AirAsia Kuala Lumpur to Hua Hin flights inch nearer to reality

AirAsia Kuala Lumpur to Hua Hin flights inch nearer to reality

Media sources in Hua Hin say direct flights from Kula Lumpur are likely to launch before the end of 2017. Additional meetings between AirAsia and Hua Hin Airport representatives have taken place regarding an initial proposal to start up a once daily service in each direction.

AirAsia has previously stated the plan is to use Airbus A320s configured for 180 passengers to serve the route. The main sticking point to the launch of the route so far is believed to have been AirAsia’s stipulation that aircraft landing and service facility rental fees are waived for the initial period of operations. 

At present, although it is not on any airline’s current timetables, Hua Hin Airport has no immigration or customs checkpoints for international passengers. These would also have to be set up before any flights from Malaysia are able to land. 

12GO ASIA says that according to local media, AirAsia has long-term plans for Hua Hin Airport. The budget airline could use Hua Hin as a hub for flights to Krabi, Phuket and destinations farther afield.

12GO notes this would make sound business sense as the closest airports to Hua Hin are at least 200kms away. Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport are the nearest, but at least three hours by road, while Chumphon Airport is closer to the 300km mark.


Krabi national park rangers post red flags at Nopparat Thara beach

Krabi national park rangers post red flags at Nopparat Thara beach

Rangers in charge of Krabi’s Nopparat Thara Beach yesterday put up red flags warning beachgoers not to go swimming. The chief ranger at Nopparat Thara-Phi Phi National Park said he has instructed his team to allow swimming in specially delineated safe zones only.

Woraphit Lomlim carried on by saying that when the weather or sea turned rough he had given rangers carte blanche to ban swimming altogether. He explained that even when swimming in safe zones during calmer weather it was better to put on a life-jacket first.

Ranger Lomlim also noted that heavy seas expected to last until the weekend are dangerous for small boats. He warned tour operators to keep this in mind when operating excursions to Nopparat Thara, the islands of Koh Phi Phi or any other location in the vicinity.

12GO ASIA says the Andaman Regional Meteorological Centre has issued an alert saying waves topping the three-meter mark are expected to batter the coast over the next few days. The adverse sea conditions and weather are being driven by the southwest monsoon.


Ancient statue unearthed at Cambodia Angkor Wat temples

Ancient statue unearthed at Cambodia Angkor Wat temples

A team of archaeologists working at the Angkor Archaeological Park have found a beautifully preserved statue. Apsara Authority manages the park and released a bulletin last week saying the almost two-metre antique is believed to be up to 900 years old.

The press release stated that Apsara’s archaeologists in collaboration with the Southeast Asian Studies Institute from Singapore had dug up the statue at a site in the complex. They say the statue represents a guardian spirit for an ancient Khmer hospital and is the largest unearthed since a major find here six years ago.

The artefact was buried half-a-meter deep in the ground in the Angkor Thom zone of the park. When the statue has been cleaned up, Apsara says it will be added to the collections housed in the Angkor National Museum. The museum is a few kilometres south of Angkor Wat and on the outskirts of Siem Reap.

12GO ASIA explains that the Angkor temples date from the Angkor Empire of a millennium ago and are modern day Cambodia’s greatest historical attraction. 12GO ASIA sells bus and train tickets to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Our image comes with courtesy of Apsara Authority.


Chiang Mai weighs up two options for new urban rail system

Chiang Mai weighs up two options for new urban rail system

The relevant agencies in Chiang Mai have staged a final public debate on the best choice for an urban rail system. Representatives from the national Office of Transport and Traffic Policy (OTP) presided over the meeting which weighed up the pros and cons of underground or overground lines.

The OTP says these are the two main options for a rail system which will link Chiang Mai Old City to its other inner districts. Overground is cheaper and will be up and running a lot quicker than underground.

Meeting attendees were told overground trains will have a maximum speed of 20kph and will be subject to the same traffic restrictions as other road vehicles. On the plus side, the estimated cost of launching this system is THB30,000 million and a launch date three years after it breaks ground.

12GO ASIA says underground is always going to be more expensive and take longer to build. In the case of Chiang Mai, underground comes with a price tag three times as high and an estimated completion time of six years from start to finish.

The benefit of underground is top speeds of 35kph and no traffic lights or traffic jams. Once the OTP committee has taken into account the different opinions expressed at the meeting it will submit a final proposal to the Thai government.


