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Bye Bye Thailand Pass !

Thailand Pass will no longer be required for foreigners entering Thailand from 1st July 1 onwards. The CCSA, (Center for the Administration of the Situation of the Covid-19 in Thailand) decided this morning, June 17th, during its exceptional meeting, its suppression for everyone. The pass had already been discontinued for Thai nationals on June 1st but remained compulsory for foreigners. This will no longer be the case on July 1st but we have to wait for the publication of the order announcing it in the Royal Gazette for this to be completely official.

The end of Thailand Pass confirmed

Enter into force from November 1st, 2021, the Thailand Pass had succeeded COE (Certificate of Entry) and was marked the start of more flexible programs than the strict quarantine to start a trip in Thailand . Its conditions have been modified very often. Reinforced following the emergence of the Omicron variant then lightened by small successive touches until its suppression, on July 1st if everything got confirmed.

If no last minute twist (it has already happened), those who will enter Thailand from July 1st, 2002 will no longer have to present a Thailand Pass but will have to:

  • show proof that they are vaccinated
  • or show a negative for COVID-19 laboratory test result made less than 72 hours before their departure

Vaccination certificates or Laboratory test results before departure (can be PCR or ATK but no you need a laboratory result) will be verified by the airlines before boarding and verified again once arrived in Thailand .

The end of Thailand Pass will also lead to the end of the mandatory 10,000 USD cover insurance. But it remains recommended.

End of the compulsory mask wearing outside in Thailand

The end of the obligation to wear a mask outdoor  was also accepted during this morning’s meeting. It will apply throughout Thailand and not just to a few provinces as it was announced once. However, there will be recomended for people at risk and infected to wear a mask in the presence of other people and the mask will still be requested in “crowded” places or badly ventilated places like public transport, concerts ect … or when respecting social distancing is not possible.

Indoor, wearing the mask remains mandatory unless:

  • You are alone
  • You practice an activity incompatible with wearing a mask (eating, drinking, making exercise …)

End of temperature taking screening

The temperature screening or devices that we find almost everywhere in Thailand in the places welcoming the public will also disappear except in the places bringing together many people with social distancing being impossible.

One more forwards an endemic COVID-19 in Thailand

All these measures put Thailand forward the objective of declaring the COVID-19 as endemic.

I remind you, once again, that it only becomes completely official when it is published in the Royal Gazette. The decision process is: the CSSA approves or recommends new measures , the government Cabinet confirm them (or not) and they take effect only once published in the “Royal Gazette”. The publication of measures in the Gazette should only take place the last week of June. The next major CCSA meeting will take place on June 30.


In Thailand, to fight against COVID-19, authorities bet on this plant

While the 3rd wave of coronavirus in Thailand is stronger than the first 2 ones which had been very well contained, the authorities, among the measures to fight agains COVID-19 in the country has decided to bet on a plant already widely used in traditional medicine and which has shown positive results especially for treating the first symptoms and preventing from developing serious conditions.

miracle plant covid-19 cure

Will traditional medecin offer us the best cire to COVID-19

Can fatalaijone cure COVID-19 ?

The Thai Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has handed over more than 600,000 fatalai djon (ฟ้า ทะลาย โจร) capsules which could translate asgreen chiretta  to its affiliated hospitals across the country to treat patients with Covid19 and showing mild symptoms.

“FFatalaijone possesses the ability to suppress virus expansion among patients with mild symptoms. Yet it must be used along with modern medicines.” said Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

“Most patients were getting better and above all, they have shown no side effects after taking this traditional herbal medicine” did he add.

The use of this traditional medicine will be supervised by the Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine of Thailand (DTAM) under the Ministry of Health authority. A department which, I believe does not exist in many western countries.

The 600,000 pills should be enough to treat 15,000 patients, the ministry said.

 

Wat is fatalaijone ?

