Bangkok Airways flights to Phu Quoc Island ready for take off

Bangkok Airways flights to Phu Quoc Island ready for take off

Bangkok Airways will begin flying between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Phu Quoc Island at the end of October. The Thailand based boutique airline will launch the flight link between Bangkok’s main airport and the Vietnamese holiday isle on the twenty-ninth of the month.

Services will operate four times weekly in each direction. Outbound flights from Suvarnabhumi will depart at 11:30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and land on Phu Quoc at 13:10. Departure times for the return flights are 13:50. Scheduled arrival time back in Bangkok is 15:35.

Bangkok Airways says it will be utilising ATR 72-600 aircraft configured for 70 passengers to fly the new route. At a media briefing held in the airline’s lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport, president Puttipong Prasarttong-osoth confirmed the Phu Quoc link was good to go. 

He explained that the airline was pleased to be adding such a beautiful destination to its Asian regional network. 12GO ASIA notes that Bangkok Airways is a preferred travel partner and expects to be adding the new flights to itineraries in the near future.


Last chance to see Nakhon Phanom lighted boat fest in 2017

Last chance to see Nakhon Phanom lighted boat fest in 2017

The nine-day-long Nakhon Phanom Lai Reua Fai Festival is drawing to a close and tourists who want to see the famous illuminated boats need to get a move on. The colourful cultural extravaganza began on the 28 September and will end tomorrow.

Visitors who do make the long trek to the northeastern Thai province for the boat parades on the Mekong River this evening or tomorrow will get to witness an almost surreal sight. As today is Wan Awk Phansa and the end of the Buddhist Lent period there are extra events to entice culture buffs.

Phra That Phanom Temple is the venue for culture shows and rites designed to pay homage to its landmark chedi. A street parade featuring replica Lai Reua Fai boats will take place this evening in the district around Nakhon Phanom municipal hall while the town’s Lan Tawan Boek Fa riverside park will have live music bands. 

According to 12GO ASIA’s travel timetables, Nakhon Phanom is not so difficult to get to. There is plenty of seat availability on buses from Bangkok as well as Nok Air and Thai AirAsia flights from Don Mueang Airport


Thai Buddhists end Lent with Wan Awk Phansa tomorrow

Thai Buddhists end Lent with Wan Awk Phansa tomorrow

The full-moon tomorrow signifies the end of the three-month-long period of Lent for Buddhists in Thailand. Buddhists will be making a trip to their local temples to give small donations of sweets and the like to mark Wan Awk Phansa.

As is the case with most major Thai Buddhist events, saffron-robed monks will give sermons in the temples. Lent is called Vassa in Thai and Wan Awk Phansa is the name given to the official end of the period of abstinence which began in July.

Like Christians, Buddhists typically give up habits like drinking alcohol and eating meat products for Lent.  On the traditional calendar for Thailand, Wan Awk Phansa falls in the eleventh month.

From a visual perspective, there is not much for tourists to see in most locations in Thailand. A notable exception is the Lai Reua Fai illuminated boat fest held in Nakhon Phanom Province. The sight of the boats floating on the waters of the Mekong River is awesome. 

12GO ASIA notes that Wan Awk Phansa is a religious festival and not a public holiday. This means banks, immigration offices and post offices will be opening as normal.


Utapao Pattaya Airport to host airborne Formula 1 racing event

Utapao Pattaya Airport to host airborne Formula 1 racing event

The organisers of the Air Race Formula 1 World Cup racing series have confirmed Utapao Pattaya Airport is a venue for a 2017 edition of the thrilling event. Utapao will host the next in the series of 2017’s Air Race 1s between 17 and 19 November.

The Air Race 1 management team has promised this year’s event will feature the same exhilarating displays of flying skills as the inaugural Thai races in 2016. In what are called pylon air races, pilots zoom around a two-kilometre circuit at speeds as high as 450kph while only 10 metres from ground level.

The proximity of the high-performance aircraft makes for a really exciting spectator sport. Each race heat features eight laps. Air Race 1’s management team say more flyers are expected to compete this year than in 2016,

Air Race 1 has joined forces with Chang Beer and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism in staging the event. 12GO ASIA explains that Utapao is a mixed use public and military airport located on the grounds of Sattahip Navy Base. The base is 40kms from Pattaya.


