Tag - southeast asia

Airport Pickup From Airport to Anywhere in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand

toyota_hiaceKick off your holiday with a convenient start... with an Airport Pickup!
From the airport to ANYWHERE in Bangkok - only 400 Baht! That's right, for only 400 Baht (one person per trip - maximum of 6 people for the van to leave) you can miss the queues and the buses to start your holiday straight away! No additional charges, expressway and other fees inclusive... A good start to a great trip! Also, from the airport, train station and bus station to ANYWHERE in Chiang Mai - only 100 Baht!

Click here for information on a pickup from Khao San Road to Suvarnabhumi Airport


Google Street View Hits Thailand

Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View launched in Thailand recently, the culmination of a six-month project that covers 95 per cent of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. The service provides “panoramic views” of the capital’s major arteries – Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road, many of the Bangkok’s surrounding areas, and of course it features Thailand’s leading backpacker and budget tourist destination – Khao San Road. Thailand is the second Southeast Asian country to be featured on Google Street View, after Singapore which launched at the end of 2009. According to Pornthip Kongchun, Head of Marketing for Google Thailand, Google Street View was launched with promoting Thailand's tourism industry in mind.

"In Thailand, the next cities for Street View will be Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Nakhon Phanom, Hat Yai and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and also Thailand's World Heritage cities," Khun Pornthip was reported as saying. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) added "The first priority is Thailand's World Heritage. We plan to allow Google Thailand's Street View team to collect images of the World Heritage sites started in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, as well as Sri Satchanalai". 

As far as Khao San Road is concerned, it’s pretty decent coverage which includes surrounding areas like Rambuttri Road and Tani Road. Unfortunately, there aren’t any nighttime pictures (or if there are we missed them) and for many, they might only recognize Khao San Road at night! That’s not really the point of the service though.

The problem they are going to face on Khao San Road is the very “fluid” situation on the strip. New businesses open and close regularly, and it’s already clear that the current pictures were taken a couple of months ago.

Apparently you can request an update from Google if you find that pictures are over three years old, but if they post pictures that old you might find Khao San isn’t recognizable from Google Street View! That said, it’s all interesting stuff and great KSR is covered so well. Images can be accessed through the Thai version http://maps.google.co.th/maps and through the English version http://maps.google.com/maps. Check it out!


An Introduction to Burma

Introduction to Burma

Introduction to Burma

Introduction to Burma
Often still referred to by its former name of Burma, Myanmar is a beautiful diamond-shaped country spanning roughly 575 miles (925 kilometres) from east to west and 1300 miles (2100 kilometres from north to south.

Myanmar is part of Southeast Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east. This is a country rich with natural beauty, culture, wildlife, forests, coastal resorts and temples and in many ways is the perfect tourist destination.

However, Myanmar is ruled by a brutal military regime, and many people avoid visiting Myanmar in order to avoid supporting this regime. However, the sad truth is that most tourist services such as guesthouses, restaurants and tours are run by the people themselves and not the government. The recent reduction in tourism has simply meant that the people of Myanmar are forced to suffer from lost earnings in addition to the numerous hardships and constraints imposed by the government. As long as you are careful to avoid government run hotels, buses and other services, it is possible to experience the most of this captivating country and possibly make a bit of a difference at the same time.

Although various parts of Myanmar are currently closed to tourists, the tourist numbers have been rising over the last couple of years, allowing many resorts to reopen. The Irrawaddy River runs through the centre of the country and this is a great way to travel and see the countryside.

Travelling through Myanmar feels like stepping into the past. Even though the capital city is fairly modern compared with the rest of the country it is still perhaps half a century behind many modern Southeast Asian capitals such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, while the country’s remote villages have changed little of the last few centuries.

This is a large part of Myanmar’s charm and as you explore you will discover ancient marvels such as the 4000 sacred stupas which are scattered across the plains of Bagan and the mysterious golden rock that somehow manages to balance on the edge of a chasm. As you ride in a Wild West stagecoach you will pass grand British mansions and men wearing traditional long skirt-like cloths around their waists.

Despite their years of suffering, the people of Myanmar are friendly, gentle and have a unique sense of humour. As you wander through villages and small towns you will probably be invited to get to know these people and share a part of their lives, an incomparable experience.

One of the best things about Myanmar is that it hasn’t been inflicted by the blight of Starbucks, McDonalds and other chain outlets that cover most Asian countries. Myanmar’s charms are subtle but they are authentically Asian and this is one of the few places in the world where you can experience true Asian culture without the integration of Western consumerism.


An Introduction to Malaysia

Location and History of Malaysia

Location and History of Malaysia

Location and History of Malaysia
Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia’s tropical climate makes it the perfect place to visit in the winter when the chilly weather in other countries makes people want to head for the sun. Blessed with a number of beautiful beaches, sun-kissed islands and pristine rainforest, many people travel to Malaysia to enjoy the good weather and natural beauty.
A good way to reach Malaysia is by train from Thailand, which borders Malaysia to the north. First stop should be the pretty island of Penang, where you will find clean beaches, hilltop temples, large gardens and colonial buildings. To the south is the capital city of Kuala Lumpur with its famous Petronas Towers and great shopping and dining options.

Head to the Cameron Highlands to wander through lush tea plantations in the cool air and snorkel in amongst colourful coral on the Seribuat Archipelago before stretching out on one of the picture perfect beaches. There are a good number of national parks to explore, all offering stunning natural beauty such as sparkling waterfalls and caves as well as interesting wildlife. Soak away aches and pains in the Poring Hot Springs and head to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for an unforgettable experience.  

One of Malaysia’s big attractions is its cultural diversity. Malays, Chinese and Indians all live side by side here, adding their own individual style to the mix. This is a good place to experience festivals and particularly vibrant are the Deepavali, Chinese New Year and Christmas celebrations.

Food lovers will never be bored in Malaysia as the blend of cultures means that there are a wide range of dishes to try. As well as traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, fusion food is also popular and western fast food restaurants are easy to find.

Malaysia is a country that truly offers something for everyone. Explore magnificent mosques and glittering temples in the country’s bustling cities before heading to the beach to soak up the sun or take part in a range of adventure activities such as diving, rock climbing, windsurfing and snorkelling.


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Location and History of Malaysia

Location and History of Malaysia
Location and History of Malaysia
Location and History of Malaysia
Covering 329,847 square kilometres, Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered by Thailand, to the north, Indonesia and Singapore to the south, and Brunei and the Philippines to the east. Malaysia is divided into two separate land masses – known as Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo - by the South China Sea.

Malaysia has a tropical climate, with a hot summer and intense rainy season. With forest and mountain ranges running through the country from north to south, there are mangrove swamps and mudflats on the west coast, which separate into bays and inlets. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the west coast as well as dense forests to explore.

Malaysia’s modern history dates back to the 2nd century AD, when there were a collection of up to 30 separate Malay kingdoms. The Malay kingdoms gained power and riches as costal city ports, which were established in the 10th century. Originally Hindu or Buddhist states, Islamic found a place in Malaysia in the 14th century.

The Sultanate of Malacca was established at the start of the 15th century by prince Parameswara, from Palembang, who fled to the area from what is now known as Singapore. Prince Parameswara turned Malacca into an important trading port, putting Malaysia firmly on the map. However, Malacca was conquered by Portugal in 1511 and a Portuguese colony was established there.

In 1786 Britain established a colony in the Malay Peninsula, with the British East India Company leasing the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty was signed in 1824, which divided the Malaya archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands.

Although there were Malaysian figureheads, the British mostly ruled Malaysia until the Japanese occupation during WWII. The Federation of Malaya was established in 1948, which reinstated the independence of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.

From 1948 to 1960 the Communist Party of Malaya embarked on a guerrilla campaign known as the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 to force the British out of Malaya. Independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was finally granted on 31 August 1957, and the Federation was renamed Malaysia in 1963.

At first there was much fighting with Indonesia over boundary lines, culmination in the racial riots of 1969. The New Economic Policy was established to restore peace to the country and since then Malaysia’s various ethnic groups have lived more or less in harmony.  

These days Malaysia’s economic and social structures are good and the country’s affluence can be seen in modern structures such as Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers and the Sepang F1 Circuit.

Ngwe Saung Beach, Burma

Ngwe Saung Beach, Burma
Ngwe Saung Beach, Burma
With more than 10 miles of pure white sand and clear blue sea, Ngwe Saung Beach is a great place to recharge for a day or two after travelling around Myanmar. One of the cleanest beaches in Southeast Asia, you can guarantee rest and relaxation in picturesque surroundings where the hot air is moderated by cool sea breezes blowing through the palm trees.

Ngwe Saung Beach has only recently opened to tourism, so now is the perfect time to visit. Although you won’t find many cheap places to stay, this is a good place for those with a little extra to spend who appreciate beauty and luxury.

Although relaxation is key here, there is also plenty to do for those with energy to spare. Beach volley ball is a popular past time, and are water sports such as kayaking, wind surfing and fishing.