Known under the name of fatalai djon (ฟ้า ทะลาย โจร) and already used in Thailand in traditional medicine, Andrographis paniculata from its botanical name, is a plant of the acanthaceae family native to India and Sri Lanka . It is also prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine to treat fever or as an anti-diarrhea. It is said to have anti-inflammatory, immunostimulating and antipyretic effects and to strengthen immunity. Its use to treat certain respiratory infections is even recognized by the WHO.

Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Health, said fatalaijone extract contains andrographolide which can eliminate and suppress the spread of coronavirus. Andrographolide (fatalaijone) is a traditional medicine extracted from the leaves and stems of the plant.

“If a patient takes 180 milligrams each day, their symptoms usually improve on the third day” Dr. Kiattiphum said.

The massive use of the green chiretta in Thailand comes following the treatment with this medicinal herb of 309 patients presenting mild symptoms during the epidemic outbreak in last December. 306 saw their condition improve in five days while it only worsened for three patients.

The cost of treating a patient with fatalaijone has been estimated at 180 THB not to mention the savings if he does not develop a severe form which is expensive to treat.

There will be one additional study to confirm the effectiveness of fatalaijone. Anyway i is something to follow with interest. And it would be an interesting lesson if it is traditional medicine that brought us an effective treatment against COVID-19 in a world that has almost everywhere replaced it by chemical medicine because we cannot patent nature and therefore do less money. At some point, we will have to question this mode of living our world and reconnect with nature, with ancestral knowledge, the world rules that by profit exhausts our planet and causes us to lose millennia of knowledge, unmaterial wealth, solidarity, common sense…

Source of information: Bangkok Post


ANTICIPATED OR TOTAL CLOSURES OF BANGKOK’S GRAND PALACE IN DECEMBER

The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok complex is one of the must visit places of any first trip in Thailand. The place being used for some royal ceremonies or tribute to the previous kings of Thailand and the clothes of the emerald Buddha being changed 3 times a year by the King in person, the place sometimes closes to tourists earlier or is completely closed a whole day. In December 2019, there will be three days when the doors will close at noon and one day when visiting Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) will not be possible at all.

wat phra keo
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

EARLY CLOSINGS OF THE GRAND PALACE

On 4th, 5th and 7th December 2019, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew will therefore close to the public at noon instead of 3:30 pm in normal times.

early closure grand palace bangkok
grand palace bangkok closing noon
grand palace bangkok farm noon

If December 5, which was the birthday of King Bhumibol, father of the current King and also marks the date of Father’s Day in Thailand, will probably be the occasion of a tribute to the late monarch, I do not know the reasons for the other early closings.

 

CLOSED ON DECEMBER 12TH

On 12th December, Grand Palace and temple will be closed the all day.

Exceptional closing grand palace bangkok

December 12th will be the date of the procession of the Royal Barges and if for now no part of the ceremony has been announced as taking place in the Grand Palace or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the end of the procession on the river will be close to the building so it is likely more a security measure.

I try to communicate a little in advance these anticipated or exceptional closures on my Facebook page but it is not always easy to have the information. I would like to thank Kunrawee who sends me updates regularly.


New Phuket bus to link airport to main beaches

Travelers arriving at Phuket Airport mostly immediately seek to reach one of Thailand’s largest island beaches. Phuket taxis are reputed to be the most expensive in Thailand, there also are minivans to the main beaches and since yesterday there are buses, “Smart Buses”.

phuket bus airport beaches

The new Smart Buses that connect the airport to the beaches of Phuket (official photo)

Airport bus to Phuket beaches

The first route of the Phuket “Smart Bus” was launched Wednesday. This line, the blue line, connects Phuket International Airport to Rawai Beach in the south of the island along the west coast and stopping at the most famous beaches. The trip covers a total of 56 kilometers. It’s a 2 to 3 hour drive to get from the starting point to the terminus.

