Bus ferry services launch on Yangon River

A river ferry service designed to alleviate ever-worsening traffic conditions in Yangon officially launched on Friday. The water-buses link the northern zone of Insein with Bohtataung and run at 20-minute frequencies between 06:00 and 18:30.

Bus ferry services launch on Yangon River

There are seven intermediate stops en route and fares of between MMK300 and MMK500 have been set to reflect the distance travelled. The ferry boats are a mix of Myanmar, Thai and Australian made and come in different sizes. The biggest can accommodate 180 passengers while the small ones can only carry 60.

Tint Tint Myanmar won the franchise to operate the Yangon Water Bus service. CEO Tint Tint Lwin said the ferries would cut what is typically a two-hour journey between the two locations down to 45 minutes. She added that the company would also be expanding routes over the coming six months and just as soon as landing piers had been built.

12GO ASIA says Bohtataung Pier is within view of the iconic Yangon Bohtataung Pagoda. The pagoda is a short taxi ride from central Yangon, Sule Pagoda and Vandoola Park. Our image of a Yangon Water Bus was supplied by Zomi Daily.

AirAsia announces direct Ho Chi Minh to Manila flights

AirAsia recently announced the inauguration of a direct flight route which will link Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. The flights will begin next month and operate three times weekly in each direction.

AirAsia announces direct Ho Chi Minh to Manila flights

AirAsia Philippines is operating the flights. Provisional timetables show the outbound flight from Manila will depart at 23:15 on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Arrival time at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh is 01:05.

Return flights take off from Ho Chi Minh 30 minutes later and land back in Manila at 05:15. All times quoted are local. AirAsia Philippines will fly the route using Airbus A320s.

The CEO of AirAsia Philippines, Dexter Comendador, has released a statement confirming the imminent launch of the route. He explained that it would improve travel links between the Philippines, Vietnam and other member nations in the ASEAN bloc.
 
On the 12GO ASIA reservations pages, we offer AirAsia flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. These require a change of planes and a stopover at Kuala Lumpur Airport.

Cebu Pacific and Vietnam Airlines both offer direct Ho Chi Minh to Manila flights. 12GO ASIA says extra competition on any route is a win-win for travellers as it keeps prices low and provides choice on departure times.

Restoration of Cambodia Thailand rail link inches closer to reality

A spokesperson for Cambodia’s transport-minister says the official ceremony to mark the opening of a rail link to Thailand is likely to take place in early 2018. The rail line will eventually connect the capital cities of the two nations, Phnom Penh and Bangkok.

Restoration of Cambodia Thailand rail link inches closer to reality

At a press briefing on Wednesday, an under-secretary confirmed that final agreements over the link are being hammered out between the two nations' transport ministries. Ly Borin carried on by saying these should be signed off on before year’s end.

He explained that Cambodia still had a few things to do before the official opening. The first and most important is laying a final kilometre of track. The two other tasks are finishing off a new station in Poipet and agreeing customs duty rates with Thailand.

12GO ASIA says the last trains to run between Cambodia and Thailand departed just after WWII. The French colonial government of the time scrapped services operating beyond Battambang.

The line used to carry on to Poipet. This town is on the Cambodia-Thailand border and a few kilometres from the Thai town of Aranyaprathet. Our image of a Royal Railway train at Phnom Penh Station was supplied by Asia Life Magazine.

US singer Michael Bolton to play Bangkok gig in November

Acclaimed US pop balladeer Michael Bolton will be playing live at Bangkok’s CentralWorld Shopping and Lifestyle Mall next month. The singer’s Thai concert is a part of the Subaru sponsored five-date Asian Dream Tour in search of new pop talent.

US singer Michael Bolton to play Bangkok gig in November

Bolton will be live on stage at CentralWorld’s GMM Live House concert hall at 19:00 on 11 November. The setlist for the gig is expected to include hits such as When a Man Loves a Woman and How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?

Tickets for the gig first went on sale on 23 September. Online concert ticket agents including ThaiTicketMajor still have some available. Prices range between THB2,500 and THB8,500. The latter is a premium package which comes with the bonus of a personal meeting with the star of the show. 

The 12GO ASIA Bangkok team explains that CentralWorld is located in the chic Pathum Wan area of the city. It is midway between the Siam and Chit Lom BTS Skytrain stations. There is an aerial walkway from Chit Lom to CentralWorld.

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.

Bangkok Airways flights to Phu Quoc Island ready for take off

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

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.

Last chance to see Nakhon Phanom lighted boat fest in 2017

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

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.

Thai Buddhists end Lent with Wan Awk Phansa tomorrow

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

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.

Utapao Pattaya Airport to host airborne Formula 1 racing event

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’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.

Bangkok performing arts fest to stage West Side Story

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

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.

Rainstorms in Thailand set to last until the weekend

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

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.

Thailand parks dept to launch tourist trail to remote Sukhothai waterfall

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

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.

Koh Phangan authorities call off full moon party for 5 October

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

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.

Vietnam national park to open three amazing caves for tourists

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

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.

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

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

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.

Ho Chi Minh City to host Diwali Hindu Light Festival

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

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.

Thai tourism bureau prepares for Amazing Year 2018 campaign

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

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.

Big wheel at Nha Trang Vinpearl Land resort launches

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

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. 

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

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

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.

Pattaya and Jomtien set to prohibit beachside alcohol sales

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

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.

Jellyfish alert for southern Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi

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.