After a busy day of sunbathing and swimming, you can soothe aching muscles in one of the beauty spas located along the beach, or ride in a bullock cart as the sun sets. Hiring a bicycle is also a good way to explore and the narrow lanes and roads around Ngwe Saung Beach are in good condition.

Another great way to see the area is by going on a boat trip, while thrill seekers will enjoy the speed boat rides. The tropical rain forests and the towering Rakhine mountain range make an excellent backdrop to this beautiful resort and are also good places to explore.

This is a great place to eat fresh seafood and a large number of beach front restaurants have delicious seafood BBQs in the evening where you can simply choose from the catch of the day and eat at a candlelit table on the sand.

A great way to reach Ngwe Saung Beach is by taking the tourist ferry from Yangon. The ferry goes at night and the trip takes around six hours, giving you plenty of time to catch some shut eye or look at the stars as you sail.


Location and History of Burma

Location and History of Burma
Location and History of Burma
Location and History of Burma
Covering an area of 676,552 square kilometres, Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east. The capital city is Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon and Myanmar’s population is around 49 million.

Although the official language is Myanmar, there are over 100 dialects spoken in this diverse country and English is generally used when conducting business. The majority of people (around 87%) are Buddhist, with other people being Hindu, Muslim, Christian and animist.

The history of Myanmar is turbulent to stay the least. Originally named Burma, the country’s proximity to so many dominant nations has mean that wars and land right disputes have been going on for centuries and the territory wasn’t reunified until the middle of the 16th century. Years of war followed as this now unified nation invaded first the Mon people and then Thailand in an attempt to gain more land. 

Burma became part of British India towards the end of the 19th century, during which time the British helped develop the country and establish trade relations. The British were driven out of the country during WW II and Burma became independent in 1948. However, the hill tribes, communists, Muslims and Mons within Burma all revolted, causing chaos.

General Ne Win led a revolt in 1962 and basically seized control of the country, eliminating the democratic government. The economy crumbled over the years that followed and people started to demonstrate in 1987 and 1988 in order to get Ne Win to resign. The general resisted and conflicts between the between pro-democracy demonstrators and the military ended in around 3,000 deaths in just six weeks.

General Saw Maung and his State Law & Order Council (SLORC) took control of the government after a military coup and there was an election. However, despite the fact that the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi scored a massive victory, the party leaders were prevented from taking office and were actually arrested under very dubious circumstances while a know drug baron took over the running of the country.

During her years of imprisonment, Aung San Suu Kyi has attempted to spread the world of Myanmar’s dictatorship government and her illegal house arrest, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and finally her freedom in 2002.

The state of affairs in Myanmar was finally put into the spotlight in 2007 when thousands of monks marched in protest at the unfair beating of three of their fellow monks were beaten at a protest march. Although the government tried to suppress the march by firing on the crowds and closing communications, the word was already out and people around the globe are becoming aware of the conditions opposed on the people of Myanmar.

Although things are still tightly controlled in Myanmar there seems to be hope on the horizon and many are optimistic that the situation will soon improve.


Types of Transport in Burma

Types of Transport in Burma
Types of Transport in Burma
Types of Transport in Burma
Although a lot of Myanmar is off limits to foreigners, there are still plenty of areas to visit and you are free to explore the towns and villages within these areas.

There are more than sixty airstrips located within Myanmar and this is by far the easiest way to travel. There are four domestic airlines, although many people prefer to avoid Myanma Airlines as it is run by the government. The three private airlines are Air Bagan, Air Mandalay and Yangon Airways. One-way tickets need to be bought at least a day in advance and are cheaper at travel agencies than airline offices. Unfortunately, flights tend to be irregular and the safety record is not the best, so it might be better to consider other options.

There is an extensive river network running through Myanmar and travelling by boat is by far the best way to see the country. The service between Mandalay and Bagan is particularly popular with travellers and you can choose between the ferry or speedboat service. Boats can sail along the Irrawaddy River even in the dry season and places such as Bhamo and Myitkyina are easy to get to, while Yangon can be reached via the Twante Canal. However, boat trips can only be arranged as part of an organized tour group, which limits your options and the journey takes a lot longer than by road or air. 

Bus travel is cheap and the buses run regularly, making this a convenient form of transport. While it is better to avoid the old, crowded buses, the newer long distance buses are quite comfortable. The older buses break down frequently and are often delayed by several hours. Try to buy you ticket in advance to snag a good seat. Bus fares are priced in Kyat and can sometimes be bought from guesthouses as well as the chaotic bus station. The front of the bus is always the best as the back is usually crowded and uncomfortable.

Myanmar Railways is owned by the government and it is best to avoid travelling by train. In addition, foreigners are forced to pay at least six times the standard fare, and train travel is slow and quite dangerous as the trains regularly derail.

Car and Motorcycle
Although it is possible to hire a car or motorbike in places such as Mandalay, International Driving Licences and British licences are not accepted and you must apply for a Myanmar licence at the Department for Road Transport and Administration in Yangon first. 

Around Town
Local transport options include bicycle rickshaws or trishaws known as sai-kaa, horse carts -myint hlei - ancient taxis and modern Japanese pick-up trucks. Fares are negotiable and it is essential to agree on the fee before getting in. 


When to Visit Burma

When to visit Burma
When to visit Burma
When to visit Burma
Like much of Southeast Asia, Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons. The hottest season is from February to May, and this is also the driest time of the year. The monsoon or rainy season lasts from May to October, while there is a cool season between October and February. The weather also tends to be quite dry in the cool season.

Most people prefer to visit Myanmar in the cool season, probably arriving around November and heading out by the time the weather starts to turn at the end of January. Temperatures start to climb dramatically in the middle of February and April is scorching hot, peaking at around 45?C. The rains arrive in the middle of May and cool things down considerably, although this time of year can also be rather humid.

You can expect rain showers pretty much every day during the monsoon season, although in many places such as Yangon the rain tends to fall in two short showers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In other parts of Myanmar such as Bagan and Mandalay the rainfall is rather low.

If you are visiting Myanmar in the summer head to the hills as temperatures tend to be much lower here than in the rest of the country, meaning that you will need warm clothes if you are visiting during the cool or wet seasons.


Staying Safe in Burma

Staying safe in Burma
Staying safe in Burma
Staying safe in Burma
Although it is only common sense to be careful with your belongings while you travel, theft is virtually unheard of in Myanmar and you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder here. Of course, there are people who will try to make an easy dollar and the main scams involve dishonest money changers and drivers and guides who take you to certain shops in order to receive a commission.

Local people can get in serious trouble for discussing politics so avoid bringing up the topic. If you are keen to find out local opinion be discrete and wait for the subject to be raised by others.

Power cuts are frequent and although most places have their own generator it is best to check before paying for a room in a guesthouse as it can get pretty hot at night without an electric fan to cool things down.

Although the local people are honest, Myanmar is one of the world's most corrupt countries and it is common for officials and other civil servants to discreetly ask travellers for bribes. These requests are rarely reinforced however and refusing to understand generally does the trick. 

Although there have been bombings in Myanmar in the past these have now stopped and the main danger zones are off limits to tourists anyway. The situation in Myanmar is constantly changing and tourists and banned from several areas. Make sure you get the latest information before you go to avoid problems. It is possible to apply in Yangon for a permit to enter restricted areas, although such requests are seldom granted.


Money Matters in Burma

Money matters in Burma
Money matters in Burma
Money matters in Burma
Myanmar’s official currency is Kyat, pronounced "Chat” and usually written as K. The Kyat comes in K1, K5, K10, K15, K20, K45, K50, K90, K100, K200, K500, and K1000 notes and is the best way to pay for small items. US Dollars are also accepted throughout Myanmar and larger fees such as hotel rooms and transport are quoted and paid for in US Dollars.

Changing your Money
Plenty of people will offer to change your money for you as you travel around Myanmar, although the best places to change money are guesthouses, shops and travel agencies. Of course, exchange rates fluctuate between places, so make sure you take a good look around before handing over your cash.

You can only exchange US Dollars and Euros, and rates tend to be slightly better in Yangon than in the rest of Myanmar. Check the serial number on your bank notes carefully as US Dollars that start with AB or BC are often refused.

There are no ATMs at all in Myanmar, so it is a good idea to stock up with cash or traveller’s cheques before entering the country. Traveller’s cheques can be changed at a few chic hotels in Yangon for a commission of between 3% and 10%.

Credit Cards
Although not widely accepted, some major hotels, airlines, international shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but Master Card is not currently accepted in Myanmar.

It is common practice to add 5 to 10 per cent to hotel and restaurant bills as a tip.

It is important to remember that the import and export of local currency is strictly prohibited.


