Thai postpones A380 London debut service

Thai Airways has confirmed that it will postpone its A380 service on the Bangkok to London route.

The airline was scheduled to debut the aircraft on the London route from December 1, 2013 following the arrival of its fifth and sixth A380s. However, on July 2 the carrier said that it will not be operating the A380 on the London route until October 30, 2014 – a delay of almost one year. Thai regretted the change of plan, which it said was due to ‘important technical modifications’.

The carrier needs two aircraft to execute a daily service and had planned to use the A380 on one rotation and an A340-600 on its second daily service. It now says that it will continue to serve the route with two daily Boeing 747-400 flights through to the end of the summer 2014 schedule, when it will revert to the planned A380 and A340-600 operation. The B747-400 accommodates nine passengers in first, 40 in business and 325 in economy class. In comparison, the A340-600 seats eight in first, 40 in business and 325 in the economy class.

‘The introduction of the A380 will make flying between London and Bangkok an even more enjoyable and unforgettable experience and we can only apologise for the unforeseen delay,’ the carrier said.

Primarily a leisure spot, Gulf carriers have made major inroads in Thailand with their aggressive pricing and extensive networks. In 2012, one single Gulf-based carrier, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, carried almost 700,000 passengers in and out of Bangkok – a 38 percent increase in carryings over 2011, and making it one of the busiest routes.

However, when it launches its A380 in London Heathrow next year, Thai Airways will be able to offer passengers the latest facilities in T2, which is scheduled to open in June 2014.

Koh Samui vs Phuket: where to go on your next holiday

Heading to a paradise island in Thailand has got to be most people’s idea of the perfect holiday – we know it’s definitely on our wish list. The question is, which island should you visit? Koh Samui and Phuket are two of the most popular, so we’ve decided to take a look at each of these to try to work out which is best for who.

Fingers crossed, this’ll help you decide between them!

Laidback atmosphere

We don’t know about you, but when we think of jetting off to white-sand, palm-fringed beaches, we also imagine a totally laidback atmosphere. Both Phuket and Koh Samui are great for relaxing in, but, as the less frenetic and quieter of the two, Koh Samui probably has the most chilled-out vibe.

Don’t get us wrong, Phuket is pretty chilled as well, but you will generally find it’s a busier place overall, which we think means it’s got a less laidback feel – especially if you spend a lot of time in the main tourist area of Patong. Koh Samui also has more secluded spots (you’ll be hard-pressed to find these in Phuket), so there’s more scope for days spent on near-deserted beaches.

Quick tip: if you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter on Phuket, head to Nai Han beach on the island’s southern tip.

Overall winner: Koh Samui

Water sports

If you love water sports, Thailand’s islands are a fantastic place to enjoy them. Both islands are home to amazing beaches and offer great opportunities to try out things like snorkelling and scuba diving.

So, which is best? Personally, we think if you’re really serious about giving water sports a go, Phuket probably comes out on top. This is because it’s got a really good set-up for tourists planning to go on diving trips and such – especially in Patong – to nearby famous sites like Shark Point.

The one thing to remember about water sports in Phuket is that while the beaches look gorgeous, they’re not always safe for swimming. So, keep your eyes peeled for a red flag – if you see this, you shouldn’t swim.

Overall winner: Phuket

Awesome day trips

One of the great things about going to Koh Samui or Phuket is that you’ll have the chance to visit some incredible nearby islands. Now, we know you’ll probably be happy enough staying put (who wouldn’t be?!), but we think it’d be a real shame to miss out on these.

If you choose Phuket for your holiday, taking a boat out to Phi Phi Island (where the film adaptation of The Beach was shot) is an absolute must. Should you pick Koh Samui as your base, though, make sure you head out to Ang Thong Marine National Park.

This group of around 40 gorgeous islands is just to the east of Koh Samui, and boats set sail for here from both Na Thon and Mae Nam.

