Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nakhon Si Thammarat The second largest city

Nakhon Si Thammarat The second largest city with a great history before becoming a province, this first grade city controlled various subjected cities and towns. There is a place that houses Lord Buddhas relics which is a most important statutory place of the South, being the center of Buddhism during Sivichaya period. It is located some 861 kms. by railroad and 780 kms. by highway from Bangkok. With an area of 9,942.5 square kilometers, it is a high plateau with mountains and jungles in the west then slopes down in the east, becoming a basin along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand. It borders on Surat Thani to the north; Trang, Phattalung and Songkhla to the south; the Gulf of Thailand to the east and Krabi to the west.

It is administratively divided into 18 Amphoes and 2 King Amphoes: Muang, Cha-uat, Chawang, Chian Yai, Hua Sai, Khanom, Lan Saka, PakPhanang, Phipun, Ron Phibun, Sichon, Tha Sala, Thung Song, Thung Yai, Na Bon, Phrommakhiri, Bang Khan, Chulaphon, King Amphoe Tham Phannara and King Amphoe Phra Phrom. There are four important rivers: Tapi, Pak Phanang, Pak Phun and Nakhon Si Thammarat

What to see and what to do in Nakhon Si Thammarat?

Wat Phra Mahathat was originally an old monastery of Nakhon Si Thammarat situated in the heart of the city. It is believed to have been constructed during Sivichaya period. An extensive complex is centered on the 77-metre pagoda which houses Buddha relics brought from Sri Lanka some 1,700 years ago. There are other important archaeological sites, such as, Vihara Luang, Vihara Khien, Vihara Khot, Vihara Pho Lanka and museum.

Old City Wall was first constructed during the period of Phraya Si Thamma Sokarat and later rebuilt twice during the periods of King Ramesuan and King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya. The total width is 460 meters and length is 2,230 meters.

Chedi Yak is a giant pagoda located near the Municipality Office. Its size is second to the one at Wat Phra Mahathat. The pagoda is assumed to have been built in 1003 by a Mon millionnaire and his followers who lived there.

Ho Phra Buddha Sihing houses Phra Buddha Sihing Image located near the Provincial Hall (Sala Klang).

Giant Swing and Brahman Temple is in the heart of the city on the side of Ratchadamnoen Road. The current structures are replicas of the ones in Bangkok but smaller in size. They are important places of Brahman Religion which was first introduced to Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Hat Khanom is located 1.5 kilometers from Amphoe Khanom, approximately 100 kilometers north of the provincial capital. It is comprised of 3 sandy beaches: Nai Praet, Nai Phlao and Pak Nam. Accommodation is available.

Tham Khao Wang Thong is one of the most beautiful caves in Thailand. The cave is located in Amphoe Khanom. It can be reached by a 90 kilometer journey from the provincial capital along Highway 4014, then on Highway 4142 for 5 kilometers and a left turn for a another 6 kilometers.

Hat Hin Ngam is a rocky beach located 4.5 kilometers from Amphoe Sichon, 66 kilometres north of the provincial capital. Accommodation is a available.

Khao Kha Archaeological Site is on a mountain in Tambon Sao Phao, Amphoe Sichon. It can be accessed by traveling along the Highway No. 401 and turning to Chinda Prachasan Road at km.99, then driving on for another 5 kms. There is an ancient city over 1,500 years old with architectural ruins scattered in the area. The remains of a laterite shrine are found on top of the mountain.

Laem Ta Lum Phuk, located in Amphoe Pak Phanang, is 40 kms. from Amphoe Muang. It is a long sandy cape jutting out into the Gulf of Thailand. The fishing village was settled on its western beach. On the eastern beach where there are pine trees along the coast line. A lot of different seashells can be found on the white clean sand.

Hat Pak Phanang is a long white beach located 28 kms. from Pak Phanang township.

Hat Pak Pha-ying is located in Amphoe Tha Sala, 20 kms.from the towns. There is a fishing village with beautiful beach there.

Khao Luang National Park covers an area of 570 sq.kms. in Amphoe Lan Saka, Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Phrommakhiri, Amphoe Chawang and Amphoe Phipun. Main attractions in the national park area are waterfalls as follows:

Karom Waterfall is about 1,300-1,400 height with 19 levels. It is located in Amphoe Lan Saka, by highway, 4016,9 kms. from the city,( turn left to highway 6015 for 15 kms. then turn right for another 3 kms).

Phrommalok Waterfall is a large and high falls with 3 levels. It can be reached by highway 4016 and turn left at km. 21 to highway 4132 for another 5 kms.

Ai Khieo (or Nai Khieo) Waterfall is located in Tambon Thonhong, Amphoe Phrommakhiri, 29 kms. pasted Phrommalok Waterfall.