Food and Drink in Burma

Food and Drink in Burma
Food and Drink in Burma
The people of Myanmar love their food to be hot and spicy, with most dishes liberally dosed with plenty of chilli, garlic and ginger. Local food is actually a blend of traditional dishes with influences of Chinese, Indian and Mon culinary styles. Characteristic dishes are curry-based with chicken, seafood and mutton as pork and beef tend to be avoided. Rice is the staple dish and vegetarian food is widely available throughout the country.

Food in Myanmar tends to be cheap and tasty, making this a great place to experiment. There is plenty of fresh fruit available in the markets and food stalls can be found on practically every corner in the towns.

Although coffee can be hard to find, tea is popular, served with brightly hued spices. Most bars and select restaurants sell locally produced beer, whiskey and gin. Toddy juice is made from fermented palm sugar and tastes a lot like rum.

There are a large number of Chinese and Indian restaurants throughout Myanmar and Western food can be found in most hotels and an increasingly growing number of independent restaurants, although there are no fast food chains in Myanmar, which is probably a very good thing.

It is not safe to drink the tap water in Myanmar, but bottled water is cheap. It is also best to avoid ice as this may be made with tap water.

Here is a selection of the dishes you are likely to discover in Myanmar:

Lethok son – a very spicy salad using rice and vegetables.

Mohinga – filling fish curry soup with thin noodles.

Onnokauswe – a slightly sweet and creamy dish of rice noodles, chicken and coconut milk. This curry is strong and pungent.

Mee swan – noodles in a thick broth served with herbs and meat.

Palata – known as paratha in India, this thin bread is fried and served with sugar for breakfast and curried meat at lunch and dinnertime.


Festivals and Holidays in Burma

Festivals and Holidays in Burma
Festivals and Holidays in Burma
Festivals and Holidays in Burma
The people of Myanmar like to celebrate and attending their festivals is a good way to get an idea of the country’s traditional songs, dances and costume. Most Buddhist holidays are set according to the phases of the moon rather than standard calendars, so dates tend to vary from year to year.

Here is a list of some of the most prominent festivals with details of what you can expect to experience.

Independence Day
This national holiday is celebrated on January 4th. Most businesses close for the day and foreigners are not permitted to join the ceremonies.

Ananda Pagoda Festival
Held between January 10th and February 1st in the city of Bagan, this lively festival features singing, dancing, plays, and film screenings. A large number of stalls set up and this is a good time to purchase local produce.

Mahamuni Ceremony
Celebrated in Mandalay in the second week of February, monks gather here to chant and the festival is also full of singing, dancing and traditional theatre.

Union Day
On February 12th people gather and the hill tribes dance in their traditional dress.

Shwe Saryan Pagoda Festival
Take a boat along the river from Mandalay to witness this colourful festival and buy traditional products such as toys, boxes, baskets and mats.

Pindaya Cave Festival
Held on March 16th in Pindaya, this two day festival features much singing and dancing.

Water Festival
Similar to Songkran is Laos and Thailand, people throw water during this festival in mid April and most things are closed as everyone joins in the fun.

Sand Stupa Festival
In Mandalay in the middle of April intriguing sand stupas are built in different parts of the city using traditional techniques.

Waso Full Moon Day
Buddhist Lent begins in the middle of July and people gather at the temples and stupas to donate good to the monks.

Martyr's Day

On July 19th ceremonies are held to mark the assassination of General Aung San.

Taung Byone Festival
Travel to the village of Matara near Mandalay on August 8th to witness the traditional Nat dance.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
During this 2 week festival Buddhist images are placed in decorated barges and floated on Lake Inle.

Elephant Dance Festival
This vibrant festival is held on October 9th and 1oth near Mandalay.

Tadingyut Festival
On October 11th the whole country celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent

Fire Balloon Festival
This special three-day festival starts on November 16th in Taunggyi. Taunggyi the festival is celebrated with competitions of decorated hot-air balloons in different shapes and forms of animals such as elephants, cattle, the mythical Hintha bird and hens as well as with fireworks and firecrackers in the evening.

Robe Weaving Contest
Held in all major cities on November 7th, teams of women compete against each other to gain recognition as the best robe weavers.


Do’s and Don’ts in Burma

Do's and Don'ts in Burma
Do's and Don'ts in Burma
Dos and Don'ts in Burma
Paying attention to the social norms and cultural practices can make a big difference to the reception you will receive in Myanmar and your overall travel experience.  Most things are common sense and can be easily observed, while others are subtle and based on years of traditional.

People usually shake hands when they meet and use full names with U (pronounced oo) at the front for older and respected people, Aung in the case of younger men, Ko for adult males and Daw when you are greeting women. People often give small presents to each other when they meet. 

Respectful Dress
People always cover their arms and legs in public so you should avoid wearing shorts and miniskirts, especially around sacred places. Shoes and socks must be removed before entering any religious building and often private houses as well. If you want to keep cool, don the traditional long skirt known as a longyi, which is worn by both men and women.

Dress respectfully around the temple and make sure you take off your socks before entering. Showing the soles of the feet is considered disrespectful, so make sure you sit with your feet tucked underneath you and never point to things with your feet. Women are not allowed to enter certain areas of the temple and everyone should avoid touching relics within the temple.

There are severe penalties for drug taking and trafficking, which range from five years’ imprisonment to a death sentence and homosexuality is also illegal in Myanmar.
Make sure you know which parts of Myanmar are out of bounds to foreigners and regularly check for updates.


Money Matters in Cambodia

Money Matters in Cambodia
Money Matters in Cambodia
Money Matters in Cambodia
Cambodia has its own currency, which is known as the riel and comes in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 riel notes. However, visitors are most likely to come across the 500 and 1,000 riel notes, while changing 50,000 and 100,000 riel notes can be rather tricky and should be done at up market hotels as well as fancy restaurants and banks.

In addition to the riel, US$ are also widely accepted throughout Cambodia, and the pricing for hotel rooms and often food and other items in tourist areas tends to be quoted in riel. Travellers who have just come from Thailand will also be able to spend any leftover Baht in areas close to the Thai/Cambodian borders. It is a good idea to carry a selection of US$ and riel notes and take good care of them as notes that are torn and crumpled will usually be rejected.  

While the cost of visiting Cambodia is cheap by Western standards, it is quite a bit more expensive than in the neighbouring nations of Laos and Thailand. The biggest costs here are accommodation and transport, although both can be done cheaply by those who are on a shoestring budget. By cutting back to the absolute necessities it is possible to send just US$10 a day, while those who want a few little luxuries such as beer should allow themselves US$25. A budget of US$100 a day offers access to some of the country’s best hotels and restaurants, while the sky is the limit for those who can afford to spend US$200 per day.

Changing your money
Banks can be found in all major tourist areas of Cambodia and while these establishments offer to change currency, local moneychangers generally offer much better rates. Changing riel into other currencies can be rather tricky and costly, so it is best to avoid changing large amounts of cash unless you really need to.

The number of ATMs in Cambodia is on the rise and although there are incidents of cards being swallowed, this is becoming less common. ATMs usually accept just MasterCard and Visa and dispense cash in US$.

Travellers’ cheques and credit cards
Traveller’s cheques and credit cards can usually be used in up market hotels and banks in most tourist areas of the country. However, changing travellers’ cheques elsewhere can be difficult, and it is best stockpile some cash before heading out into the countryside.

Although tipping is not expected it can make a big difference as wages are extremely low and even a tip of $2 might almost double the waiter or waitress’ wages.

Food and Drink in Cambodia

Food and Drink in Cambodia
Food and Drink in Cambodia
Food and Drink in Cambodia
Travellers who suffer from a chilli intake problem will be pleased to discover that the food in Cambodia is much less hot than in the neighbouring nations of Thailand and Vietnam. However, that doesn’t mean that the dishes here are bland, as they are seasoned instead with herbs such as coriander and lemongrass, giving them a unique tanginess. The main staple here is rice, which is served alongside most curry, soup and stew dishes.
Those with a strong sense of adventure who want to sample authentic local food should check out the food stalls that crop up at Cambodia’s night markets. These are also the cheapest places to dine, while those who are looking for a taste of home will find a wide range of international restaurants in tourist hubs such as Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

Here is a selection of dishes that you will discover as you travel through Cambodia:

Amok trey – one of Cambodia’s signature dishes, featuring fish, pork or chicken in a rich and lightly spiced curry sauce.

Lou – short, thick noodles with added egg and chicken.

Caw – this is a slightly sweet dish of braised chicken or pork and egg stew flavoured with delicious caramelized palm sugar.

Bai cha – a delicious dish of Chinese sausage fried with rice.

Somlah machou khmae – a sweet and sour soup dish that is made with tomatoes, pineapple and fish.

K’dam – a speciality from Kampot, this is a delicious dish of crab cooked in pepper.

Visitors to Cambodia should avoid drinking tap water as well as drinks with ice in them. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find throughout the country and should be used even for brushing your teeth.  

