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Vol. XIII No.4 - Sunday February 23, 2014 - Saturday March 8, 2014


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Business - Travel - Tourism
 

Chiang Mai readies border checkpoint for trade

Will submit request to Ministry of Interior

A committee meeting was held to discuss border checkpoints at Ban Lak Taeng and Kew Pha Wok.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Governor Wichien Puthiwinyoo recently reported that Chiang Mai held a committee meeting with governmental and private agencies, academics and other related groups to discuss the border trade possibilities at the Ban Lak Taeng border crossing in Wiang Haeng District. The meeting of the committee, Border Trade Thailand – Myanmar (Kew Pha Wok) was held on February 12, 2014 to update businesspeople in Chiang Mai as to the progress of the proposal.
A presentation of various situations as well as various changes in Myanmar that ensure Chiang Mai’s readiness for the opening of the AEC and Myanmar in 2015.Also under discussion was increasing the importance of the Ban Lak Taeng border crossing to increased trade and transport. It was noted that one of the positive aspects of elevating the checkpoint was that although the road was in the mountains it was not very steep. The current distance is 156 kilometers, of which 50 km is through mountainous areas. It is believed that by improving and developing the roads it would reduce the distance to 126 km.
The committee resolved to propose the opening of Ban Lak Taeng to border trade to be temporary permitted by the authority of the Governor with the approval of the Ministry of Interior.
The committee also agreed to support the Kew Pha Wok border trade point in Chiang Dao to become a permanent border crossing focusing on tourism. The next step would be to request approval from the Ministry of Interior and the Office of National Security and then enter into discussion with Myanmar to set a suitable date and time with the Shan State to oversee the border area. Also, the border will strengthen relations with Chiang Mai’s sister city Chiang Tung. Chiang Mai will continue to push for the opening of border crossings to add channels for entrepreneurs and strengthen cross border relations.


Hall of Opium the newest attraction in Chiang Rai

The new Hall of Opium is open daily except Mondays at Baan Sob Ruak, in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation proudly present an enticing tourist attraction in the glorious province of Chiang Rai – the Hall of Opium in the Golden Triangle Park.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of the TAT said, “We think this will be of great interest to tourists from around the world. After all, it was only a few decades ago that the areas around the Golden Triangle were notorious for being at the heart of South East Asia’s opium trade, with poppy plantations hidden in the hills far from preying eyes.”
Thanks to the hard work of the Princess Mother over many years, to initiate royal projects in Chiang Rai, the trade in opium was gradually eliminated.
TAT Governor said, “The Princess Mother encouraged the local people to stop cultivating poppies and switch to cold-climate plantation. Orchards replaced the opium fields and poppy farming became a thing of the past.”
“Now that the opium industry has faded into the mists of time, people are interested in how people lived and worked and why things changed for the better,” he added.
The Hall of Opium at Golden Triangle Park offers a glimpse at this dark period in Chiang Rai’s history and is well worth seeing. There are modern interactive displays and multimedia presentations that bring the past to life as this fascinating story unfolds.
Located at Baan Sob Ruak, in the Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai province – close to the very fields where millions of poppies once bloomed, the Hall of Opium gives a full picture of the opium trade, its history, some of the characters involved and how it blighted the lives of addicts.
This is a tale of a trade that stretches back some 5,000 years and gave rise to some of the biggest events in history – the Chinese Opium Wars, the colonisation of India and the rise of international drug cartels.
Despite being a dark tale, the history of opium is fascinating and The Hall of Opium’s exhibition has been designed to make a big impact on all visitors. Put together by historians and multimedia experts, the show treats visitors to sound and light displays, unique photos, video exhibits and interactive presentations. This means it is accessible and exciting to people of all ages and nationalities as well as being poignant and thought-provoking.
Because it has been designed to be educational and instructive, the Hall of Opium will be especially interesting to younger visitors, who may find it hard to imagine that just a few years ago things were so different in this bustling modern nation.
The drug trade of the Golden Triangle is not glorified in any way and there is a strong focus on the dangers of the poppy – that lovely bloom which ruins lives. Once the flower’s sap was extracted and boiled into addictive opium it became a magnet for crime.
The museum teaches all about drug trafficking, addiction, and smuggling, but most of all how the drug can affect the people who take it, destroying families and communities. But the final lesson the museum teaches is how there is hope and ultimately things can change for the better.
The museum is open every day (except Monday) from 8:30 – 17:00 hrs. A visit takes around 2-3 hours. The entry fee is 200 baht per person. For more information call Tel: +66 (0) 5378 4444 – 6. (TAT)


