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Thailand’s loss is Myanmar’s gain

Posted on 16 January 2012 by admin

Every January The New York Times lists destinations around the globe worth visiting, but sadly for Thailand missing from the 2012 list are destinations here that made the cut last year _ perhaps the fallout from its worst flooding inಲ years _ while only four Southeast Asia destinations make its list of “45 Places To Go in 2012″.

Koh Rong in Cambodia. PHOTO COURTESY OF WWW.KOHRONG.COM.KH

Koh Samui placed third on the list last year, but has been replaced by Myanmar, or the Land of Golden Pagodas. Off-limits to foreigners for years, the country is back on the international tourist map after its government held general elections last year and released democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after 15 years of house arrest.

Myanmar, long isolated, boasts numerous tourist and cultural attractions including Inle Lake in the eastern part of the country, Ngapali Beach on its western coast.

Listed in 15th place is the famous Halong Bay in Vietnam where visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of 1,600 limestone islands and islets. The destination is also a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Koh Rong in Cambodia is in 23rd place. It is the country’s second largest island 78km2 in size located in the Gulf of Thailand. It takes about two hours to get there from the mainland. The highlight is not only a stretch of beach 43km long, but also its rich marine ecology.

The last Southeast Asian destination on the list is Malacca. Malaysia’s oldest city, 28th on the list, is also a Unesco World Heritage and it pulls in tourists with its unusual architecture and cuisine that reflect mixed Portuguese, Dutch and British influences dating back to its colonial roots.

For the full report, visit travel.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/travel/45-places-to-go-in-2012.html.  

Manila airport expansion

The Philippine government has set aside $26 million 齦 million baht) to renovate and expand Terminal 1 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila due to the problem of overcrowding.

The terminal, named after the father of the current president, opened in 19ȱ. It was built to handle 4.5 million passengers, but currently it is serving some 7.3 million transiting through the airport annually.

The budget would be spent on urgent structural retrofitting of the terminal, construction of a rapid-exit taxiway, and enhancement of facilities such as increasing immigration counters and refurbishment of the existing 72 toilets.

Airlines update

THAI to cut carbon print

- Thai Airways (THAI) has announced plans to reduce carbon emission by 5% by the year 2020, according to its President Piyasvasti Amranand.

To achieve the goal, the airline tested e-boarding pass service via smart phones last month. After check-in, the passenger will receive a picture file of a boarding pass with a barcode and a seat number. The image can be used for scanning at the gate before boarding the plane.

THAI also plans to change plastic cups used for serving cold drink to laminated paper cups made from 100% recycled paper.

Meanwhile, last month the airline tested its first bio-fuel commercial flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai using an equal mix of bio-fuel and Jet petrol provided by the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT). The one-hour flight required eight tonnes of petrol and the PTT paid 2.5 million baht for the bio-fuel, which had to be imported.

The cost was about seven times higher than normal fossil fuel, said Piyasvasti, adding that THAI believed the price would become more affordable in the future when there are more players join the fray.

Bio-fuel is way forward for THAI.

“We have tried as much as possible to reduce carbon emission,” he said. “Those attempts were initial steps meant to show the airline’s commitment to green travel and also to comply with new European Union rules that regulate airlines flying in and out of Europe to reduce carbon emissions by 5% over the decade or else face fine.”

Emirates to fly Ho Chi Minh

- Ho Chi Minh city in south Vietnam will become the 124th destination Emirates airline will connect with a direct flight from Dubai this June.

It will ply Airbus A330-200 on the route. The aircraft has 27 business and 251 economy class seats. The new service should facilitate not only business and leisure travellers, but also two-way trade valued at $24 million in 2010.

Next month the airline will introduce flights to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and Dallas and expand to Seattle in March.

Hotels update

- St Regis Hotels Resorts, which recently opened a branch in Bangkok, has opened another one in Shenzhen, China.

The Shenzhen property occupies the top 28 floors of the skyscraper Kingkey 100, the tallest building there. It features 257 guest rooms and 40 suites ranging in size from 40-325 square metres, each with floor-to-ceiling windows to offer panoramic views of the city. Ipad2 is available in rooms allowing guests to get connected and control amenities via touchscreen. Other facilities are a spa, restaurants, lounges and a sky bar.

- Anantara Mui Ne Resort Spa is the latest addition to hotel properties located on Vietnam’s southeast coast.

Located 198km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in the coastal resort town of Binh Thuan Proince, the hotel features 89 rooms, suites and pool villas with one or two bedrooms. The living space ranges from 42 to 128m2.

Facilities include an Anantara Spa, five restaurants, four function or meeting rooms, a pool, a gym, a gift shop and reading lounge.

- The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will officially open the first property in Thailand, located in Siam Square, on February 15.

Called Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam, the hotel on Rama I Road will offer 300 rooms and suites. The new-build hotel is designed by Bangkok-based architectural firm Architects 49, which is credited with design of Thailand Cultural Centre and the unique architecture of Thai Red Cross Centre.

The brand is designed to serve mid-tier and leisure travellers who need basic services such as high-speed Internet, hot breakfast and comfortable rooms. The hotel is already accepting bookings, and when it formally opens next month, it will become the first Holiday Inn Express brand in Southeast Asia. IHG also plans to open an outlet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2015.


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About the author

columnist Writer: Karnjana Karnjanatawe
Position: Reporter


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