Green tea is popular in Cambodia and served free of charge along with most meals in restaurants. Tea lovers will also want to try the local drink known as dtai grolab, which is created by brewing tealeaves in a glass with a saucer on top. Both Indian tea and coffee are readily available in Cambodia, although they are usually served with plenty of ice.  

Those who like to relax with a beer or two in the evening will find bars located all over the country, while beer also tends to be served in restaurants and at night market stalls. However, the local tipple of choice is a type of rice wine that is extremely strong an should be approached with caution.

Survival Tips in Cambodia

Survival Tips in Cambodia
Survival Tips in Cambodia
Survival Tips in Cambodia
This is a great time to visit Cambodia as the years of war and instability are finally over and the country is rebuilding itself slowly but surely. People are generally friendly and honest and roads are much better than they have been in recent years. However, you still need to apply a certain amount of common sense when travelling through Cambodia and there are a few things to watch out for or avoid.

Avoid drinking tap water and drinks with ice in Cambodian. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find.  

Avoid deals that seem too good to be true such as buying ‘precious gems’ as they are often worthless stones that have been chemically treated. There is also a considerable amount of counterfeit medication around, so only buy from trustworthy pharmacies and clinics.

Despite the efforts being made to sweep the countryside for landmines, there are still believed to be as many as six million unexploded landmines in Cambodia. Visitors should take extreme caution when wandering off the beaten track, and it is best to hire a guide when exploring rural areas independently, preferably someone who knows the area extremely well and can steer you away from danger.

Keep abreast of the current political situation while visiting Cambodia by reading the local newspaper regularly. Violent outbursts do spring up from time to time as well as demonstrations and political gatherings and should be avoided at all costs.

Although you should always keep valuables hidden, extra caution should be taken at night and it is a good idea to take a close-sided taxi rather than a cyclo or moto, especially when exploring touristy areas such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is famed for its corrupt police force, who are known to try almost every trick in the book to get fines from tourists. If you are stopped by the police at any time, make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings, as it has been known for the police to plant drugs on foreigners in the hope of receiving a fine or a bribe. In confrontations with the police it is important to keep your cool, arguing in a firm yet friendly manner and solving the situation without heading to the police station.

Location and History of Cambodia

Location and History of Cambodia
Location and History of Cambodia
Location and History of Cambodia
Covering a total area of just over 180,000 square kilometres, Cambodia is one of the most diminutive countries in Southeast Asia. The nation is bordered by Laos in the north, the Gulf of Thailand in the south, Thailand to the west, and Vietnam in the east.
Sometimes referred to as Kampuchea, Cambodia people are known as Khmer. Visitors witnessing the warm and generous nature of the Khmer people could hardly guess at the hardship they have undergone for the last 500 years or so. Angkor fell in 1431 and since that time Cambodia has been pillaged by a number of nations.

Consequently the people of Cambodia are very poor, with many living on less than US$1 per day. However, the situation is slowly improving and the many monuments that were decimated or lost are being rediscovered and restored, while the rise in tourism allows businesses to open all over the country and employment rates to improve.

Up until the start of the 15th century Cambodia was a prosperous nation, and examples of this can be seen in the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat. When the nation fell Cambodia was largely dominated and became under French political control. Prince Sihanouk declared Cambodia’s independence during WWII, but his hopes for the nation were soon crushed.

Prince Sihanouk’s reign was not appreciated by everybody as he was criticized for restricting education to the elite and his obsession for writing and starring in movies. Many of the educated elite were angry over the lack of descent jobs and bad economic system and sought a solution in politics, joining first the Indochinese Communist Party, and then the Khmer Rouge.

The dawning of Second Indochina War caused the US to take an interest and Sihanouk abdicated and supported the Khmer Rouge, with many people following his example. After a five year resistance the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and forced the evacuation of all towns and cities, with those who refused to leave being killed instantly.

For three years the majority of people in Cambodia were put through unimaginable hardships, with more than one million and probably closer to three million (more than half the population) dying from torture or poor conditions. Everyone was forced to live in the countryside and work for the Khmer Rouge, with families being separated and everyone living in fear as the consequences for refusing were horrific punishments and death.

When the Vietnamese finally put an end to the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in 1978 there was no infrastructure left and the country had to be entirely rebuilt. There were elections sponsored by the UN in 1993 and since the end of the 20th century things have steadily improved. Leng Sary, Pol Pot's brother in law, is currently on trial for 'crimes against humanity'.

When to Visit Cambodia

When to Visit Cambodia
When to Visit Cambodia
When to Visit Cambodia
Cambodia’s climate is tropical and the weather is hot and humid practically all year round. However, there are four main seasons; the cool and dry season from November to February, the hot and dry season from March to May, the hot and wet season from June-August, and the cool and wet season that lasts from September-October.

The temperatures in Cambodia are significantly higher than other Asian countries such as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, with average temperatures of between 28-35?C in the hot season. The weather is also very humid during this period. April is by far the hottest month, and only travel during this time if you are used to walking around in the heat.

However, things cool down to around 25-30?C in November to February, and this is a good time for temple hopping. There are occasional cool evenings, but Cambodia could never be referred to as cold and you will rarely need a jacket, if ever.

The rain descends on Cambodia from June to October, with heavy showers and storms sweeping the entire country. However, the rain is mainly restricted to the afternoon, so it is still possible to rise early and spend the morning exploring and relax in the afternoon and evening.
Tourist numbers are low during the rainy season, so this is a good time to beat the crowds.

The peak tourist season is from December to January and if you are travelling in Cambodia during this time it is a good idea to book popular hotels in advance, although there is usually plenty of accommodation available.


Festivals and Holidays in Cambodia

Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
The people of Cambodia love to party, and visitors will want to time their visit to coincide with at least one of the vibrant festivals and holidays that take place throughout the year. while many are held to mark special religious events and focus around the country’s temples, others are simply ways to mark historical and cultural events.
Whatever the occasion, the Khmer people celebrate with style, and most festivals are colourful events that feature fireworks displays as well as feasting, drinking and dancing. All are welcome to join in the fun, and foreigners especially are persuaded to get involved and let their hair down for a while.

Here are some festivals to put in your diary:

National Day
Held on January 7th, this holiday marks the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.

Chinese New Year
Held somewhere between the end of January and the start of February, this vibrant festival features firework displays and parades through the streets.

Khmer New Year
This festival takes place in the middle of April and marks the end of the harvest. The people of Cambodia decorate their houses and gather for elaborate family feasts. The streets also erupt in all out war as people keep their cool during the hottest part of the year by firing water pistols at each other.  

Royal Ploughing Day
Taking place in May, the Royal Ploughing Day pays homage to the mighty ox. The best place to take in the festivities is in Phnom Penh, particularly near the Royal Palace and the National Museum.

King Sihanouk’s birthday celebration
October 31st is a special day for the people of Cambodia, who gather at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and all along the river in order to pay their respects.

Water Festival
Held at the end of October, the Water Festival lasts for three days. Like the Khmer New Year, part of the fun here is the street water fights, and those who plan to keep dry at this time of your will have to stay well hidden indoors. However, those who dare to join in are sure to have fun and among the highlights at this time of year are the boat races along the Tonle Sap and Monkong River.  

Independence Day
November 9th is the day for the Khmer people to celebrate their independence, which was finally granted by the French government in 1953. To witness the festivities, head to Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument.

Khao San Road in Russian

Khao San Road in RussiamВ общем о Као Сане

Расположена в Бангкоке, в районе Банглампу, Као Сан одна из самых известных улиц Бангкока. Раньше эта дорога была главным образом пристанищем для хиппи и путшественников, но за последние несколько лет, люди всех социальных слоев стали посещать Као Сан, что привело к превращению Као Сана в самое интересное место Бангкока, насыщеное разнообразием культур.

В то время как Као Сану удалось сохранить значительную чась своей приятной атмосферы с бюджетными гест-хаусами усеяными вдоль дороги, Као Сан также стал местом встречи тайландских студентов, художников и даже хорошо зарабатывающих туристов и бизнесменов.

Большое количество путешественников пользуются Као Саном как отправной точкой, чтобы исследовать Бангкок. Огромное количество гостиниц Као Сана позволяет выбрать комнату на любой вкус начиная от самой дешевой комнаты с общим душем, заканчивая топ-класс отелями с абсолютно всеми возможными удобствами. Као Сан это стартовая точка для многих посетителей Таиланда с невероятным количеством турфирм, которые оказывают огромную помощь туристам.

Туристические агентства на Као Сане предлагают широкий диапазон различных поездок и путевок, туристы могут заказать что-угодно, начиная от тура по Бангкоку заканчивая поездкам на скуба-дайвинг на живописные южные острова Таиланда.

В торговых палатках вдоль Као Сана возможно купить практически все, от футболок до художественных работ и сэконд-хэнд книг. Магазины по сторонам дороги и по вьющимся дорожкам, отклоняющихся от Као Сана также продают оптом и в розницу предметы, типа ювелирных изделий из серебра, ламп и прочих рукодельных изделий.

