BANGKOK’S Khao San Road has been a marvel among backpackers for decades, but the area is changing drastically and locals aren’t happy about it.
The area is known throughout the world for its cheap booze, even cheaper clothes to stave off a visit to the laundrette, colorful tuk-tuks, and an array of Thailand’s most tempting culinary offerings.
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Over time, the street has also welcomed a McDonald’s and a Starbucks. But these chains, combined with hordes of travelers, aren’t what locals and angry about.
Recently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned food vendors along Khao San Road from operating outside the hours of 6pm and 12am.
The ban was slapped on the stall owners for BMA to regulate hygiene, monitor traffic, create parking space for ambulances and return the sidewalks, which the stalls currently occupy, to pedestrians.
Why Thailand might make travel insurance compulsory The new regulation is set to affect around 300 workers and slash their income in half as their current business hours run from 10am to 1am.
But the vendors are refusing to accept the decision and have handed a petition to Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha asking him to suspend the district’s ban.
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Khao San Road Street Vendor Association President Yada Pornpetrumpa told The Nation that all of the street’s vendors would set up their stalls after a big clean up today (Aug 1, 2018) in an act of defiance.
Pornpetrumpa added that the task might be “impossible” as local police are being sent to control the situation.
However, Chanasongkram (the local area) Police Station Superintendent Pol Colonel Chakkit Chosoongnoen told The Nation traffic would remain the same as any other day.
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The world’s best beach party destinations revealed A member of the Street Vendors Association spoke to The Nation on the basis of anonymity and explained she didn’t think that people would want to shop in the evening, expressing they were “hours for relaxing.”
The BMA plans to relocate the stalls to designated areas on roads, but the vendors claimed this to be a health hazard if the roads were to flood.
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There is also a real risk that travelers will disassociate Khao San Road as being a center for partying and meeting fellow wanderers, and choose to spend their money elsewhere entirely.
Afterall, Bangkok isn’t short of nightlife.
The post What’s the fate of Khao San Road’s food stalls? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
Tag: Eat in Thailand
BANGKOK’S Khao San Road has been a marvel among backpackers for decades, but the area is changing drastically and locals aren’t happy about it.
MOST METROPOLITAN destinations in the world host little cultural enclaves such as Little India, Koreatown, Vietnamese suburb, Japantown, and perhaps the most popular town of the kind, Chinatown.
Whether you’re in Cuba or San Francisco, the concept of a Chinatown is the same across the board: an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.
It’s often a unifying factor for the Chinese in the area, offering Chinese-themed shopping centers and markets, Cantonese restaurants and cafes, decorated in giddying lanterns and flashing lights, and is often the place to be to celebrate festivities such as Chinese New Year.
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The heart of heritage: A glimpse of Bangkok’s Chinatown If you’re Chinese, no matter where you are, a Chinatown will make you feel right at home. And for travelers, a Chinatown is simply a taste of China.
Chinatowns are usually found in an urban setting, so don’t expect peace and quiet if you plan to take a stroll down the cramped streets. Do, however, enjoy being in between all the action in the old and the new, as tradition and modernity blend together to become one.
Here are some of the world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China:
Manila, The Philippines Located in the Binondo district of Manila, the Philippines’ Chinatown has influence that extends beyond Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas.
Considered the world’s oldest Chinatown, it was established in 1594 by Spaniards as a settlement near Intramuros for the Catholic Chinese.
Aside from its Filipino-Chinese businesses, Binondo is also famous for The Umbrella Alley where street food is aplenty and historical sites such as the Seng Guan Temple and the Kuang Kong Temple.
Niu Che Shui, Singapore Niu Che Shui, which means “ox”, “cart”, and “water”, Singapore’s Chinatown was once an enclave for the island city-state’s immigrant population.
Today, Niu Che Shui is a sharp but pleasing contrast to the high-rise buildings that surround the area and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.
From its historic ornate Chinese and Buddhist temples to the traditional medicinal halls to the bustling street market and food streets, as well as the hip new watering holes and lifestyle shops, there’s never a dull moment here.
Bangkok, Thailand The sights, sounds, and smells of Yaowarat area will be an assault on any visitor’s senses but in all the best ways.
Get ready for an adventure when you stroll down many of Thailand’s Chinatown in Bangkok and sample the treats from its street food vendors, while occasionally whipping out your camera to take shots for the ‘gram.
Yaowarat’s fascinating mix of Chinese and Thai cultures sets it apart from other Chinatowns in the world and it’s not an experience that you should miss.
Kolkata, India Located in the eastern part of Kolkata, Tiretta Bazaar was established in the early 19th century and was once home to 20,000 ethnic Chinese Indian nationals.
Today, the area is still very much loved, dotted with Chinese restaurants that offer traditional Chinese cuisine and Indian-influenced Chinese food.
