Royal Flora to Re-Open Next Month
Entry fee set at 50 baht
The Royal Flora Exhibition which attracted millions of
visitors will reopen next month. The 470 rai park will become a dedicated
botanical center and one of Chiang Mai’s newest permanent tourist
attractions according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The exhibition was named after the Ratchaphruek or the Golden Shower Tree
and despite the many attempts to have the tree bloom out of season and
during the three months of the original show the experts gave up. Soon
visitors will be able to enjoy the trees with their majestic yellow flowers.
The Ministry of Agriculture will set up a foundation who will administer the
site as of July of this year when the current management agreement ends.
A 50 baht fee will be charged per visitor and the exact opening dates and
times of operation will be set at a later date.
Rimping Supermarket closing Chotana Branch
One of Chiang Mai’s favorite ex-pat supermarkets is closing its Chotana
Branch next to the Novotel Hotel within the next two weeks.
According to the owner Khun Phairoj, the closure comes after Rimping failed
to reach a renewal agreement for the building it now occupies.
Currently Rimping operates four stores, the Narawat on the Chiang Mai-
Lamphun Road, Mee Chok on Mae Jo and Middle Ring Road, Chotana next to the
Novotel Hotel on Chang Puak Road and the Kad Farang branch in Hang Dong.
Not giving up his market share in the city Khun Phairoj will open another
branch on March 15 across from Airport Plaza next to the Amway store as it
continues to expand it services in the city. The site is currently under
construction and should be ready by March 15.
The new 900 square meter location will be named Rimping City Daily, about
300 meters smaller than the Chotana branch.
Khun Pairoj told the Chiang Mai Mail that the doors at Chotana will close
the evening of March 14 and all products will be immediately transported to
the City Daily location.
The doors at the new location will open the morning of March 15 followed by
an inauguration event on the 16th.
The Bangkok based supermarket chain Tops is taking over the Chotana building
but no word on when it will be open to the public.
Travel Executives Promoting Chiang Mai
Anchalee Kalmapijit, (5th
left) president of Skål International Chiang Mai and North Thailand, and
Mohamad Jesr, MD of Lotus Hotel (5th right) flanked by members and guests
after the emperor’s dinner.
Members of Skål International Chiang Mai and North
Thailand gathered recently at the China Palace Restaurant of the Sheraton
Hotel for their monthly meeting.
The Skål organization is a global group of travel and tourism professionals
that now exceed 22,000 members worldwide.
Over 40 members and guests indulged on a Chinese banquet style dinner while
networking and sharing the latest happenings in the travel industry.
Skål’s special guest was the entertaining Ashrita Furman of New York who was
in Chiang Mai to break a Guinness World Record. His stunt was to perform 40
squat thrusts on top of an elephant at the Maetaman Elephant Camp. Furman’s
lively description along with a movie and slide show kept the captive
audience smiling as he triumphantly announced he had secured another world
record earlier that afternoon. He claims to currently hold 54 world records.
Mr. Ken Hill, a long time Skål member provided a brief history of Skål for
those attending for the first time.
Also in attendance was Skål International Pattaya and East Thailand founding
member Peter Malhotra.
Malhotra is the managing director of the Chiangmai Mail and the Pattaya
Mail. Malhotra spoke to the Skål colleagues about the re-launch of the
Chiangmai Mail and asked everyone for their support in making the community
weekly newspaper a fundamental source of news and information for Chiang
The next Skål meeting will take place at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on
March 29th. Travel managers and tourism executives who work in the tourist
industry in the North of Thailand and would like to join Skål may contact
the secretary of the club, Mr. Armin Schoch at: armin.
Border trade at Chiang Saen expected to boom
The Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce plans to accelerate the establishment of
an information service center for the quadrangle economic development zone
situated at the Chiang Saen border.
According to the vice president of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce, this
would showcase the available resources for investors, adding more value and
expanding channels of trade and product distribution.