Overall winner: Koh Samui

Nightlife

The party scene in both Koh Samui and Phuket is seriously good, so if you’re planning to let your hair down, you’ll do well in either place. In Phuket, your best bet is to stick to Patong, since this has heaps of bars and clubs catering for tourists. Plus, it’s likely to be where your hotel is, too, so you won’t have far to go to stumble into bed!

In Koh Samui, it’s actually the nearby island Koh Pha-Ngan that usually steals the limelight, thanks to its amazing Full Moon Parties on Hat Rin beach. If you want the ultimate party experience, definitely time your visit to coincide with one of these. Koh Pha-Ngan’s about half an hour away by boat, so it’s not too long a trip.

Overall winner: It’s a tie!

If you’ve been on a getaway to either of these places lately, drop us a line and let us know what you did!

Kanchanaburi to capitalise on Dawei project

The Tourism Promotion Society of Kanchanaburi, in Thailand, has said that it is looking at means to promote the province as a tourist hub for travellers en route to Myanmar.

The number of tourists that have been travelling through the province because of the rising popularity of the Dawei Project, a deep-sea port in Myanmar, has prompted authorities there to provide better tourism services. Plans are being drawn up to promote the province as a base to connect with the mega-project in Myanmar.

A group comprising of the region’s businessmen wants the local administration to offer services that will provide tourists with the motivation to stay overnight in the province, and thereby up-rate its status from merely being a transit destination. In future, the Kanchanaburi province is hoping to play a role as a centre to process travel documents or create travel packages to Dawei. Tourists visiting Dawei would then have to stay at Kanchanaburi before they go to Dawei and return to Thailand.

Tourist agencies operating in Kanchanaburi said that it was a good time to start offering tourism services because room supply and eating facilities in Dawei were neither convenient nor adequate. Currently there are about 10,000 rooms in the province, of which only 10 percent are four and five-star hotels.

Figures indicate that last year, seven million tourists visited the province, and five million of them were Thais. Most of the foreign tourists are either Russians or South Koreans. The province is now preparing to host a steady stream of business tourists that are expected to visit Dawei in future.

The Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts Expands Across the Globe

The Luxury Collection of Hotels & Resorts, a luxurious hotel brand from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, will be opening ten hotels and resorts in cities and resort destinations globally within the next year.

The brand will be opening new hotels shortly in Shanghai and Sanya in China, Jaipur and Chennai in India, the Blue Mountains in Australia, Koh Samui, in Thailand, and Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Luxury Collection of hotels will be offering the brand’s signature Luxury Collection Concierge services, opulent amenities, and local cultural experiences to its guests. The brand is currently offering around 80 hotels and resorts in 30 countries worldwide.

Paul James, the global brand leader, for St Regis and The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said, ‘This is a milestone for The Luxury Collection as we open ten new hotels and resorts, the most of any year in the brand’s history. As a new generation of global affluent travellers emerge, we are strategically growing our portfolio beyond the traditional luxury grid and in diverse destinations, like China’s Hainan Island and India’s Chennai, that have become important hubs for business and leisure.’

The 142-room Royal Begonia, a Luxury Collection Resort in Sanya, in China will debut in August 2012, while in September 2012, Twelve at Hengshan, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Shanghai will open in China.

The ITC Grand Chola, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Chennai, India will also be opening in August 2012, and The Sarasvati, a Luxury Collection Resort hotel in Bali, is expected to open in January 2014.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Announces Campaigns to Promote Tourism

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), a Thailand-based government agency that promotes tourism in Thailand, is partnering Asia Web Direct, an online travel specialist in Asia, for a new tourism campaign.

The campaign, titled, Discover the Other You, is intended to encourage tourists to visit Thailand with the promise of an exclusive experience in creative tourism.