During Chinese New Year, throngs of Chinese Indians flock to Tiretta Bazaar to celebrate and also to witness the lion dance performances that continue to be held every year.
Yokohama, Japan Located in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, the Yokohama Chinatown has a history that spans about 150 years long and a population of about 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese people.
Established not long after Tokyo opened its port to foreign trade in 1859, it’s the largest Chinatown in Japan and also in Asia, and one of the largest in the world.
Yokohama Chinatown is home to over 200 restaurants serving Japan-influence Chinese cuisine, an eight-story entertainment mall and theme park, Chinese grocery and medicine stores, and two elaborate Chinese temples.
Melbourne, Australia In Australia, the Chinese community is well-represented, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne’s Chinatown is popularly known as the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world and the oldest Chinatown in the southern hemisphere.
It was established upon the arrival of Chinese immigrants during the Victorian gold rush of the early 1850s, a period of extreme prosperity for the Australian colony.
Home to many Chinese restaurants, cultural venues, businesses, places of worship, architectural heritage and annual festivals, Melbourne’s Chinatown is a major tourist attraction.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia At the heart of Malaysia where the city never sleeps is a lively and colorful destination with sprawling flea markets, beautiful temples, and quirky art galleries. It has to be Chinatown.
The large covered market is known for its fashion shops selling both must-have items as well as designer rip-offs, handicraft and souvenir stalls, as well as stalls dishing up delectable Chinese food and refreshing beverages.
Shopaholics will love haggling for and scoring dirt-cheap steals and deals whilst other travelers shouldn’t miss this mindboggling sightseeing activity.
The post The world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
MODERN DAY TRAVELERS seeking off the beaten path attractions and experiences at their destinations like a true local will appreciate TakeMeTour.
Created by robotics engineering graduate Taro Amornched, the online platform aims to match travelers with locals – but not in the sleazy Tinder kind of way.
Bali’s ‘Airbnb Experiences’ second most popular in Asia Specifically, it matches travelers with locals who can show them around.
So whether it’s a gastronomical tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a hiking trip along Japan’s nature trails, or a dance in a sunflower field your heart desires, TakeMeTour will connect you with the experts with all the know-how.
“On our website, a traveler can browse tours, itineraries, and experiences that are offered by locals. Currently, we have more than 20,000 local experts from 55 different cities. It’s like having a friend, some people you can trust, to show you around,” Amornched said in an interview with The Jay Kim Show.
Let’s get started Log in to the website and select a city you’d like to visit.
Then, choose from the list of one-day tours and experiences available. Once you find what you like, pick a date on the calendar or chat with said local for availability.
When all details are confirmed, book with them directly. Bookings will only be valid once the payments are made through Take Me Tour with a valid credit card.
It’s like making one new local friend with every booking.
“All the local experts speak Thai and English. We have been focusing on English-speaking travelers in the past two years, but starting this year, we will start focusing on a third language. That means you would see local experts who can speak Japanese, Chinese, and French as a starting point,” Amornched added.
About safety and security Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and simply follow a local around in a foreign country?
How safe is it, really?
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“We have very strict security measures. We check the ID, bank account, criminal record, and the like to make sure these local experts are actually legitimate. We also make sure we know how to find them,” Amornched explained.
Newly-listed tours will go through stages of approvals by both TakeMeTour as well as its network of bloggers to assure they’re meeting quality standards.
What if things go bad?
“If something bad happens, we can still make refunds. We also provide accident insurance for both travelers and local experts,” Amornched said.
Every listing also includes reviews from previous guests so travelers can gauge if the experience is something that they’d like.
Healing on a holiday: Cheap rehabs boost Thailand’s medical tourism Currently, the Asian countries that TakeMeTour covers are Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. The platform is looking to expand to Myanmar next month.
Check it out here.
The post This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
BEYOND BANGKOK’S bustling markets is one of the lesser-known destinations in the city that’s quickly transforming into one of the hippest areas.
Chinatown. A neighborhood with such rich history and steeped in culture, it’ll take you back in time.
Steals, deals, chills for night owls at Bangkok’s best offbeat markets Located along Yaowarat Road, Bangkok’s Chinatown was founded in 1782 when King Rama I moved the Thai capital to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River and served as the home of the Teochew immigrant population. To this day, it’s a hub of Chinese culture, with temples and shrines, a staggering array of shops selling traditional goods, and a gastronomic bonanza.
Help yourself to a piping hot bowl of chubgung noodles (pork and vegetable noodles) from a street vendor before heading off to Sampeng Lane market, a hidden gem and one of the city’s largest and cheapest places to purchase wholesale fabrics and custom jewelry.
