he would put the proposal before the prime-minister. 12GO ASIA notes that while the Royal Crematorium might not be closed at the end of the month, it will do so in the not too distant future and now is the time to visit before it is too late. 

The Royal Crematorium was built in Bangkok’s Sanam Luang Park for the cremation of King Bhumibol on the 26 October. King Bhumibol had passed away the previous October at the age of 88 and after a seven-decade reign which began soon after WWII.

Late night nightlife in Hanoi gets the big thumbs up

Residents and tourists say Hanoi’s later opening hours for nightlife have made the city a more exciting place. Under regulations passed late last year, pubs and cafés were allowed to apply to extend their opening hours from midnight until 02:00 at weekends.

Late night nightlife in Hanoi gets the big thumbs up

The change was originally introduced on a trial basis in the Hoan Kiem Lake and Old Quarter for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. People’s Committee representative Duong Duc Tuan said the resounding success of the trials was likely to lead to the regulations becoming permanent and a proposal to do this had already been draughted.

Another local councillor, Nguyen Quyet Thang, noted that late-night businesses had reported 60 per cent increases in revenue over the past year and had paid taxes accordingly. Speaking to Vietnam News, Spanish tourist Jose Pradas said he loved the late opening and enjoyed Hanoi’s nightlife. He noted it was a bonus for jetlagged visitors whose body clocks were still stuck in their own time zones.

12GO ASIA says that Hanoi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. In addition to good nightlife, Hanoi boasts great museums and cultural sites, the chance of seeing water-puppet shows and sampling delectable cuisine.

Sunflower fields in full bloom attract visitors to Mae Hong Son

Fields and hills bedecked in sunflowers in full blossom have attracted thousands of tourists to Mae Hong Son Province over the past week or so. The annual phenomenon is always a major draw card as the spectacle of the wild yellow Mexican blooms is almost surreal.

Sunflower fields in full bloom attract visitors to Mae Hong Son

The northern Thai province’s district of Khun Yuam is the gateway to the golden hills of what locals call dok bua tong. A district official, Narongchai Jindaphan, said the annual influx of visitors invariably caused some traffic snarl ups and this year was no different.

He continued by saying drivers should obey the rules of the highway and this would lessen the traffic problems. 12GO ASIA says the traffic jams usually only occur at weekends and weekdays are a lot less busy.

The team also say the sunflowers only blossom for a few weeks at most and those planning a visit should prioritise it. Dok bua tong are in the Doi Mae U-kho area of Khun Yuam. This is 26kms on a paved road from Khun Yuam Market and the main Highway 108 from Mae Hong Son town.