Asia Web Direct is offering adventurous holidays with 100 alternatives for tourists visiting Thailand. The tours include a taste of Thai culture by experiencing Muay Thai boxing, Thai cooking classes and Thai massage techniques. The holidays are customisable to allow customers to choose from a number of special hotel rates, and offer savings of up to 70 percent on making a reservation on their website:

The holidays are priced from £49 per night.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also announced the launch of the Thailand Miracle Shopping (TMS) 2012 campaign, to promote Thailand as an ultimate shopping destination. The promotion includes unique travel and shopping bargains and other privileges, on paying for deals with MasterCard credit cards.

Vilaiwan Twichasri, the deputy governor for tourism products and business, Tourism Authority of Thailand, said, ‘We are confident that the Thailand Miracle Shopping 2012 campaign will build on the proven success of previous campaigns between the TAT and MasterCard. At the TAT, our goal is to support Thai merchants by encouraging locals and tourists to spend in Thailand. TMS is a fun and innovative campaign, which will bolster Thailand’s image as a travel destination among tourists (both Thai and foreign) while simultaneously strengthening the business relationships among partners and networks that support this campaign.’

New Luxury Hotel Okura Prestige Opens in Bangkok

The new, luxurious Okura Prestige Bangkok hotel opens in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 14, 2012.

A hotel from the Japan-based Okura Hotels & Resorts brand, the property is located in Bangkok’s new Ventures Ecoplex, around 40-minute away from Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

The Okura Prestige Bangkok features contemporary design with a large helping of Asian flavour. The hotel includes 240 guestrooms, as well as a spa, a fitness centre, four restaurants and bars, and a business centre with latest technology. The hotel also has four meeting rooms for hosting events and seminars.

Toshihiro Ogita, the president of Hotel Okura Co Ltd, owner of the Okura Hotels & Resorts and Nikko Hotels International brands, said, ‘We are proud of our newest addition, which we think will be the best hotel in Bangkok. We’re looking forward to welcoming many international guests.’

The hotel is offering special introductory packages from May 14 to September 30, 2012 to celebrate its opening in the city.

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a favourite destination for tourists from across the world. The main tourist attractions in the city are the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. The city serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Thailand, such as Phuket, and Krabi.

The city also hosts many festivals, including the Bangkok Songkran Festival from April 13 to 15; The Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May; The Queen’s Birthday Celebration on August 12; Trooping of the Colour in December; and The King’s Birthday Celebrations on December 5.

Marriott International Offers New Luxury Hotels in Thailand

Marriott International, a US-based hotel company, is opening three new properties in Thailand in 2012.

The new properties, Rayong Marriott Resort and Spa, The Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, and the Marriott Executive Apartments Bangkok – Sukhumvit Thonglor, will all open in 2012.

Craig Smith, the company chief operating officer for Asia, said, ‘We are delighted to be expanding our footprint in Thailand and bringing these three wonderful new hotels to the country. We have had a long relationship with Thailand having opened our first hotel here, the JW Marriott Bangkok, some 15 years ago. It is great to be able to bring these new hotels to Thailand which we feel will have a very positive impact on both domestic and international travellers to the country. We are totally committed to Thailand for the long term, and in addition to these three hotels we will continue to grow in Thailand with a further five hotels set to open in the next three to four years.’

The 296-room, Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit is located close to the BTS Skytrain station, and is aimed at the business travel segment, offering both leisure and business facilities. The 206-room, Rayong Marriott Resort and Spa, is located on the Mae Phim beach and offers beautiful ocean views, while Marriott Executive Apartments Bangkok – Sukhumvit Thonglor is a full service luxury hotel for extended stays, located in the same building as the existing Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit. All the hotels are offering amenities including restaurants, lounges and bars, and event space, as well as leisure facilities.

Tourists warned to avoid Bangkok as waters rise

Rising floodwaters has meant British holidaymakers have been warned to avoid all but essential travel to the Thai capital, prompting a mass evacuation from the city.

 

Evacuation orders have been sent to tens of thousands of people in the capital following changes made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice. This is in response to the large volume of floodwater that is expected to hit the capital later this week.

 

More than 350 people have been killed from floods as a result of heavy rainfall causing widespread disruption in the worst flooding Thailand has seen in 50 years.

