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Funeral of late King of Thailand: what consequences on transport ?

As you may already know the cremation ceremonies for Thailand late King will take place on 25-29 October. Many people will come to attend the event and many roads in Bangkok will be closed for the occasion. This will have some consequences on transport, in Bangkok of course, but also on long distance buses to and from Bangkok.

If you plan to take a bus to or from Bangkok to another destination such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao islands, read this article carefully to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Routards Thailande

 

Impact on public transport in Bangkok

Of course, there will be a lot of people in Bangkok public transport on those days. Most operators have announced free service at least on October 26, the day of King’s Cremation.

  • Airport Rail Link, which connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok, will be free from 25 to 27 October.
  • The BTS, Bangkok Skytrain, will be free on October 26th. And free on October 25 and 27 but only on the extensions of On Nut at Samrong station and Wongwian Yai at Bang Wa.
  • The MRT, underground subway in Bangkok, will be free on 26 October. On 25 and 27 October, only the Purple Line will be free.
  • The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will be free from 25 to 27 October on the Sathorn-Ratchaphruek road.
  • The Bangkok Transportation Authority has planned more public buses and free shuttles to Sanam Luang, the venue for ceremonies, on 32 routes.
  • There will be free shuttles from Suvarnabhumi airport to Nang Loeng 1 km from Sanam Luang from 19 th to 30 th October and free shuttles from Don Muang but from 23 to 31 October.
  • Ferries across the Chao Phraya River from Phran Nok Pier to Tha Chang Pier will be free.
    Phra Athit (Khao San), Tha Chang (Grand Palais) and Tha Rajinee will be closed from 25th to 27th of October, the boats of Chao Phraya Express will not stop there.
  • On October 26, using the Chao Phraya Express boats will be free of charge from the Sathorn Pier (connection with BTS) to Phran Nok Pier and Phran Nok Pier to Nonthaburi Pier.
  • On the 26th, the Klong Saen Saep boats will also be free.
  • Buses S1 (from Suvarnabhumi) and A4 (from Don Muang) connecting Bangkok’s airports to Khao San Road will circulate but will stop at the Lanluang Intersection (near Wat Saket).

This is not part of the official information but with the crowd coming from all Thailand and many major roads closed (see list below), traffic in Bangkok will probably be a nightmare ! Especially on the 26th. Avoid taxis and prefer metros which should be very very busy too. Traveling to Bangkok and getting around the city will be long and difficult especially when you approach the Grand Palais.

 

Impact on long-distance transport to and from Bangkok

A large crowd in transports to Bangkok

One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of people in all the transports that lead to Bangkok, with many many people expected to come to Bangkok to attend the King’s funeral.

Trains and buses will probably be overcrowded. As I advised you before (now, I think it’s maybe a little late), if you plan to travel to or from Bangkok on October 24-30, book tickets online in advance to make sure you have a seat and to have updated information.

State Railay of Thailand and Transport Co Ltd, the government bus company, announced the addition of trains and buses.

 

No departure from Khao San Road

IMPORTANT: roads closed during ceremonies will prevent any departure of buses or vans from Khao San Road from 24 to 30 October.

  • Giant Ibis has already announced by e-mail to its customers, the cancellation of its buses between Bangkok and Cambodia in both directions from 25 to 29 October. The government buses that leave from Mo Chit circulate as normal.
  • From 24th to 29th October, Lomprayah bus + ferry packages to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao that depart and arrive normally in Khao San,  will depart and arrive at Phuttamonthon 2 Lomprayah station (about 30 kilometers from Bangkok – GPS: 13.779423, 100.395042)
  • From 23 to 29 October, the Songserm buses + ferry packages will leave them from Hua Lamphong train station
  • On the same dates, it seems that Krungsiam Tour buses  to the islands (Samui, Phangan, Tao) and departing from Ratchadamnoen Avenue are canceled.

So if you had booked a transport departing from Khao San, contact the company or the booking website to find out if your trip is maintained and if so, to know from where it will leave.

There are probably other changes or cancellations. Here are the ones that I’m aware of at the moment. I will update this post…

 

Roads closed in Bangkok

Here is the list of roads and streets that will be closed during the ceremonies from October 25th to 29th. No details on the closing times for now.

closed roads bangkok

 

More time to reach Bangkok airport

Traffic in and around Bangkok will be very dense with possible long trafic jams, so transfer times to and from the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports can be considerably longer.

Plan more time to reach Bangkok airports and bus terminals and favor the subways and especially the Airport Rail Link even if it will probably be very crowded too.