It’s particularly interesting to visit Chinatown during festival times, such as Chinese New Year and the Vegetarian Festival, when the scent of burning incense fills the air and worshippers rush to make merit.
If you’re lucky enough, you may even get a glimpse of the traditional Chinese opera performances that take place around the temples and shrines.
Festivals at Bangkok’s bustling Chinatown are always exciting occasions. Source: Shutterstock.
Just be sure to avoid bumping into locals in the midst of all the hustle and bustle as the district has narrow lanes.
For travel photographers, Bangkok’s Chinatown is “eye candy central” as it boasts charming old shophouses and brightly lit roads with a myriad of overhead signs reminiscent of Hong Kong’s streets. These days, the area has also seen lively bars and quaint coffee joints mushrooming in and around the traditional food scene, giving it a pleasant contrast.
Whether you’re penning Chinatown into your itinerary because you’re craving for a delectable Chinese breakfast or you simply can’t wait to earn some bragging rights when you spam your Instagram feed with pictures, the vibrant neighborhood is a must-see.
And it will keep you wanting to go back for more.
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How to get there:
Take the MRT subway to Hua Lamphong MRT station. Alight at Hua Lamphong then either take a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) or walk a distance to Chinatown. Take Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off at Ratchawong Pier. The pier is just a few hundred meters from Yaowarat Road and Sampeng Lane. The post The heart of heritage: A glimpse of Bangkok’s Chinatown appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
APPROACHING the four towering banyan trees outside the entrance, you can already feel the enchantment that awaits within the resort.
“The resort was built around these trees,” Banyan Tree Phuket’s head of communications Khun Nikki told Travel Wire Asia.
Asia: beyond the tourist hot spots Away from the notoriously busy parts of Phuket island, Banyan Tree Phuket offers guests the opportunity to write their own chapter in a luxury book, one you’ll find hard to put down and undoubtedly return to many times.
Nestled between a tropical lagoon and the glistening waters of the Andaman Sea, Banyan Tree Phuket knows how to indulge all your senses – from the fresh jasmine flower bracelet wrapped delicately around your wrist upon arrival to the moreish homemade tom yum biscuits served while checking in.
A view of the lagoon from the main reception area. Source: Holly Patrick / Travel Wire Asia
But this is just the beginning.
The subtle taste of lemongrass in the air around the resort and the cool breeze flowing in from the lagoon lulls you into a sense of serenity.
The resort offers 175 private pool villas which can be found beyond a perfectly trimmed magnolia pagoda.
The pagoda walkway. Source: Banyan Tree Phuket
Boasting one, two and three-bedroom properties, all with unrivaled privacy, these villas are perfect for couples wanting to coddle in each other’s company or for traveling families searching for unique and memorable experiences.
The tranquil setting is something not often associated with bustling Phuket, as only the sounds of tropical birds wistfully swooping among the trees and the melody of bush-dwelling crickets will disturb you here.
The cherry blossom-pink walls encasing the private pool villas charmingly reflect traditional Thai architecture.
Peek inside the world’s most Instagammable resort Teak wooden doors open out onto a neatly kept path, with a sunken turquoise pool and deck to one side, and the overtly curved-roof villa to the front.
A dreamy, soft mattress atop a raised platform, wide lounge sofa, grand desk, and fruit-filled coffee table await inside the villa.
Private pool villa view from the bedroom. Source: Banyan Tree Phuket
The double sinks and floor-to-ceiling windowed shower room lets you feel close to nature even when you’re inside.
But the defining feature of these properties is the standalone white granite outdoor bathtubs.
A choice of sumptuous oils, crystals, lotions, and potions accompany the tub for the ultimate soak.
The outdoor bathtub is a defining feature of the resort. Source: Banyan Tree Phuket
Banyan Tree Phuket also offers Double Pool Villas, because one long infinity pool overlooking the lake is simply not enough.
So, the quirky designers encased the master bedroom in a second shallow pool separated by glass.
You needn’t let the size of the resort put you off from straying beyond your villa either. The onsite buggy service is quick and safe.
Alternatively, hop on a Banyan Tree Phuket bike and cruise around the resort.
The complimentary buggy service can be pre-booked or sent right away. Source: Banyan Tree Phuket
Continue your sensory experience in Banyan Tree Spa, the first luxury spa in Asia to re-introduce an exotic blend of ancient health and beauty practices.
Unwind in your own private spa fortress room, surrounded by a trickling moat and flora cascading over the temple-looking walls.
Each therapist is handpicked from the Banyan Tree Spa Academy and does a sterling job of quite literally massaging every ounce of negativity out your body.
You instantly unwind as you step into the twin treatment rooms. Source: Banyan Tree Phuket
Banyan Tree Phuket also offers culinary excellence to indulge your sense of taste. Just thinking about picking one of their 11 dining options works up an appetite.