 

On Tuesday Bangkok and 20 provinces announced a five-day holiday giving people the chance to escape the rising waters.

 

Authorities are scrambling to try and pump water from the Bangkok region, however the risk of flooding has increased due to record-high water levels in the city’s Chao Phraya River, especially if heavy rain returns when the tide is high.

 

Bangkok’s second biggest airport Don Muang was forced to close yesterday until November 1 due to surrounding water in the area making access difficult for passengers and staff.

 

Residents of Don Muang and Bang Phlat districts have been told by Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra to leave for their own safety.

 

He said: “This is the first time I am using the term ‘eviction’, the first time I’m really asking you to leave”.

 

Thailand’s main airport Suvarnabhumi has not been affected because it was on higher ground. Thai Airways however, announced flights may be reduced because of staffing concerns.

 

The FCO website states: “We now advise against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok and the 26 provinces in Thailand affected by flooding”.

 

“Our advice against all but essential travel does not include transit through Suvarnabhumi international airport. Flights to destinations elsewhere in Thailand (the resorts of Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui) continue to operate normally”.

 

Customers due to travel within the next few days should contact their airline or travel provider for the latest information.

 

By Charlotte Greenhalgh

 

Thailand continues to see floodwater rise

British tourists have been warned to take care if visiting Thailand in the near future due to continued flooding.

 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised tourists to ‘exercise caution due to widespread flooding’.

 

The far eastern country has been hit by monsoon rains, however the capital Bangkok has so far avoided the worst of the flooding. Some outer regions are still experiencing rising water, with parts of the country left under water.

 

The flooding has so far taken the lives of 297, with two people missing. Over 2.3 million people have been affected with worst flooding seen in the north and north-east of the country.

 

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) has today announced that the capital is still in danger of flooding, however the rainwater is being closely monitored and the situation is not critical at present.

 

Bangkok’s International Airport is still fully operational, however road and rail services have been affected, especially north of the capital. The areas most at risk of flooding are Sam Mai, Khlong and Khlong Sam Wa.

 

This is the most awful flooding seen in Thailand in decades.

Koh Samui favourite for weddings

Koh Samui, the tropical paradise overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, is fast emerging as a favorite wedding venue of couples around the globe for its boutique ambience, excellent amenities and famous Thai hospitality. However, wedding planning especially abroad is no easy task for couples who are already stressed out with various commitments. This state of affairs motivated Nora Resorts & Hotels to launch a new venture NoraWeddings.com and to come out with wedding packages to simplify the planning process.

 

Couples who have gone through wedding ceremonies at home will attest to the fact that these events are anything but stress-givers. From coordinating wedding vendors to finding time for fitting sessions and beauty procedures, couples no wonder feel drained by the time they are standing in front of the altar. Troubles worsen when guest list run into miles, forcing couples to stretch the scale of reception. Many couples avoid these hassles by choosing to wed abroad.

 

Though guests need to be flown in and accommodation taken care of, Samui weddings are less expensive. As modern practices require guests to pay for their trip, couples need to tackle only the last remaining hurdle of organizing the show. This is where NoraWeddings.com pitches in with its vast experience in hotel industry by offering various wedding packages. Nora’s wedding packages come with the services of a wedding planner to oversee arrangement and to guarantee that it takes place without snags.

 

Thai Wedding package offered by NoraWeddings.com includes a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony presided over by holy monks. The package provides for the special meals and alms to monks besides flower garlands for bride and groom. Wedding venue décor, wedding cake, wine for toasting, background music and long drum procession with Thai dance come as part of the deal. Wedding ceremony is followed by signing of wedding ceremony certificate and planting of love tree to mark the event. Private candlelight BBQ dinner is a befitting finale to the romantic occasion.

 

NoraWeddings.com also offers couples the choice to wed in Western-style ceremony or enjoy romance and thrill of both with Thai & Western Wedding package.