Website flightstats says no delays at Bangkok airports

Website flightstats says no delays at Bangkok airports

Global air travel website flightstats.com claims Bangkok’s two airports are among the top ten in the Asia Pacific region for punctual flights. Flightstats analysts based the findings on flight arrivals and departures in June for airports in the region.

Bangkok budget airline hub Don Mueang Airport came fourth in the table while Suvarnabhumi Airport, the principle international gateway to Thailand, was tenth. Flightstats noted that Don Mueang handled 10,000 flights and Suvarnabhumi 4,000 more. 

Commenting on the results of the data analysis, an Airports of Thailand representative said they were a testament to the high service standards at both airports. The statement added that the same standards would be applied to the six national airports under its control.  

12GO ASIA says Airports of Thailand is the national agency with jurisdiction over publicly owned international airports in the country. The other four airports the authority operates are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai.


Revamp of Yangon commuter rail service to kick off in two months

Revamp of Yangon commuter rail service to kick off in two months

A senior official with Myanmar Railways has confirmed major upgrades are set to take place on the Yangon Circular Railway. Manager Zaw Lwin told media sources in the nation’s former capital city that the first phase will start in October.

The first phase is scheduled for completion in May next year and will see the eastern part of the loop route restored in two different stages. Upgrades on the western half will start in October 2019 and finish at an as yet unspecified date.

Upgrades right across the board include automation of signals, the installation of central control systems for road level crossings and access gates at four stations. These stations are Kemmendine, Insein, Danyingone and Mingladon. Apart from Yangon Central, these are the busier ones out of the 38 stations on the 45km circle line.

Ticket sales will also be computerised for convenience while 66 new and modern carriages for trains are on order.  Japan is chipping in MMK280 billion to help out with the refurbishment of the train service originally built during British colonial rule.

12GO ASIA’s travel gurus say riding the Yangon Circular Railway is a quintessential Myanmar experience. The journey takes in districts of the city not typically on the mainstream tourism trail.


Rain triggers floods on southern Thailand peninsula

Rain triggers floods on southern Thailand peninsula

Torrential rain has caused extensive flooding in a few areas of the southern peninsula region of Thailand. Provincial authorities in Suratthani, Phang Nga, Krabi and Satun all reported submerged roads and flooded residential areas over the weekend.

The river feeding Tarnboke Koranee Waterfall is almost a deluge. Tarnboke Koranee National Park officials have barred access to the falls for the time being. In the Takua Pa District of Khao Lak, flooding was exacerbated by the high tide and closed the main through road.

It was a similar story in Phang Nga and local authorities were forced to bring in heavy plant equipment to repair and reopen the mountain access road at Khao Sok. One of the through routes between Phang Nga and Suratthani collapsed and engineers were still debating yesterday whether to build a temporary bridge.

12GO ASIA notes that Thailand is in the middle of the annual monsoon season. Although it can rain for a few days at a time, any flooding usually drains off pretty quickly once it does stop raining.


Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh trip labelled one of premier Asian rail journeys

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh trip labelled one of premier Asian rail journeys

The rail ride between Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh has been labelled one of the finest in Asia by a prestigious Hong Kong magazine. The South China Post Magazine says the journey between the two Vietnamese cities offers stunning mountain and sea views and comes with a whole host of interesting stops en route.

The 1,700km journey takes in imperial Hue, the wonderful beaches of Da Nang and Nha Trang, and Hoi An and its plethora of historic sights and monuments. The Post says taking the train also does away with the need of listening to hectoring airport officials saying you have too many liquids, take off your belt and shoes and put your laptop in the tray.

The article quoted TS Eliot and his immortal line that the journey is more important than the arrival. Another two Southeast Asian rail journeys featured in the Post’s top seven.

The first was the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express trip from Singapore to the Thai capital of Bangkok. The other is the ride between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw in Myanmar. Pyin Oo Lwin is 80kms from Mandalay.

12GO ASIA notes that although it doesn’t provide reservations services for the Eastern & Oriental Express train, there are plenty of other options for the same route. The Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh Reunification Train is one of the most popular online bookings.


Bagan Archaeological Zone builds new sunrise viewpoint

Bagan Archaeological Zone builds new sunrise viewpoint

Local administrators at Myanmar’s Bagan Archaeological Zone say a new view platform will be opened later in August. Spokesperson Soe Tint said Nyaung Lat Phat Kan viewpoint is on top of a hill and can accommodate up to 1,000 people at a time.

He continued by saying it would provide visitors with commanding views of sunrises and sunsets over the centuries old temples and pagodas. The new viewing location is on the east side of the park and fairly close to the landmark Sulamani Pagoda.