Chinese tourists still show strong interest in visiting Thailand

Travellers from China still show a strong interest in visiting Thailand, despite political tensions in Bangkok, with the number of visa applications at the Thai Consular Office in Shanghai remaining high at 7,000-8,000 applications a day while flight bookings with Thai Airways International (THAI) also remain robust with a 75 per cent load capacity, according to a survey conducted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Shanghai Office.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “China remains Thailand’s number one tourist market, with a total of 4.7 million arrivals in 2013 – a 68.83 per cent jump over 2012. We are happy to see that the number of daily visa applications and flight bookings for Thailand remains high at present, and we are working closely together with all authorities involved as well as private agencies to facilitate travel and hospitality for all tourists during Bangkok’s current unstable political situation.”
Surveys conducted during last week by the TAT Shanghai Office show that independent Chinese travellers and repeat visitors, who account for 30 per cent of the total number of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand, have confirmed that their trips to destinations in the kingdom including to Bangkok will go ahead as planned.
Meanwhile, some group tourists travelling with charter flights have changed their itineraries to visit destinations outside Bangkok, according to major tour operators and airlines operating in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing.
The top alternative destinations include Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi in the South, and Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the North. Centara Hotels and Resorts and Ctrip land operator in Phuket said in the survey that their Chinese guests now make up 90 per cent of hotel occupancy rates in Phuket, with similar figures for travel services.
Thanks to a successful marketing drive by the TAT Shanghai Office, the organiser of “Miss Earth Shanghai 2014” has confirmed bookings for Pattaya and Ko Chang in March 2014, and various Chinese wedding studios have organised trips for newly-married couples to honeymoon on Ko Li Phe in Satun in April 2014.
In addition, four Thai boxing tournaments are being staged in four major cities in China between January and March 2014, to promote Thailand as a sports destination. There will also be a five-day Thai Festival scheduled to be held in Shanghai in April to showcase and promote Thai products and Thai tourism to the Chinese market.
TAT Governor attributes this positive outlook to the hard work of TAT including the drive to keep tourists updated with constant press releases and reports about the situation in Thailand through wechat – a hugely popular instant messaging application in China with 600 million users – and weibo – a Chinese microblogging website, as well as the websites of the major travel agencies in China.
He added, “This has been done alongside extensive marketing campaigns that have promoted some of the alternative destinations in Thailand which have scheduled and charter flights; such as, Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai”.
The TAT Shanghai Office is also collaborating with China Eastern airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Air Asia to obtain permission from the Airports of Thailand to operate a total of 10 special flights from China to Chiang Mai from 28 January to 9 February, 2014. (TAT)


Museum app launched by CAMT

The new mobile application titled CM Museum was recently launched and offers visitors information on Chiang Mai’s historical sites.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Historical Centre, and College of Arts, Media and Technology of Chiang Mai University (CAMT) launched the new Chiang Mai Arts & Culture Center mobile phone application tilted CM Museum at a press conference held at Chiang Mai Arts & Culture Center on February 12, 2014.
Deputy Governor Chana Pangpibul presided over the presentation of the new mobile application along with Dr. Pitipong Yodmongkol, Dean of Faculty of CAMT and Chatchai Shinawatra, Director of Plan and Project Division of Chiang Mai Municipality.
Dr. Pitipong Yodmongkol said that the application has three languages; Thai, Chinese and English. The app was developed in a collaborative effort between Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, Temasak Polytechnic (Singapore) and CAMT to convey the story of Chiang Mai’s history through mobile technology. The last ten years has seen a fundamental change in communication with everyone having easy access to information via internet and 3G, the proliferations of smartphones and tablets has brought about a fundamental change in the way people travel and learn.
The new CM Museum application conveys information found at the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre from the past to the present, the easy to use app allows users to scan QR codes to view images in a virtual 3D, along with sounds and stories. The application is available both in Google Play and the Apple app store under the name CM Museum.


Android application developed for walking – cycling route around the moat

Chiang Mai’s newest mobile application is being developed to offer visitors and tourists walking and cycling routes to areas of interest around the city.

Nopniwat Krailerg
As more and more tourists turn to their smartphones and tablets for guidance and information lecturers in Animation of the College of Arts, Media and Technology, Chiang Mai University have developed an application that offers visitors a walking/cycling route around the moat. The Android application will simulate the old city of the early Lanna Kingdom combined with the era of Monthon Burapha to show a model of the ancient city of Chiang Mai as it appeared during the Lanna period of 1297 – 1558 AD.
Chiang Mai’s 700 years of history make it a unique attraction for the nearly 5 million visitors per year. Historical evidence shows that many of the common dwellings, ancient pagodas and ancient city walls have deteriorated. The app will recreate the old city around the moat, main areas such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pra Singh Worawiharn, Three Kings Monument, police station, Post Offices and the ancient town. The team is installing navigation around the city with recommended walking and cycling routes to help travelers understand the history and architecture of the city. The application is currently under development by CMU.