I do not have the details of the stops, there are currently 11 and 25 are planned in the short term to finally have up to 52, but I can at least tell you the beaches served by these new buses:

  • Surin Beach
  • Kamala Beach
  • Patong Beach
  • Karon Beach
  • Kata Beach
  • Rawai Beach
phuket airport bus to patong kaon kamal rawai

(photo Facebook page PKCD)

After a trial period that began yesterday, March 1, 2018, during which there will be a bus every 45 minutes from Phuket Airport between 9 am and 5 pm, the service should intensify, start at 6 am and stop at 20h.

I will keep you informed on my Facebook page and on Twitter of schedule and frequency changes.

To board the bus, passengers will need to buy a “Rabbit x Phuket” smart card, on the bus or at more than 60 partner stores in Phuket. This card, based on the principle of the existing Rabbit Card in Bangkok, makes it possible to pay and obtain discounts in many stores such as Mc Donalds, Tesco Lotus, Family Mart ….

Although the price of the trip is between THB 50 and THB 170, it seems that you have to pay at least THB 300 to acquire this card, which will be credited with THB 200 (so if it calculates well the card itself costs THB 100). But you do not have to go to Mc Do Swallow Big Macs to use your remaining credits, you can keep them for the return or to travel from beach to beach during your stay. You will be more comfortably installed than in the old local buses.

This “Rabbit x Phuket” card, once acquired, is charged. You can add money on Smart Buses or partner stores. Yes, a classic ticket would have been easier but you have to live with its time;) Let’s say that it is especially if you make a single trip that you will pay more than necessary.

Although, I do not know if it can be used to pay the bus for several people or if one card per passenger. If you buy the card on the bus, you can pay in cash of course but also by Visa card. The information provided refers only to this type of card, Visa being a bus partner. We can imagine that payment by Mastercard, American Express or other is not possible but it’s just a deduction from me that will confirm.

 

Why are they called “Smart Bus”?

No, no, the buses put into circulation have not passed an IQ test, it’s just that they will be connected buses with WIFI on board, GPS geolocation (you can follow the buses in real time on this link), CCTV cameras and a USB port at each seat. In short, buses that live with their time. These will be new Mercedes (Deutsche Qualität;)) buses ordered for the occasion and chosen in particular for their reliability and their good brakes, an important criterion when we know the topography of the island and in particular the descent to Patong, and because they offer more room for luggage.

They are also praised by the initiators of the project for their comfort and their large windows that allow to enjoy the view.

It has been a long time since a solution is studied to offer more possibilities of public transport to move to Phuket which is still poorly endowed with this side. A priori, it is a first bus line that should be followed by others.

But no information was divulged on any future bus lines in Phuket in terms of both route and set-up times. Wait and see …

But there is no doubt that the buses that have been circulating since Wednesday will find their public because such a service was highly anticipated. Having not had the opportunity to test and yesterday’s service, you have seen, I still have some small areas of shadows. I will update this post when I will get reviews from my followers.


The best trending video 2017 is… Thai !

When the end of the year comes, comes also many ranking lists and among them the list of the most trending videos on Youtube this year. And the winner is a thai video of an oyster singing a nice song… yes, yes !

best trending video 2017

And the best trending video 2017 is… Thai !

 

The singing oyster at the top of the 2017 videos

Well, I may have omitted a slight detail… it’s not a real oyster but a singer disguised as an oyster who participated in the Thai TV show “The Mask Singer”. The video of its performance released by the production on Youtube comes in first position of the most viewed Youtube videos in 2017.

And the video was only published in June. Since then, it has been viewed more than 200 million times !

And it will continue to rise since this first place makes for people, like me to watch it or watch it again.

 

The Mask Singer, a big hit on Thai TV

The principle of the show is quite simple: some masked celebrities sing, actually they are more than masked, they are completly disguised from head to toe and perform in front of a jury and an audience. People votes for them and one by one they are eliminated. Their identity is only revealed when they lose.

In the video in question, It was Pandavaram Prasarnmitr, singer of the Thai rock band “Cocktails” disguised as an oyster, who sings “Until we will become dust” translated into Thai and that has ignited the public.

 

Rest of the ranking for top Youtube videos 2017

Here is the top 10 full Youtube 2017 videos:

  1. Until We Will Become Dust – Oyster Masked (ตราบธุลีดิน – หน้ากากหอยนางรม) | THE MASK SINGER 2
  2. ED SHEERAN – Shape Of You | Kyle Hanagami Choreography
  3. Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect
  4. Darci Lynne: 12-Year-Old Singing Ventriloquist Gets Golden Buzzer – America’s Got Talent 2017
  5. Ed Sheeran Carpool Karaoke
  6. Lady Gaga’s FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL
  7. “INAUGURATION DAY” — A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump’s Inauguration
  8. history of the entire world, i guess
  9. In a Heartbeat – Animated Short Film
  10. Children interrupt BBC News interview – BBC News

Thailand’s 34 millionth visitor of the year arrived yesterday

The Thai tourism industry is poised to hit yet another new record after the arrival of Thailand’s 34 millionth visitor and 1.81 trillion baht (US$ 50 billion) for the full calendar year 2017.

Yu-Chen Wang 34 millionth arrival to Thailand

Ms. Yu-Chen Wang, the 34 millionth arrival to the Kingdom in 2017 was named ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, warmly welcomed by private sector tourism industry representatives and senior executives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Ms. Wang arrived in Bangkok this late morning on Thai Airways International’s Flight TG637 from Taipei, Taiwan. She plans to spend five days with her friends taking in the sights and soaking up local Thai experiences in Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

She was rewarded with two economy-class return tickets from her original destination to Thailand, a voucher for five-night accommodation in Thailand as well as the ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ accolades that included a signed certificate from TAT.

Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, said 2017 has been an exceptionally good year for Thailand, which is ready to welcome the New Year with a range of exciting tourism events and activities under the action-packed Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018.

“We are grateful to Ms. Wang as well as millions of other visitors for making Thailand their preferred destination. TAT is committed to ensuring their visits are always memorable, and offer them the chance to ‘Open to the New Shades’ of tourism experiences each time they visit the Kingdom.”

The ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ campaign dates to June 2015, when it was launched to recognise and reward record-breaking visitors on arrival to the country. With strong support from the public and private sector, the campaign has attracted considerable international attention and enhanced the value of Thailand’s tourism brand image.

Source : TAT News


Today Google Thailand put Pad Thai on its homepage

Google likes to put regular daily focuses on its homepage and today Pad Thai, the most iconic Thai Food has the honour to be on Google Thailand homepage with a little diaporama of drawings showing 3 little characters cooking this fried thai noddles.

pad thai google thailand

Google Thailand homepage focus on Pad Thai todays

 

Google Thailand loves Pad Thai

Here is the little animation you can see on Googlgle Thailand today.

I must confess this will not be enough to know how to cook pad thai at home but you can of course access to Google search results about apd thai and will find the history of this royal thai dish and of course receipes.

Otherwise you can have a look on this video to know how to cook your own pad thai.

There are other Thai cooking videos HERE.

 


Qatar Airways launches new flights to Pattaya

Qatar Airways has responded to increased customer demand for services to Thailand by launching direct flights to Pattaya, the airline’s fifth route to the country. The new four-times-a-week service, which starts on 28 January 2018, is in addition to the airline’s existing flights to Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket and soon to be launched, Chiang Mai. The launch of the service to historic Chiang Mai is scheduled to start on 12 December, 2017.

flights doha pattaya

Qatar Airways will launch direct flights Doha – Pattaya

 

Direct flights Doha – Pattaya

Located on the popular southeast coast of Thailand, Pattaya and nearby Rayong are major destinations for sun-seekers looking to soak up the local culture or relax and bask on one of the areas extensive beaches. Holiday-makers on the route are expected to come from Qatar Airways’ extensive network of destinations across Europe and the Middle East.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of our newest route to Pattaya in Thailand, our fifth route to one of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations. Thailand is continuing to grow in popularity with our passengers, who love travelling to this beautiful country to enjoy its incredible culture, cuisine and natural scenery.