There are vehicle parking spaces near the hill and walkways lead up to the 120-metre long platform. Nyaung Lat Phat Kan is the third of five planned viewpoints for Bagan. The temples are being built to provide an alternative option to climbing the temples to see the sunrises and sunsets. 

Bagan Archaeological Zone is one of Myanmar’s top tourism draws. Since Myanmar emerged from years of isolation, increasing numbers of tourists have been making their way to Bagan. Catching a sunrise or sunset from the higher vantage point of one of the historic structures is almost a rite of passage.

The downside is the temples are getting damaged. The problem was exacerbated last August when an earthquake struck Bagan. Around 400 of the surviving 2,000 structures were damaged. 
 
Getting here is easy when you choose 12GO ASIA. We provide advance bookings for trains and buses from Mandalay and Yangon to Bagan as well as flights to Mandalay from the likes of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Singapore.


Jetstar Asia to fly new Hat Yai to Singapore route

Jetstar Asia to fly new Hat Yai to Singapore route

In a just released news bulletin, Jetstar Asia says it will be launching a new route between Singapore and southern Thailand. The route will take off on 3 November 2017 and will link the low-cost carrier’s home base with the Thai city of Hat Yai

The flights will operate four times weekly in each direction. Bara Pasupathi is Jetstar Asia’s CEO and he says flight times are only 1 hour 40 minutes and will provide convenience for travellers. The airline will utilise Airbus A320s configured for 180 passengers to serve the route.  

Hat Yai is a traditional destination for holidaymakers from Malaysia, Singapore and northern Indonesia. It attracts with great shopping and dining and as a base for trips to beaches in the south.

Travel industry insiders say the Singapore-Hat Yai route will help counteract the tightening up of entry restrictions for Thailand. Foreign nationals who enter Thailand at land border checkpoints on visa waivers can now only do so twice a year.

12GO ASIA notes that there is no such restriction on entry to Thailand when entering by air. Under new regulations introduced late last year, overseas visitors can fly to Thailand and use visa exempt entry as many times as they like.


Myanmar Indawgyi Lake gains UNESCO biosphere status

Myanmar Indawgyi Lake gains UNESCO biosphere status

Myanmar’s Indawgyi Lake was recently added to the prestigious UNESCO listings of biosphere reserves. Confirming the new designation, a UNESCO statement said the Kachin State lake was almost unpolluted and home to a diverse species of marine life.

Wildlife specialists have logged more than 90 species of fish in the waters of Indawgyi and a number of these are unique to the lake. Indawgyi also supports several genres of turtle including ones on the list of endangered creatures.

The lake attracts diverse bird species, 160 at the last count, and is a stopover on migratory cycles for some species. Wildlife found on dry land in the lakeside areas includes gaurs, Asiatic black bears and gibbons.

Ethnic Kachin and Shan people live within the boundaries of the newly designated biosphere reserve. Most of them fish and grow rice for a living. The UNESCO statement noted that the rice farmers did not at present use any pesticides and this was a major factor as to why the water in Indawgyi Lake was still clean.

Shwe Myitzu Pagoda is the best known landmark at the lake and is actually built on a small island. 12GO ASIA’s travel gurus say Indawgyi is 400kms north of Mandalay and around 150kms from Myitkyina. 12GO ASIA offers ticketing services for Myanmar National Airlines flights between the two cities.


Floodwaters recede, Sakhon Nakhon Airport reopens

Floodwaters recede, Sakhon Nakhon Airport reopens

Local authorities in Sakhon Nakhon say floodwaters have receded in some districts and the provincial airport has reopened. Floods up to 40 centimetres deep closed the runway and taxiways at the Northeast Thailand Airport on Friday.

The head of the Department of Airports announced the reopening of the airport late on Monday and said the runways had passed inspections. The first flight to land at Sakhon Nakhon was a Thai AirAsia service from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport on Tuesday morning.

Floodwaters in five Sakhon Nakhon districts have receded but another ten are still flooded. Municipal workers have been trying to divert excess water into Nong Han Lake. Workers and officials have also been taking part in a cleanup campaign to clear roads covered in debris and sludge left by the retreating waters.
 
Even the Thai army has been lending a helping hand and has been utilising helicopters to assist residents in areas still under water. 12GO ASIA notes that Sakhon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom airports are only 85kms apart and the latter is an alternate option for travellers heading over to this part of Thailand.