International currency exchange booths and services for kip of Laos, kyat of
Burma, yuan of China, and baht of Thailand would be included at the location
Mr. Boontham Thipprasong, the Vice President for the border trade division,
disclosed that the information service center will help boost border trade,
especially the investment projects in the special Quadrangle Economic
Development Zone in the Mekong sub-region.
He added that the construction project named “Home Center”, would help
spread information and resources for border investors from southern China,
Laos, Burma, and Thailand. This resource center will serve as a special
economic development zone of Chiang Rai province.
Chiang Saen supporters believe in its potential for boosting trade,
investments, and transportation systems, especially from southern China to
Thailand. These factors have encouraged operators, investors, and
entrepreneurs to expand their businesses by setting up their companies or
offices in Chiang Rai, Mae Sai, and Chiang Khong district towns.
This center of ‘economic development zone’ is located about 30 kms from the
Mae Sai district town, and about 40 kms from Chiang Khong district. It’s
also easily and conveniently accessed by road.
Road block leads to Sweet Bust
Chinese products fail to make it to Chiang Mai
This time around it wasn’t yaba but everyday products
that were seized north of Chiang Mai. A police road block yielded 20,000
baht of chocolates, coffee and biscuits packed in 20 boxes without the
proper sales tax documents.
The detained pick-up driver and his passenger admitted they had purchased
the Chinese made products at the Doi Wow market in the Mae Sai district and
wanted to re-sell them in Chiang Mai. The Doi Wow market is well known for
selling products that are smuggled in from China.
According to the police the two Thai nationals were charged with avoiding
tax payments and their confiscated products were seized. No word on where
the Chinese chocolates will end up.
106 kms of roads in
Chiang Mai could be torn up
Could this be an answer to the City’s traffic problems?
The Faculty of Engineering at Chiang Mai University say they have come up
with a solution to the worsening traffic situation in the city.
The Bus Rapid Transit would be the most compatible transportation system in
Chiang Mai city.
The proposed project includes 4 traffic routes with 8 billion baht of
investment cost. Chiang Mai Municipality will be the mainstay to push this
project to completion. Mayor Boonlert of Chiang Mai said he plans to meet
the transportation minister to propose the supported budget.
Last month Maitree Srinarawat, the director of Transportation and Traffic
Policy and Planning Office chaired a meeting for the final model scheme and
the mass transportation construction plan in Chiang Mai.
The Office has hired the information service center of the Faculty of
Engineering at CMU to study the feasibility of the project with a budgeted
investment of 47.4 million baht.
Dr. Rangsan Udomsri, the head of the project study, concluded that Bus Rapid
Transit (or BRT) was the most suitable system for Chiang Mai city. There are
2 phases of the development plan with the first phase lasting 3-10 years,
and the second phase 11-20 years.
The first phase would include the planning and construction of a network of
4 traffic routes, 106 kilometers in length. The cost for construction and
system installation of all networks is expected to be about 8 billion baht.
After listening to the report, the director of the Office said that, at
present, the mass transportation in Chiang Mai is incomplete and
inconvenient, forcing residents to use their personal vehicles. The number
of motorcycle users was especially high, around 700,000-800,000.
Dr. Rangsan added that motorcycles have caused pollution and heightened risk
of road accidents, adding the he is looking for transportation that is
appropriate, safe, and environmentally-friendly.
When the discussions have been concluded and the plans approved, the city
can indicate the starting date. The office director would propose the
project to the Transportation Ministry and government agencies concerned in
order to receive the approval to move forward.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said providing a budget is
the main factor for pushing on mass transportation in Chiang Mai. The mayor
emphasized the importance of blending and adapting the BRT style with
northern local art and culture design, especially in the inner city area.
rattles Mae Hong Son
Myanmar may be to blame
Imported livestock from Myanmar, mostly cows and water buffalos are being
afflicted by a mysterious disease and locals in the Mae Hong Song area are
The Provincial Livestock Office provided 20 cows to 10 households in early
February as part of a project to help local farmers raise and then sell them
The assistance program known as the “Cow Project” has been operating for
over two years with apparently no infected bovines. The Livestock Office
purchased the livestock in Myanmar and then had them transported to the Mae
Hong Song area.
A strict quarantine law which requires all livestock to be held for 21 days
apparently was not enforced.
The affected villages are Ban Toong Makhampom and Ban Sorkaetha, a satellite
village of Ban Nongkhiew.
The Livestock office was ordered by the Governor to remove the infected cows
and investigate what has caused them to become infected.
If it is determined that this group of cows did in fact come from Myanmar
then importation will be halted until further notice.
An investigation continues throughout the affected areas to determine if
other livestock have been infected.
Government eyes New Management for Night Safari
Neighbors Set to Protest
Citing a need for better management and promoting the Chiang Mai Night
Safari as a world class destination the Minister for Natural Resources and
Environment, Mr. Kasem Sanitwong na Ayuthaya has initiated an in-depth study
as to who will operate the park in the near future.
The Night Safari opened last year after numerous setbacks and has yet to
attract the projected visitors to make it a more profitable venture and
world class destination.
More than 400 animals from 50 species roam the 140 hectare park which sits
on government property.
One of Minister Kasem’s proposals would be to lower ticket prices in order
to attract more visitors. Currently ticket prices range from 50 to 500 baht
per person depending on the time of day and venue selected. He added that he
would prefer it to be managed as a private run business with less
A working committee has been set-up by the Minister and results of their
recommendations will be known in about a month. What was made clear is that
the Night Safari will remain open.
Meanwhile villagers neighboring the Night Safari are preparing to protest
any changes that may be implemented by the government.
Fighting along the Border Intensifies
Burmese Troops trying to Purge KNPP Rebels
in Mae Hong Son
Myanmar military forces from the 55th Infantry Division are moving closer to
Thai-Myanmar border, opposite to Mae Hong Son provincial town in an attempt
to quash members of the Karen National Progressive Party (KNPP), one of
rebel groups at war with the Government of Myanmar.
The latest offensive took place in the jungles of Ban Naron about 3
kilometers from the Thai border near the city of Mae Hong Song. The fierce
clash lasted some twenty minutes and the Karen Rebels seized 3 soldiers’
bodies from Myanmar in addition to weapons and ammunition. One KNPP soldier
was wounded during the clash.
According to Thai Military Intelligence the KNPP were heavily armed with
81mm mortar shells, heavy artillery and machine guns.
According to the Third Region Army‘s sources’, a large number of Myanmar
soldiers had deserted their posts and crossed into Thailand seeking
protection. Other soldiers apparently surrendered to the rebel groups
claiming oppression and racial discrimination.
Thai military sources added that Myanmar has secured additional weapons from
China to be used in their war against the rebel groups along the northern
Myanmar-Thai border. They expect the fighting to intensify during the next
Fake credit card scam could
reach 100 million baht
2 foreigners and 1 Thai arrested in Chiang Rai
More than 500 credit card holders’ data from numerous
countries has been compromised according to the Chiang Rai Police following
the arrest of 2 foreigners and 1 Thai in that city.
Mr. Svein Wamesen, 19, of Norway and John Dang, 23, a Norwegian-Vietnamese
in police custody and being questioned. Wamensen has told police that his
intent was not theft but his actions were only part of an experiment in
allegedly using stolen credit cards. His friend Dang admitted to police that
he transferred data to fake credit cards and then sent his Thai wife to test
them out. She is also being held pending further investigation.
According to the police reports the two foreigners had withdrawn cash in
excess of 1 million baht but their investigations have led them to believe
the sum could reach as high as 100 million baht as only 68 of the apparent
500 stolen credit cards had been located.
The Chiang Rai police added that there are several foreign syndicates that
are hacking into Internet sites and obtaining bank data. The data is then
transferred onto the magnetic strips of fake credit cards and used for
purchases and cash withdrawals.
Meanwhile, Mr Pongsit Chaichatpornsuk, president of Credit Card Fraud
Prevention Committee revealed that 10 criminal groups involved with credit
card forgery are operating in Thailand.
The accused face charges of one year in confinement for each stolen credit
card or up to 68 years if they are found guilty on all counts.
Investigators are continuing their search for the remaining missing cards.
Better training for
hotel security guards needed
Expert says better standards are needed
(Seated l-r) Luzi A. Matzig,
Chairman, Marketing Committee of PATA Thailand Chapter, Paul Rogers, SNV,
Bob James, Chairman and Vic Plessner. (Standing l-r) Sethapon Chindanon, Ken
Scott, Malai Sakolviphak, Richard Brouwer, Danai Wansom, M.L. Hathaijanok
Kritakara and Vincent Tabuteau.
Senior representatives of Thai tourism have been told that the industry
needs to upgrade its security standards.
Security consultant Mr Vic Plessner of the Bangkok-based VHP Group told the
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter AGM, that hotel
security staff should hold monthly meetings to network and exchange insights
in a structured manner.
“In Thailand, hotel guards are often treated like janitors and not given the
training and authority to do their job properly,” he said.
Mr Plessner said that hotels should rigorously pursue “what if” scenarios
and implement “aggressive security comfort” measures such as sending a hotel
representative to meet passengers at the airport. In the airport arrivals
hall, hotel guests could be given a pre-programmed mobile phone with
important phone numbers in it.
Mr Plessner, a 38-year security veteran who moved from the US to Thailand
last year, said that while the conflict in the deep south of the country
seemed to be geographically contained, the violence sullied the national
image of Thailand and affected people’s decisions of whether to visit the
country or not.
Chiang Mai – Siem Reap Nonstop
Finally an easier way to get to the famed temples
As of May 15 travelers in Chiang Mai will now have another nonstop
international destination to choose from.
Bangkok Airways has announced a trial run of a new route connecting Chiang
Mai to Siem Reap, the gateway to Cambodia’s Angkor temple complex.
The aim is to serve passengers who want to fly to multiple destinations
without an extra stopover in the Thai capital, the airline said.
The airline will fly from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap twice a week from May 15
to October 27, and then decide whether to introduce permanent flights
between the two tourist hotspots.
“We chose to operate flights linking Chiang Mai with Siem Reap because of
growing demand from tourists,” said Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, the
airline’s senior executive vice president.
Bangkok Airways has not yet announced their flight times or fares.
Other nonstop international destinations departing from Chiang Mai include
Luang Prabang on Lao Aviation, Jinhong on Bangkok Airways, Chittagong and
Kunming on Thai Airways, Taipei on Mandarin Airlines, Mandalay on Air
Mandalay, Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia, Hong Kong on Hong Kong Express and
Singapore on Silk Air and Tiger Air.
Suspect arrested in murder
of 2 female Russian tourists
AP/CMM Staff Reporters
A 24-year-old Thai man was arrested Thursday and has confessed to the
murders last weekend of two female Russian tourists in the Thai seaside
resort city of Pattaya.
The suspect, Anuchit Lamlert, was arrested in Chonburi province, about 110
kilometers or 70 miles southeast of Bangkok, where Pattaya is located, the
iTV television network, FM98 Business radio and other media sources
The suspect confessed that he shot Tatiana Tsimfer, 30, and Liubov Svirkova,
25, whose bodies were found Saturday morning slumped in lounge chairs on a
A duty officer who answered the phone at the Pattaya police station said
there had been an arrest but refused to give other details. Calls to the
mobile phone number that served as the police hot line for the case went
One media source reported on its Web site that the suspect had a criminal
record for robbing foreigners in Pattaya.
He reportedly told police that robbery was the motive, but doubts remained
because the women’s belongings were untouched, and a video of the killing
taken by a surveillance camera showed no attempt to take their property.
The suspect said he fled by motorcycle and tossed the alleged murder weapon,
a 9 mm pistol, into some roadside bushes as he rode. Police were using metal
detectors Thursday night to search for the gun.
Local police came under heavy pressure to solve the murder, under threat of
losing their jobs. They circulated a computer-generated sketch of a suspect
and conducted an intense search for the motorcycle shown in the surveillance