Когда время подходит к ужину выбор ресторанов и кафe на Као Сане просто ошеломительный. Большинство ресторанов обычно предлагают как тайскую так и западную кухню, хотя количество ресторанов специализирующихся на японской, итальянской, индийской и корейской кухне также огромное.
Вегетарианцы смогут полакомится знаменитым тайским блюдом Пад Тай а также большим выбором других снэков буквально на каждом углу.

За последние несколько лет Као Сан заслужил репутацию хорошей клубной жизни. Как только заходит солнце люди со всего Бангкока приезжают на Као Сан насладится ночной жизнью так как это отличное место чтобыпослушать живые выступления тайских групп которые играют популярную рок и поп музыку со всего мира практически в каждом баре. Мест, чтобы посидеть с пивом и поболтать, смотря на прохожих со всех континентов, хоть отбавляй. Многим понравится поробовать дешевые но на удивление крепкие коктели.

Клубы разбросаны на каждом углу, диджеи играют практически любые жанры музыки.

Все о чем бы вы не подумали, вы с уверенностью сможете отыскать на Као Сане. Единственной проблемой может оказаться ваша любовь к Као Сану когда придет время уезжать для исследования окресностей Бангкока, к счастью обширный выбор транспорта: лодки, такси, тук-туки, автобусы позволят вам вернутся когда душе угодно.

Отели Као Сана

Одной из причин по которой большинство туристов выбирают расположиться на Као Сане это сногсшибательное количество мест чтобы комфортно расположится на ночь или на недельку. Хотя Као Сан известен очень низкими ценами для туристов с небольшим бюджетом он так же полон отелей высокого уровня обслуживания.

Выбор отелей и гест-хаусов для туристов очень разнообразен. Као Сан можно с уверенностью назвать одним из наилучших мест Багнкока для поиска дешевых отелей, где простенькие комнаты, которые стоят меньше 200 бат за ночь, можно отыскать без труда.

Выбор типа проживания зависит от ваших нужд, вашего бюджета и от того хотите ли вы проводить большую часть времени в комнате отеля или использовать ее, просто, как место хранения ваших вещей, в то время пока вы на вечеринке или осматриваете достопримечательности города.

Гест-хаусы обычно предоставляют маленькую 1-2х местную комнату с вентилятором. Тем, кто желает самые дешевые комнаты, придется пользоваться общим душем, обычно с холодной водой и общим туалетом. Обычно в такого типа местах хороший сон не гарантируется из-за тонких стен но это великолепное место для встречи других туристов с которыми вам может оказаться по пути.

Туристы с бюджетом получше встретят отличный выбор гостиниц среднего класса. Этого типа отели предоставят неплохой сервис с такими удобствами как, ванна с горячей водой, кондиционер, и в некоторых отелях этого класса вы сможете охладиться в бассейне после исследования багнкока в жаркий день.

Когда дело касается топ класс проживания, на Као Сане имеется несколько великолепных отелей которые сделают ваш отдых незабываемым. Рестораны с кухней со всего мира, фитнесс центр, бассейн, спа и обслуживание номеров - все это будет у вас под рукой.

Большинство гостиниц на Као Сане предоставляет широкий диапазон дополнительных услуг для их гостей, типа прачечной и Интернет сервиса. Большинство гест-хаусов и гостиниц также в состоянии помочь гостям с планами путешествия и заказать транспорт.

Стоит принять во внимание что многие из гостиниц в Тайланде, которые сдают комнаты иностранным туристам, не позволяют гостям приводить тайцев в свои номера. В некоторых случаях тайским гостям разрешают посетить иностранцев, для чего с начала они должны подписать регистрационную карточку и оставить их удостоверение личности.

Новые гостиницы открываются на Као Сане все время, в то время как старые внезапно исчезают. Хотя как правило туристы получают качество сервиса за которое они платят в Бангкокских гостиницах. В то время как есть большое количество доступных гест-хаусов, всегда рекомендуется посмотреть комнату перед сдачей багажа.

Рестораны Као Сана

Район вокруг Као Сана предлагает один из самых широких выборов ресторанов во всем городе. Обедающие могут выбрать между большим разнообразием традиционной тайской и международной кухни. В большинстве ресторанов в этом районе имеются меню на английском, тайском и нескольких других языках. У официантов в этом районе имеется опыт работы с клиентами с разных стран по этому вам не придется волноватся о недопониманиях.

Когда вы решили попробовать тайскую еду, выбор буквально бесконечен так как практический каждый ресторан на Као Сане предлагает самые популярные тайские блюда. Тайцы известны своей любовью к острому, по этому возможно закакать блюда по вкусу, сказав официанту как бы вам хотелось свою еду, не острую или очень острую. Если вы не уверены насколько острую еду вы сможете осилить, попросите не острую так как чили можно добавить в любой момент чтобы почувствовать чем довольствуются тайцы.

Као Сан и улицы рядом возможно лучшие места в Бангкоке, чтобы насладиться индийской кухней, поскольку в этом районе больше дюжины различных индийских ресторанов. Большинство ресторанов нанимает индийских поваров и официантов, и пища подается исключительно свежая. Индийские рестораны здесь всех классов и размеров, начиная от дешевых и веселых уличных забегалок, заканчивая роскошно украшенными ресторанами.

Имеется также широкий выбор других кухонь, доступных здесь, включая несколько израильских, японских, итальянских ресторанов а так же рестораны специализирующихся на подлинной британской кухне, типа рыбы с жареным картофелем.

Вегетарианцы найдут большое количество мест на выбор на Као Сане. Мало того, что многие из ресторанов предлагают большой выбор вегетарианских блюд, есть также приблизительно полдюжина ресторанов, которые готовят блюда для самых строгих вегетарианцев. Эти рестораны часто служат местами для собраний для аналогично мыслящих путешественников, и атмосфера в этих местах очень дружественная. Вегетарианские путешественники могут выбрать между тайской, индийской и международной кухней, и некоторые из мест предлагают дополнительные услуги, типа комнаты на ночь, поваренных курсов и массажа.

Одна из огромных приимуществ этого района - то, что там имеется большое количество уличных кафе где можно пообедать для туристов с небольшим бюджетом. Многие из этих уличных кафе предоставляют стулья и столики. Можно даже пить пиво прямо в этих уличных кафе, особенно тем кто хочет расслабиться некоторое время и попялится на людей.

Ну и конечно всем будет приятно разок побаловать себя в фаст-фуд кафе которых тоже большое количество.

Когда наступает голод, Као Сан это точно хорошее местечко.

Бары и клубы Као Сана

После того, как Као Сан преобразовывается в неоновую страну чудес, после захода солнца, люди тянутся на Као Сан со всего города, чтобы потягивать коктели на улице, слушать живую музыку или подвигаться в одном из модных клубов.

Хотите ли вы просто наслаждаться холодным пивом, или ищите провести хорошее время, Као Сан имеет хороший выбор ночной жизни, которая привлекает туристов, путешественников и тайцев всех слоев общества.

Као Сан - большое место для того, чтобы выпить и познакомиться, поскольку цены намного ниже чем в других частях города, и те на слабом бюджете, будут в состоянии насладиться напитком в конце тяжелого дня после осмотра достопримечательностей. Многие из баров также бесплатно показывают кино и прямую траснляцию спортивных событий клиентам.

Большинство баров на Као Сане и окресностях открываются с утра до поздной ночи. Некоторые места также имеют лицензии, на работу 24 часа в день. То есть вы всегда найдете место посидеть с пивом и встретить новых друзей.

Огромное количество уличных баров, которые продают дешевое пиво и крепкие коктейли, разбросано по этому району. Сидя в одном из этих многочисленных баров можно за одну ночь познакомиться с десятками других туристов и понаблюдать как события разворачиваются на улице.

Те, кто наслаждается живой музыкой, найдут большое количество мест, где можно порадоваться разнообразию стилей. Группы на Као Сане играют большинство популярных Западных и тайских мелодий а так же собственные песни. Эти бары привлекают хорошую смесь тайских и Западных клиентов, и атмосфера всегда очень живая, с большим количеством места для танцев.

Те, кто любит буги-вуги, смогут выбрать из множества различных мест клуб себе по душе. Большинство этих мест встречи насыщены движением с 11 вечера до 2-х или 3-х утра. Диджеи приезжают со всех континентов, клубы вокруг играют все виды музыки, от хип хопа до транса и предлагают приятную, живую атмосферу, достойную внимания.

Одна из самых главных вещей о посещении вечеринок на Као Сане - то, что здесь всегда что-то происходит. Большинство мест организуют пати каждую ночь недели и организуют специальные ночные скидки, чтобы привлечь клиентов.

Туристы должны принять во внимание, что некоторые из женщин, которые болтаются на Као Сане, не являются столь женственными, как они кажутся на первый взгляд. Трансвеститы обычны во всем Таиланде, и иногда может быть весьма трудно отличить их от женщин, особенно после нескольких бутылок пива.