Bangkok performing arts fest to stage West Side Story

Bangkok performing arts fest to stage West Side Story

Bangkok’s Thailand Cultural Centre is the venue for a series of performances of the US culture classic play West Side Story this week. Theatre lovers have the choice of six different performances and the first one is on Thursday.

Showtime is 19:30 in the main hall at the Cultural Centre on Thursday and will be followed by performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the same time. Those who can’t make an evening show have the option of 14:30 matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday.

The Bangkok performances of West Side Story are true to the original story written by Arthur Laurents and feature the music and lyrical gems of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The shows are 150 minutes long and include a 20-minute interval. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the performances.

Advance tickets for West Side Story are available online from ThaiTicketMajor’s website. 12GO ASIA notes that the Cultural Centre is in the Huai Khwang District of Bangkok. Free shuttle buses to the centre depart from Exit 1 of the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station.


Rainstorms in Thailand set to last until the weekend

Rainstorms in Thailand set to last until the weekend

Thailand’s weathermen say rainstorms right across the country are set to last until the weekend at least. They say the storms will bring scattered but heavy rain and are likely to exacerbate flooding in some regions.

Locations such as southern Trang Province and Pathum Thani in the home counties around Bangkok were inundated by flooding over the weekend. Floodwaters washed through houses in low-lying areas of Trang and left some roads under water in both locations.

Rainstorms in Bangkok yesterday slowed down transportation and turned the morning commute for many residents into somewhat of an ordeal. The forecasters say the expected rainfall over the coming week is bound to result in some areas of the capital flooding.   

The weather department says that any more flooding will probably be limited to the upper regions of Thailand from Bangkok northwards. 12GO ASIA says that tourists with confirmed tickets for buses, trains or flights should allow ample time to reach their departure stations until the wet weather eases off.


Thailand parks dept to launch tourist trail to remote Sukhothai waterfall

Thailand parks dept to launch tourist trail to remote Sukhothai waterfall

Officials at a national park in Thailand’s northern Sukhothai province are planning to set up a new tourism trail leading to an isolated waterfall. The 80-meter-high waterfall in Ramkhamhaeng National Park is surrounded by thick forest and lofty mountain peaks.

The waterfall’s stunning beauty is enhanced by the fact it drops in a single cascade and creates a plume of spray which glistens like diamonds on a sunny day. Villagers who live close to Ramkhamhaeng National Park claim the fall is the most stunning in upper Thailand and is worth going out of your way to see.

The waterfall is around three kilometres away from the park’s main road. Officials say they plan to improve the access route to make it easier to get to. The Khiri Mat checkpoint and gateway to Ramkhamhaeng National Park is about 25kms to the south of both New Sukhothai Town and Sukhothai Historical Park.

12GO ASIA says a Ramkhamhaeng daytrip is easily organised when staying near Sukhothai Historical Park. Sukhothai itself is not that difficult to get to either as we offer the choice of flying from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with Bangkok Airways, bus or taxi for the journey.


Koh Phangan authorities call off full moon party for 5 October

Koh Phangan authorities call off full moon party for 5 October

Local government officials on the Thai island of Koh Phangan have ordered full moon party organisers to call off this month’s event. The chief of the island’s municipal council says the party is being cancelled out of respect for the forthcoming cremation of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Kriekkrai Songthani has issued an order which bans all loud entertainment including the full moon party until after the cremation has taken place on the 26 October. The October full moon party had been scheduled to take place on Thursday the fifth, but the organiser’s website has a notice saying it is cancelled.

According to the website, the next full moon party is scheduled to take place on Friday 3 November. Rated one of the planet’s most fun happenings, the full moon party takes place on Koh Phangan’s Haad Rin Beach and attracts up to 30,000 revellers at a time.

The date of the November full moon party coincides with the onset of the peak tourism season in Thailand. 12GO ASIA explains that people planning on heading down to Koh Phangan, or the nearby islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, in November should buy their tickets for travel now to avoid paying top dollar.


Vietnam national park to open three amazing caves for tourists

Vietnam national park to open three amazing caves for tourists

Tourism authorities in Quang Binh Province have just announced three new caves in Phong Nha National park will be opened for tourism. The park in the central Vietnam province is renowned for its beautiful collection of karst caves, stalagmites and stalactites.