Inaugural river ferry service to launch in Ho Chi Minh City

Inaugural river ferry service to launch in Ho Chi Minh City

The operator of a new river ferry service in Ho Chi Minh City has confirmed it will make its maiden voyage later this month. The plans have been in the pipeline for eight years but will finally come to fruition when the debut ferry sails from Bach Dang Pier.

The initial route is almost 11kms long and will terminate at Linh Dong in the district of Thu Duc. The route will take passengers along the Saigon River as well as a short stretch of the Thanh Da Canal.

The river ferry is being launched to help alleviate rapidly worsening traffic conditions in Vietnam’s second city. Primarily aimed at commuters, the service will also offer tourists an alternate means of getting around. 

Thuong Nhat Company is behind the launch of the river ferries. Director Nguyen Kim Toan says the ferries will run to fixed timetables to attract passengers. He added that the ferries would stop at seven piers en route and the journey time from end station to end station would be 21 minutes.

Thuong Nhat has already agreed fares with Ho Chi Minh’s transport division. Single journeys for the first year of operation will be VND15,000. 12GO ASIA notes that this works out to only US$0.70 and is a cheap means of seeing some of the city’s sights.


Marine specialists mass release turtles from Koh Thalu Island

Marine specialists mass release turtles from Koh Thalu Island

Late last week, the Siam Marine Rehabilitation Foundation supervised the mass release of a bale of turtles into the Gulf of Thailand. The release took place at Koh Thalu Island and saw 65 hawksbill turtles dispatched into their natural environment.

The hawksbills were all about one year old and had been reared by Siam Marine biologists. Foundation deputy-director Pornchai Juthamas said the team had implanted microchips into the creatures so they could monitor their migratory cycles and when they came back to beaches in the locality to lay their eggs.  

According to the Nation, pupils and teachers from Bang Saphan schools actually released the turtles from the main beach at Koh Thalu. Marine researchers say hawksbill turtles are less common in the Gulf of Thailand than green turtles. On the opposite side of the southern Thai peninsula, the Andaman Sea has far greater numbers of hawksbills.

The 12GO ASIA travel team notes that Koh Thalu is one of the most popular tourism destinations for people holidaying in Bang Saphan, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Hua Hin and Cha Am. The sea around the island is clear and eminently suited to swimming, snorkelling and diving.


Authorities in Sukhothai use sandbags to plug holes in floodwall

Authorities in Sukhothai use sandbags to plug holes in floodwall

Authorities in the northern Thai town of Sukhothai have ordered 50,000 sandbags to help reinforce floodwalls. Workers and volunteers have been using them to plug holes in the floodwall alongside the River Yom.

The Yom washed over its banks on Friday and released a deluge of water into the central areas of the New Town. Traders at the city market said the flooding was 80 centimetres deep in places and they were forced into shutting up shop until the waters ebbed away.

Forty municipal workers have been on standby since the flooding began and have been filling holes with sandbags as and when needed. Water management agencies have also been diverting runoff from last week’s heavy rains in the north through to Hok Baht Canal.

The floods were caused by tropical storm Talus. The floods have not receded and an authority spokesperson reported that rice paddy close to the Yom’s banks was still flooded this morning. 12GO ASIA says Sukhothai New Town is 17kms from Sukhothai Historical Park and also far enough from the Yom to escape the flooding.


Floods close Sakhon Nakhon Airport in east Thailand

Floods close Sakhon Nakhon Airport in east Thailand

The director of Thailand’s National Department of Airports says that due to flooding Sakhon Nakhon Airport will remain closed until midnight tonight. Flooding, triggered by seasonal monsoon rains, led to the closure of the Esarn region airport early on Friday morning.

The airport was then scheduled to reopen on Saturday afternoon, but director Darun Chaisaeng said the shutdown had been extended until Monday. He explained that the department wanted to ensure there was no residual floodwater on the runway and taxiways.

On Friday, one taxiway was flooded to a depth measured at 40 centimetres. Both Nok Air and Thai AirAsia fly from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport to Sakhon Nakhon. The carriers have been forced to suspend flights while Sakhon Nakhon remains closed.

Nakhon Phanom Airport is only 85kms from Sakhon Nakhon. Nok Air laid on extra flights to Nakhon Phanom to compensate for the other airport’s closure. The Department of Airports says passengers with reservations for flights to Sakhon Nakhon can check with their airlines for the latest updates.

12GO ASIA provides advanced ticket reservations services for flights and buses to Nakhon Phanom and Sakhon Nakhon plus other key destinations in the Esarn region of the nation. We also provide bookings for trains to Nong Khai, Udonthani and Ubon Ratchathani.