Однако, стоит упоминуть о тайцах - то, что они редко являются назойливыми так что и мужчины, и женщины могут чувствовать себя комфортно во время посещения вечеринок на Као Сане.

Транспорт на Као Сане

Добираться до Као Сана легко, поскольку эта область хорошо связана с остальной частью Бангкока автобусами и лодками. Большинство такси и тук-тук водителей знают этот район хорошо, таким образом посетители вряд ли столкнутся с трудностями, пытаясь добраться от сюда до любой части Бангкока или ближайшего района.

Есть прямой автобус к Као Сану от аэропорта, и поездка занимает приблизительно час. Автобус AE2 c кондиционером привозит пассажиров к Као Сану за 150 батов, есть также маленькие местные микро-автобусы, которые предоставляют проезд за 35 батов. Те, кто путешествует в группе, могут поймать такси прямо возле главного входа, что будет более экономичным и удобным. Плата за проезд до Као Сана должна стоить приблизительно 350 батов, включая оплату за въезд на хай вэй.

Рядом с Као Саном нет ни какого типа метро, но так как Као Сан расположен рядом с рекой Чао Прая пешком дойти до пирса отнимает 10 минут. С пирса на лодке можно добраться практически в любой район, в Китайский квартал или даже до станции метро, которая расположена на центральном пирсе. Метро доставит вас в центр города за считаные минуты.

Автобусы которые проезжают рядом с Као Саном, едут практически во все части багнкока так-что те, кто знают маршруты, смогут добратся на автобусах куда угодно. Тур-фирмы на Као Сане являются огромным источником информации и они всегда рады помочь советом.

Все такси c кондиционерами в Бангкоке должны использовать счетчик, который стартует с 35 бат. Однако, большинство такси и тук-тук водителей, которые заполонили Као Сан с обоих концов дороги, платят специальный налог, чтобы стоять на Као Сане, эти водители не любят ездить по счетчику. Плата, которую они просят за проезд, часто весьма высока, и лучше отойти несколько метров от Као Сана и поймать одно из проезжающих такси, настаивая, что они используют счетчик.

Трехколесные транспортные средства, известные как тук-тук способны проехать через Бангкокское движение быстрее такси, что может сэкономить время в часы пик. Важно предварительно договориться о цене за проезд, поскольку цены на плату за проезд не установлены. Первоначальная цена за проезд обычно будет высока, но после недолгого переговора возможно договориться приблизительно за половину стартовой цены.

Есть целый ряд тук-тук водителей на Као Сане, которые предлагают принять туристов на экскурсию по городу всего за 20 бат. Хотя это может выглядеть как дешевый способ познакомиться с достопримечательностями, посетители должны знать, что эти водители делают свои деньги, провозя туристов по различными ювелирными магазинами по дороге, они получают комиссию за ваши покупки.

Покупки на Као Сане

Као Сан - хорошее место для того, чтобы пойти за покупками, поскольку есть из чего выбрать. Кажется, что все что здесь покупается, так же здесь и продается, этим объяснятся огромное количество сэконд-хэнд товаров. Рынок тянется по обоим сторонам улицы. Так же есть множество маленьких магазинов, которые специализируются на конкретных товарах включая помощь специалистов.

Наилучшее время, чтобы пойти по магазинам - это утром, как раз в то самое время, когда палатки только начинают устанавливаться. Большинство торговцев полагает, что первая продажа дня это - предвестник удачи, и вы можете надеяться на неплохую скидку.

Хорошей причиной пойти за покупками на Као Сан - то, что большинство цен договорные, и возможно получить большую скидку, особенно если Вы говорите немного по тайски. Чтобы спрашивать цену, просто скажите "Тау рай кап". Продавец будет часто набирать цену в калькулятор и показывать вам, чтобы избежать недопонимания. Если цена слишком высока, просто наберите приемлимую цену на калькуляторе и продолжайте так, пока вы не придете к обоюдному согласию.

Имеется большое количество ювелирных магазинов на Као Сане и в окрестностях, которые специализируются на качественных ювелирных изделиях оптом. Эти магазины предлагают одни из самых лучших сделок в области ювелирных изделий по невероятно низким ценам, а так же не уступают по ценам другим частям Бангкока.

Те, кто ищет уникальный подарок, чтобы отвести домой, должны обязательно посетить один из магазинов портного. Талантливые портные здесь в состоянии сделать клиентам одежду на выбор из последних каталогов моды. Клиенты могут также найти практически любую ткань из демонстрируемых в магазине, которая будет использоваться для пошива. Лучшая сделка здесь - наборы пиджаков, рубашек и галстуков, и возможно получить специальный раскрой стиля Savile с всей отделкой, за очень незначительную плату.

Рынок на Као Сане в последние годы заработал репутацию рынка подделок. Что угодно, что может быть скопировано, продается здесь, от шорт Биллабонг и джинсов Леви, заканчивая компакт-дискам, DVD. Вам может показаться смешным продажа международных водительских прав прямо на улице, но на Као Сане возможно все.

Во то время как Вы блуждаете по Као Сан, к Вам может подойти один из людей, которые продают товары, типа сумок, браслетов и гамаков, большинство которых было сделано Племенами на севере Таиланда. В то время как они в основном дружелюбны, эти торговцы могут быть чрезвычайно назойливыми и лучше только спрашивать цену, если Вы серьезно интересуетесь.

Те, у кого проблема с наличными деньгами, могут продать их вещи в одной из палаток объявляющих, что "Мы покупаем все”, на соседней улице Рамбутри. Это удобное место, чтобы продать вещи, типа книг, палаток, рюкзаков и ботинок за несколько батов.

Стилисты и пирсинг на Као Сане

Когда Вы видите, туриста в Таиланде, с новой татуировкой, нарощеными волосами или с дрэдами, скорее всего, что они сделали это на Као Сане. Множество талантливых художников и татуировщиков открыли магазины в этом районе Бангкока и выбрать салон себе по душе очень легко.

Много современных туристов решают сделать татуировку в Таиланде, поскольку это служит им постоянным напоминанием о посещении Страны Улыбок. Клиенты могут выбрать или из традиционной техники татуировки бамбуком, известной как Сак Янт, или из более современного метода. Все татуировочные салоны предоставляют большой каталог татуировок для клиентов, и некоторые даже предлагают создавать специальные уникальные изображения за небольшую дополнительную плату.

Као Сан - безопасное место, чтобы сделать татуировку, поскольку тату-артисты здесь должны иметь свидетельства на их работу, которые регулярно проверяются соответствующими органами. Большое количество известных людей сделали татуировки в этом районе, включая актрису Анжелину Джоли.

Многие из салонов татуировки, расположенных на Као Сане также предлагают боди-пирсинг. Качественные драгоценности намного дешевле в Таиланде чем во многих частях мира, и это - хорошее время, чтобы потерпеть боль и сделать пирсинг в любой части тела где вы только не мечтали. Опять же, когда дело доходит до квалификации и чистоты, клиенты найдут что студии пирсинга в этой части Бангкока гордятся их высоким стандартами. Многие из татуировщиков здесь проектируют и создают их собственные пирсинг-драгоценности, в то время как другие пользуются тем, что клиенты приносят с собой.

Некоторые люди находят, что заботиться об их волосах, во время путешествий - слишком большое испытание. Однако, Као Сан имеет прекрасное решение для этих людей, так как палатки, предлагающие плетение косичек, вдоль всей улицы. Возможно расслабиться с пивом и наблюдать, как летит время в суматохе этого интересного района, в то время как парикмахеры здесь добавляют красочные наращивания волос или фиксируют и щипают ваши волосы в стили, о существовании которых вы только догадывались. Если Вы когда-либо представляли себе причёску из дрэдов, но не хотите ждать пока это случится естественно, парикмахеры здесь могут превратить их волшебство в классическую прическу в течении считаных минут.

Если все же вам не по душе уличные стилисты, есть также профессиональные салоны волос, расположенные в этом районе, которые предлагают большой спектр услуг, включая, мытье, бигуди и даже бритье головы. Для заключительного шага, посетите одну из комнат массажа и выберите между традиционными тайским, шведским или масляным массажами. Эти салоны также предлагают услуги, типа маникюров, педикюров и депиляции, чтобы оставить Вас с чувством восторга.

Места времяпровождения на Као Сане

Когда дело касается осмотра достопримечательностей, посетителям Као Сана никогда не нужно идти далеко, чтобы повеселиться. Фактически, большее количество интересных мест расположены в пределах короткой прогулки от Као Сана, что очень удобно для туристов и путешественников. После осмотра достопримечательностей можно так же вернуться на вечерний коктейль в центре Као Сана.