The legendary Son Doong Cave is the flagship of the 300 caverns and tunnels. This cave is off-limits to all but the elite group of affluent adventure tourists allowed in every year. The three caves being added to the Phong Nha tourism trail are nicknamed Pygmy, Dai-a and Over and these will added to adventure tour options for the park. 

Pygmy Cave is the shortest of the trio of caves and is a mere 845 meters long. Dai-a is almost double the length and is entered by a gaping 50-metre wide orifice. At 3,244 meters, Over Cave is the biggest of the three and is 125 meters across at its widest point.

12GO ASIA says that like Son Doong tours, the new cave itinerary will be built as an adventure option. Cavers will spend three days and nights on the tours and walk about 20kms through the caves as well as the virgin forests of Phong Nha.


Koh Samui sees spike in hotel bookings ahead of Chinese National Day

Koh Samui sees spike in hotel bookings ahead of Chinese National Day

The Koh Samui branch of the Thai national tourism bureau says a huge amount of Chinese tourists is expected to arrive over the weekend. National Day marking the founding of the People's Republic of China falls on 1 October and is marked by a seven-day holiday in China.

The long holiday allows Chinese people to travel. Thailand, and in particular Koh Samui, have evolved into popular destinations for tourists in recent years. The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Nuan Jiran is the director of the Samui office and says the Thai island fills the bill on attractions for Chinese holidaymakers.  

The director explained that Chinese people were drawn to beautiful beaches and water sports. Another key enticement is gourmet seafood. Prawns, shellfish and crabs are readily available and come with the twin bonuses of being cooked with delicious Thai herbs and spices and come at prices which do not break the bank.

12GO ASIA noted that Chinese visitors are now discovering the reasons Koh Samui is a preferred holiday destination for international and Thai travellers. Getting to Koh Samui is easiest when choosing 12GO ASIA as your travel partner.


Ho Chi Minh City to host Diwali Hindu Light Festival

Ho Chi Minh City to host Diwali Hindu Light Festival

The Indian Business Chamber (Incham) in Ho Chi Minh City has confirmed this year’s Diwali Festival will be held on the 14 October. The event, AKA as the Festival of Lights, will be hosted at the city’s GEM Centre from 17:30 onwards.

Diwali is a heritage Hindu festival which is staged to celebrate the victory of goodness and light over their negative opposites as well as paying homage to kindness. Diwali is marked in India as well as at locations throughout the world where there are sizable Indian communities.

Incham chairperson Dilbagh Singh says Ho Chi Minh’s Diwali Festival will be as authentic and good as if it were staged in India. Ravi Shukla, a Bollywood singer, and famed playback artist Purva Mantri will be making appearances at the Vietnam Diwali celebrations.

In addition to light displays and celeb appearances, Diwali Ho Chi Minh will be a celebration of Indian gastronomy and visual arts. 12GO ASIA notes that the cost of admission for over 18s is VND900,000 and VND400,000 for children between four and 18. Under fours get in free.


Thai tourism bureau prepares for Amazing Year 2018 campaign

Thai tourism bureau prepares for Amazing Year 2018 campaign

Thailand’s tourism authority is getting ready for the 1 November launch of a brand new visitor incentive campaign. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will focus on showcasing the exciting range of events scheduled to take place in the near future.

The first major one is a multinational naval fleet display in Pattaya which will run between the 13 and 22 November. 12GO ASIA notes that in the same region of Thailand, U-Tapao Airport will stage the Thailand Air Race 1 World Cup between 17 and 19 November.

Next May, Thailand will host an international forum on food tourism while the Chang International Race Circuit in Buri Ram will be a venue for heats of the MotoGP World Superbike Championship. And then there is always Thailand’s diverse festivals calendar with highlights like Songkran and Loy Krathong.
 
Commenting on the forthcoming inauguration of Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018, deputy prime-minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said tourism was important for the national economy and was a boon to Thai society. He said the promotion would give insights into the nation’s unique heritage and culture.


