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.


Contractors put in first piles for Bangkok Orange Line railway

Contractors put in first piles for Bangkok Orange Line railway

Contractors in Bangkok have begun driving in foundation piles for an eastern extension of the city’s urban rail system. Ramkhamhaeng Road was the first destination for the pile drivers and part of the Orange Line which will eventually connect Min Buri to Thaling Chan.

Ramkhamhaeng Road runs along much of the route between the Thailand Cultural Centre in Huay Kwang and Min Buri. This section of the Orange Line will be built first and the final extension to Thaling Chan later. The projected launch date for trains is 2022.

Deputy police commissioner Chiraphat Phumichit said the installation of the piles would require some lane closures on Ramkhamhaeng. He added that these closures were not at bottlenecks so there should not be major traffic holdups. The officer said parking was banned while construction was in progress and safety barriers would clearly mark work zones.

Once it is up and running, the Orange Line will add additional travel choices for Bangkok’s commuters and visitors. The system currently comprises two MRT train lines, two BTS Skytrain lines and an airport rail link.

12GO ASIA notes that the airport link only connects to Suvarnabhumi Airport and not Don Mueang. Trains from Hua Lamphong Station, bus or taxi are the options travellers have for getting to Don Mueang.


Annual George Town Festival to open on Penang Island

Annual George Town Festival to open on Penang Island

Organisers of the annual George Town Festival on Penang Island are busy putting the finishing touches to preparations. The festive celebration of the Malay town’s culture and heritage kicks off on Friday and will run through until 3 September.

Musical acts set to appear during the festival include Malay singer Adibah Noor, the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, acclaimed Thai opera singer Manasanun  Aksornteang and Gus Teja World Music from Bali. A multi-talented cast from six ASEAN nations will launch the festival on Friday.

Music is not the only draw of the George Town Festival as there is a design show, visual arts performances and the chance of sampling the eclectic dishes which make up Penang and Malaysia’s culinary repertoire. Local media sources say there will be 20 different versions of the peerless Laksa spicy noodle soup to select from.

The début George Town Festival was staged eight years to celebrate the town’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 12GO ASIA notes that the event is very popular and buses and flights to Penang plus trains to Butterworth are booked out days in advance. Book early to avoid having to reschedule travel itineraries.


Ho Chi Minh Cathedral shuts for three year renovation

Ho Chi Minh Cathedral shuts for three year renovation

Ho Chi Minh City’s landmark Notre Dame Cathedral has been closed for tourists to allow a full scale renovation to take place. The work will see the structure’s famous twin steeples repaired and reinforced and the roof re-tiled.

Contractors were already busy placing restricted access barriers around the cathedral at the beginning of the month and just days after the restoration got the go ahead. The estimated time needed to finish the renovation is three years.

This means tourists will be barred from visiting although the cathedral is still open for those wishing to celebrate Mass on Sunday mornings. The cathedral is the only place in Ho Chi Minh which celebrates Mass in English. Attendance for the service is one of the highest worldwide. 

Notre Dame dates from the 1880s and structural experts and civil engineers say repairs are urgently needed to ensure the famous sight is preserved for posterity. Officials in charge of the restoration say around 125,000 roof tiles are being imported.

12GO ASIA says that despite Notre Dame’s closure, there are scores of other reasons to visit Vietnam’s second city. Gia Long Palace Museum, traditional Vietnamese water-puppet shows, Ben Thanh Market and unique dining experiences are among the highlights.


New AirAsia service to connect premier Cambodia seaside town

New AirAsia service to connect premier Cambodia seaside town

A new AirAsia service due for take off next month will connect the capital city of Malaysia and Cambodia’s number one seaside resort. The first flight in a four times a week service between Kuala Lumpur and Sihanoukville will take to the skies on the 9 August.

Commenting on the addition of Sihanoukville, AirAsia commercial manager Spencer Lee said the Cambodian town was a pleasing member of the airline’s growing portfolio of ASEAN culture and holiday destinations. He added that all at AirAsia were pleased to be the first ASEAN airline to fly to Sihanoukville.
 
Sihanoukville is AirAsia’s  third direct route from Kuala Lumpur. The airline flies to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It’s Thailand affiliate, Thai AirAsia, also flies from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport to the same two destinations. 12GO ASIA offers ticketing services for all routes.

Flights for the Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville service will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flight AK264 will depart from Kuala Lumpur at 12:15 and land in Sihanoukville at 13:00. The return service will leave at 13:40 and touch down in Kuala Lumpur  again at 16:30. All times are local.


Senior Vietnam official says free visa programme should be expanded

Senior Vietnam official says free visa programme should be expanded

The chief of the Vietnam tourism advisory committee says the nation’s free visas for tourists programme needs expanding. Hoang Nhan Chinh told media sources another six countries should be added to the list of those eligible for fee free visas on arrival.

The director continued by saying the validity for the free visas should be upped from 15 days to 30 and a ban on re-entering within 30 days  after utilising a free visa should be scrapped too. His final recommendation was for the lengths of visa-free entry promotions to be increased from one to five years.