New Bangkok – Chiang Rai flight

Bangkok Airways, has recently announced its latest expansion to the northern part of Thailand – Chiang Rai by offering non-stop flights from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) to Chiang Rai, the northern most large city in Thailand. Commencing on 28 March 2014, the airline will be using a 162-seater Airbus A320 aircraft to service on this route.
The first outbound flight PG231 will depart Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) at 07.35hrs and arrive Chiang Rai Airport at 08.55hrs. while the second outbound flight will depart Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) at 18.05hrs and arrive Chiang Rai Airport at 19.25hrs. The first inbound flight PG232 will depart Chiang Rai Airport at 09.45hrs and arrive Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) at 11.05hrs. while the second inbound flight will depart Chiang Rai airport at 20.10hrs and arrive Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) at 21.30hrs. (PR)


Stay connected on Thai Air

Airline announces on board Wi-Fi

Thai Airways International (THAI) announced the introduction of THAI Sky Connect service for wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi) on board THAI’s Airbus A330-300 and A380-800 aircraft.
Mr. Chokchai Panyayong, THAI Senior Executive Vice President of Commercial, and Acting President, said, “THAI is pleased to introduce THAI Sky Connect, an in-flight Wi-Fi product and service that adds to passenger convenience on board flights operated with Airbus A330-300 and A380-800 aircraft in all classes of service.
“In the era of digital media, online technology is very popular and essential to everyday life, even during the time spent on board an airplane. With THAI Sky Connect, passengers are able to remain connected to the internet without missing important communication.
“Passengers are able to connect to the internet with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone and use various applications on the internet, such as Virtual Private Network (VPN), e-mail access, instant messaging, and web browsers. Through a credit card or debit card, passengers have options in selecting their Wi-Fi package.”
THAI received the Wi-Fi license from the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on 7 January, 2014 and began the THAI Sky Connect service on 14 February, 2014.
Wi-Fi internet connectivity is available on THAI’s six Airbus A380-800 aircraft and THAI’s seven Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
Wireless internet connection (WiFi) is available on THAI aircraft that have Wi-Fi equipment installed in the passenger cabin. OnAir provides internet connectivity for THAI Sky Connect in each THAI aircraft, whereby the internet signal is transmitted via satellite through a ground network.
OnAir collects the Wi-Fi internet package fees from passengers by credit card payment and has a customer relations service for passengers to contact for customer inquiries.
Prices for WiFi Packages: Smart Phone Package 3 MB = USD 4.50, 10 MB = USD 14.50, Laptop/iPad Package 10 MB = USD 14.50, 20 MB = USD 28.50. (TAT)


Central Festival Chiang Mai opens premier lounge

Central Festival Chiang Mai launched the new premier lounge for credit card holders on January 20, 2014. The lounge, according to Suchart Chaimongkol, General Manager of Central Festival Chiang Mai, will be available to Central Credit Card holders; Platinum, White Gold, Gold, Red and Classic cards with the Foundation Member identified on the card. One card works for 2 people. The Premier Lounge serves coffee and other drinks, and offers magazines and Wi- fi Internet for customers to relax or discuss business.


Thai AirAsia, TAT join hands to promote tourism

Thai AirAsia Airbus lands at Suvaranahbumi Airport (Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, Wikimedia)

Thai AirAsia joins hands with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in launching a campaign to boost tourism in the country to generate additional revenues of over Bt305 million. Airline executive Tasspon Bijleveld said a single flight ticket will start at Bt555 for those buying their tickets at www.airasia.com today until Feb 23 in order to travel from Feb 20-Jun 30.
Over 40,000 passengers are expected for this campaign.
Mr Tasspon said Thai AirAsia wants to give importance to domestic market. The airline flies to 14 domestic routes in all regions as well as inter-region routes such as Chiang Mai-Krabi and Phuket-Udon Thani.
Tawatchai Aranyik, TAT governor, said this campaign complies with TAT’s objective to create allies with others for more tourism activities. It hopes the project will help boost more travel among Thais. (MCOT online news)


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai readies border checkpoint for trade

Hall of Opium the newest attraction in Chiang Rai

Chinese tourists still show strong interest in visiting Thailand

Museum app launched by CAMT

Android application developed for walking – cycling route around the moat

New Bangkok – Chiang Rai flight

Stay connected on Thai Air

Central Festival Chiang Mai opens premier lounge

Thai AirAsia, TAT join hands to promote tourism

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