Vietnam puts brakes on double decker sightseeing buses

Vietnam puts brakes on double decker sightseeing buses

Vietnam’s Transport Ministry has ordered operators to stop using open-topped double-decker buses for city sightseeing tours. A statement released by the ministry says the suspension is temporary and will allow the prime-minister’s office to assess the viability of using the London-style buses on the streets of Hanoi and Da Nang.

The order comes less than one year since prime-minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc endorsed a proposal to use the buses in major cities. Hanoi only inaugurated a sightseeing route utilising double-deckers at the beginning of the month while Da Nang’s first route launched three weeks ago.

Double-decker sightseeing routes were also scheduled to be added to transport options in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Quang Nam, Kien Giang and Lam Dong. Even without sightseeing tour buses, choices for getting around most Vietnamese cities are varied.

12GO ASIA says most of the cities have regular urban buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis and cyclos. A cyclo is like an Indian rickshaw, but with the double wheels at the front. Most international tourists take at least one cyclo trip when visiting Vietnam.


Walking street market to rise from the ashes of Bangkok’s Saphan Lek

Walking street market to rise from the ashes of Bangkok’s Saphan Lek

Bangkok’s municipal authorities say a chic new walking street will be set up on the site of the former canal-side market known as Saphan Lek. City governor Aswin Kwanmuang claims the new market at Klong Ong Ang Canal will be less of an eyesore, more hygienic and better organised than its predecessor.

 The governor said the market would be set up along both sides of the canal and contractors would be hired to landscape the areas so they were fit for purpose. Saphan Lek was a hodgepodge of makeshift stalls and booths noted for selling cheap items ranging from toys and electronic gadgets to household tools.

When Bangkok City Hall authorised the demolition of the market in October 2015 the plan was to give the land back to the public and utilise the canal as a transport route. This never happened and the canal paths have since taken on a rather derelict and forlorn appearance.  

Critics of the demolition of Saphan Lek after it had existed for more than three decades said it was like wiping away a piece of Bangkok’s history. They said later that the attempted gentrification had turned the surrounding district into a ghost town. 12GO ASIA notes that even without Saphan Lek, Bangkok is a real treasure trove of markets.


Flying domestic with AirAsia gives discounts at LEGOLAND Malaysia

Flying domestic with AirAsia gives discounts at LEGOLAND Malaysia

AirAsia and LEGOLAND Malaysia are currently running a promotion which gives discounted entry to the theme park. All LEGOLAND visitors have to do is save their boarding passes from any AirAsia domestic flight to Johor Bahru.

Tourists who arrive at LEGOLAND have to show their boarding pass to get a 30 per cent reduction on the standard admission fee. In Malaysia, AirAsia flies to Johor Bahru’s Sultan Ismail Airport from Kuala Lumpur, Penang Island, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

AirAsia says people wishing to take advantage of this money-saver need to be quick. The discount is available for flights taken before the 31 August. There is then a grace period through to the 15 September for boarding pass holders to redeem their cut-price LEGOLAND tickets. 

12GO ASIA notes that LEGOLAND Johor Bahru is less than 30kms from Sultan Ismail Airport. There is a good choice of accommodation in the locality of LEGOLAND which includes the park’s own hotel. These come with the bonus of being cheaper than Singapore hotels on the opposite side of the Johor Strait.


EDM specialists The Chainsmokers to play live in Bangkok

EDM specialists The Chainsmokers to play live in Bangkok

Electronic dance music duo The Chainsmokers will play live in Bangkok on 15 September. The pair will perform at the Muang Thong Thani events complex’s Challenger Hall I. The Bangkok stopover is a part of the Asia leg of the Memories Do Not Open Tour.

The Chainsmokers is made up of US nationals Drew Taggart and Alex Pall. The pair will be accompanied by special guest Nick Martin. The Chainsmokers proved to be one of the major success stories of 2016 and have seen a trio of singles reach platinum sales.

Set lists on the tour typically include the three singles. These are Roses, Closer and Don’t Let Me Down. Other numbers are likely to include I Won't Kill Ya and I Write Sins Not Tragedies.

Tickets for your chance to see the winners of the 2016 American Music Award for EDM have been on sale since the beginning of the month. Agencies such as ThaiTicketMajor still have some available.

12GO ASIA’s Bangkok residents say the city now attracts top music stars. Britney Spears was here last month while London alternative pop Oh Wonder have a double date next week. Ariana Grande will play Muang Thong Thani two weeks after that.