Again, I will update this article as soon as I have new information but to miss nothing, it is better to subscribe or to regularly check my Twitter account.

One thing is for sure, if you have the opportunity, it’s better to be away from Bangkok on those days. Getting around, leaving or reaching the capital will be complicated. And if you want to attend the ceremonies, you’ll be better in front of the television, you’ll see better and will be safer.


Cremation of the King of Thailand (25-29 October 2017): advice for tourists

The ceremonies of the cremation of late King of Thailand who died in last October will take place in a little more than one month and will have an impact on the stay of travelers visiting Bangkok at that time. There was no official announcement yet with instructions and advice for tourists but as the date is approaching and some of you are preparing their trip to Thailand, here are some recommendations and projections that I think can be helpful if you plan to be in Bangkok at the end of October 2017. Nothing official but I wrote this article after a few unformal exchanges with TAT officers and Bangkokians who were present to last year big tribute.

king of Thailand

 

Cremation ceremonies in Bangkok

The day of cremation will be October 26, 2017 at Sanam Luang, the large esplanade in front of the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, but the ceremonies will last from 25 to 29 October 2017. For those who would like to go there, I will detail later the exact program of the ceremonies when it will be official.

 

Impact on visiting Bangkok

Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) will certainly be closed from 25 to 29 October or even longer even there was no official confirmation yet.

UPDATE (21/09/2017) : it is official now, Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha will be closed from October 1st to October 29.

wat phra kaew bangkok

Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace will probably be closed to visit

Wat Pho will probably be more difficult to access or even closed to visit too due to its proximity to the location where cremation ceremonies will take place. But once again nothing official yet. But reaching the temple will certainly be challenging anyway.

So better do not plan to visit this part of Bangkok from 25 to 29 October 2017.

 

Transport and traffic in Bangkok

It has already been announced in the news that  Chao Phraya Express boats will not stop at Tha Chang, Tha Phra Arthit and Tha Rajinee stations near the Grand Palace and Khao San on those days. Oddly Tha Tien, close to Wat Pho, was not mentioned (you can find a map of the Chao Phraya Express stops here).

Bangkok Chao Phraya express

Chao Phraya Express stops near the Grand Palais will be closed from 25 to 29 October 2017

Many Thai people will be traveling all over the country to be closer to the event even though the crematorium at Sanam Luang will probably only be accessible to officials. Traffic in Bangkok should be even more congested than usual, especially around the Great Palace, due to the crowd and security measures.

Subways and buses in Bangkok are also expected to experience record traffic and buses and taxis to be longer stuck in traffic. In short, there will certainly be a very huge crowd because the date of cremation is known for months and many Thais plan to come. The hotels near Sanam Luang have been sold out for months.

If you have to fly from one of the two airports in Bangkok between 26 and 29 October 2017, you can easily add one hour to what you would normally do and it is probably to prefer Suvarnabhumi even for domestic flights (Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways ) since it is accessible by metro which avoids the traffic jams.

 

Should we avoid Bangkok during those days ?

Avoid Bangkok maybe not but unless you want to attend this historical moment, avoid the area of Grand Palace and Wat Pho, yes ! For the reasons I mentioned above, traffic jams, big crowd, Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew probably closed, Wat Pho also closed or difficult access, security checkpoints…

You should be able to visit the rest of Bangkok without difficulty except maybe longer time to reach each monument.

Anyway, I think, it is better to plan to visit Bangkok  after the cremation to have access to all the main landmark of Bangkok.

Elsewhere in Bangkok, there should be some shops closed, their owners attending the cremation, bars will probably be asked to stop loud music and maybe close earlier (in Bangkok but also throughout Thailand but it will certainly be more followed in Bangkok).

If you decide to attend the King’s cremation, respect the mourning and dress in black. Have your passport on you all the time for security checkpoints.

 

If you have to go to Bangkok, book in advance !

There should be many provincials joining Bangkok for the occasion so a lot of people in trains, planes (some companies have already announced special rates) and buses heading to Bangkok on 24-25 -26 October 2017 and many people on buses, trains and planes departing from Bangkok the following days.

If you have to travel on those days, it is better to book your in advance. Personally, I tested and advised to book online on this website for bus and train and directly on airlines’ websites for flights.

The hotels in the Khao San area close to Sanam Luang are probably already in high demand, so if you want to stay in this area, book now through Booking, Agoda or directly. If you do not intend to attend the ceremonies, it is better to choose accommodation away from this area, you will be able to circulate more easily.

If you stay in Bangkok during this period, have your passport on you all the time, there will be security checks especially around the Sanam Luang.

 

Replicas in 85 cities in Thailand

There will be replicas of the royal crematorium in 25 cities of Thailand. I only know the location of the one in Chiang Mai (International Exhibition and Convention Center) but there will probably also be a lot of trafic and people around the places where they will be installed.

In general, the country will probably be not very active on October 26 since many people will follow the ceremonies on television. The day has also been declared a holiday. It means that administrations (including immigration offices) and banks will be closed. But transport will run as normal. Additional buses and trains will probably be set up to transport all the mourners. Again, if you have to travel by plane or bus, train to or from Bangkok at the end of October, book now to make sure you have a seat or sleeper.

As soon as I know more about the program of ceremonies and its “tourist consequences” or that official instructions for tourists have been officially published, I will relay them to you here and on Facebook and Twitter.


Rainy season, the best time to visit Northern Thailand

Often when they plan their first trip in Thailand, people try to avoid traveling during the rainy season. But this is the time of year when the Northern landscapes are the most beautiful. And Thais know it ! Many go visit the mountains of the upper part of the country at this time of the year (June to end October).

terraced rice fields Thailand

When nature wakes up…

With the monsoon, nature revives, verdigrates, proliferates, rice is planted (generally around the beginning or mid-July) in the mountains, the waterfalls often dry after months with almost no rain re-fill water…

waterfall thailand

Who likes nature, likes the rainy season that optimists people call the “green season”. If the green season begins in May, it takes a little time to the rainfall to produce effects but the nature should have recovered its most beautiful assets to welcome you at the end of June. It is also, for me, from July to the end of September that the North of Thailand will offer you its most beautiful face.

The treks lovers will also prefer to come to travel in Thailand these months. Nature is so much more abundant and more alive!

Skies filling up with clouds are also often more beautiful. They change very quickly and can sometimes be very spectacular and are, whatever happens, so much less annoying than a blue monochrome sky.

thailand sky

 

The rice season

The rainy season is also the rice fields season. As soon as rice is replanted, the valleys and certain mountains get these little green spots in waters where the sky reflects. And the more the rice grows, the more intense emerald green will the landscapes become before turning to yellow a little before the harvest (usually in late October).

thai rice fields

Thai Rice fiels in July

In the plains of Isan or in the mountains of Chiang Mai up to Mae Hong Son via Chiang Rai, green will be the trending color. And if you are open and curious, locals will probably invite you to participate to the rice planting. This year I planted rice in a Karen village in Chiang Mai mountains, in the plain of Chiang Dao and near Lampang. Each time with a slightly different technique. And I intend to participate in the harvest in a few weeks.

planting rice in Thailand

In July, on dates depending on rainfalls, terraced rice paddies in Chiang Mai mountains probably offer their most photogenic face with their long terraces with rice plants looking like they were planted in a piece of sky, while the water around them reflect the clouds and sun.

And since I am nice guy, I give you my best plan to enjoy it: go up to Ban Pa Pong Piang on Doi Inthanon 90 km from Chiang Mai. That is what I did a few days ago (see here).

Ban Pa Pong Piang

Ban Pa Pong Piang mid-September

In the countryside of Pai or Mae Hong Son also the rice fields will offer you beautiful landscapes at this time of year as well as just at the exit of Chiang Mai or Chiang Dao which is also a destination I advise you to visit during the “green season”. And of course, don’t forget Isan, northeast of Thailand, the most rural region of the country where the rice fields and crops will spray the valleys with their green colors.

 

But the rainy season anyway…

Then, of course, who says monsoon, says big rain showers from time to time that sometimes flow without warning and can block you one or two hours, rarely more, in a shelter found in a hurry.

Yes, often the rivers waters are more brown than clear, yes, sometimes there are floods for a day or two, yes, you can find yourself drenched to the bone in a few minutes and have to change your plans because of the rain… but there are many compensations that I am sure will make you forget  about it. Just do not plan everything in advance, know how to improvise, it is often how we make superb discoveries … and be equipped for the rain.

It is not that Northern Thailand is not interesting in the “dry season”, it is just that it offers facets and unique experiences when the rains come back and reinvigorate it …

 


Ban Pa Pong Piang, the most beautiful rice terraces in Thailand

The small hamlet of Ban Pa Pong Piang lost in the mountains of the Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai province undoubtedly offers one of the most beautiful rice terraces in Thailand, if not the most beautiful ones. I was there 4 days ago. Let me explain you everything you need to know go there and enjoy it !

ban pa pong piang

Beautiful scenery of Ban Pa Pong Piang at the beginning of September

 

Ban Pa Pong Piang and its terraced rice fields

After a long journey by local transport which I will explain in detail later in this article, here there are: Ban Pa Pong Piang rice terraces that I can watch from Ban Nong Nam Pu wooden house the my guesthouse for the night. The view is just beautiful with the terraced rice fields and a mountain range in the background.

ban pa pong piang rice terraces thailand

Ban Pa Pong Piang rice terraces (the view from the terrace in front of my room)

I can see the rain is coming but I still decide to walk on the labyrinth of the slopes of the rice fields. After a one hour heavy downpour, I resume my walk. The rice is fairly high and has an intense green almost fluorescent color. The sky is loaded with clouds that drop a little drizzle on me but nothing that can restrain me from enjoying the scenery.

rice terraces chiang mai

We can clearly see the rain in the distance that inexorably comes closer . Mai pen rai 😉

rizieres escaliers thailande

The afternoon moves forward and I see some couples descending into the rice paddies and photographing each other. AL of them are Thai. The majority of the visitors who come here are local tourists. Not a lot foreigners know about this place.

ban pa pong piang selfie

The next morning, I woke up at 6:30 am, the weather is a little bit less covered so I rush in the rices fields again for more pictures.

chiang mai rice terraces thailand

 

Accommodation in Ban Pa Pong Piang

If it is possible to come stay a few hours to see the rice fields and go back to Chiang Mai on the same day (but not with local transport, it would be too tiring), you will only really know what Baan Pa Bong Piang is by passing the night here. This will give you a chance to see the sunset exactly in front of the huts of most guesthouses. Considering the weather my sunset was not that nice but you may be more lucky when you come.

ban pa pong piang sunset

There are a few guesthouses in Ban Pa Pong Piang , I stayed at Ban Nong Nam Phu but not really by choice, it was the only one that had room (I called 2 others before). Because that is the main difficulty to come here: find a room available.

In any case all accommodations in Baan Pa Pong Piang are almost the same, they are all in wooden cabanons on the mountain flanks with a terrace that overlooks the rice fields and small rooms with mattresses on the floor and a mosquito net and a small shed outside hosting a common bathroom (usually for 2 bedrooms) with Turkish toilets and a large barrel of water with a small basin with a handle to shower. No electricity, at night they give you candles that you dispose of as you want. So if you are looking for comfort, this is not the place for you 😉

guesthouse ban pa pong piang

The rooms are very basic but you come here for the view not for the comfort;)

guest house ban pa pong piang

guesthouse ban pas pong piang

All rooms at Ban Pa Pong Piang are at the same price: 500 THB per person per night (so if 2 people in the same room, it will be 1000 THB), this price includes dinner and breakfast (rice soup).

ban pa pong piang dinner

Dinner is served ! 😉

There are very few accommodation options up there and each has a small number of rooms, I put on this page the guesthouses of Ban Pa Pong Piang. Book your room in advance especially if you plan to go on weekends or holidays !

Coming to Ban Pa Pong Piang by booking a guesthouse is the best way to come safely. They will take care of sending you a 4×4 car to pick you up for the last few kilometers.

 

When to come to Ban Pa Pong Piang ?

What makes the charm of Ban Pa Pong Piang is its rice fields so it is only interesting to come when the rice is planted ie from early-mid-July to late October early November. The rest of the year,  they do not welcome visitors. The guesthouses are closed.

And for me the most photogenic moment, it is probably at the beginning, right after the rice is planted around mid-July (the date depends on the rainfalls) when the rice is still quite short and the rice fields full of water with the sky and the clouds reflected in it. I had seen it during my small weekend in July in another mountain with rice terraces. And by coming at this time, you will also be able to participate and plant rice with the locals.

rice fields chiang mai

The rice fields just after the rice paddy in July 2017 (in another mountain near Chiang Mai)

 

Getting to Ban Pa Pong Piang from Chiang Mai

A beautiful landscape like that, you have to deserve it!  Coming by local transport from Chiang Mai may seem complicated but it is mainly long (3h30 minimum), it is the cheapest option of course but also the longest and the least comfortable one. This is obviously the one I have chosen to be able to explain it to you in detail.

Coming by local transportation from Chiang Mai

The journey takes place in 3 stages. First you have to go to “Pratu Chiang Mai” one of the 4 gates of the central square of Chiang Mai city. This is the gate next to Saturday Walking Street for those who know it. Otherwise, say “Pratu Chiang Mai” to a tuk-tuk or a red car, he will know where to bring you.

From there, yellow cars (songthaews) to Chom Thong depart every 20 minutes or so,Take it. Make sure it goes to Chom Thong before climbing in as there are several yellow cars . Mine was parked almost exactly in front of “Pratu Chiang Mai” but ask the driver to be sure. (35 THB per person you pay when you arrive)

songthaew chiang mai chom thong

Yellow car (songthaew) from Chiang Mai to Chom Thong

After about one hour and a half, you will arrive in Chom Thong and will be dropped off thirty meters from the main temple, right in front of the market, to a small bus station to take a second yellow car to Mae Chaem.

bus station chom thong

Local bus station in Chom Thong

horraires bus locaux mae chaem

Departure Times for Mae Chaem

Be careful, for this one, there are departures only every 2 hours (see picture) . In order to not spend too much time waiting but still have enough margin to be sure to not to miss the 2nd yellow car, I advise you to leave from Pratu Chiang Mai 2 hours before the time of the 2nd yellow car that you want to take. As for me the best is to leave Chiang Mai at 9:30 am and take the 11:30 am yellow songthaew to Mae Chaem.

Please tell the driver that you are going to Ban Pa Pong Piang (or tell him ‘Namtok Mae Pan’) . After another 1h30 journey on a winding mountain road you will be dropped on the road.

local bus chom thong mae chaem

You will be dropped off at an intersection: on the left, the road to Mae Chaem, on the right, the road to the Mae Pan waterfall which is a few kilometers before Ban Pa Pong Piang (70 THB per person) . This is where you will pick up by a 4×4 car sent by your guesthouse.

Mae Pan Waterfall intersection

The yellow car will leave you there. The guesthouse will send a pickup to pick you up here.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, in your ascent in the 2nd yellow car, you will pass Doi Inthanon National Park checkpoints, the entrance fee is normally 300 THB per adult and 150 THB per child but by taking this mode of transport, you will not be asked to pay it. I think that even if you come by your own and tell that you go to Ban Pa Pong Piang, you can go through without paying. But I am not sure. When you arrive at the 2nd checkpoint, make a call to your guesthouse to ask them to send the pickup to take you at the intersection you will be dropped to (it avoids waiting too long).

The price of the pickup that will take you on the last kilometers is 700 THB for a round trip regardless of the number of passengers (you will pay the driver when you leave Ban Pa Pong Piang). You may be lucky enough to have other people doing the same route as you, which will divide the price. It may sound expensive but when you see the state of the last 2.5 kilometers on a rugged and muddy road, you will not regret taking a seat in this 4×4 with a driver used to drive here!

 

Coming by car, motorbike or van

Coming by public transport as I explained takes around 4 hours. It is long and not always very pleasant. For more comfort you can hire a car or a minivan with driver to take you to the Mae Pan waterfall and then ask the guesthouse to send a pickup to pick you up there. It should take you around 2 hours from Chiang Mai to reach the waterfall.

Most travel agencies can find you a car or a van with driver. It should cost around 2,000 THB (about 50 €) per day so 4.000 THB if you sleep one night over there.

You can of course make the same trip with a rental car or scooter but leave them at the car park of the Mae Pan waterfall and take the vehicle with driver sent by your guesthouse to finish your journey. You risk getting bogged down or even worse by venturing by yourself on the last 2-3 kilometers.

The road on the last few kilometers and still it's not the worst part...

 

Small tips and advice if you sleep up there

Avoid coming to Ban Pa Pong Pieng on weekends and holidays, it’s full weeks in advance, coming here is very popular with Thai people. When I was there, 2 girls traveled from Bangkok by plane just to come to Ban Pa Pong Piang and go back. During the week days you will have more chances to find a room.

Bring something to cover (sweater, socks …), it can be cold especially at night. Take a flashlight and a powerbank to charge your cameras and smartphones because up there, it will not be possible.

If you like nature and mountains it is really an experience to live! 

Follow me on my Facebook page for more trips and tips in Thailand.


Domestic flights in Thailand at 25€ with Thai Smile

Thai Smile, is clearly the best low cost airline in Thailand. Currently they offer domestic flights at 1,000 THB (25 €) to travel in Thailand until the end of the month. An very good price for an excellent airline recently listed in the Top 10 of world’s best airlines by TripAdvisor’s users (and it’s also my favorite company in Thailand;)).

domestic flights thailand 25€ vol-chiang-mai-phuket vol-krabi-thai-smile vol-surat-thani-thai-smile

 

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS IN THAILAND AT 25 EUROS

As with all promotions, the number of tickets to 1,000 baht is limited and is more rare on the most tourist destinations. To qualify for this award, you must book by September 15 on the Thai Smile website .

Please note that promotion to 1,000 THB on domestic flights to and from Bangkok applies only on flights until 30 September . So this is for those who want to travel this month.

Otherwise, there are good prices on flights between Phuket and Chiang Mai (37 euros) and flights to Siem Reap to see the temples of Angkor in Cambodia (57 euros) .

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – PHUKET AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – KRABI FROM 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – SURAT THANI AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – CHIANG MAI AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – CHIANG RAI AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – UDON THANI AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – UBON RATCHATHANI AT 1.000 THB

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – KHON KAEN AT 1.000 THB

 

FLIGHTS PHUKET – CHIANG MAI AT 1.450 THB (37€)
flights phuket chiang mai

FLIGHTS BANGKOK – SIEM REAP AT 2.280 THB (57€)
flight bangkok siem reap

At last minute with 20 kilos of luggage included, you will not find much cheaper even with the other low cost airlines operating in Thailand which do not have the same level of quality of service especially on board.

Thai Smile also has the advantage of operating from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok easy to reach by subway with the Airport Rail Link and convenient to connect with an international flight without changing airport.

Too bad that it only concerns flights in September except for the last 2 offers that apply on flights until the end of November.

We will see next month if Thai Smile have new promotions. If so, I will share them on the Thailandee’s Facebook page like all the interesting promotions I see.


Very cheap domestic flights tickets in Thailand by Air Asia

A few years ago Air Asia had only one Big Sale a year but that was before ! Today the airline among the 3 most popular low cost airlines in Thailand launched a new edition of its big promotion offer. And as usual, it is for those who prepare their trips months in advance since these very cheap fares only apply on flights from 1 March 2018.

air asia promotion thailand

 

Air Asia’s BIG SALE

This new promotion announces 5,000,000 flights at discounted prices (on all Air Asia routes not on domestic flights in Thailand). In fact, Air Asia, for this promotion announces only charging travelers with the taxes (fuel taxes, airport taxes and VAT). So hard to find cheaper.

By cons no luggage in the hold at these prices. It only includes a 7 kg of cabin luggage. For a storage luggage, you will have to add an additional 366 THB and then the offer can comes close to what Thai Lion Air can offer with 15 kilos of luggage.

The promotion started this morning and ends on September 17th. Obviously the more time goes the less there will be seats at promotional prices.

Please note that this offer is only valid for flights between March 1st and November 21st 2018. So it is mainly interesting for those who are already preparing their trip to Thailand in next spring or summer.

 

Flights to and from Bangkok

Air Asia operate from Don Muang, the second (in size) Bangkok airport.

cheap flights to bangkok thailand

 

Flights from/to Chiang Mai

Currently, Air Asia is the only company to offer direct flights from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani, convenient to get to the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao by combining their flights with a bus + ferry trip.

cheap flights Chiang Mai

 

Flights from/to Phuket

cheap flight phuket

 

Flights from/to Krabi

Air Asia is the only one offering Chiang Mai – Krabi direct flights.

cheap flights krabi

 

Flights from/to Pattaya

The nearest airport to Pattaya is Utapao.

cheap flight pattaya

 

Flights from/to Surat Thani

cheap flight tickets surat thani

 

Flights to/from Isan

cheap plane ubon ratchathani udon thaniKhon Kaen flights

Details, booking and conditions on Air Asia’s website.


Chiang Mai: massages and restaurant by women prisoners

If you go to Chiang Mai during your trip in Thailand, you will definitely be hungry and want a massage at one time or another. The city does not lack of restaurants and massage parlors but there is a place where you can eat or have a massage while doing a good action : the Women Correctional Institution Training Center. A name that is certainly a little long and not the most glamorous but lovely place with a restaurant and a massage parlor whose employees are inmates of Chiang Mai Women Prison.

Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute Massage

Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute Massage

 

The concept

The goal of this place is to help the women prisoners to make a fresh start in life after their release from prison. Each morning 25 of them leave Chiang Mai Women prison to go to this nice little institute in a wooden house with a small courtyard under a tree that hosts the restaurant’s outdoor tables. The place is charming and if you did not see the 5 guards (unarmed but expert in close combat according to what the manager told me ;)), this massage parlor and restaurant all quite “classical”.

Inmates who work there before returning each night to Chiang Mai Women’s Prison have been scrupulously selected and trained. Only those with a remaining penalty of less than 3 ½ years can integrate the program. They have to follow 300 hours of massage classes in prison and then the 150 hours class to obtain the masseuse certificate mandatory to practice this profession in Thailand They also learn to cook and serve in a restaurant and to speak English and Chinese (80% customers are Chinese). With test and evaluation at every step.

Prisoners who have successfully completed all the stages work here for 2 to 3 months and receive 50% of the money they generate, which corresponds on average wage between 14,000 and 17,000 THB monthly, when basic wage in Thailand is THB 10,000. This money will help them start a new life after prison.All of them are sure, if they want, to have a job as a masseuse and to be hired in the network of parlors in Chiang Mai who work with the center.

massages prisonnières chiang mai

 

The massage parlor

For 14 years that the place is open, the salon and its massages practiced by prisoners became an institution in Chiang Mai. Here you can only get body massage or foot massage (my favorite) for a rate of 200 THB per hour (the most common rate in Chiang Mai for one hour massage).

You can not make any appointment, you have to come and possibly queue and wait your turn sipping a drink at one of the tables of the restaurant for example. It is therefore advisable to come early in the morning. Around 10 am, there are already quite a lot of people…

Massage Rates

I did not take pictures from the inside to respect the privacy of the prisoners working there, we are not allowed to take pictures on which we can see the faces of the masseuses.

 

The restaurant

The restaurant offers a nice setting in the courtyard when it does not rain but also has an air-conditioned room. You can only come for breakfast or lunch as the center closes at 4.30 pm so too early to have dinner here.

At the restoraut, however, there is almost all the time table available. The prices are very reasonable. For example, right now, Pad Thai cost 45 baht.

restaurant  by prisoners chiang mai

The restaurant courtyard

There is also a small souvenir shop selling handicraft made by other prisoners in the prison’s workshops.

 

Where is Chiang Mai Women Correctional Training Center?

This small resort with massage parlor and restaurant is very easy to find. It is located in the city not far from the iconic temples of the city, just behind the Three Kings Monument, one of Chiang Mai’s most famous squares.

 

 

Women Correctional Training Center massage & restaurant
Open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm
and from Saturday to Sunday from 9 am to 4:30 pm
100 Rachawithi Road, Siriphum T, Muang Chiang Mai


4 amazing views in Thailand that you have to deserve !

In many trips around Thailand I always loved to climb mountains and stairs to see the landscape from some heights. And today, I present you 4 places in Thailand with amazing views over the surroundings that you can enjoy… after some effort ! 😉

amazing views thailand

 

The Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature Trail

krabi trail

View from the top of Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature trail

I start with Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature Trail, a trek near Krabi. After a 2 hours climb, the summit offers breathtaking views over the valley and Phang Nga Ba. And you will also find there the famous rock partly above the void on which almost all visitors sit, or stand up for the bravest, for a cult picture that is become ritual for all ascension up there.

The starting point of this trail is about 30 kilometers from the city of Krabi. You will find all the details to get there and make this trek on this page.

 

Wat Phu Tok

Wat phu Tok Udon

Wat Phu Tok is a temple but it is for its mountain and the wooden footbridges and stairs climbing around it in several levels a little like a video game that people come here.

You are often above the void trusting these wooden path that separate you from an impressive fall. And if you are not too impressed or subject to vertigo, take some time to look at the scenery around you, it is just superb!

Wat Phu Tok is located in the province of Bueng Khan in northeast Thailand near the border with Laos. You will find all the details to visit it on this page.

 

Wat Chalerm Phrakiat Phrachomklao Rachanuson

wat chaloem prajomklao lampang

This temple in Northern Thailand, two and a half hour drive from Chiang Mai has the double advantage of offering a magnificent view over the valley and being itself a superb view. With its elements scattered over the mountain peaks it is truly an amazing place. One of my favorite in this part of Thailand !

And if pickups take visitors to the mountain, it will then remain a quite sporty climb on steep paths, footbridges and metal stairs to reach the temple at the summit.

Wat Chalerm Phrakiat Phrachomklao Rachanuson is 65 km from Lampang. it is a 2-hour and 30 minutes drive from Chiang Mai. You will find all the details to visit it on this page.

 

The Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi

tiger cave temple

Even though the name of this temple refers to its cave, what the most courageous visitors remember of their visit here is the 360 degrees view over Krabi province from the top of a mountain peak on which sits a Buddha image and a small sanctuary and than can be reached after climbing … 1260 steps !

This is probably the most difficult climb of the 4 I present in this article. On your way up there, you will meet visitors going down who will wish you very sincerely “Good luck! “ .

Wat Tham Suea ( Tiger Cave Temple ) is located about 10 kilometers from the city of Krabi. You can find all the details to visit it on this page.

These 4 exceptional places are among my most memorable visits in Thailand and I have seen many many places in the Land of Smiles !

P.S: of course, if you are subject to vertigo, this article is not for you 😉


Thailand Traditional Thai boat races

Each year towards the end of the rainy season in Thailand, many cities organize traditional long-boat races festivals. Until then, I still never had the opportunity to attend one of them (last year’s Phimai festival that I intended to attend was canceled) but I will try to do it this year.

In this post, I give you the dates of the main longboat festivals in Thailand that will take place between September and the end of November.

Traditional boat races thailand

Photos: tourismthailand.org

 

Traditional longboat races in Thailand

This is logically when the water level of the rivers is the highest that these long Thai wooden boat races take place. Essentially in September and October but some of these festivals take place in November (Phimai Festival for instance).

It is one of the oldest traditional festivals in Thailand. The longboats, made entirely of wood, can measure up to 30 meters long and end with a long pointed nose typical of the traditional boats very present in Thai history and culture.

Long wooden boats finished with long decorated prows have also been used for centuries for royal processions. You can see these boats at the Royal Barges Museum in Bangkok.

The races are a lot like classical rowing competitions. The boats engage in the races and their the crew of rowers have to travel an average distance of 500 meters and cross the finishing line first to win of course.

 

Where to see these boat races in Thailand ?

The most popular destinations to watch these long boat race Festival in Thailand are Phichit (near Phitsanulok), it is usually this city that opens up the traditional boat racing season in Thailand, Phitsanulok , Nan, Chumphon, Buriram, Saraburi and Ayutthaya.

Personally, I recommend you to go to Phimai festival because in addition to the boat races, you also will have a nice sound and light show in the Khmer temple of the city every night and other entertainment. And I love this little town which is 3 hours drive from Bangkok.

Phimai Festival

Phimai Festival will be held from 8 to 12 November 2017

This year is a bit special. With the cremation of late King Bhumibol on October 26, 2017 at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, some of the festivals have been postponed or even canceled but here are the dates if you want to discover this tradition and live the fervor of the thai boat races.

  • Phichit: 2 to 3 September 2017
    On the Nan River in front of Wat Tha Luang Temple

  • Phitsanulok: 16 and 17 September 2017
    On the Nan River in front of Wat Phra Si  Rattana Mahathat temple (Wat Yai)
  • Phimai Festival 2017 : from 8 to 12 November
    On the Mun River. Boat races take place on the weekend and besides the races there is a  whole festival including a nice sound and light show in the Khmer temple of the city.
  • Buriram: normally the 1st weekend of November but no official date yet
  • Chumphon : postponed to November. No official date yet
  • Nan: in September but canceled this year (info TAT Phrae)
  • Ayutthaya: also canceled this year (info TAT Bangkok)

You can find all the dates in the Events and Festivals in Thailand” section of the site.

I will also put there the dates of the festivals which has no official dates for now as soon as the dates will be announced. And of course I publish it on my Twitter account.


Domestic flights in Thailand at 25 euros

The Thai Airways low cost little sister, Thai Smile is currently offering a promotion with flights between Bangkok and Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani and Isan at 990 baht TTC (25 €). A good deal considering that the quality of this company surpasses all other low cost airlines in Thailand. Good deal but only for a flight until September 30.

vol phuket 990 THB

 

Unbeatable value for money

You know, Thai Smile, is my favorite company for domestic flights in Thailand. The welcome, the interior decoration of the planes, the services on board, everything is a notch above other low cost airlines.

So at 25 € a ticket with 20 kg of luggage in the hold included, it is the best quality / price ratio that you can have. Perhaps Thai Lion Air can beat this price but it will be with only 15 kg of luggage and wtih a much less good onboard service.

Thai Smile has been named one of the top 10 companies in the world. This promotion offer is the perfect opportunity to test it. But be careful after flying with them you may have diificulties to take another company ! 😉

This offer only applies on flights until September 30th (and you must book on the airline’s website before August 30th). Good news, there are many places available at this rate !

As usual, I did tests and I confirm that there are places at this price on many dates. Further down, I put a few examples but there are a lot more dates…

 

Flights Bangkok – Phuket to 990 THB

avion phuket pas cher

 

Flights Bangkok – Krabi to 990 THB

avion pas cher krabi

 

Flights Bangkok – Chiang Mai to 990 THB

avion pas cher chiang mai

 

Flights Bangkok – Surat Thani at 990 THB

vol-bangkok-surat-thani-990-thb

There are other destinations: Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Ubon, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen … The advantage of Thai Smile is also that the flights take off from Suvarnabhumi airport easily accessible by metro. It also allows you to connect them with your flight to/from your home country without changing airport.


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