Krung Ching Waterfall is very big and has many levels. The most beautiful level is called "Nan Fon Saen Ha" (which means plenty drops of rain) because it looks like rain drops falling down from the cliff. It is located about 70 kms. from Provincial City on the highway no.4016, then walk for another 3.8 kms. Accommodations and food are available. Contact the National Park Division, Royal Forestry Department, Tel: 5790529, 5794842.
Other attractions in the national park are: Tha Pae Waterfall, Tambon Chang Klang, Amphoe Chawang; Khlong Tha Ngiu Waterfall, Tambon Khlong Tha Ngiu, Tambon Nop Phi Tam, Amphoe Tha Sala and a cave, (called Tham Kaeo Surakan), on km. 12 highway no.4015.

Yong National Park Waterfall
is accessible by traveling on the Highway no. 403 (Nakhon Si Tham-marat-Thung Song route). With its area being a virgin forest, there are beautiful waterfalls such as Yong (Lao), Nam Pliu, and Khlong Kui. Traveling to Yong Waterfall can be don by car but the rest only accessable on foot. Accommodation is not available. Tourists have to bring their own tents for an overnight stay.

Festival of the tenth Lunar Month The festival falls in September - October every year.
This ceremony is celebrated locally during the fifteen nights of the waning moon period in the tenth lunar month. To bring merit to the souls of ancestors, Buddhists offer a variety of foods and other gifts to monks. There are also numerous cultural performances, exhibitions, contests and other entertainments.
General Information

Nakhon Si Thammarat, the second largest province of the South and the land of predominant Buddhism during the Srivijaya Period, is 780 kilometres from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 9,942 square kilometres consisting of high plateau and mountains in the west then sloping down towards the east and becoming a basin along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand.

In addition to its great history, Nakhon Si Thammarat boasts pristine verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation and is also noted for picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.

How to get there


Take Highway No. 4 on the Bangkok-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon route and then Highway No. 41 past Surat Thani-Thung Song until arriving in Nakhon Si Thammarat or Amphoe Phun Phin in Surat Thani, then take Highway No. 401 along the coast to Nakhon Si Thammarat.


Regular and air-conditioned buses of the Transport Co. and private companies depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. The trip takes about 12 hours. Air-conditioned buses, varying in 3 types, leave Bangkok at the following times:

VIP Bus: 5.15 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Standard 1 Bus: 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 8.30 p.m.

Standard 2 Bus: 6.40 a.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

For more information, contact tel. 0 2435 1199-200 (air-conditioned buses). Nakhon Si Thammarat Bus Staiton tel: 0 7534 1125.

Travel within the province is easy with mini-bus service around the city. Transport to nearby provinces includes vans, taxis, buses, and trains.


There are rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 5.35 p.m. and 7.15 p.m. respectively. For more information, contact tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or call Nakhon Si Thammarat train station at tel. 0 7535 6364, 0 7534 6129.


PBAir provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2261-0220 – 5.

Thai Airways has daily flights connecting Bangkok with Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000, the Nakhon Si Thammarat Office at tel. 0 7534 2491, 0 7534 3874, or view their website at


Nakhon Si Thammarat, the second largest province of the South and the land of predominant Buddhism during the Srivijaya Period, is 780 kilometres from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 9,942 square kilometres consisting of high plateau and mountains in the west then sloping down towards the east and becoming a basin along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand.

In addition to its great history, Nakhon Si Thammarat boasts pristine verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation and is also noted for picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.

Hae Pha Khun That (Homage-Paying Fair) This festival falls in February every year
During the event, the people of Nakhon Si Thammarat pay homage to locally enshrined relics of the Buddha. There are a number of religious ceremonies, among them a traditional merit-making procession. This parade brings a Phra Bot-a cloth painting of the Buddhas life story-to be placed over the relics.

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Buri Ram is one of the largest and most populated provinces in Isaan. About 410 kilometers from Bangkok, it has a number of leading attractions, including the Prasat Hin Phanom Rung and the huge Buddha image atop Mount Khao Kradong.

What to see and what to do in Buriram?

Buri Ram Cultural Center, situated in the Buri Ram Rajabhat Institute, was built to protect and preserve the unique culture of Lower Isan and to be a museum for arts and artifacts from that area.

Buri Ram Bird Park is located at the Huai Talat reservoir, 15 kilometers from the town center on Buriram-Prakhon Chai road. The park is an ideal place for bird watchers. Various kinds of birds migrate to this reservoir during November and April every year.

Phanom Rung Historical Park is located between Amphoe Nang Rong and Amphoe Prakhon Chai. Make a right-turn at Km. 83-84 of Highway No. 24 and go twelve kilometers further to find it. The well-known Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is on the top of the Phanom Rung Mount. It is a walled enclosure, with both the door frames and walls carved in the beautiful Lophuri Period style with Khmer influence.
According to Brahminic belief, it was originally built as an idol temple. Within the Prasat (or castle) is a throne hall built in the 12th century A.D. The beauty of the main prang of Phanom Rung lies not only in its plan but in the vibrant stone carvings which cover large parts of the temple. Many lintels and pediments depict episodes from Indian texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas.

Prasat Hin Muang Tam is located some 18 kilometers from Prasat Hin Phanom Rung. The sanctuary is also walled. Within the compound are four ponds, while the structure itself was made of old-style bricks. Door frames, wall surfaces and stone surfaces around the ponds are carved in beautiful designs. It is believed to have been constructed in the 11th century.

Tao Sawai and Tao Nai Chian Ancient Kilns, located 5 and 10 kilometers away from Amphoe Ban Kruat, have been excavated by the Fine Arts Department. The kilns were used in the production of glazed potteries during the period of Khmer dominance in this area (about the 9th to the 12th centuries AD).

Prang Ku Suan Taeng is located at Tambon Thong Luang in Amphoe Phutthaisong. The three pagodas were erected of brick and mortar in the Khmer style. Their door panels are carved, depicting episodes from the epic of Ramakian (Ramayana). The exquisitely carving of Narai Bantomsin, once stolen and sold abroad, has been returned and is kept at the National Museum in Bangkok.

Phra Suphatthara Bophit is enshrined atop Khao Kradong Mount, about six kilometers from town on the Buri Ram - Prakhon Chai Highway. A winding road leads up to the mountain top. A replica of the Holy Footprint is also placed there.

Northeastern Kite Festival held annually in early December at Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir, Amphoe Muang. The festival hosts a parade and competition of local vehicles decorated with various kinds of kites. A beauty contest and an Aek kite competition are also scheduled. The Aek kite (ancient yoke shaped kite) looks like 2 kites attached to each other when flown . Activities include kite shows and cultural performances.

Buri Ram Traditional Boat Races This annual regatta is staged on the Mun River in Amphoe Satuk during the first weekend of November. Celebrations include parades and cultural performances, as well as, an elephant swimming race.

General Information
Buri Ram is a land of ancient Khmer prosperity. The southern part of the province has a number of Khmer sanctuaries, the most magnificent being Phanom Rung, regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of Khmer architecture in Thailand.

Buri Ram is 410 kilometres from Bangkok. It has an area of 10,321 square kilometres. The province is divided into the following districts: Mueang Buri Ram, Nang Rong, Lam Plai Mat, Prakhon Chai, Phutthaisong, Satuek, Krasang, Ban Kruat, Khu Mueang, Lahan Sai, Nong Ki, Pakham, Na Pho, Nong Hong, Phlapphla Chai, Huai Rat, Non Suwan, Chaloem Phra Kiat, Chamni, Non Din Daeng, Chaloem Phra Kiat, Ban Mai Chaiyaphot, Ban Dan, and Khaen Dong.

How to get there
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then use Highway No.226 to Buri Ram, a total distance of 384 kilometres.

Buses depart from Bangkok’s Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Buri Ram every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information

Regular trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Buri Ram every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.

Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Buri Ram every day. The Buri Ram airport is at Amphoe Satuek, 40 kilometres north of the town. Call 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 for more information.

Buriram Boat Race
This is held every first Saturday of November when the Mun River is at its fullest. Teams from Buri Ram and other provinces race in front of Satuek district office to find the champion of the Mun.

Isan Kite Festival
This festival is held in the first weekend of December. Northeastern monsoon winds blow strongly during the harvesting season, signalling the beginning of the cool season in Thailand. A popular local pastime is when kites are flown in the villages. This sport has a long history and to preserve it, a contest is held to find the best kites called Wao Aek. The winner is judged from the design, the sound it makes and the flying style.

Khao Phanom Rung Fair
This annual fair takes place in April when a sunrise amazingly shines through all the 15 doorways of the sanctuary, bringing out the true splendor of the site and confirming the unmatched skills of the sanctuary’s builders. Such a spectacle occurs only at Phanom Rung. Activities include a procession like that in Khmer times and a light-and-sound show

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Phanom Rung

Beim Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung (Thai: Palast aus Stein auf dem Berg Phnom Rung, dabei heißt Phnom Rung auf Khmer etwa „Breiter Berg“, Thai: ปราสาทพนมรุ้ง) handelt es sich um einen Tempelbezirk auf einem erloschenen Vulkan im heutigen Thailand, etwa 50 km südlich der Provinzhauptstadt Buriram gelegen.

Die in 381 Metern Höhe liegende Tempelanlage symbolisierte einst die Wohnstätte Shivas auf dem heiligen Berg Krailasa (Kailash) und wurde zwischen dem frühen 10. Jh. und dem späten 12. Jh. von den damals dort herrschenden Khmer errichtet.

Über eine - heute durch den Dschungel führende - Straße war dieser Tempel mit der Tempelstadt Angkor-Wat im heutigen Kambodscha und dem Prasat Hin Phimai (in Thailand) verbunden.

Der Prasat Hin Khao Phnom Rung ist wohl eines der beeindruckendsten Baudenkmäler der Khmer in Thailand.

Eine verkleinerte Kopie des Heiligtums kann übrigens in der Ancient City (Mueang Boran) in Samut Prakan bei Bangkok besichtigt werden.

This temple complex is the largest and best restored of all Khmer monuments in Thailand.

Phanom Rung is at the top of a volcanic cone and it means in Khmer: 'big hill'.

It was build between the 10th and 13th century

to symbolize the stay of Shiva on the holy mountain Kailash.

The temple complex faces east, towards the original capital of Angkor.

Phanom Rung was originally build as a Hindu monument

as we can see in the Shiva Linga and the sacred bull Nandin.

There are also many other Hindu symbols in the lintels.

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"Jeh" Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival

First time visitors arriving in Thailand at the start of any October might be puzzled by the myriad of eye-catching bright yellow pennants displayed by street vendors or nowadays even strung out in front of restaurants. What it simply means is that the annual Vegetarian Festival is upon us once again.

This unique Thai festival had its origins on the southern island of Phuket some 180 years ago and has gradually spread to virtually all parts of the kingdom. Rather surprisingly, it is actually of Chinese origin and not really Thai at all. It began among the Chinese immigrants who had flocked to Phuket in the early 19th Century to work in the tin mines that once provided the island’s economy. According to local historians, about the year 1825, a mysterious epidemic struck the Chinese miners and their leaders met to discover the cause. They noted that the traditional Chinese rituals were being neglected, and the mining community was accordingly ordered to undergo a period of fasting as a penance. After nine days, the disease vanished as mystifyingly as it had arrived.

Now no one likes going hungry for days on end, so the village elders decided on a compromise. They vowed that each year on that anniversary the Chinese on the island would practice a period of cleansing by adopting a vegetarian diet. Offerings to the Chinese divinities would naturally be made and a strict code of conduct would be followed, which included sexual abstinence and foregoing the consumption of alcohol. As the years went by, something bizarre also took place. Individuals spontaneously began to be “possessed by spirits” during the festival and would take to impaling themselves with sharp object or slashing themselves with razor sharp knives. Yet once the spirit had left them, there would be no visible wounds or even the slightest scars. This Hindu like self-mutilation naturally drew Thai tourists to the island, and these Thais carried the idea of a vegetarian festival back to their home provinces.

Nowadays, the Vegetarian Festival is observed in virtually every fair sized city in Thailand. The yellow pennants one sees bear a Chinese character in red, with the Thai word “jeh” next to it. Both mean vegetarian. Any vendor displaying these flags will be selling flesh free food and the restaurants will have adapted their usual recipes to meatless cooking.

In Bangkok, the Vegetarian Festival is best seen in Yaowarat – the city’s picturesque Chinatown. It begins there on the first day of the 9th month of the Chinese lunar calendar with ceremonies similar to those on Phuket. Even before that, Chinatown residents will have started stocking up on vegetarian meat substitutes – usually high protein soy bean products, and it has been estimated that meat sales drop by as much as 70 percent during the ten days of the festival.

But the festival is not merely limited to Chinatown or the Chinese-Thais. Many ethnic Thais and even foreign expats welcome the change to a vegetarian diet, and perhaps one restaurant in five will switch over. In fact, vegetarian tourists have been known to plan their visits to the kingdom to coincide with this period.

The dishes offered during the Vegetarian Festival are nothing short of delightful. All of the Thai favourites are available, but with a slightly different twist. Instead of tom yam gung (spicy shrimp soup), there will be tom yam jeh (spicy vegetable soup). Gaeng matsaman, a delicious southern Thai curry made with chicken, potatoes, onions and peanuts, instead will have the chicken replaced by tofu. Gaeng kiao wan, a mild green curry usually made with chicken or fish, will now be made with soy protein. Mushrooms of all types will be used in abundance, and the big yellow Japanese soba noodles are used to produce a version of kweitiou pat Thai (noodles fried Thai style) that is well worth waiting for.

In fact, Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival is probably one of the best times to visit the country, even though it does fall within the rainy season. After all, you can always carry an umbrella. And the choices of food offered at this time of year rival the best of any cuisine that Asia has to offer.

So next time you come to Thailand, look for those yellow pennants. If it is not that time of year, just tell your waiter you want to try the aharn jeh, the dishes on the vegetarian menu. Most restaurants will have one. It makes a pleasant break from the usual meat heavy diet that is so common in the west.

Aharn jeh aroy mahk! Thai vegetarian food is delicious. Try it and see if you don’t agree. You should also visit us on where you will be introduced to the origins and types of Thai food, Thai cooking, courses and the various Cooking Schools in Thailand. We hope you will stay with us and enjoy learning more about it.

by: John Turner

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Friday, May 23, 2008

How to get around Bangkok, Thailand

To start off it is good to understand what kind of transport you can get in Bangkok.

There are numerous different types of public transport, but the usual visitor or resident uses only 7 of these: Meter Taxis, Tuk Tuks, buses, canal boats, river taxis, motorbikes, and Taxis (with no meter).

Lets begin with Tuk Tuks. Aren't they cute, those little three wheeled taxis, colorfully painted and featured so much on anything to do with Thailand.

They are very cute until you get stuck in the traffic, behind the number 36 bus at about 2 in the afternoon and suck down a multitude of fumes in 10 minutes than the average smoker does in a life time... you'll say to the kids, isn't this fun....while your kids bury their heads in their Dad's armpit because it smells fresh compared to the air around them.

Okay Try a Tuku Tuk once, don't go too far and then give them up as a bad idea. Out of Bangkok they're much more fun. Tuk Tuk drivers should be haggled with, the price fixed in advance and generally you'll always get ripped off, take a taxi.

Taxis (with 4 wheels) come in two flavours, metered and no meter, although a few non meters actually have a meter concealed behind a panel in the dash board below the radio.... Taxis are great, sit back in air conditioned luxury and watch the Smiths die of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Tuk Tuk. If the driver of a Taxi objects to use his meter then tell him to take a hike, get out, do not be suckered.

Check where you are standing, if it's outside a nice big hotel , then walk up the road a bit and wave down a taxi. Unlike the US or Europe taxi drivers have to pass NO TESTS to become a taxi driver, within a few days of being inb Bangkok you will know Bangkok better than many Taxi drivers.... again if the driver seems to not know where it is you are going, get other thing, make sure you know where you are going and have a rough idea of the route, else a less honest cabby will take you o a tour of the backroads "the short cuts". If you're going a long way, take the toll way, it costs between 20 and 40 Baht, (you pay) and will save you hours of travel time.

Calling a taxi by phone costs ab extra 20 Baht, Taxis at the airport cost an extra 50 Baht. And yes there is a REGULATED taxi stand at the airport outside the main meeting zone. Don't be suckered by taxi and limo touts.

Oh yes then there are the taxis with no meter.... well if you want to use one feel'll cost about the same as a Tuk Tuk but at least you'll get Air Con....possibly.

Buses, once upon a time there were red buses, blue buses, green buses and Air Con buses, then came micro buses and then came deregulation and now there are so many buses that I really don't know what they all are...anyway if you are going to use a bus GET A BUS MAP. Then always use Air Con buses unless where you are going is not on one of their routes or your on such a tight budget that 8 to 15 Baht per person may cause you to have to go without food. Other buses vary from 3 Baht up to 20 Baht. Don't bother asking the conductor about where you want to get off, to them you are a lower lifeform (all passengers are) ask another passenger. A word about getting on and off buses. Do it FAST, buses on occasions don't stop at the bus stop they "slow" in the middle of the road and let off a stream of potential roadkill in the middle of the traffic, okay I exagerate a little but when you get your stop make sure you are already near the door and can sprint for it. Don't expect the people getting on to make way, that kind of common sense tends to fail people using the buses, their objective is to get on fast and get a seat before anyone else...which brings up seats.... don't be fooled into thinking that being a "gentleman" will get you thanks...oh no, you'll see pregnant ladies standing up while young school brats take up the seats, you'll see old ladies burdened by shopping standing while teen sweathearts hog the's a first come dog eat dog world on the buses and if you take one of the non air con buses you'll eventually see some poor person pass out....then they get a seat.

Motobikes. Yeah.... want to get somewhere fast, take a motorbike taxi, married with kids...get life insurance and a damn good helmet.

The majority of MB taxi drivers will make it their sole intent to scare you to death, to see if they can squeeze their bike through a gap that is obviously closing up faster than they are moving and to see how fast they can go on an open stretch of road...they have no fear (or sanity).... your life is in their hands and you'll soon wish it wasn't.

It is the law in Thailand that all bike riders MUST wear a crash helmet.... some of the helmets you see wouldn't project a toddler falling off a 3 wheeler.

Thai law says you have to wear a helmet, but as far as the law is can be made out of paper.

if you intend to use MB Taxis a lot then get a helmet...I did, it saved my face when the inevitable eventually happened and I slide across the road after beeing side swipped by a pick up truck.

If you can avoid MB taxis, then do. If you are in Bangkok for long enough you may eventually get to learn which MB Taxi Teams (yes they work in teams) are safer than others (or luckier than others).

Check out the bikes they are driving, a scratched up wreck will be a good hint that the driver has kissed the tarmac a few times, a brand new bike , a green horn still waiting for his first brush with death.... if you're on a bike and the driver is driving like a nut, tell him to stop and get off.

I have to admit I have very little experience with boat transport in Bangkok, but from what I am told, if you can take a canal or river taxi, then do, they are fast, generally clean, less polution and of course there are less vehicles to hit. Prices vary depending on how far you are going.

In summary I would suggest that if you plan to travel in Bangkok that you :- get a map, take meter

by: Jonathan Semenick

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thailand Coup, Bangkok Still The Place To Visit

Coup in Thailand, this is not the first coup in Thailand, but the first in a long time. If you have been to Thailand recently, or follow the politics, this coup is not surprising for many reasons. Many people see to much corruption at very high levels, the extrajudicial handling of the drug problem, the sale of a major Thai communication asset to a foreign country, the way that the Prime Minister handles his opposition, using whatever means to silence them, and for the military the Muslim uprising in the three southern most provinces. The political fighting in the capitol is further making the military nervous with the now ousted Prime Ministers plays to keep his power despite a large and vocal group of people that want to see him out.

The military involvement with a Muslim insurrection in the south has to be troubling to them, and they want to open negotiations with the insurgents to work through the problems and come to a peaceful solution. Towards this end, the Thais have for the first time a Muslim General, General Sontai, controlling the military, and who appears now to be the new Prime Minister. Thailand being a mostly Buddhist Country, are very tolerant of minorities, and this would seem to be a better track to travel than trying to muscle through the issues using force, which is seen as not working and counter productive.

All Thais love the King! The Thai King is the longest ruling monarch in the world today, whose 60th anniversary was a huge celebration. Amazing to see if you walk through Bangkok, is all of the Thais Wearing yellow shirts proudly proclaiming their love for the King, several weeks after the celebration. This new Commander of the military is close to the King, and if he has the King’s support, the people will support him as well.

No one has been hurt yet! However, it is pretty much assured that in the rush to cover the story, and be the most dramatic and sensational, the international news outlets will wreak more damage on the Thai people than the Coup, or the ousted Prime Minister. Not only will Thailand suffer, but the smaller countries that border Thailand will suffer as well, notably Cambodia and Laos, which receive a lot of overland tourist traffic from Thailand. Tourists that are in Bangkok now are a little nervous, but they will be safe, and will have a great story to tell when they get home. Thailand is a great place to visit as it always is and will continue to be. Book your tickets now, come and see the new Bangkok airport and you are sure to find some great rates, See you here!
by: Fred Tittle

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Diving On Koh Tao In Thailand

Scuba diving is by far the biggest attraction on Ko Tao, and it is easy, fun, and you will see a lot of fish, perhaps even turtles, stingrays, barracuda, reef sharks, and even a whale shark if you get lucky

You will get good diving weather on Koh Tao apart from November, when the sea is choppy, and visibility is poorer than normal. The visibility can be over 40 metres during the rest of the year.

You will find a lot of dive operators on the island, and some of them offer accommodation. Just beware that when you read the accommodation is free, it’s not really, because they will offer discounts if you stay somewhere else.

In 2006 you will pay in the region of 10,000 bht for a PADI open water certificate, and this should include the new PADI training manual, proper professional instruction, rental equipment, boat dives etc. This may include insurance and basic accommodation, but shop around, and remember the methods of instruction may differ enormously.

A few hints include avoiding shops that use swimming pools to teach you in. You’ll find it cold, boring, and unhygienic, bearing in mind this is a very popular diving island, and they will have literally hundreds of students .

Choose one that will take you to a private beach so you will see fish and coral right away, it is a lot more interesting, and you will probably get more dives!!

It’s also a good idea to find a dive shop that has its own private pier, so you won’t have to climb over other boats at the pier, although you won’t be carrying your dive gear, that should be carried by a Dive Master Trainee. In addition you ought to ask how many students there will be in your group, because there should not be more than a small handful, if they tell you there will be more than ten then look elsewhere. You want personal tuition for something as important as this, and you want your course to be really enjoyable.

If you are looking for specific dive shops, this list whilst by no means exhaustive, is at least a starting point.

1. Coral Grand . Located in a much quieter area than the other dive shops, at the far end of the beach, the hotel is more upmarket than most on the island although the 'free' rooms are still basic. Operates 2 dive boats plus a speed boat.

2. Divepoint . Located in Mae Haad on the waterfront. Divepoint has probably the nicest dive boat on the island, big enough that you won't have to carry your gear to and from it. PADI and SSI.

3. Easy Divers. Fantastic Dive Shop with really experienced instructors. Professional and fun with great accommodation. Based right in the heart of Ko Tao.

4. IDC Ko Tao. Instructor development courses (IDC's) run every month by English PADI Course Director Matt Bolton.

5. Phoenix Divers. Right on Sairee Beach, has good boats, new gear and multilingual often western staff.

6. Stingray Divers. Very modern dive resort overlooking Chalok Ban Khao Bay.

Hope this information helps you to have great diving experience on Koh Tao.
by: Andy Perrin

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thailand: homestays and villas vs. hotels

Thailand: homestays and villas vs. hotels

more people today seek fulfilling holidays at cheaper rates. The days of booking holidays at a local travel agent and disappearing on a package tour are dwindling, as vacationers turn to the internet to seek alternatives.

Renting a private house is becoming more common as visitors seek authenticity, privacy, independence, and originality whilst on holiday. And if such a stay also offers the possibility of direct interaction with the locals and costs less than a hotel stay, the attractions are manifold.

In Thailand,more properties are now available for direct rent from their owners on a daily or weekly basis. Thailand’s real estate boom has helped develop the number of villas and holiday homes available. It is in general a pity that these properties still tend to be huddled together in the mass tourism markets of Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui, which somewhat defeats the original attractions of an independent holiday home.

However, looking more closely, it is not difficult to narrow down one’s search and to locate private properties for rent at highly attractive rates in original destinations. And in accordance with the Thais’ legendary hospitality, these villas are even occasionally rented out more as if friends – rather than paying guests - were being accommodated: meals are cooked for you, transport arranged, and invitations made to local ceremonies or festivals. In short, the Thais have realized that, whilst some guests may prefer privacy, others seek a genuine interaction at the local level with the country’s inhabitants, as they seek a memorable local experience instead of a manufactured stay.

Our exploration of Thailand’s holiday home rentals led us to several very different properties, and clearly, whilst the supply is not huge, the attractions of these homes, the hospitality of the Thais, the zing of the delicious food and the promise of sun all make these properties a marvelous holiday alternative.

We particularly enjoyed our stay at “Gecko Villa”. From the outset, their comprehensive website ( gave full details of the property, with numerous photographs and an online availability checker. Our email reservation was responded to rapidly, and helpful suggestions made about getting to the destination.

Upon arrival we were met at the airport by the smiling owners and driven to the large house that was set in the middle of emerald rice paddies, sugar cane plantations and woodlands. The property was set on extensive grounds guaranteeing privacy by our own pool, and the bedrooms and facilities all lived up to or surpassed what we had seen described on the internet. The kitchen showed up our own kitchen at home, and the shower garden in the master bedroom was a delightful touch.

When we said we loved Thai food, we were delighted to be taken off around the grounds to pick our own herbs and spices – including strange plants that we had never considered using in the pot – before being shown how to make genuine Thai and Northeaster dishes. The owners seemed genuinely pleased to be able to impart their knowledge and love of food – and we were equally happy to have this cooking lesson provided at no cost!

The property was fully serviced and the rate we paid covered all our meals and even generous quantities of cool beer and fresh fruit juices. And as we were there in the mango season, we were encouraged to simply help ourselves to the fresh fruit straight from the trees…

It was rare to find a house deep in the Thai countryside, and truly off the beaten tourist track, that offered every comfort for a relaxing stay in the real Thailand. The Visitors’ Book was full of glowing comments and the many repeat guests bore testimony to the visitors’ enjoyment of their stays, not only because of the property itself but because of the genuine welcome they received.

Tips on booking holiday homes:

• Try to book directly with the property site. Searches tend to list global villa rental sites that generally take a commission on your stay, making it more expensive, and in some cases try to prevent you from contacting the owners directly.

• Look for an individual property rather than a house in a villa development. The latter are often managed by hotel groups and simply glorified hotel rooms – at hotel rates!

• Travel in the off season, but book early. Better rates can generally be found for travel out of the tourist seasons, but do make sure you book ahead, as when a standalone villa is booked, it is booked!

• Make sure the property you choose has a telephone and address listed.

• Travel somewhere new! Much of the fun of your own holiday house is the way it can take you out of the tourist centres to enjoy a more authentic holiday.
Thai Airways, Thailand’s flag carrier offers numerous domestic flights, but savvy travelers will turn to the local discount airlines. These offer frequent flights at a fraction of the price and in relative comfort.

Thailand: homestays and villas vs. hotels
by: Simon Hantly

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Facts About Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand is spread across 513,115 square kilometers. It is equal to the size of France and a little smaller than Texas. The capital of Thailand is Bangkok. Other cities of Thailand are Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Muang.

Population of Thailand is more than 63 million. Most Thais are Buddhist while there are also Muslims, Hindus and Christians but are in the minority. The language of Thailand is Thai. However, English is spoken in isolated pockets.

Thailand has rich soil conducive for agriculture and most people in the rural areas make their living by cultivating rice in the central, northern and north-eastern part of Thailand. The climate of Thailand is tropical. However, Thailand is developing and industrialization is taking place resulting in a lot of people migrating from rural areas to cities.

The Thai language is similar to Tai, the language spoken by the people who live in Southern China. This has led to a belief that the Thai originally came from southern China before migrating to South East Asia in the 6th or 7th century. Until 1938, Thailand was called Siam. It has a very close relationship with United Kingdom which signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1938 with Thailand and ended up being the first time that this country was recognized by a western power.

Japanese occupied Thailand during World War II. In 1945, after the Japanese were defeated, Thailand started having close relationship with the United States, which helped the communist regime to come to power.

Economy of Thailand is based on exports. Rice is the major cash crop and it is exported to many countries around the world. Fishery and other affiliated products are a major industry and along with rubber, corn and sugar it forms a large part of the export market.

Article Source:

Facts About Thailand
By Pauline Go

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Saphan Han - The Dragon's Tail In Chinatown Bangkok

Saphan Han is an old Chinese trading community, one of the many Chinese legacies, at the end of Yaowarat Road near the Rob Krung canal, where Chinatown Bangkok meets Pahurat Little India.

The Rob Krung canal, the second canal ring around the old city, was dug in 1785 in the reign of King Rama I. Rob Krung, literally meaning "around the city", completely encloses the landward side of the old city on the east. With the Chao Phraya on the west, the city was virtually an island surrounded by a moat.

The Chinese who were living at the site where the Grand Palace was to be built were resettled outside the old city, just beyond the Rob Krung canal.

Saphan Han got its name from the numerous swing bridges across the Rob Krung to allow access to the old city and for boats passing along the canal. The area was a landing point for the early Chinese immigrants who arrived after a long journey by ship from China.

They made their way to settle in Soi Sampheng from which Chinatown grew. As the community expanded, others chose to settle near the canal and started the Saphan Han community.

After fleeing floods and famine in the home country, the Chinese immigrants avoided farming and switched to trade and commerce in their new homes. The result is evident from the many bustling markets in Chinatown Bangkok.

Yaowarat Road, the main street in Chinatown Bangkok, has often been likened to a huge dragon rearing its head at the Odeon Gate, the entrance to Chinatown with its tail trailing at Saphan Han 1.5 km away.

The main street is a quaint mix of old and new; "kao luck" (roasted chestnuts) and "bak kua" (barbecued pork slices) stalls, sharks' fins and birds' nest restaurants, Chinese medicine and goldsmith shops, old temples, hotels, 7 Eleven, Watson and Tesco Lotus stores.

It's unmistakably Chinatown with signboards in Chinese and Thai script written in Chinese font, phone booths with a pagoda roofs and crowded markets squeezed into little lanes. The Saphan Han market is one of them.

Straddling both banks of the Rob Krung canal, the Saphan Han is in a labyrinth of alleys crammed with stalls selling food, clothing, ladies lingerie, fabrics, and spools of thread, food, gold and watches.

The market consists of a grid of five alleys parallel to the canal and another two across the canal over concrete bridges. The roofs of these shops virtually block up the view of the canal. You won't even notice the canal if not for the sign "Rob Krung" on the concrete traffic bridge.

The official entrance appears to be the first alley on the Yaowarat bank with a sign showing Yaowarat Soi 33, Trok Saphan Han or the Saphan Han Alley. The alley, with a glass roof high above and flanked by dark shuttered three story buildings, looks dim and deceptively quiet.

Further in, the scene changes drastically to a busy local bazaar, with people browsing, haggling as they moved along the narrow passages. With makeshift roofs and canvas sheets overhead, it's hot and humid. Even a sudden shower doesn't deter the Sunday shoppers as they weave through carefully avoiding the rain dripping through the gaps.

Wandering through this maze, I find a dingy alley with large trays of onions and garlic and huge pots brewing over charcoal fires just by the canal banks. Could this be the central kitchen for the food vendors in the next alley?

An interconnecting alley leads to the part of the market that extends to the other bank of the canal where there's a food alley with vendors lining one side and tables the other. A small food court further in hardly leaves any room to pass. Thai Sikhs are among the crowd in this congested alley.

After another turn, I emerge from the other end of Saphan Han to face Pahurat Little India. It's like entering a cavern from one end to emerge into another world at the other.

Saphan Han is Chinatown's answer the Pahurat textile market in Little India across the Rob Krung canal. It's like a bridge linking the two communities in more ways than one. The visitor gets a glimpse of the local markets and the essence of real life in a city less the cosmetic glitter commonly seen in downtown Bangkok.

This side of Chinatown Bangkok at the dragon's tail seems to resist the new a little better in spite of the new developments around. Saphan Han still looks very much like what it was, doing what it has always been doing for the past century or more

Article Source:

Saphan Han - The Dragon's Tail In Chinatown Bangkok
By Eric Lim

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thailand Travel Information

Million of travelers visit Thailand yearly. In fact, Thailand draws more travelers than any other country in Southeast Asia. Why? There are million of travelers, because Thailand is a very beautiful country. Thailand is known for its renowned hospitality, sacred temple, and breathtaking natural beauty. Thailand offers something for all type of travelers.

When is the best time to go? If you plan to visit Thailand between July and November, the weather can be uncomfortably for you. Around July and November, it will be rainy season in Thailand. It rains a lot, and the weather can be unpredictably sticky. The weather is at its best from February to March. It is perfect time to go to the beaches.

The peak seasons are August, November, December, February, and March. There are secondary peak months in January and July. The tickets to Thailand around the peak seasons are usually high. If you plan to visit Thailand during the peak seasons, it will be a good idea to plan in advance. If you buy the tickets in advance, it will be much cheaper.

If you can travel during the least crowded months (April, May, June, September, and October), you will save big time from low-season air plane tickets and discounted rooms. If you avoid popular destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket during prime time, you will probably find a good deal.
Article Source:

Thailand Travel Information
By Pauline Go

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