Одна из самых особых достопримечательностей здесь - Памятник Демократии, который находится на дороге ведущей от Бургер Кинг на Као Сане. Расположенный на маленьком бетонном постаменте в центре улицы, Памятник Демократии был построен, чтобы отметить военный переворот июня 1932, который привел к первой демократической конституции Таиланда. Памятник Демократии окружен сформированными структурами четырех 24-метровых крыльев, которые символизируют четыре ветви вооруженных сил Таиланда, которые охраняют королевство, в центре - копия оригинальной конституции с 1932.

В 5-ти минутах пешком от Памятника Демократии - колоколообразный купол Вад Сакета, который также известен как Золотая Гора. Этот большой храм, с блестящим золотым Чеди, расположен наверху холма. Это очень мирное место, и посетители, поднимающиеся по вьющейся лестнице на вершину Вад Сакета будут вознаграждены захватывающим видом Бангкока.

Также за углом от Као Сана - Пра Сумен Парк, который расположен на берегу Реки Чао Прая. Этот симпатичный парк - хорошее место, чтобы сбежать от суматохи Бангкока и почитать на траве, в тени, под одним из больших деревьев парка, понаблюдать за людьми, которые так же приходят в парк. Этот приятный парк служит отличным местом играть на различных музыкальных инструментах, жанглировать и заниматься спортом, типа традиционной командной игры Такрау.

Рядом с Пра Сумен Парком находится Пра Сумен Форт, который был одним из 14 фортов, построенных, чтобы защитить Бангкок против потенциальных военно-морских вторжений. Форт окружен орудиями и имеет 38 комнат для боеприпасов и вооружения в его центре.

В конце Као Сана, напротив таверны Галливерс - великолепный храм, известный как Вад Чана Сонгкрам. Название означает “Храм победы войны” и был построен людьми народа Мон, которым первоначально давали землю в этой области как награду чтобы помочь тайским людям бороться против бирманцев много столетий назад. В храме множество симпатичных фресок, и место вокруг - мирное и симпатичное, где можно блуждать в окружениях виноградных лоз Бугенвиллеи и живописных деревьев.

Любители художественного исскуства обнаружат множество различных художественных галерей в этой области. Прямо за углом от Као Сана - Национальная Галерея, которая содержит работу знаменитых тайских художников, которая относится ко времени 17-ого столетия. Другая интересная галерея - Галерея Королевы Сирикит, в которой демонстрируются современные произведения искусства и приезжающих молодых тайских художников. Есть также некоторые маленькие художественные галереи, которые разбросаны здесь повсюду, показывают огромное разнообразие коллекций произведений искусства.

Услуги на Као Сане

Као Сан хорош не только для посещения вечеринок. Посещая Као Сан и окресности туристы также обнаружат широкий диапазон недорогих услуг. Это  прекрасное время, чтобы сходить к зубному, которое Вы отложили, можно также сходить за советом к оптометристу или отослать домой поcылку. С помощью англо-говорящих работников можно гладко решить практически любую проблему.

Имеется множество различных ларьков, предлагающих услуги обмена денег, практически в любой части района Као Сана. Работники в этих ларьках обычно предоставляют хороший выбор различных валют и так же могут  поменять туристические чеки. Посетители должны предъявить их паспорт прежде, чем они смогут пользоваться услугами в этих ларьках.
Прямо напротив входа на Као Сан на углу улицы Рамбутри - находится ларек Вестерн Юнион, который может пригодиться, если у Вас заканчиваются деньги. Через Вестерн Юнион возможно переслать деньги с практически любой страны в мире. Однако, некоторые люди находят, что процент, который компания cнимает за перевод, довольно высок.

Если Вы баловались серьезным хождением за покупками, и понимаете что все не может вместиться в ваш рюкзак, Вы можете воспользоваться услугами почты. Главное почтовое отделение находится в маленьком переулке около Памятника Победы. Напротив одного конца Као Сана, если Вы будете следовать по маленкой улочке за Бургер Кингом то Вы придете к почтовому отделению (приблизительно 100 метров). Есть также множество других фирм, расположенных на Као Сане и в ближайшем районе, которые предлагают посылать посылки, открытки и письма международного назначения за маленькую плату.

Когда Вы находитесь постоянно в пути, очень легко запустить стирку и прежде чем Вы заметите, содержание вашего рюкзака может неприятно попахивать. К счастью, есть также люди специализирующиеся в этой области, которые предоставляют услуги прачечной за маленькую плату. Норма на улице и в дешевых пансионах - обычно 30 батов за килограмм. Ваша сумка будет взвешена прежде, чем платить. Однако, в большинстве прачечныхй гостиниц стирка может быть значительно дороже. В обоих случаях ваше белье будет вымыто в машине, поглажено и возвратится к Вам в течение 24 часов.

Хотя большинство людей боится исследовать их зубы, профессиональные дантисты, которые открыли клиники на этом районе, делают процесс почти приятным. Зубные процедуры намного более дешвле в Таиланде чем в большинстве Западных стран, и эти дантисты предлагают широкий объем услуг, типа проверок, очистки зубов и беления зубов.

Магазины нескольких различных оптиков расположены в этой области, и
это - хорошее время покупки контактных линз или замене изношенных дорогих очков.

Также широкий диапазон других услуг, доступен здесь, типа установки обуви, дубликат ключей и швей, которые могут починить предметы одежды всего за несколько батов.

В ообщем Као Сан может о вас позаботится.

Као Сан тур-фирмы и дайвинг магазины

Когда пришло время наконец покидать Као Сан, решить, куда поехать и как добраться,ё можно с туристическими агентствами и скуба-дайвинг офисами. Работники в этих магазинах в состоянии говорить на хорошем английском и обсуждать с туристами полные детали их поездки. Много людей просто рады дать совет туристам, который помогает Вам делать следующий шаг в вашей поездке с уверенностью.
Всем, кому необходимо возобновить их визу, но неуверены в том, куда пойти или как работает процесс, смогут узнать здесь и даже заказать поездку на одну из границ и назад.

Поскольку здесь очень много различных агентств, предлагающих билеты на самолет, автобус и на лодку, цены очень конкурентоспособные и те, кто не торопится, сможет найти лучшие цены. Туристические агентства также обеспечивают широкий диапазон других услуг, типа подтверждения полетов, резервации отелей и даже предложения туров путешественникам, которые желают посмотреть на достопримечательности с профессиональным гидом.

Если Вы не уверены, куда поехать, просто зайдите в любое тур агенство, чтобы получить небольшое вдохновение. Есть сотни различных поездок и доступных туров, от роскошных круизов по реке Чао Прае до интересных туров по джунглям на севере Таиланда, откуда путешественники получают шанс увидеть людей племен холмов, которые живут там.

Эти туристические агентства могут также устроить поездки, которые включают проживание, пищу и специальные туры, типа скалолазания, походов, предлагая даже уроки пилота.

Для многих посетителей Као Сана, следующий шагом может быть поездка в один из солнечных южных островов. Где можно попробовать скуба-дайвинг или простое ныряние с маской. Таиланд признают, как одно из лучших мест в мире где скуба-дайвинг доступен всем, поскольку вода кристально прозрачна, тепла и просто изобилует красочной морской жизнью.

Поскольку есть очень много приятных мест в Таиланде, чтобы поплавать, много людей любят посещать дайвинг агенства на Као Сане, чтобы получить профессиональный совет. Работники в них - чрезвычайно знающие и в состоянии сделать ваше путешествие вместе со скуба-дайвингом незабывамым. Любой, кто плохо знаком со скуба-дайвингом, будет в состоянии обсудить это с профессионалами и получить полезную информацию относительно того, что ожидать прежде, чем они сделают решающий шаг.

Куда-бы Вы не ехали, удостоверьтесь, что Вы иногда навещаете Као Сан. Теплый прием гарантируется всякий раз, когда Вы здесь.


Khao San Road Transport

Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Getting to and from Khao San Road is easy as this area is well connected to the rest of Bangkok by bus and ferry. Most taxi and tuk-tuk drivers also know this area well, so visitors should have no trouble getting here from any part of Bangkok or the surrounding area.

There is a direct bus to Khao San Road from the airport, and the journey takes around an hour. The air-conditioned AE2 bus takes passengers to the top of Khao San Road for 150 baht, while there are also small local buses that complete the journey for just 35 baht. Those who are travelling in a group may find it more economical and convenient to catch a taxi from the booth outside the main entrance. The fare should cost around 350 in total, including a small charge to cover the toll way tax.

Khao San Road isn’t located near either the underground or sky rail system. However, the Chao Phraya River is just a ten-minute walk away and pier 13 is located at the end of Phra Athit Road. Taking the ferry along the river is a great way to see the sights and it stops at a number of different districts such as Chinatown and Thonburi. There is a Skytrain station at Central Pier, which whisks visitors into the heart of Bangkok in a matter of minutes.

Buses pass by Khao San Road on their way to most parts of Bangkok and those in the know will be able to get around fairly easily by bus. The travel agencies on Khao San Road are a good source of information and most are happy to give advice about which bus to take.