Under permanent ongoing arrangements, citizens of 16 nations which include Japan, Denmark, Sweden and fellow ASEAN nations get visa waivers when they arrive in Vietnam. Travellers from the UK, Italy, France, Germany and Spain are currently given free entry under a scheme which has been renewed annually for the past two years.

If the recommendations of the advisory board get the green light, passport-holders from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland will be added to the list. 12GO ASIA says people travelling to Southeast Asia should always check what the country specific visa requirements are. 


AirAsia proposes launching Malaysia to Hua Hin flights

AirAsia proposes launching Malaysia to Hua Hin flights

Asian budget carrier AirAsia has tabled a proposal which could see the Thai seaside resort of Hua Hin added to its constantly expanding network. Thai aviation authority spokesperson Darun Saengchai said that in return for launching direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, the airline wanted a waiver of landing fees in Hua Hin.

He added that AirAsia  would also like the facilities they would have to lease at the airport to be fee free as well to start off with. If Thailand gives the go ahead, it will be Hua Hin Airport’s first international connection. The airport is currently not equipped with immigration and customs checkpoints for commercial airlines. 

Mr Saengchai said these would have to be set up. He continued by saying once this was done, the the airport was good to go and could welcome its first international flights. The facility was designed with a passenger handling capacity of 300 per hour. 

12GO ASIA notes that a number of Thai domestic airlines have inaugurated flights to Hua Hin in the past. But, these never last long as it is just as quick to drive or take the bus or train from Bangkok and even the south.

The relaunch of Pattaya to Hua Hin ferry services has made the chance of domestic flights reconnecting to Hua Hin less likely. An international service from Kuala Lumpur could well be the lifeline the airport needs.


Thai national bus company looking at Myanmar expansion

Thai national bus company looking at Myanmar expansion

The head of Thailand’s national bus company says new routes to Myanmar are in the pipeline. Jirasak Yaowatchasakul told media sources the initial Transport Company venture in Myanmar would run from Mae Sot on the western border of Thailand to India.

The first port of call in Myanmar will be Myawaddy. The buses will run through the northern heartlands of Myanmar to the Indian border at Moreh. Mr Yaowatchasakul said the time was ripe to launch Myanmar routes and tap into the mass travel market in Thailand’s ASEAN neighbour.

The Transport Company is known as Baw Kaw Saw to Thais. The company operates buses on most major inter-provincial routes in Thailand and also has international routes to Laos and Cambodia.

The two Cambodian routes are both from Bangkok and go to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh while the main long distance one to Laos is from Bangkok to Vientiane. 12GO ASIA sells tickets for these buses as well as for flights on the same routes.


London alt pop musicians Oh Wonder add second Bangkok gig

London alt pop musicians Oh Wonder add second Bangkok gig

London’s alt pop duo Oh Wonder have added a second date to their sold out début gig in Bangkok. Promoter the Viji Corp have announced a second date has been added for 31 July and will actually precede the original scheduled performance on the 1 August.

Ticketing agents like ThaiTicketMajor started selling tickets for the first concert at Bangkok’s DND Club at the end of May. Viji and the agents say there is still availability for the added gig.

The aptly named Oh Wonder comprises Anthony West and the multi-talented Josephine Vander Gucht. As the genre of music the two play suggests, they are not mainstream pop but to those in the know their top tunes include  All We Do, Ultralife and Slip Away.

Doors open at 19:00 on both evenings and the band are scheduled to play at 20:00. 12GO ASIA’s Bangkok staff say the easiest way of getting to the DND Club is to take the Skytrain to Ekkamai Station and then catch a northbound bus up Ekkamai Soi 63.


Green light for Thailand high speed trains scuppers air link plans

Green light for Thailand high speed trains scuppers air link plans

The Thai government’s green light for hi-speed Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima trains has ended all discussions on air links between the two locations. Prime-minister's office representative Kobsak Pootrakool said the two cities are too close together to make launching an air link viable.

He explained that the 260km journey between the two can be done in three hours in light traffic while intercity buses only take five hours. Once the new speed rail connects the two, travel time will be reduced to less than 90 minutes.
 
Mr Pootrakool also noted that flying meant passengers had to check in and go through security checkpoints beforehand and then wait for their luggage at the other end end. The final reason only one commercial airline had ever launched Nakhon Ratchasima flights was the latter’s airport was a long way out of town.

Prawat Duangkanya is the director of Nakhon Ratchasima Airport and he also said he agrees that flights from Bangkok would be a waste of time. He added that it would be more logical to connect to locations such as Chiang Mai or Phuket as they are farther afield.

12GO ASIA is  a leading source of tickets for domestic travel in Thailand as well as to neighbouring ASEAN countries. We offer bus and train reservations to Nakhon Ratchasima. If flight services ever got off the ground we would probably add these too.