Big wheel at Nha Trang Vinpearl Land resort launches

Big wheel at Nha Trang Vinpearl Land resort launches

Vietnam’s biggest big wheel recently made its début spin. The Vinpearl Sky Wheel towers 120 meters above ground at the Vinpearl Nha Trang Bay Resort and features 60 gondolas with a capability of carrying 480 passengers.

Vinpearl’s ferris wheel was built by leading amusement ride maker Intamin and comes with a hallmark seal of safety and quality. The view from the top is simply sublime and passengers are afforded panoramic vistas of Vinh Nguyen Island and Nha Trang’s beautiful bay.

In addition to being the highest such structure in Vietnam, the Vinpearl Sky Wheel is one of the planet’s 10 tallest. It is only 15 metres shorter than the UK’s iconic London Eye, but the Las Vegas High Roller is almost 50 metres higher.

The big wheel adds to the delights of a day at Vinpearl. Other attractions include the cable car ride across Nha Trang Bay to Vinh Nguyen Island and an exciting water park. 12GO ASIA notes that Nha Trang is one of the single most popular seaside towns in Vietnam and can be reached by train, bus and aeroplane.

Our image of the Vinpearl Sky Wheel was supplied by the Vietnam Tourism Board.


Pilot track for Nakhon Ratchasima hi-speed rail link gets green light

Pilot track for Nakhon Ratchasima hi-speed rail link gets green light

Thailand’s Transport-Ministry has okayed the construction of a mini-section of the nation’s first hi-speed railway line. Work on the foundations of the 3.5km long section of track in Nakhon Ratchasima Province is scheduled to start in November. 

A secretary attached to the ministry told media sources contractors were expected onsite by the 9 October and the first batch of engineers from China would be brought up to speed on regulations governing civil engineering in Thailand. The Chinese team will then prepare the legal plans for submission to the State Railway of Thailand.

This mini-project is a part of the first phase of a 250km rail route linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. Phase II of the project will eventually see the line extended up to Nong Khai and the Mekong River border with Laos.

12GO ASIA notes that the rail line from Nong Khai will connect to another line being built from Kunming in southwest China to the Laos capital of Vientiane. The only operational piece of railway track Laos currently has is a spur line of 2.5kms to Thanaleng Station. This station is about 20kms south of Vientiane.


Pattaya and Jomtien set to prohibit beachside alcohol sales

Pattaya and Jomtien set to prohibit beachside alcohol sales

With effect from Sunday 1 October, the sale of beer and other alcoholic drinks will not be allowed on the beaches of Pattaya and Jomtien. Food, drink and deckchair vendors who operate on the beaches were informed about the new rule last week.

The approximately 50 vendors were told they had to concentrate on selling soft drinks and juices and promoting the tastes of Thailand’s culinary repertoire. They were also informed that all must wear hygiene aprons. The new rules state that only the franchisees can work at their allotted location and they can’t sublease.

Both the Thai government and Pattaya City Council are keen to see the popular resort area clean up its racy image. An alcohol ban and standardisation of vendors and their services is seen as a means of making the resorts more family friendly.  

The cleanup comes ahead of a number of high profile events scheduled to take place in November. 12GO ASIA says a look at the calendar shows the main events are the International Fleet Review, Swan Boat racing at Bang Phai Reservoir and the ShipTech IV Exhibition.


Jellyfish alert for southern Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi

Jellyfish alert for southern Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi

Park rangers at Hat Noppharat Thara–Koh Phi Phi National Park say a higher than usual number of jellyfish have washed up on the Phi Phi islands. The chief-ranger explained that islanders had found lots of fire jellyfish on Ao Ling Beach.

Worapot Lomlim noted that this genre of jellyfish was fairly small and had red tentacles. He carried on by saying vinegar would ease the pain if stung by one of the jellyfish. Occasionally, some people have more serious reactions to the stings and need hospital treatment.

First-aid squads have been posted on the islands to provide assistance in case swimmers do get stung. Rangers say that while the amount of jellyfish is bigger at present, they will be washed back out to deeper water when the strong seas triggered by storms have subsided.    

12GO ASIA says jellyfish are a natural occurrence during the annual monsoon season and anybody swimming in either the Andaman Sea or the Gulf of Thailand at this time of year should make sure the sea is clear. Jellyfish alerts were issued late last week for islands in nearby Krabi and Phang Nga Bay.