We suggest heading to Water Court, a lake-facing restaurant inspired by every corner of the globe, for breakfast.
Drizzle fresh honeycomb over French cheese and Italian ham, slurp on spicy noodles, stack your plate high with an English breakfast or watch the flakes from fresh pastry drift to the floor as you savor your pain au chocolat.
Little tasters of the infused flavors available at Banyan Tree Phuket. Source: Holly Patrick / Travel Wire Asia
Let the sweet sounds of traditional Thai music, danced to by beautiful sirens, lure you into Saffron by Banyan Tree Phuket at dinner.
Tableside cooking, old-style Thai tastes with a contemporary twist, a delightful atmosphere, and impeccable service encompass the sensual ethos of the resort.
Tuna tartare infused with chili and crispy noodles. Source: Holly Patrick / Travel Wire Asia
Flourishes of genuine care and ultimate luxury are experienced through the resort from the gleaming staff who wish you good day, to the personalized soft cotton T-shirts complimentary with every stay.
The only skimpy thing about Banyan Tree Phuket is your choice of swimwear, they’ve got everything else covered.
Longing for a tranquil and restful getaway at Banyan Tree Phuket? Visit their website for more information.
The post Indulge your senses at Banyan Tree Phuket appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
GOODBYE, UBER. It has been swell, and all good things have to come to an end.
But has it, really?
On March 26, 2018, Grab released a statement confirming rumors that the company will be taking over Uber’s operations and assets in Southeast Asia as both ride-sharing giants will merge into one, effectively turning Grab into a ride-hailing juggernaut.
This includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Uber is not giving up on Singapore Uber, which is preparing for a potential initial public offering in 2019, lost US$4.5 billion last year and is facing fierce competition at home and in Asia, as well as a regulatory crackdown in Europe, Tech Wire Asia wrote.
“Grab today announced that it has acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations. This deal is the largest-ever of its kind in Southeast Asia,” Grab wrote.
“Grab will integrate Uber’s ridesharing and food delivery business in the region into Grab’s existing multi-modal transportation and fintech platform.”
As part of the acquisition, Uber will take a 27.5 percent stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.
Singapore-based Grab has confirmed purchase of Uber’s Southeast Asian business. Source: Shutterstock.
While Uber employees in Singapore and Malaysia were scrambling to evacuate the offices, Uber’s loyal riders took to social media to wail: “What about my five-star rating on Uber?”, “With no competition, does this mean no more competitive pricing?”, “Will I still be able to order food from UberEats?”
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s going to happen to your Uber account? As a rider, getting a five-star rating on Uber is such an immensely gratifying achievement. What’s going to happen now that the ride-sharing giants are merging?
Your account will still be active, so your five-star rating is not going to just disappear into the virtual abyss. But you can only use it in countries where Uber operates.
With Grab and Uber coming together, your account’s data will be transferred over to the Grab app. Source: Shutterstock.
You will still be able to view your past trips and ratings in the Uber app, but data that you’ve previously shared with Uber (excluding payment information) will be transferred to Grab and it will not be visible in the Grab app.
If you don’t have the Grab app, you will need to download it and register your account.
Will fares change? No competition equals no competitive pricing?
Grab says fret not.
According to Grab, the calculation of fares will still be fair. Source: Shutterstock.
Just like before, fares will continue to be calculated based on a base distance, with an applicable surcharge based on demand and supply, traffic conditions and estimated time taken for the journey.
For the GrabTaxi (Metered) and GrabTaxi (Executive) options, passengers will continue to pay by metered fares set by taxi companies.
Does this mean faster booking? The assumption is that the Uber and Grab merger will result in more drivers on the road and therefore, shorter waiting times and faster bookings.
And that is the dream.
Eventually, riders will be able to experience shorter wait times. Source: Shutterstock.
However, as the companies are going through a transitional period, so will the drivers. Grab will need to get Uber drivers on board the Grab platform and also iron out the kinks.
As a rider, expect some service disruptions during the transition timeframe. But all will be well once the trial and error period is over, and you should be able to enjoy a faster booking experience.
What about UberEats? Did you just start loving Uber’s food delivery app and how you can literally have food delivered right to your doorstep at work?
Unfortunately, UberEats will cease to exist in Southeast Asia in May.
Grab’s food delivery business just bit an entire chunk out of Uber’s. Source: Shutterstock.
In its place will be a new food delivery platform, GrabFood. GrabFood already exists in Indonesia and Thailand but an expansion to Singapore and Malaysia, and other major countries in Southeast Asia, is currently underway.
All your favourite restaurants on UberEats will be available in the new GrabFood app and the prices are expected to remain the same as before. To use the service, you will have to sign up with a fresh account and profile on GrabFood.
I’m an Uber for Business user. What gives? Just like Uber’s service in Southeast Asia, the Uber for Business service will no longer be supported for trips taken in Southeast Asia.
The merger affects Uber for Business users too. Source: Shutterstock.
Uber for Business lets companies set up corporate accounts through which employees can charge their rides directly to their employers.
If you’ve been using Uber for Business, it’s best to start looking for alternatives if you need to be shuttled about in Southeast Asia for work.
Is Asia all Uber-ed out? The Uber app will continue to operate for two weeks to ensure stability for Uber drivers.
Come April 8, 2018, Uber’s services in Southeast Asia will be unavailable.
The post So Uber got Grabbed but what does it mean for travelers? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
THAILAND is a kingdom treasures. With its many golden shrines and temples, spoilt-for-choice array of food and exciting shopping steals and deals, its a country that has something for everyone.
The perennial hunt for good eats and the best bargains is a pretty essential part of Thai culture and something every local, expat, and tourist hold dear to their hearts.
How to navigate devilish dual pricing in Thailand But aside from the wildly popular Chatuchak (JJ) Market, the Thai capital of Bangkok is packed with all kinds of night markets where you can stay out (almost) all night bingeing on yummylicious food, taking Insta-worthy pictures, browsing steals and deals, and shopping to your heart’s content.
Here are some of the city’s best offbeat night markets worth penciling into your itinerary if you’re heading over for a visit:
JJ Green Market (Vintage Market) Located next to the world-famous Chatuchak (JJ) Weekend Market, the JJ Green Market is the next must-stop for shoppers once the former closes at 6pm.
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Unlike its popular neighbor, the quirky JJ Green is relatively quieter and set up as a flea and vintage market, catering to a younger crowd.
Visitors will enjoy finding everything from graphic tees to accessories, antique cameras and retro Nintendos, and even cacti and license plates.
There’s something different for everyone here, whether you’re a newbie traveler, an avid collector, or a bonafide hipster.
And even if you’re not, go for the experience, then grab a beer and chill out while enjoying the live music performed by locals.
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Opening hours: 5pm – 2am, Thursdays – Sundays. Getting there: Chatuchak by MRT, Mo Chit by BTS. Address: 1 Kamphaeng Phet 3, Chatuchak, Bangkok. Indy Market Located on the other side of the river at Thonburi district, Indy Market is bit of a newcomer to Bangkok’s bustling night market scene.
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Although still relatively new, it already has about 500 stalls selling everything from fashion to crafts, to stationery and food.
Visitors love it for its ambience and its cheaper-than-usual prices, as you can get most things for less than THB100 (US$3.20) a pop.
So don’t forget to bring a bag/backpack with ample space to stuff all your bargain buys.
And after you’re done lugging all your goodies around, raid the food stalls for crepes, chicken wings, cartoon character-themed buns, then wash it all down with a large watermelon smoothie.
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Opening hours: 6pm – midnight, daily. Getting there: Best to go by cab. Address: Thanon Suk Sawat, Khwaeng Chom Thong, Dao Khanong, Thonburi. Rot Fai Night Market (Train Market) More commonly known as the Train Market, Rot Fai Night Market is easily recognizable from its vividly colorful tents.
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The name originated from the original Rot Fai, which was located right next to train tracks in Srinakarin, a suburb on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Although the new market located in the Ratchada area of the city is not as big as the original branch, it has just as much character.
Rummaging through its many stalls will likely land you some unique items such as vintage clothes, homewares, and home-deco-worthy antique items.
If you’re craving a little late night cocktail after sampling the food stalls, head on over to one of the cute VW camper mobile bars to grab a drink.
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Opening hours: 6pm – midnight, Thursdays – Sundays.
Getting there. National Cultural Centre by MRT.
Address: Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok.
Owl Market Even in a quieter Bangkok neighborhood, there’s a place for vintage treasure hunters to go to.
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And because the Owl Market in the Nonthaburi province is extremely non-touristy, you won’t have to rub elbows with a throng of travelers.
That also means things are cheaper than what you may find in the city.
So grab dinner for a fraction of the price that you would pay in the Thai capital, arm yourself with a colorful soda drink, and check out what’s in store.
At the market, you’ll be able to find clothes, trinkets, and even the more bizarre products such as stereos, and what looks like random used car and computer parts.
Even if you’re not planning on getting anything, it’s still an experience like no other being out in the boondocks.
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Opening hours: 3pm – midnight, daily. Getting there: Yaek Nonthaburi 1 by MRT. Address: Phra Chedi Nonthaburi 14/87 Moo 1, Nonthaburi. ChangChui Market (Plane Night Market) Two words: creative market. Art lovers are going to enjoy strolling around the huge space known as ChangChui Market.
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Why? Because for starters, it’s near impossible to miss the massive old airplane plonked right smack in the middle of the market, which also functions as a bar.
Aside from stalls selling apparel and cute crafts, and food trucks dishing out some of the best Northern Thai eats, ChangChui Market is also home to a handful of really good coffee shops and teahouses, and likely one of the only vintage cinemas in the country.
Thinking of visiting ChangChui Market? Prepare to fork out some moolah for the admission fee – just a small price to pay for the awesome vibe.
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Admission: THB100 (US$3.20). Opening hours: 4pm – 11pm, Tuesdays – Sundays. Getting there: Details here. Address: 460/8 Sirindhorn Road, Bang Phlat District, Bangkok. The post Steals, deals, chills for night owls at Bangkok’s best offbeat markets appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
THE LUXURY Al Meroz hotel in Bangkok welcomes guests through giant wooden doors, into a foyer with elegant chandeliers and warm, friendly service.
But now, the deluxe hotel has more to offer than just 242 spacious rooms, a spectacular rooftop pool, and delicious dining facilities. It has been certified as Bangkok’s first fully halal hotel, with every facility a Muslim traveler could need.
How you could be responsible for Asia’s garbage wasteland problem Conveniently located with easy access to Suvarnabhumi Airport and downtown Bangkok, Al Meroz is also close to The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand which provides religious services and guidance to the Muslim Community.
Of course, non-Muslim guests are still very welcome to the hotel and can enjoy all the same facilities, including incredible halal-cuisine.
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Diwan is an all-day family dining restaurant which has been created with the Muslim guest in mind. The restaurant serves a selection of Asian dishes, including traditional Thai food. It is also an alcohol-free zone and has been halal-certified.
If you fancy something a bit different then head to Barakat restaurant which serves tantalizing Mediterranean cuisine and adheres to halal guidelines, so no pork and no alcohol.
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“Halal refers to the entire production process, including storage and the utensils and equipment used,” Saksit Sarovat, a food and beverage manager told The Strait Times.
“A high standard in hygiene is essential. When you mention halal food, most people think about chicken biryani and oxtail soup, but at Barakat, we offer new experiences – dishes in the Arabian and European styles and a large selection of steaks.”
The other all-halal facilities also include separate swimming pools for females and males as well as a prayer room.
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Thailand welcomes almost 30 million foreign tourists every year. However, only a fraction of these, a little over two percent, are from the Middle East.
Thailand is trying to change this though and Al Meroz’s fully halal-certification is one of the ways it is doing so.
Is this the cleanest and happiest nation in the world? “The Al Meroz Hotel has been created with a clear vision to provide Muslim and non-Muslim guests with the best traditions of the Islamic Way of Living. From the unique architecture of the Hotel, to the Halal-certified cuisine and a non-alcoholic environment, every effort has been made to respect the needs of our guests,” the hotel wrote on their website.
The post Thailand welcomes its first fully halal hotel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
THAILAND is the land of many things.
Bustling markets, vibrant nightlife, pristine beaches, lip-smacking street food, intricate shrines, and exquisite cuisine. It truly is the land of smiles as you’d be hardpressed to find a tourist who leaves the country unhappy.
Thailand’s tourism is on the rise, but who’s visiting the most? But liver cancer is the last thing that any tourist would want to be packing home with them.
Thousands of Thais have reportedly lost their lives to cancer due to eating koi pla, a popular salad dish-like delicacy in northeastern Thailand. Made from finely chopped raw fish, mixed with herbs, a dash of lime juice, and sometimes a sprinkling of live red ants, the fish harbors a dark secret: it can cause liver cancer.
How do they know this? For starters, people in the northeast region of the country have bizarrely high levels of liver cancer and accounts for more than half of all male cancer cases in the region. A person can develop liver cancer when they contract a liver fluke parasite infection, and the freshwater fish used to make koi pla carry the fluke worms.
When eaten, the flukes work their way into the liver, where they release a particular protein that increases cell growth, providing the parasites with a food source. This protein is the key to the parasite’s cancer-causing ability. Once a person has contracted the infection, there’s not much doctors can do to prevent it from later becoming a chronic inflammation, which eventually becomes cancer.
The flukes also grow and lay eggs, which get excreted – often back into the water in which the fish are living – and then eaten by a snail, which is in turn eaten by fish, and thus the cycle starts again.
BBC quoted DR Banchob Sripa at the Tropical Disease Research Laboratory in Khon Kaen University as saying, “We have been studying this link in our labs for over 30 years.”
“We found that the liver fluke can make a chemical that stimulates a host immune response – inflammation – and after many years, this becomes chronic inflammation, which then becomes cancer.”
Dr. Banchob said that up to 80 percent of people in communities in Isaan were infected by the fluke. As such, doctors in the area are trying to educate people about the risk that eating koi pla poses. And the good thing is, it’s working.
“I think 60 percent do understand the causes of the liver cancer,” Dr Banchob revealed.
“They are aware of the liver fluke. But 10 percent are still eating raw fish. I believe that 10 percent probably cannot change. So we should change the environment, make the fish cleaner, to get fewer infections.”
Koi pla aside, the parasites can also be found in other raw, freshwater fish, especially in the Mekong region. But the best way to go about it in order to avoid contracting a cancerous infection is to eat cooked fish.
Other potentially deadly foods It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so here are a couple of other seemingly harmless foods that could kill you.
Bullfrog: A delicacy especially in Asia, the giant bullfrog’s legs are used for a number of popular dishes including frog legs porridge. However, it needs to be cooked right as the frog’s skin and inner organs contain harmful toxins and there have been fatal consequences. Octopus: Better known as sannakji in South Korea, this dish is eaten extremely fresh and still squirming on a plate. While it seems like fun and games, and quite a sight to experience, it’s not so much when people die as a result of choking on the tentacles. Blood clams: Also known as cockles in some parts of the world, blood clams are popular in China. Because they live in low-oxygen environments, they ingest viruses and bacteria, including Hepatitis A and E, typhoid, and dysentery. Fugu: Chefs in Japan must undergo special training to handle the fugu, otherwise known as the pufferfish, including learning how to prepare it. The fish’s liver, ovaries, and skin contain large amounts of tetrodotoxin. And there is no known antidote. With that in mind, maybe you should order something else?
The post Eating any of these popular delicacies can cost you your life appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
DUAL PRICING is a bone of contention among travelers, expats and locals. Not many are aware of such a practice, or that it takes place at almost every tourist attraction in Thailand.
Some of those who are, however, say it is frustrating and even unfair to have to fork out double – sometimes more – the amount that locals pay.
However, there are reasons for it and of course, ways you can avoid it, as we learned from several travelers. So if you’re ever in Thailand or plan to head there, we invite you to learn from their experiences below and decide for yourself if it’s something you disagree with.
Here’s an alternative to Thailand’s Full Moon parties Thailand is among the top five most visited destinations in Asia. Every year, millions of travelers seek out the wildest beach parties to dance under the moonlight, with unregulated beer and cheap food and accommodation. Last year, the kingdom saw a record 35 million in international arrivals, a number the government expects will grow to 45 million by 2020.
Used to the foreigner influx, local traders have, naturally, cottoned on to the spending habits of these holidaymakers. And they’re not afraid to take advantage.
Chanel Bellchambers, 22, a British backpacker and Thailand explorer told Travel Wire Asia:
“…within two days of being in Bangkok I felt that we were being slightly ripped off.”
To find out more, Bellchambers spoke to a British man who, from his 10 years of living in the Thai capital, had wised up to the practice and knew of ways to get around it.
“It takes time, but you must gain their respect. He told us to negotiate, and learn some of the lingo,” she said.
Such Beauty #BUDDHA #chiangmai #travelblogger #travelcouple #become #beautiful
A post shared by Chanel Marie Bellchambers (@chanel8) on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:08am PDT
Of course, learning a brand new language is probably easier said than done, and a simple three-to-four-day vacation shouldn’t have to entail that much research.
Richard Barrow, a British expat currently living in Thailand, has a simpler technique.
In a recent post on his Thai Travel News & Events blog, he wrote: “…never order food at any restaurant where they don’t show the prices. This is, in fact, illegal.”
“The vendor, in this case, could face a fine of up to THB140,000 (US$4,500) or up to seven years in prison. So, you are in the right when you ask for the price first,” he added.
But even when restaurants do display their prices, they are often written in Thai, which is tricky to decipher if you don’t know the language. For foreigners, said Barrow, some food shops would offer them menus written completely in English.
“I know what you are thinking, that is very kind of them. And quite often it is just that. But every now and then, there is an ulterior motive,” he said.
“The prices on the English menu are sometimes double of what it is on the Thai menu.”
So if you notice a local being offered a different menu to order off, either ask for that one or simply leave; as the chances are you’re about to pay double for the same food and service.
5 best spots to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia A state-sanctioned practice? On top of partygoers and foodies, Thailand also attracts many cultural-inquisitors wanting to delve into the rich history of the Buddhist nation, its incredible architecture, and meet some majestic animals from the jungle.
It is also these state-run attractions, such as national parks and temples which stipulate higher entry fees for foreigners.
This, of course, begs the question: is dual pricing legal in Thailand?
A reader of Barrow’s blog says it isn’t illegal.
“Double pricing is bad. It is unfair. In some countries it is illegal. In Thailand it is not. It is practiced by government institutions and by private businesses.
“I have complained about it on many occasions. I am sad when some expats try to defend this unfair policy.”