“Qatar Airways is committed to responding to customer demand by flying our passengers where they want to go and providing them with our unrivalled five-star service to destinations around the world.”

Qatar Airways will operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class on flights between Doha and U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport, on its winter schedule. It will be the first five-star Middle East airline to offer flights to and from Pattaya.

For more information or book flights : www.qatarairways.com

Pattaya

South Pattaya beach

 

Qatar Airways likes Thailand

Qatar Airways’ new service to Pattaya will help to reinforce the strong ties between Qatar and Thailand. Qatar Airways currently operates flights to three destinations in Thailand, with services 35 times a week to Bangkok, 14 times a week to Phuket and daily to Krabi commencing 1 December 2017. From 12 December 2017, Qatar Airways will also fly four times a week to Chiang Mai, which will take the airline’s weekly frequency to 60 flights a week.

Qatar Airways currently holds the title of ‘Airline of The Year’ as awarded by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards. In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’

Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft to a network of more than 150 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. The airline is launching a host of exciting new destinations planned for the remainder of this year and 2018, including Canberra, Australia; St Petersburg, Russia and Cardiff, U.K, to name just a few.

 

Doha – Pattaya flight Schedules

  • Doha (DOH) to Pattaya (UTP) QR828 departs 20:05 arrives 06:30 (next day) – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
  • Pattaya (UTP) to Doha (DOH) QR829 departs 07:50 arrives 11:40 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

For more information or book flights : www.qatarairways.com


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 …

 


No, Khao Sok National Park is not closed !

Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani Province in Southern Thailand is known for its large lake looking like Halong Bay in Vietnam. A magnificent setting in which visitors usually spend 2 days and one night in a floating hotel. Following the severe weather conditions a few days ago, rumors of the inaccessibility of the park and its lake have circulated on internet, I confirm that both are still accessible to visitors.

khao sok

Khao Sok Lake is often compared to Halong Bay in Vietnam

One cut damaged but there is another road

Following the heavy rains that hit the area 3 days ago, the road between Phang Nga and Khao Sok was badly damaged and cut to traffic.

khao sok

If Phang Nga – Khao Sok road is severely damaged, Surat Thani – Khao Sok is perfectly fine

On the pictures published by different media, we could see the road disembowelled with large crevasses. The partial cut of this road has led to some hasty conclusions about the impossibility of joining Khao Sok.

I got official confirmation this morning that it is not the case. Khao Sok National Park and Chiew Lan Lake are always accessible and tourists can still visit them.

If the road between Phang Nga and Khao Sok was partially closed and could no longer be used to access to Khao Sok Park, the road between Surat Thani and Khao Sok was still fully operational.

If you come from Krabi, Surat Thani, Phuket, no problem, if you come from destinations where the damaged road was the most logical (Ranong, Takua Pa, Khao Lak, Phang Nga), you can always go to Khao Sok but it will take longer. Nick from Khao Sok Lake Ltd, a tour agency based there,  explained to me that the road closure has been temporarily fixed to accommodate 1-way traffic so that cars can still pass the road. This repair seems quite fragile and a new closure of the road is not to exclude but even if it were the case, Khao Sok will remain accessible via a detour to join the other road.

 

My recommendations for visiting Khao Sok in the next days

If you are able to do so, try to add Khao Sok into your program from Surat Thani, Phuket or Krabi, from these destinations, the road taken to come did not suffered any damage. And avoid coming from Phang Nga or Khao Lak, otherwise you will have a longer journey than usual.

I would have liked to be able to deny the rumor earlier but I like to cross several sources (TAT and actors on the field) to give the most relevant information possible even if it takes ms 24 hours more to inform you.


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