South Thailand provinces swamped by heavy rainfall and floods

South Thailand provinces swamped by heavy rainfall and floods

Serious storms and rainfall in the southern provinces of Thailand have left large swathes of land flooded. Local authorities in Satun have reported floodwaters are up to 30 metres in depth and sandbag barriers have been put up to keep residential and business zones dry.

Thailand’s National Meteorological Department says other affected provinces are Songkhla, Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Krabi, Suratthani, Phuket, Phang Nga and Ranong. The department notes the worst is not over and more wind and rain storms are expected over the next few days.

The news bulletin warned the skippers of small boats and fishing trawlers that the weather could turn bad in an instant and they needed to be prepared. Over on Phuket, the local lifeguards’ association explained that red flags on beaches really did mean no swimming and should not be ignored.

12GO ASIA says the annual rainy season is drawing to a close and within a month this part of Thailand should be basking in endless sunshine once again. Holidaymakers making local travel reservations for the forthcoming high season will find 12GO ASIA offers the best, the cheapest and the most varied choices.


Bangkok culture centre to stage Beauty and the Beast

Bangkok culture centre to stage Beauty and the Beast

A modern ballet version of the classic Beauty and the Beast is coming to Bangkok next week. The city’s Thailand Cultural Centre is the venue for a ballet adaption of the old fairy tale by the Malandain Ballet Biarritz next Monday, the 2 October.

The ballet company is one of 19 French National Choreographic Centres. The centre’s top production artistes including choreographer Thierry Malandain and masks producer Annie Onchalo have been working hard to ensure the Bangkok audience will love every second of the 72-minute-long show. 
 
Show time is at 19:30 and the doors open 30 minutes beforehand. Although tickets have been on sale since May, ThaiTicketMajor still has some available on its website and they are priced between THB1,000 and THB3,000.

12GO ASIA says the Thailand Cultural Centre is located in the Huai Khwang area of Bangkok. The centre operates a free shuttle bus service from the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Underground Station with departures from Exit 1.

Beauty and the Beast is a part of the cultural offerings of the 19th Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music. West Side Story and the Taming of the Shrew are among the performances still to come this year.


Celebrated violinist to play at Yangon Strand Hotel bar

Celebrated violinist to play at Yangon Strand Hotel bar

Noted violinist Yasmine Azaiez will be visiting Yangon next week and will play live at the Strand Hotel’s Sarkies Bar. The London-born musical maestro is due to take the stage at 19:00 and is all set to provide music fans with a treat rarely heard in this part of the world.

Admission is free, but demand for the mini-concert is expected to be high. The Strand’s food and beverage department says it is probably a good idea to reserve a seat. This can be done e-mail or by telephone.

Ms Azaiez has been lauded for her skills with the violin and has previously performed at top venues such as London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House in the Omani capital city of Muscat. Her style is a pleasing fusion of classical and contemporary and provides that unique wow factor for audiences.

The five-star Strand dates from 1901 and is one of the best known hotels in Southeast Asia. 12GO ASIA says Sarkies Bar was named in honour of the brothers who founded the Yangon hotel. Sarkies looks pretty much as it would have done during the former Myanmar capital city’s colonial heyday and is an ambient spot to enjoy a cocktail after a hard day’s sightseeing.


Thailand Cambodia Vietnam bus service on the cards

Thailand Cambodia Vietnam bus service on the cards

The transport ministers of Thailand and Cambodia have proposed the inauguration of a bus route linking the two nations to Vietnam. If the plan comes to fruition, buses will ply a route linking Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City.

Cambodia transport-ministry spokesperson Va Simsorya said such a route would be a useful international connection for both tourists and citizens of the three nations. He confirmed that Sun Chanthol, the transport-minister, had given provisional approval but added the legal ramifications needed to be ironed out first.

The initial proposal is to use luxury coaches on the route. This will provide additional choices for travel between the three countries. Cambodia has individual agreements in place with Thailand and Vietnam for international bus services, but not for a through route.

At present, there are bus routes from Phnom Penh to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. 12GO ASIA sells tickets for both routes. Our preferred partner for Phnom Penh to Bangkok services is Thero Express while Giant Ibis is a top choice when travelling from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh.