Thailand blogs

I first read of blogged.com here and then again here recently, but now this blog has joined. In the Thailand section we’re coming in at 17th place, out of 144 blogs. Not bad considering it’s only been going since last month. Earthoria is holding the number one slot – check it out, nice blog.


Videos from Thailand

Trawling through YouTube I occasionally come across some really good work from Thailand, amongst all the inevitable clips of bar girls and gogo bars.
The following clips are from an English guy called Phil Claffey who seems to have settled in Bangkok and is pretty handy with the handicam.

A Selection of his work

Rooftop fire display

Floating Market

The most famous flosting market is the one that appears on tourist brochures and postcards around the world, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market about a 100km out of Bangkok. With all the attention this has gained over the last twenty years this market is now little more than a floating souvenir market aimed at the many package tours that stream into it’s vicinity everyday.

However, for a more authentic sample of floating Thai commerce give the floating market in Talin Chan a try. It’s smaller, still used by the locals as a serious place to pick up fruit, veggies and various other goods, and it’s closer to Bangkok.

Talin Chan Floating Market is on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River in front of the Talin Chan District Office, and whilst it does attract a certain number of sightseers and tourists it maintains its authenticity and is a still a serious local market.

Do a bit of shopping and have a bite to eat; where better to try a bowl of the famous boat noodles than floating on water? Talin Chan isn’t a major tourist location but there are things to do and see in the area. When you’ve finished at the market take a leisurely boat tour by long tail boat and absorb the scenic view of canal side Thailand.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun

Address: Bangkok Yai, Thonburi side of Chao Phraya River
Opening: 0900-1700

Wat Arun, or by its full name of Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahavihara, is a Buddhist temple on the west bank of the Chao Phraya that has become one of the most visited temples in this part of Bangkok.

Wat Arun dates back to Thailand’s Ayutthya period and came to prominence when King Taksin moved the capital to Thonburi and changed the name of the existing temple from Wat Makok to Wat Cheang. Between the reigns of King Rama II to IV the temple underwent another two more name changes and a restoration.

The most striking feature of Wat Arun is the central prang, or tower, which rises approximately 80m above the surrounding area and a further four smaller prangs. The prangs are decorated with a mix of seashell and broken porcelain taken from Chinese trading ships that used them as ballast, as was common for the time. This type of temple decoration was commonplace for the Ratanakosin period.

The Ordination Hall next to the prangs contains the Niramitr Buddha image which is said to have been designed by King Rama II, whose ashes are interned beneath it, and various impressive murals dating back to King Rama V.

A popular crossover point for those wishing to reactivate their visa or just get a new entry stamp is Aranyaprathet. Aranyaprathet is a small but busy border town in Sa Kaew Province that provides a convenient gateway into Cambodia, or entrance point into Thailand depending on which way you’re travelling. The actual border point is Poiphet in Cambodia some 15km from Aranyaprethet. 

Aranyaprathet Border 

There are twice daily first-class buses from Suvarnabhumi to Aranyaprethet, and in the opposite direction. Times from Suvarnabhumi are 0800hrs and 1430hrs with cost just under 200 baht. Buses also leave Bangkok’s Mor-Chit bus terminal regularly throughout the day for a similar price of around 200 baht for the 4-5 hour journey. These first class buses usually include some food and a toilet. Cheaper lower class buses are also available but don’t expect a toilet.

There are also daily trains from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station out east to Aranyaprethet. For price you’d be hard pushed to beat the train. With only a third class service on offer a ticket will cost you around 48 baht, though not quite as much comfort as the first class buses.

Various option are available on Khaosan Road though reports usual point to a higher charge and a lesser service than the regular buses out of Mor-Chit or Suvarnabhumi. Mooch about and you might just find a bargain.

Getting from Aranyaprethetto the border will cost you about 60 baht, pretty steep when you consider it’s only 48 baht from Bangkok to Aranyaprethet by train. The border is open from 0700hrs to 2000hrs. Expect queues in the morning as Poiphet is casino heaven for Thais on a gambling day trip. Midday onwards the buses from Khao San Road pull in and things get busier. Morning is better.

Bangkok to Koh Samet

Out on the east coast, a little over 200km from Bangkok, is the small island of Koh Samet, part of the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Koh Samet National Park. This once idyllic island paradise has developed over the last decade at break neck speed resulting in a some loss of its character and natural beauty. Despite this it still remains a great place to escape to with some fantastic beaches.Ever popular with Bangkok residents it can get quite busy at weekends and during school holidays so for those interested in a quiet life weekdays are the best option.

Part of Samet’s popularity is its close proximity to Bangkok and the fact it can be reached so easily.Air isn’t an option unless you have your own helicopter or sea plane, though Rayong’s Utapao airport is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok if you really feel the need to fly.

Boats out to the island leave from Ban Phe, a short ride out of Rayong town. The journey by road from Bangkok to Rayong and Ban Phe will take around three hours by car and four by bus. Buses leave from Ekamai station and Mor-Chit, cost around 100 baht and leave every 40 minutes throughout the day. Some taxis will make the journey and depending on your bargaining skills it will cost in the region of 2,000 baht one way.

When you get to Ban Phe prepare to be cajoled by touts selling tickets for the sea crossing and accommodation on Samet Island. Price for the boat trip across varies but is generally from 50 to 100 baht for a return ticket, takes around 40 minutes and leaves 3 or 4 times a day. Most boats go straight to the main port of Nadan but boats are also available to: Ao Cho, Ao Wong Duan, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, and Ao Phrao. Speedboats for around 1,000 baht are also available and a few of the resorts have their own boats and transport thrown in as part of the accommodation cost.

Once in Nadan you’re greeted with pick-up taxis ferrying guests to and from the various beaches and resorts for up to 40 baht per person. Alternatively you might want to try hiring one of the many motorbikes available for a few hundred baht a day.

Koh Samet is in a national park and therefore visitors to the island have to pay an entrance fee. In keeping with Thailand’s rather unfair dual pricing policy entrance to the island is 40 baht for Thais and a whopping 400 baht for foreigners.

Diving in Thailand pt 1

Situated betwixt two seas: the South China Sea to the east, off the Gulf of Thailand, and the Andaman Sea to the west, Thailand has managed to develop a substantial diving industry. Blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, exotic islands and great weather, persuading travellers and holiday makers to don the flippers has never been too difficult.

Diving conditions are good, though not quite up to the standards of Australia or the Red Sea but up there with the best all the same. Thailand’s diving industry is also highly competitive, which can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand high levels of competition have made for extremely affordable diving but conversely there have also been reports that this has led to cost cutting and a lowering of safety standards.

Having it’s dive sites split between east and west has meant that there’s pretty much good diving all year round. So whatever time of year it is there should be good diving conditions somewhere off the Thai coast. Top Thai dive sites are generally considered Koh Tao (Turtle Island) off the east coast and Similan, Hin Mouang and Surin Island off the west.

The best diving is generally island based which means a stay on one of Thailand world famous islands, unless you go out on a dive boat for a few days.

For the time constrained or travel weary Thailand’s eastern coast out towards Cambodia offers diving at Koh Samet, Koh Chang and from there the few other less visited islands of Koh Muk and Koh Kut.

Getting There

Commercial flights run to Phuket and Samui aiports, though options for Samui are somewhat limited. Most domestic budget airlines fly in to Phuket and quite a few international airlines too but the only airlines flying in to Samui are Bangkok Airways (a somewhat expensive “boutique” airline) and Malaysia’s new offering, Firefly. However, Firefly only flies to and from Penang.

Overnight trains and buses are you best bet. See this post for details of train/bus to the south. From Surat Thani it’s a case of branching off on either direction to either the east or west coast. Or for Koh Tao follow the advice for the full moon parties here. More on travel to each area to follow.

There will be more to follow, watch this space.