Showing posts with label Tourists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tourists. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

#Cambodia plans Da Nang flight to boost tourism with #Vietnam

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week said a soon-to-begin direct flight between Phnom Penh and Da Nang, in central Vietnam, will boost the number of Vietnamese visitors to the Kingdom.

Speaking during a business forum during a two-day visit to Vietnam, Mr Hun Sen said the new fight, which will be operated by Cambodia’s national flag carrier, will play an important role in attracting more tourists from Vietnam.

“Vietnam continues to be the second-largest tourist market for Cambodia, and we expect to see more and more Vietnamese tourists choosing Cambodia as their holiday destination,” he said.

He said the Kingdom welcomed about 470,000 Vietnamese tourists during the first seven months of the year, an increase of 4.6 percent over the corresponding period last year.

Cambodia Angkor Air, the national flag carrier, recently announced that its Phnom Penh-Da Nang route will launch on Oct 27. Phnom Penh will become the second city, after Siem Reap, that the airline connects with Da Nang.

Mr Hun Sen said the new flight is a welcomed addition to the existing 112 flights that connect Cambodia and Vietnam every week.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, noted the number of Vietnamese tourists is on the rise.

“The flight will not only bring in more Vietnamese tourists. Foreign tourists that visit Da Nang now also have the opportunity to board a plane and travel directly to Phnom Penh,” she said.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon recently urged airlines in Vietnam to increase the number and frequency of flights to Cambodia, particularly to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and the coastal areas. He said that at least 15 percent of Vietnamese tourists prefer air travel.

The minister noted that Cambodia aims to attract about one million Vietnamese tourists a year by 2020. Currently, about 900,000 Vietnamese tourists visit Cambodia every year.

Cambodia and Vietnam have also agreed to cooperate on marine tourism once the new seaport in Kampot province is completed, which is expected to happen in 2021.

Mr Khon said marine tourism cooperation is an effective mechanism to boost cooperation among Asean countries.

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism, from January to July, Cambodia welcomed 1,154,786 visitors from Asean countries, a 5 percent hike compared to the same period last year.

Source - Khmer Times

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Nationals of six more countries granted visa-on-arrival into #Myanmar (Burma)

The Myanmar government has introduced new regulations to facilitate easier access for foreign tourists as another step towards opening up the country to the world . 
Started from October 1, tourists from six countries (Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland) can enter Myanmar on visa-on-arrival (VOA) at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw International Airports.

Pre-arrangement is not required for passport holders of these six countries, they can simply apply for a visa 

at any of the three airports for a fee of US$50 each. 

Visitors from Japan, South Korean, Hong Kong and Macau were granted visa-free entry last year.

Indian and mainland Chinese nationals were also granted visas-on-arrival (VOA) into Myanmar in a move to draw more Asian visitors to the country.

In the second quarter, Myanmar saw an increase in arrivals from countries granted visas free and visas-on-arrival treatment. 

"We hope the new regulation will lead to more foreign travellers to Myanmar, to discover the country's unique culture and most of all, the hospitality of its people," said May Myat Mon Win, Chairperson of Myanmar Tourism Marketing.

Myanmar Tourism Marketing has organised roadshows, trade shows and media familiarisation trips for journalists, TV producers and digital marketing influencers from around the world. 

Visa-free and visa on arrival entry from these Western countries would further boost growth of the Myanmar tourism industry.

Source - The Nation

Friday, 20 September 2019

#Thailand - Immigration overhaul – TM6 disappearing and TM30 App being launched

“We made the decision last Friday. Within two to three months, life will be much easier for foreign tourists and expats.”

In what appears to be a major overhaul of immigration procedures, dare we say ‘modernisation’, foreign visitors will soon no longer have to fill out the “TM6” arrival forms. 

The white and blue form has been a source of confusion for decades as passengers try to fill them out on planes or in a mad rush when they arrive at immigration desks without them, for decades.

The reason for the decision to go all-digital with the arrival procedure is that, of all reasons, the storage of all the white and blue cards had become an issue.
But wait, there’s more.

Now are reporting that Thai immigration is not only doing away with the TM6 forms, they’re about to launch a new mobile phone app to make TM30 reporting easier.

Kobsak Pootrakool, the Deputy Secretary-General to the PM, also mentioned on Tuesday that another app is being developed to allow long-stay foreigners to complete their 90 day reporting with their smart phone. And, yes, he said a smartphone App was also going to make the TM30 reporting easier.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

The same applied for landlords or owners of accommodation to report foreigners staying at their venues within 24 hours. Along the way there appeared cracks in the enforcement with all sorts of variations and conundrums being thrown up at organised panel meetings and online, little of which was answered with any certainty from the Thai immigration authorities.

 Kobsak now claims that the changes are designed to attract more visitors and accommodate those already living in the kingdom.
“We made the decision last Friday. Within two to three months, life will be much easier for foreign tourists and expats.”

“Foreigners will be able to report their whereabouts with just four clicks on their smartphone to fulfill regulations that require them to report to immigration authorities every 90 days.”

Deputy immigration commander Nattapon Sawaengkit has confirmed the move to move the TM30 reporting online when contacted for comment, but assigned another officer to explain the details, according to the report.

 Everyone’s favourite arrival procedure, the TM6 form.
Source - The Thaiger

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

#Thailand scraps "arrival and departure card" for tourists and comes with app for TM30

A senior Thai official said yesterday that foreign tourists will soon no longer have to fill in a "departure and arrival card" (TM6) when they arrive in Thailand.

Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy sec-gen to the Prime Minister, also touted a mobile application in the works for 24-hour reporting under the TM30 form system, which has been a source of controversy in recent months. Kobsak said both changes are designed to attract more visitors and accommodate those already living in the kingdom.

“We made the decision last Friday. Within two to three months, life will be much easier [for foreign tourists and expats],” Kobsak said.

He spoke at a gala dinner to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Elite Plus Magazine at a hotel in Bangkok on Tuesday evening, where audience members included ambassadors from ten or so countries.

Explaining the government’s decision, Kobsak said arrival and departure forms for tourists, known as TM6 forms, have led to a storage problems. The government expects a total of 20 million visitors to Thailand this year.
“[The immigration police] have to have a huge warehouse to store these papers,” Kobsak said, adding that the police rarely look at the information in the forms, which are only stored “just in case.”

He also said the government and the immigration police agreed last Friday to streamline other procedures. Foreigners will be able to report their whereabouts with just “four clicks” on a smartphone to fulfill regulations that require them to report to immigration authorities every 90 days.

But the cherry on top seems to the revelation that the police are developing a mobile phone application for the infamous TM30 form, which requires foreign residents and their Thai landlords to file a report to the police every time the former spends a night outside their registered province.

Tourists are generally exempted from the rule, as the forms are filed by their hotels and accommodation hosts.

Deputy immigration commander Nattapon Sawaengkit confirmed the move on Wednesday when reached for comment, but assigned another officer to explain the details.

The officer, who declined to give his name, gave little information other than hinting that QR codes will likely be used.

“The apps are not finished yet. QR codes will likely be used but it’s not concrete yet. It will likely be on a smartphone,” the officer said.

Harsher enforcement of TM30 forms has recently driven expats in Thailand to air their grievances on social media. They say the 40-year-old regulation is outdated and should be amended or scrapped entirely.

The European Association for Business and Commerce, which represents European firms and businesses in Thailand, also urged reforms to TM30 in a statement to Kobsak yesterday.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, Kobsak said the law will still remain on the books, but pledged to end foreigners’ discontent with the form. He also acknowledged the government should do better in attracting foreign investment and manpower.

Source - Khaosodenglish

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Vietnam - Mastercard lists Hanoi, HCMC among top 20 Asia-Pacific travel destinations.

Hanoi is in 15th position and Ho Chi Minh City in 18th among Mastercard’s top 20 Asia-Pacific destinations for international travelers this year.

Mastercard ranked 161 cities in the Asia-Pacific based on the number of overnight international arrivals and travel spending, using data primarily from national tourism boards.

Last year Hanoi received 4.8 million overnight international visitors, who stayed for 3.8 days on average while the southern metropolis had 4.1 million arrivals who stayed for 5.3 days, according to the annual Asia Pacific Destinations Index drawn up by the U.S. payment company, released last Friday.

The average spending by foreign tourists was $78 a day in Hanoi last year and $98 in Saigon, much lower than in Bangkok ($184), Singapore ($272), Kuala Lumpur ($142), Phuket ($247), or Bali ($125), it said.
The top five destinations in the list were Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Seoul, welcoming over one-fifth, or 22 percent of all overnight visitors to the region’s top 161 cities and regional centers in 2018.

Last year the region received 342.2 million business and leisure visitors, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing 8.9 percent growth annually.

During the period spending by travellers grew by 10.2 percent to more than double from $117.6 billion to $281.1 billion.
While many Asia Pacific destinations are basking in the growth led by mainland Chinese travelers, South Korea and Japan have also emerged as major source markets, the report noted.

Mainland China accounts for 18.2 percent of international overnight arrivals, South Korea for 9.1 percent and Japan for 6 percent.

"While the world's economic, geopolitical, technological and societal landscapes have all changed dramatically since Mastercard launched this research 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: the desire of ever-growing numbers of people to explore the world beyond their own borders," Rupert Naylor, senior vice president of Mastercard Advisors in Asia Pacific said.

Last year HCMC and Hanoi were among the world’s 100 most visited travel destinations, a Euromonitor International report said.

Source - VN Express

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Thailand - TM30 not fit for purpose

In March, the Immigration Bureau resurrected the draconian regulation known as TM30 with the aim of keeping track of foreigners' whereabouts. It is legitimate to wonder whether any foreign criminals have disclosed their movements to authorities via the TM30 form.

The possibility seems unlikely, even though this is the ultimate goal of the latest enforcement of this regulation. What is certain, though, is that it has blighted the lives of law-abiding foreigners with a hellish web of paperwork.

Over the past couple of months, a broad spectrum of expat communities here have chorused their disagreement with the regulation, sharing experiences of how the law has made their stay in the country unnecessarily complicated and is affecting the ease of doing business and investment here.

This diverse feedback should be treated as strong enough evidence for Thailand to put an end to the hassle. And a solution could be as simple as amending the 1979 Immigration Act. But the outpouring of expat frustration seems to have fallen on deaf ears in government.

The regulation was made at a time when the country was facing an influx of Vietnamese and Cambodians fleeing conflicts at home, and authorities understandably wanted to keep an eye on them. This was also a time when the number of foreigners was just a small fraction of the current figure.

The Immigration Act's Section 38 requires that landlords must report the presence of any foreign tenants to authorities within 24 hours of their arrival.

Section 37 imposes the same rule on foreigners. They must report their nightly whereabouts, as and when they move around the country.

Failure to report means a fine of 800 to 2,000 baht and also the risk that the foreigner may be denied extension or renewal of their visa or work permit.

As time went by, the regulation fell into disuse, largely because it was no longer practical and too rigid. Reporting foreigners' whereabouts to authorities was mainly done by hotel operators on a weekly basis to comply with the 2004 Hotel Act.

In the absence of TM30 enforcement, the country had been efficiently managing expats and tourists via the hotel law and other immigration regulations. Everyone seemed to be happy, until the TM30 rule was dusted off and began baffling both Thai landlords and expats.

The Immigration Bureau has cited national security as the reason for enforcing the law again, expressing concern over foreign criminals who stay here for extended periods.

But immigration officials' mission to keep "bad guys out" must now be bogged down by the huge volume of paperwork triggered by the revival of TM30 rules.

Ensuring public safety is a noble cause. But it won't be achieved by applying the toothless and outdated TM30 regulation as a blanket measure that treats all foreigners as criminal suspects whose movements need to be strictly monitored.

Officials appear to have forgotten that this self-disclosure measure only affects law-abiding people. Criminals or terrorists will not be as naive as to tip off authorities about their movements or even inform their landlords.

Authorities must come up with alternative anti-terrorism and anti-crime strategies if they want to stay a step ahead of foreign criminals.

The TM30 has done more harm than good. The government and parliamentarians should push for amendments to the Immigration Act to do away with it.

Source - BangkokPost

Friday, 13 September 2019

#Vietnam named among world’s fastest growing travel destinations

American tourists walk on Bui Vien Street, a popular backpacker precinct in Saigon. 

Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian country among 10 world's fastest growing travel destinations, according to a United Nations report.

The country's tourism industry is moving in the right direction, and its 2018 visitor numbers rose at one of the fastest rates in the world, the 2019 Tourism Highlight report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) early this week said.

"In Southeast Asia, most destinations posted strong growth, particularly Vietnam. Outbound tourism from China and India fuelled growth in many destinations in the region."

Vietnam's foreign visitor numbers rose 19.9 percent to a record 15 million last year, putting it 10th in the list of fastest growers, which was topped by Ecuador with 51 percent. Iran was second with 49.9 percent and Egypt, third with 36.8 percent.

The rest of the top 10 were Uganda (31.9 percent), Comoros (28.2 percent), Nepal (24.8 percent), Slovenia (23.4 percent), Turkey (21.7 percent), and Palestine (20.5 percent).
  The report said France was the most visited country in 2018 with 89 million, followed by Spain and the U.S.

Thailand remained the region’s largest destination attracting around 38.2 million foreign arrivals.

The Asia-Pacific region had the second highest market share of 25 percent after Europe’s 51 percent. The Americas were third with 15 percent.

In the Asia-Pacific, growth was significant in Southeast and South Asia. Southeast Asia received 128.7 million visitors, a 7.8 percent increase, the highest rate in Asia.

"Growth in international tourist arrivals and receipts continues to outpace the world economy and both emerging and advanced economies are benefiting from rising tourism income," said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UNWTO.

Tourism last year contributed 8.39 percent to Vietnam’s GDP. The government seeks to make the industry an economic spearhead.

 With visa waivers for several countries in Asia and Europe, the government expected to see around 20 million foreign visitors in 2020 and earn $35 billion in annual revenues by then, equivalent to 10 percent of GDP, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

Vietnam will become a leading travel destination in the next five years, the latest Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts report released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association said.
Source - VN Express

Thursday, 12 September 2019 offers options for a ‘sneeze-free’ vacation, a global leader in connecting travellers to a wide choice of places to stay, is delving into its more than 29 million listings in over 153,000 destinations to come up with six destinations where people can have a “sneeze-free” vacation.

 Gran Canaria in Spain, which enjoys sunshine all year round, is a haven for travellers who suffer from hay fever as it has a very low pollen count. You can book a stay at B’SLOW San Agustin aparthotel, which offers picturesque views of the nearby Las Burras Beach.
 Or you can go for a cooler option and a breath of fresh air at Coronet Peak in New Zealand. Pollen cannot survive in snowy weather. One of the nicest places to stay is the Canyons B&B, which boasts sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, the Shotover River and Coronet Peak.
 If you plan to go to the US, you might consider Colorado Springs. In the summer and autumn months, especially July and October, the dry, desert-like surroundings contain few plants, allowing you to clear your head and give your itchy eyes a break. Breathe in crisp mountain air as you embark on a hike and take in popular sites and surroundings such as Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the Broadmoor Seven Falls.
Offering stunning views of the Cheyenne Mountain, Cheyenne Mountain Resort Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort boasts five swimming pools, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a 25-acre lake for sailing and a full-service spa.
 For fresh Alpine air, you can head north to Whistler, British Columbia – a paradise for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts and home to Whistler Blackcombe, one of the largest ski resorts in North America.

Whistler Mountain typically stays open for skiing and snowboarding until late May. If you’re looking to swap your snow boots for hiking boots, popular hiking trails include Lakeside Park, Cheakamus Lake and the Ancient Cedars Trail.

The place to stay is Whistler Lodge Hostel, which offers affordable accommodation in an ideal location.
 Meanwhile, the heavy rainfall, short pollen season and few trees in the Scottish Highlands can provide a retreat for travellers suffering from hay fever. The surrounding moorlands and mountain terrain also provide respite as the vegetation is relatively free of allergens.
  The place to stay is the Air an Oir – Skye Self Catering holiday home in Portree, which offers stunning sea views and a revitalising breeze of salty fresh air. During your stay visit the quaint Portree Harbour and marvel at the famed rugged landscapes with a hike across Lealt Falls.
Source - The Nation

Thursday, 5 September 2019

#Vietnam - Festival to offer paragliders views of northern terrace fields

Mu Cang Chai, a rural district in Yen Bai Province with iconic rice terraces, will host a paragliding festival from September 20-22.

The annual festival, organized by VietWings Hanoi Paragliding Club since 2013, has become the largest such event in the country.

Its timing makes the festival more popular: it coincides with the rice harvest season in Mu Cang Chai, which is said to be at its most beautiful from late September to early October, when the fields are dyed yellow.

This year around 200 local and foreign competitors are expected to take part in the festival, six times the number in its inaugural year.

The paragliders will take off from Khau Pha Mountain, one of the four most dangerous passes in Vietnam due to its foggy winding roads and steep terrain.

Khau Pha rises 1,200 meters, and will provide the contestants with the best views of the golden carpet stretching over 500 hectares in the Mu Cang Chai valley.

Visitors who love adventure can join the paragliders as passengers and ride tandem over the terrace fields, voted as one of "the most colorful places" on the planet by U.S.magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

Mu Cang Chai, around seven hours by road to the northwest of Hanoi, is at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range.

The H’Mong ethnic group started carving rice terraces into the mountains centuries ago and continue to plant the crop today.

In 2017 the terraced fields were named one of the 19 most picturesque peaks on earth by U.S. travel site Insider.

Source VN Express

Friday, 30 August 2019

#Bangkok top destination for Vietnam National Day holiday

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace in Thailand's Bangkok

  Thailand's capital is the most popular destination for Vietnamese choosing to travel abroad during the three-day national holiday that starts this Saturday.

Agoda, the world's leading online accommodation reservations provider, has used bookings data for travel between August 31 and September 3 to assess the 10 most popular overseas destinations for Vietnamese travelers for the National Day (September 2) holiday.

Bangkok tops the list, followed by Singapore and Bali in Indonesia. Bali is one of the world's most popular travel destinations, dubbed the Island of Gods and a paradise on earth with its beautiful beaches, ancient Hindu culture and vibrant nightlife.
 The resort island of Bali in Indonesia.
 Around one million Vietnamese came to Thailand in 2018, putting Vietnam among the kingdom's top 10 tourism markets, according to a recent report by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Bangkok’s high popularity among Vietnamese holiday goers is reflected in the fact that 30 airlines have direct routes connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with the city.

Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur came in fourth while Taiwan’s Taipei stood in the fifth position.

The rest of the top 10 included South Korea’s Seoul, Japan’s Tokyo, France’s Paris, Thailand’s Pattaya and Cambodia’s Phnom Penh.

Citizens of ASEAN member nations can travel within the region without applying for a visa and stay as a tourist for a maximum of 30 days.

 Increasing numbers of Vietnamese have been going abroad in recent years. Last year, 8.6 million traveled overseas, up 15 percent from a year ago.

Vietnamese tourists spend an estimated $7-8 billion per year overseas, said Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association. "Vietnamese traveling abroad is a growing trend," he added.

Industry insiders said that as more Vietnamese join the middle class, they are increasingly looking outward for travel destinations. A World Bank report in 2017 said the country is seeing an increasing number of people, estimated at 1.5 million each year, join the ranks of the middle and upper classes.

"As Vietnam’s economy grows, and an increasing number of citizens join the ranks of the global middle and upper classes, more people are going to take an interest in traveling the world," said Sean Preston, Visa's country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021. The firm has forecast that some 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will venture outside the country in 2021.

Source - VN Express

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Vang Vieng Moves Closer to Becoming Laos’s Official Tourism Town

The Lao government laid out its plan to nurture Vang Vieng district into the country’s “official tourism town” by 2020, and signs are emerging that this goal is one step closer to completion.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced that it is providing USD 47 million for infrastructure development in the district and around the Nam Ngum reservoir to accommodate the growth of tourism.

The planned developments, which are expected to begin next year, include a wharf, parking facilities, community market, and a fishing village, as well as a garbage collection site, Vientiane Times reported on August 23.

In addition, a 6-kilometer road will be built to connect with Road No. 10, which should help to address congestion around the reservoir.

Separately, China’s Xinhua News Agency has published a six images providing a quick peek at the construction site  of the Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway, well underway.

The Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway is a part of the China-Laos expressway, which is co-developed by China Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding Group and the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment.
The Vientiane to Vangvieng section stretches 109.1 kilometers and is expected to shorten the travel time from the current four hours to just 1.5 hours, according to Xinhua.

Laos and China agreed in November last year to begin construction on the USD 1.2 billion road to link Sikeuth village in Naxaithong District, Vientiane, to the Vang Vieng District.

At that time, it was estimated that it would take about three years to complete the construction.

Vang Vieng is already one of the top tourist destinations in Laos, many areas desperately need improvements, such as road access to visitor attractions, cleanliness, services, and tourism-related facilities.

Prime Minister Thongloun recently made a working trip to Vang Vieng to assess the district and offer advice on how to better develop the tourist town
In May last year, the Lao government set a total of 108 requirements to meet before Vang Vieng can be designated a tourism town and has been working toward this goal since then.

In addition, district authorities have been collecting information on the tourism industry to take it to the central government for detailed discussion.

Vang Vieng sees more than 10,000 tourists every month, with South Koreans accounting for 70 percent, along with Chinese, Lao and others, according to the district’s estimation.

Source - The Laotian Times 

Thursday, 22 August 2019

#Vietnam - Trees that grow green tea and their own snow

Well-known tea production areas in Vietnam are Mộc Châu, Thái Nguyên, Lâm Đồng and Phú Thọ, but when it comes to tea trees of hundreds of years old, the important provinces are on the axis from the northeast to the northwest such as Hà Giang, Lào Cai, Yên Bái, Sơn La and Điện Biên.

My search for old tea trees was motivated by tales about a tree hundreds of years old in the Hà Giang highlands that grows wild and has a white down. Monkeys are trained to pick this tea, because the job is dangerous for humans.

The trees are called chè (tea) san tuyết (san – transcription of a Chinese word which means mountain and tuyết means snow).

I started along the mountain range of West Con Linh in Hà Giang Province. This province shares its border with China on its northeast side. I was disappointed to find that some very big plantation tea trees – two or three people can barely join hands around the trunk – had been cut down, milled and sold away to China since 2008. The law does not prohibit the felling of plantation tea trees. There are only trees with trunks 20 cm to 40 cm across left. According to the tea-growers I have met, tea trees 20 cm across are 60 to 80 years old.
Until recent decades, the Dao ethnic groups used to grow tea trees. Above their doors they used to hang bundles of tea for the treatment of stomach upset or ailments caused by the weather or miasmas.

The lowlanders have known about the old san tuyết tea trees in Hà Giang since 1979 when their soldiers went to the frontier to defend the country against an invading Chinese.
Mr Ngo Viet Thanh, a tea dealer in Hà Giang, told me that san tuyết tea trees in Hà Giang grew untended on the highlands above 1,000 metres. The san tuyết tea in Hà Giang has a tart taste when drunk for the first time due to a high level of tannin, but then the taste becomes pleasantly sweet. ‘The ethnic people consider this a gift from the heavens and pick they take it without having to tend it’, he said.

Mr Thanh in 1993 he began to be interested san tuyết tea. He went to hamlets and villages in the Hà Giang highlands to bring it to the lowland markets. I accompanied him to the Nhìu Sang Dao hamlet, in the commune of Xín Chải, Vị Xuyên District, Hà Giang Province. It took us more than two hours to go 50 kilometres in a Russian automobile, covering steep, stony and dangerous tracks along the Vietnam-China border, with precipitous slopes above and below.
The old tea trees in Nhìu Sang, close to the Dao houses, have a diameter of 20 cm and more. A dozen kilometres away from Nhìu Sang, where the Mông Hoa (Flower Hmong) ethnic group live in Lao Chải, there are tea trees with trunks that can only just be circled by the arms join clasping hands. Mr Thanh said ‘It was hard to transport the tea out because of the tracks full of obstacles. People picked the tea, dried it in the sun, and sold it to Chinese merchants. It is a few kilometres from Lao Chải to China.

I was told that on top of Mount Fansipan, in the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range, there were tea trees hundreds of years old.

Having got through a number of paperwork formalities that required waiting two days, I had permission to enter Hoàng Liên National Park on foot in search of old tea trees. The path I travelled on there was the one travellers take for the peak of Mount Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam.

At an altitude of 2,200 metres, I and my guide came to a fork. On the right a path led to Fansipan’s top. We took to the left, leading to a ravine. The guide warned me that the area where the tea trees grew had a warm climate that favoured several kinds of snakes.
The first tea tree I found was about a metre in diameter and taller than I could estimate. It was hard to recognize it as a tea tree because the whole area was dark green, every root covered with a lush, green moss. Under the canopy was a fern forest. Although I had seen several old tea trees, I had never seen such lofty and big ones. The trunks were close to each other and covered with a white mould. This made the tea trees very different from the other kinds of trees in the area. The guide told me that from the altitude of 2,200 metres up to 2,800 metres, there were old tea trees everywhere and the higher we got the smaller and shorter they would be.

  Ha Giang tea tree remains productive after 500 years
A 500-year-old Shan tuyet tea tree in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang still retains its productivity and the special taste of its leaves.


Sunday, 18 August 2019

Thailand - Mae Sa and Tad Mork waterfalls in Chiang Mai closed

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park officials in the north of Thailand have closed the Mae Sa and Tad Mork waterfalls after heavy rainfall have caused high water flows and slippery paths “that may endanger tourists”.

Mae Sa waterfall is approximately 30 minutes drive north-west from Chiang Mai and Tad Mork waterfall about an hour drive north-west of Chaing Mai.

The national park chief Wuttichai Soamwipark told Thai Rath that his office will continue to monitor the situation and urged tourists to remain safe, and follow the directions of park signage and officials.

The two waterfalls are very popular with local and foreign hikers who visit the park every year.
Source - The Thaiger

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Thailand tightens the screws on TM30 reporting, petition ongoing

Nearly 5,000 Thai expats have now signed a petition pleading for modification or abolition of the TM30 immigration form. The well-organised petition calling for changes to the form is an unusual step for expats who, most of the time, keep their head down and out of the daily operations of the Land of Smiles.

For its part, Thai Immigration says it is simply robustly applying Sections 37 and 38 of the Thai immigration act to “strengthen security” and keep tabs on foreigners whilst in the country.

But the ‘robust application’ is causing headlines the Immigration Department would rather not see and is prompting panel discussions, YouTube interviews and online pleads from well-known bloggers and long-termers. There is one discussion planned for the Foreign Correspondents Club this Thursday.

The petition, whilst politely written, is not likely to succeed. The inconveniences to some locals needing to report their whereabouts when changing their reported address, will be outweighed by the need for national security.

That a group of foreigners could possibly change Thai laws to make things more convenient and useful, is also inconceivable. Even if there was some minor adjustment to the laws it could take years.
Bottomline, don’t get your hopes up.

In the meantime, the inconvenience of Section 37 will remain a clear and present annoyance. There has been no shortage of people spraying the internet with their individual problems and examples and the 24 hour reporting will certainly affect some expats more than others, especially travelling business-people whose movement around Thailand is just part of their work.

Tourists are not affected as the onus of reporting locations whilst on holiday is the responsibility of hotels and landlords.

The issue is being presented in the international media as a nail in the coffin for long-term living in Thailand. The reality is that expat numbers continue to rise although the demographic is evolving to the chagrin of many European, Australian and American expats who seem particularly aggrieved by the enforcement and have made their voices heard – through signing the petition and sharing their strongly-held feelings on various forums online.
The other issue angering or confusing expats is that, like many other immigration laws, the enforcement of the clauses continues to be patchy around the Kingdom – they really don’t know how, or if, it’s going to be enforced in their case. For the short-term we would recommend you play by the rules to avoid any unpleasant fines or surprises. If you have any queries it is best to visit an Immigration Office and ask questions to find out how it applies to your visa and situation.

Don Ross from shares some thoughts on how the laws could be changed…
“The director-general (usually the chief of police) can make changes to clauses 3 and 4. The DG can also through the Immigration Commission recommend a new ministerial regulation that updates the two clauses to make them more in tune with today’s online realities.

One possible change would be to stipulate that clause 4 reporting only kicks in after 72 hours away from home, rather than 24 hours. It would allow thousands of expatriates who are long-stay or retirees to visit other provinces for up to three days without triggering a clause 4 reporting hassle.”

If you want to read and sign the petition click HERE.

Source - The Thaiger

Saturday, 10 August 2019

#Laos Saw More Chinese, Less Korean Tourists in Past Six Months

The number of tourists visiting Laos has increased 5 percent in the past six months thanks to a rise in the number of Chinese visitors.

More than 2.2 million people visited Laos between January and June, according to Laos’s Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

The number of Chinese visitors jumped by 13 percent while that of Vietnamese visitors increased by 11 percent. The number of visitors from Thailand also rose by 1 percent.

Vientiane Times quoted an unnamed government official as saying that he believed visitor numbers were up because of the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign.

However, the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent while that of Japanese visitors sank by 13 percent.

The official told Vientiane Times that the decline in arrivals from some countries was due to circumstances beyond the authorities’ control.

“Some people stayed away because they were unsure of the quality of services here. And although Laos has many enticing tourism products there are several inconveniences, such as poor road access to tourist sites,” the official added.

Laos attracted more than 4.1 million foreign tourists last year, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. Tourism generated revenue of more than USD 755 million in 2018.

Meanwhile, it is expected that at least 4.5 million people will visit Laos this year, generating revenue of more than USD 700 million.
More Chinese tourist expected

Officials believe that, out of 4.5 million expected tourists, 1 million would come from China.

To achieve such a goal, Laos is currently intensifying its efforts to improve services and create more facilities for visitors.

Vang Vieng, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Laos, for instance, has improved the quality of services and made changes to the price of food, accommodation, and the fees charged at tourist attractions.

In Luang Prabang, meanwhile, restaurants have added Chinese dishes to their menus and installed signs written in Chinese at popular tourist sites.

As for Luang Namtha Province, the authorities are encouraging officials to supply useful information to Chinese visitors.

There have also been some other positive developments that might boost the number of Chinese visitors to Laos.

Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) has recently teamed up with Chinese payment service provider UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out new QR code payment services in Laos.

The move will enable UnionPay app users to make payments by scanning QR codes at local stores in the country.

UnionPay currently operates one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, and this means BCEL’s collaboration with UPI would help Laos’s local businesses to reach out to more Chinese visitors, who make up one of the largest sources of tourists.

Separately, Thailand is currently preparing to launch the country’s first bullet train that will run between Bangkok and Beijing, China, with Laos as one of the intermediate stations.

In particular, the first route, a Thai-Sino project linking Bangkok, Nong Khai, Laos and a Chinese city Mohan in the far Northeast, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Where are the Koreans?

Laos has been one of the most popular destinations for South Korean tourists thanks to the reality TV show, “Youth Over Flowers,” which aired in 2014.

The number of visitors from South Korea to Laos grew in 2015 and 2016, finally beginning to plateau in 2017. The overall market share of South Korea rose to 4.4 percent in 2017, however, according to a report by Laos’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The number jumped from 96,085 in 2014 to 170,571 in 2017.

However, local tourism experts have repeatedly suggested that such a number is decreasing, but there had been no official number released by the Lao government until now.

Confirmation from the tourism ministry that the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent in the first six months is therefore highly significant.

One Vientiane-based tourism expert cited a lack of promotional efforts as one of the reasons to contribute to the drop in such number.

“The TV show that led to the surge came out five years ago. Out of sight, out of mind. No one made any more major Korean TV shows or films, to my knowledge,” the expert told The Laotian Times.

As he pointed out, several South Korean broadcasters released similar shows to repeat the success of “Youth Over Flowers,” but none of them was able to attract similar viewer numbers.

The expert also noted that not enough has been done to promote and encourage people to return to Laos.

According to the latest survey conducted by the tourism ministry, only 7.9 percent of respondents said it was their returning visit to Laos. In contrast, first-time visitors accounted for 75.2 percent.
Time for a Diversification?

The Lao government invited 12 representatives from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and South Korea to Bolikhamxay and Khammouane provinces, in a bid to promote other parts of the country.

The familiarization trip to the two provinces took place between July 12 and 17 and was designed to publicize some of Laos’ tourist attractions and encourage the tour operators to include some of these locations in their package tours.

It marked the Lao government’s latest effort to promote lesser-known tourist sites to foreigners, and this work is expected to continue in the coming years.

Source - The Laotian Times

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Thailand set to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese and Indians

Thailand to open up visa-free stays

BANGKOK, 7 August 2019: As China and India emerge as priority targets for Thailand’s latest tourism promotions, visa-free-travel is back on the table for urgent consideration.
Last week, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, told Prachachat Business he intends to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese and Indians later this year.
Currently, citizens of both countries need to apply for a visa-on-arrival although the THB2,000 service fee has been waived until October this year.
The new minister says all that might change with both countries joining a long list of countries that enjoy visa-free entry for a stay of 14 days, possibly as early as 1 November.
This year’s target for tourism revenue, including domestic travel, has been set at THB3.4 trillion. Earnings from international tourists will reach around THB2.2 trillion while tourist arrivals should exceed 40.5 million.
The move is part of a broader policy to increase tourism revenue and reverse the slow down in the tourism growth rate.
Pipat says the Chinese market could still deliver as many as 11 million tourists this year up from 10.5 million. While tourist arrivals from India in 2018 reached 1.5 million, making it the sixth-largest source of visitors. The growth rate was an impressive 27% over 2017.
The latest proposal will introduce a one-year pilot project offering Chinese and Indian tourists visa-free entry starting 1 November, a day after the current Visa-on-Arrival project ends.
Pipat told Prachachat Business: “This time I would like to propose visa-free travel, not a free Visa-on-Arrival. I believe it would stimulate the tourism industry and result in a much stronger conclusion for the high season later this year.”
Source - ThaiVisa

Monday, 1 July 2019

Laos - New Road Connects Thai Border to Luang Prabang, Reduces Travel Time

A new sealed road from the Thai border to the Lao province of Luang Prabang has opened to traffic, reducing travel time from Nan province to Luang Prabang from nine to five hours.

Perames Vudthitornetiraks, president of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, said on Thursday that the new 114-kilometre road runs from Hongsa district in northwestern Laos to Luang Prabang, extending the road network from the Huai Kon border checkpoint in Nan province to Luang Prabang.

The two-lane road shortens the trip from Nan to Luang Prabang from nine to five hours. It is expected to draw 10-20% more visitors to the two Thai and Lao provinces, especially from China, Vietnam and Europe, he said.

Construction cost 1.98 billion baht. Thailand contributed 395.4 million baht towards it and provided a soft loan of 1.58 billion baht, accounting for 80% of the cost.

Pheng Douangngeun, director-general of the Lao Department of Roads, said local communities had long wanted the new road, which made for more convenient transport and gave access to natural tourist attractions along the route.
Source - Laotian Times

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Miracle of 'Wild Boars' rescue transforms Thai cave into tourist draw

Tourists snap selfies by a bronze statue of the diver who died trying to save the 'Wild Boars' football team from a flooded cave, while momentos from their rescue fly off the shelves -- scooped up by the 1.3 million people who have descended on a once serene mountainside in northern Thailand.

"It's amazing what happened here. I followed everything from Australia," tourist John McGowan told AFP after taking photos at the visitor centre around 100 metres from the Tham Luang cave entrance.

"I wanted to see it with my own eyes," the 60-year-old said, adding he was a little disappointed the cave is still off limits to visitors.

For a few dollars tourists can get framed photos at the site, pick up posters of the footballers and take home a souvenir t-shirt  -- some printed with the face of Saman Gunan the Thai diver who died in the bid to save the group.

There has been extraordinary global interest in the picturesque rural backwater of Mae Sai since 12 youngsters -- aged between 11 and 16 -- and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave on June 23, 2018.

They quickly became trapped by rising water levels and the daring, unprecedented mission to extract them through twisting flooded passageways captivated the world for 18 nail-biting days.

When they emerged -- after being heavily sedated and manoeuvered out by expert divers -- they did so into the centre of a global media frenzy.

The cave, which previously received around 5,000 visitors a year, has since been inundated by visitors both Thai and foreign.

"A miracle has happened here with these children," Singaporean tourist Cheong, giving one name, said but adding Tham Luang "must still have a spiritual side" despite the mass popularity.

                            Dating with thai girls
- Tragedy and luck -

Mae Sai district, where the cave is located, was considered off the beaten track for foreign visitors. 

But between October 2018 and April this year alone "1.3 million people visited," site manager Kawee Prasomphol told AFP.

The government now has big plans for the area around the storied cave, Kawee added, allocating a total of 50 million baht ($1.6 million) including a shopping complex, restaurants, hotels and several campsites outside the national park.

Vans disgorge streams of tourists who explore a visitor hub where the centrepiece is a mural entitled "The Heroes".

It depicts the young footballers, stars of the rescue, and junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha -- a reminder of the governmental fingerprints in aiding their cause.

At the heart of the mural is the beaming face of Saman Gunan, the Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out off oxygen attempting to establish an air line to the children and their coach -- the only fatality across the near three-week rescue mission. 

Laying white flowers at the foot of his bronze statue, Thai nurse Sumalee, who travelled four hours to the site, described him as "the hero of the whole country" in a sobering reminder of the risks involved in the rescue amid the blizzard of marketing opportunities now attached to the cave story. 

Nearby lottery ticket vendors are capitalising on the perceived good fortune linked to the boys' survival and the folkloric appeal of a nearby shrine. The number of stalls has mushroomed from a few dozen to around 250. 

Kraingkrai Kamsuwan, 60, who moved his stall to the site weeks after the rescue, sells 4,000 tickets a month ($2.5) but reckons more will visitors will arrive once the cave reopens. 
He told AFP: "People want to gamble after wishing for luck from the shrine."

Source - TheJakartaPost

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Bangkok Tour Guide

Are you new in Bangkok and searching for a tour guide?

I am available for singles or small groups

Hi, I am Peter and I live in Bangkok for many years already. I can show you places you have seen never before !

Do you like shopping, temples and/or the buzzing nightlife?

I'm available for 2.500 Bath daily p.p.*

and I speak several languages. 

You can email me or reach me on LINE

Tell me your wishes in a mail.

It is possible to visit me in my office in Udomsuk, Bangkok

to discuss your traveling desires in person !

I can also pick you up at your hotel !!

Ok, see you around, have a nice time !


Line ID = peter.bangkok

(*exclusive of BTS and Taxis)

Payments should be done in advance to my bank account, thank you !

Booking your Flight, Hotel or Resort now