Tourist numbers surge at new Cambodia UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tourist numbers surge at new Cambodia UNESCO World Heritage Site

Municipal authorities in Cambodia’s Kompong Thom Province say the recent UNESCO designation of a temple complex has led to a surge in visitor numbers. UNESCO added the province’s temples of Sambor Prei Kuk to the World Heritage Site list on 8 July.

Security officers at the forest temple complex say the UNESCO listing has even brought in wedding parties to take photos with the temples as a backdrop. One guard said he had worked at Sambor Prei Kuk for more than 20 years and had never seen so many tourists in such a short space of time.

Cambodia staged an official party on Monday at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium to celebrate the addition of the country’s third site to the UNESCO list. Prime-minister Hun Sen presided as fireworks lit up the night sky on the auspicious day.

Sambor Prei Kuk features about 50 reasonably well preserved temples and shrines which historians say pre-date the Angkor Empire. 12GO ASIA notes that Sambor Prei Kuk is 200kms north of Phnom Penh and just off the main route north to Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat temples.


Ang Thong Province prepares for annual drum festival

Ang Thong Province prepares for annual drum festival

Thailand’s one and only drum making village is preparing to stage an annual festival dedicated to showcasing the percussion instrument. The Ang Thong International Drum Festival will take place between the 26 and 30 July at locations in the province’s Ekkarat Sub-district.

A bulletin released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand says there will be performances by master drummers and drum parades around the district. Interactive sessions enable visitors learn how to make traditional Thai drums while stalls sell kits to take home and build DIY drums. 

A competition by drum virtuosos is another highlight. Other happenings on the agenda for the duration of the festival are cultural performances and light and sound shows. Old style Luk Thung singers will also be on hand to add to the offerings while food vendors will be serving up the diverse tastes of Thailand.

12GO ASIA’s chief travel advisor says Ang Thong and Ekkarat are north of Ayutthaya and easily reached on day excursions. We sell tickets for travel between Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Bangkok, Phitsanulok and Chiang Mai.


London double-decker bus takes to the streets of Hanoi

London double-decker bus takes to the streets of Hanoi

Transport authorities in Hanoi say numerous tourists have taken advantage of the city’s new transportation option for sightseeing. The bright red double-decker bus looks as though it could have been plucked from the streets of London and even has the same open upper deck as the sightseeing buses there.

The Hanoi Transport Corporation (Transerco) launched the City Tour service at the beginning of the month and is currently assessing whether to add extra buses once the 60-day trial period is over. The City Tour bus follows a circular route from the Hanoi Opera House.

En route, the bus takes in major attractions like the Hoan Kiem historic district, Thang Long Citadel and Tran Quoc Temple at West Lake. The vehicle is wheelchair friendly, offers wireless internet connectivity and is fitted with a convertible roof to shelter passengers on the upper deck from any sudden monsoon storms. 

Hanoi is the gateway to the north of Vietnam. After taking in all the sights and experiences of the city most tourists travel to locations such as Sapa and Halong Bay or take the southbound route to Hue, Danang, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh. 12GO provides convenience when buying tickets for travel on these routes.


Thailand marks birthday of king with national holiday

Thailand marks birthday of king with national holiday

Thailand will next week celebrate a new national holiday in honour of the nation’s king. King Vajiralongkorn will celebrate his 65th birthday on the 28 July and the Thai government has designated it as national holiday.

This is the first year of King Vajiralongkorn’s reign and the Thai government has yet to release any information about what rites, if any, will be staged on the big day.  The 28 July is one of around 20 national holidays in Thailand. Government offices and bank branches usually shut up shop for the day.

As the 28 July is a Friday it gives Thai workers a long weekend. As is the case the world over, a long weekend presents an opportunity to travel and head for the beach. Thai roads, buses, trains and aeroplanes are expected to be busy from Thursday lunchtime onwards. 

12GO ASIA advises pre-booking tickets on intercity domestic routes such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Phuket to avoid the rush. Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Train Station plus Ekkamai, Sai Tai and Morchit bus terminals are always busy and even buying tickets at counters is a long-drawn-out process.


Top travel mag names Chiang Mai as third best global city

Top travel mag names Chiang Mai as third best global city

Readers of leading magazine Travel + Leisure have placed the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai third in this year’s up-and-coming global destinations. The magazine quizzed its 300,000-strong readership on what were the premium travel experiences today’s world has to offer.

According to the T+L the World’s Top 15 Cities listings, only San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and Charleston in the US state of South Carolina garnered higher readers’ rankings than Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai scored 91.40 out of a possible 100 while San Miguel de Allende came top with 92.12 and Charleston second with 91.54.

To compile the ratings, T+L factored in the general tourism appeal of the cities as well as their historic sites, attractions, shopping, cuisine, culture and how welcoming the general population were. Commenting on the honour of placing third on the illustrious list, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said he would like to thank T+L’s readers first of all.

Yuthasak Supasorn continued by saying famous Lanna temples, an attractive setting and activities for all age groups were among the city’s chief enticements to visit. When travelling to Chiang Mai it pays to check out what deals 12GO ASIA has on tickets to reap the biggest savings.