An incident this month that went viral on social media seemed to confirm this. A Thai woman claimed she was made to pay THB150 (US$4.70) for a local food dish at a market in Pratunam because the vendor thought she was a Chinese tourist.
Reporters even visited the Neon Market later to find out what happened, and when asked for details, the vendor admitted to charging the woman a price meant for “farangs” (the Thai word for Westerners). The story sparked a firestorm of protests from both locals and expats alike, with many Thais insisting that all customers be made to pay the same price.
“Foreigners are people too,” said one local quoted on Coconuts Bangkok.
In response to the uproar, the Kingdom’s Commerce Ministry reportedly said it would investigate the matter and that if the vendor were to be found guilty of overcharging, she would face up to seven years’ jail time and/or a fine of up to THB100,000 (US$3,200).
Call the Department of Internal Trade hotline 1569 if you were cheated at a restaurant https://t.co/pUlQHtQOMT #Thailand #Travel #ttot pic.twitter.com/JnxSunuQsJ
— Richard Barrow in Thailand (@RichardBarrow) January 24, 2018
So is it illegal then? The rules on that seem murky. The practice does, however, seem to go against the spirit of the Thai Constitution. Article 27 states:
“All persons are equal before the law, and shall have rights and liberties and be protected equally under the law.”
This covers discrimination against a person based on race and ethnicity, however, as the nation is under military rule, the Constitution is often a grey area.
5 best spots to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia For a good cause? That aside, it is often hard to avoid dual pricing because if you refuse, the next willing tourist will just pay the inflated price, and while it will leave a small hole in their pocket, they’ll have the experience you missed out on.
The situation is a catch-22, to say the least, however, there are some places that you may want to avoid altogether.
For example, Siam Ocean World and Madame Tussauds extort foreigners for THB850 (US$26), compared to the THB350 (US$10.25) locals have to pay. The wax works will mostly be celebrities who foreigners wouldn’t recognize, and why pay for a basement aquarium when you could go diving for cheaper in The Gulf of Thailand?
The Dragon Descendants Museum inside the giant dragon in Suphanburi is 299 Baht for Thais and 499 Baht for foreigners. No thank you. The Thai price is already quite expensive. I will enjoy the building for free from the outside #Thailand #Travel #ttot pic.twitter.com/T5L8WsD3gN
— Richard Barrow in Thailand (@RichardBarrow) January 21, 2018
Some travelers and expats are also beyond arguing about the price, as one traveler explains on Barrow’s blog:
“I feel bad haggling. I made as much in an hour as Thais make in a week. Plus, I don’t want to haggle over US$1 (THB30). Thais work all day, 6-7 days a week to be able to live in a room.”
It’s a view that many travelers share. And for some locals, the extra money paid by foreigners goes towards maintenance and back to support their community.
Our tour included meeting the Karen Hill Tribe, but it was different than we expected. They opened two shops for us and unfortunately that was all we've seen. So next time we'll look for another opportunity to meet the old hill tribes in northern Thailand. Have you met hill tribes in Thailand or do you plan to visit them? . . . #elephantcamp #elephantlove #elephantday #chiangmai #chiangmaitrip #chiangmaitrek #localpeople #karenhilltribe #hilltribe #hilltribethailand #thailand #thailandtrip #localpeoples #thaihilltribe
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“I feel as though we are so sheltered and have no idea what lies underneath these people and their lives, they live so differently to us, the cost that got us to Thailand may be their life savings,” Chanel says.
She said when she visited a local village selling food, handmade jewelry and gifts, prices were raised the moment tourists came by.
“… because WE HAVE MONEY, of course, we do! And this means they can then provide education, books, and stationery for schools, first aid… all they need.”
Although there is no record of where the extra money ends up, some travelers are adamant it’s not used for upkeep.
So how can you get around paying an inflated price?
“Of course, be cheeky and barter with these people but in a respectful way and think of how much time and effort they put in to being there and selling every single day, 365 days a year, for the millions of tourists, and will only get a percentage of what you’re giving them,” Chanel added.
Alternatively, just do a bit of research and find out which heritage sites, national parks, and attractions you want to go to. Also, have a fixed price for transport in your head to avoid being ripped off.
The nightlife in #bangkok #thailand #weekendvibes #traveljunkie #traveling #thailandtaxi #nightlifeinbangkok #fun #travelsolo
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“With Thailand, the ones that get you are the taxis,” Hugo Illingworth, a British sailing instructor living in Thailand told Travel Wire Asia.
“The motorbike taxis always seem to quote higher prices to westerners and the same goes for car taxis in the center.”
So get quick at math, work out the conversion rate to your usual currency, and if you’re quoted US$230 for a three-minute journey, walk away
The post How to navigate devilish dual pricing in Thailand appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.