All air-conditioned taxis in Bangkok are supposed to use the meter, which starts at 35 baht. However, most of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers that par at either end of Khao San Road have to pay a fee to stay there are unwilling to use the meter. The fee they charge for trips is often quite high and it is better to walk a few meters from Khao San Road and flag one of the passing taxis, insisting that they use the meter.

The three-wheeled vehicles known as tuk-tuks are good at nipping through the Bangkok traffic, which can save time in the rush hours. It is important to negotiate the price before getting into the tuk-tuk as fare prices are not fixed. The quoted fare will usually be high to start with, but with a little gentle persuasion it is possible to end up paying around half the starting price.

There are a number of tuk-tuk drivers on Khao San Road who offer to take tourists on a trip around the city for just 20 baht. While this may seem like a cheap way to see the sights, visitors should know that these drivers make their money by taking tourists to a number of different jewellery shops on the way. They make a commission for anything you buy and if you plan to make a purchase anyway this could still be a good deal, but unsuspecting travellers could end up with more than they bargained for.


Khao San Road Services

Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road isn’t just about partying. Visitors to Khao San Road and the surrounding areas will also discover a wide range of reasonably priced services. This is the perfect time to book the dentist’s appointment you’ve been putting off, visit the optician or simply post a parcel back home. Virtually any type of business can be taken care of smoothly and simply with the help of the English speaking staff in this area.

There are a number of different booths offering money changing services set up on and around Khao San Road. The staff at these booths stock a good selection of different currencies and can usually change traveller’s cheques as well. Visitors will need to show their passport before they can use the services at these booths. 

Just opposite the entrance to Khao San Road on the corner of Soi Rhambhutri is a branch of Western Union, which may come in handy if you run out of money. It is possible to wire money through Western Union from just about any country in the world. However, some people find that the percentage the company charges is rather high.
If you’ve been indulging in some serious shopping and jut can’t fit everything into your backpack, you may want to make use of one of the postal services in the area. The main post office can be found in a small lane near Victory Monument. Opposite one end of Khao San Road is a branch of Burger King and if you follow the lane behind the fast food franchise for about 100 meters you will come to the post office. There are also a number of other businesses located on Khao San Road and in the surrounding area that offer to send parcels, postcards and letters to international destinations for a small fee. 

When you’re constantly on the road it is easy for the laundry to start piling up and before you know it the contents of your backpack might smell like it’s been swimming around in a sewer for a week. Luckily, there are also people in this area that provide laundry services for a small fee. The going rate on the street and in cheap guesthouses is usually 30 baht per kilo and your laundry bag will be weighed before you are charged. However, in more upmarket hotels laundry is often priced individually and can be considerably more costly. In both cases your laundry will be washed in a machine, ironed and returned within 24 hours.

Although most people dread having their teeth examined, the friendly and professional dentists that have set up businesses in this area make the process almost pleasant. Dental procedures are much cheaper in Thailand than in most Western countries and these dentists offer a wide range of services such as checkups, teeth cleaning and teeth whitening.

Several different opticians’ shops can be found in this area as well and this is a good time to stock up on contact lenses or replace road-worn glasses.

There is also a wide range of other small, yet essential services available here such as shoe fixing, key cutting and people with sewing machines who can fix garments for just a few baht.

When it comes to taking care of business, Khao San Road has it covered.

Khao San Road Tattoo and Makeovers

Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
When you see a traveller wandering around Thailand sporting a new tattoo, piercing or hair extensions, the chances are that they got them in Khao San Road. A number of talented tattoo artists and piercers have set up shop in this area of Bangkok and there are plenty of places to choose from.

Many modern travellers decide to get a tattoo in Thailand as it serves as a permanent reminder of their visit to the Land of Smiles. Customers can choose from either the traditional bamboo tattoo technique known as sak yant or the more common modern method. All tattoo artists provide a large catalogue of images for customers to choose from, and some even offer to create special unique images for a small extra fee.

Khao San Road is a safe place to get a tattoo, as the tattoo artists here have to have certificates and awards for their work, which are checked regularly by the authorities. A large number of famous people have chosen to get their tattoos done in this area, including the actress Angelina Jolie.

Many of the tattoo parlours located on and around Khao San Road also offer body piercing. Quality jewellery tends to be much cheaper in Thailand than in many parts of the world and this is a good time to bite the bullet and get whatever piercing has been on your mind. Again, when it comes to qualifications and cleanliness customers will find that the piercing studios in this part of Bangkok pride themselves on their high standards. Many of the piercers here design and create their own jewellery, while others are willing to use pieces that the customer brings to them from elsewhere.

Some people find that taking care of their hair while travelling is too much of an ordeal. However, Khao San Road has the perfect solution for these people as well as stalls offering hair braiding line the sides of the street. It is possible to relax with a beer and watch the world go by while the hairdressers here add colourful hair extensions or tease and tweak your hair into a range of different styles. If you’ve ever fancied dreadlocks but don’t want the hassle of letting them happen naturally, the women here can work their magic and achieve the classic hairstyle in a matter of minutes.

If all else fails, there are also professional hair salons located in this area, which offer a range of services including shampoos, perms and even head shaving.

For the final step in you Khao San Road makeover, visit one of the massage parlours and choose between traditional Thai, Swedish or oil massages. These establishments also offer services such as manicures, pedicures and waxing to leave you looking and feeling fantastic.


Khao San Road Shopping

Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road is a great place for shopping as there is so much to choose from. It seems that just about anything and everything is bought and sold here, including a large number of second hand goods. Market stalls line the sides of the street, while there are also dozens of small shops to be found here as well as larger specialist shops.

The best time to go shopping is in the morning, just when the stalls are setting up for the day. Most traders believe that the first sale of the day is lucky and will drop prices dramatically rather than lose their first customer.

One of the great things about shopping on Khao San Road is that most prices are negotiable and it is possible to get a great discount, especially if you speak a little bit of Thai. To ask the price, simply say “tow-li”. The seller will often put the price into a calculator and hand it too you. If the price is too high, simply enter the price you want to pay in the calculator and continue from there until a deal is struck.

There are a good number of jewellery shops on Khao San Road and in the surrounded area that specialise in quality wholesale jewellery. These shops offer some of the best bargains in the area as the jewellery here is available for a fraction of the price of many Western countries and even other parts of Bangkok.

Those who are looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them should visit one of the area’s many tailor’s shops. The talent tailors here are able to recreate virtually any design and offer customers a selection of the latest fashion catalogues to choose their garment from. Customers can also choose the fabric that will be used from a large selection of rolls on display inside the shop. The best bargain here is sets of suits, shirts and ties and it is possible to get a specially made Savile Row-style suit and all the trimming for just a remarkably low price.

The market on Khao San Road has gained quite a reputation in recent years for its counterfeit goods. Just about anything that can be copied convincingly is sold here, from Billabong shorts and Levi jeans to CDs, DVDs and even driving licences.

As you wander along Khao San Road you may be approached by one of the people who wander the streets selling a colourful collection of goods such as bags, bracelets and hammocks, most of which have been made by the Hill Tribes in the north of Thailand. While friendly, these merchants can be extremely persistent and it is best to only ask the price of an item if you are seriously interested.

Those who are short on cash can sell their surplice items at one of the stalls on nearby Soi Rambhutri. Just look for one of the sighs announcing “We buy everything”. This is a great place to trade items such as books, tents, backpacks and boots for a few baht.


Khao San Road – An Overview

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Situated in the area of Bangkok known as Banglampu, Khao San Road (or Khaosan, or Kaosarn, or a multitude of other spellings) is one of Bangkok’s most famous streets. While once this vibrant road was mainly a hangout for hippies and budget travellers, over the last few years people from all walks of live have discovered Khao San Road and it has become a real melting pot.

While Khao San Road has managed to retain much of its cheap and cheerful atmosphere with budget guesthouses lining the road, this is also a meeting place for Thai students, artists and even well heeled tourists and businessmen.

A large number of travellers use Khao San Road as a base to explore Bangkok and there are plenty of Khao San Road hotels to choose from, ranging from basic rooms with shared bathrooms to top end hotels that provide all the trimmings.

Khao San Road is the starting point for many visitors to Thailand and there are a large number of businesses geared towards helping travellers and tourists find their feet.

The travel agencies on Khao San Road offer a wide range of different trips and packages and travellers can book anything from a tour of Bangkok to diving trips to one of Thailand’s picturesque southern islands.

Market stalls line the sides of Khao San Road and it is possible to purchase just about anything here, from souvenir t-shirts to artwork and second hand books. The shops along the side of the road and down the winding alleyways that branch off Khao San Road also sell items such as silver jewellery, lanterns and handicrafts.

When it comes to dining, there is an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes located on Khao San Road. While many restaurants offer a selection of both Thai and Western favourites, there are also some excellent restaurants specializing in cuisine such as Italian, Japanese, Indian and Korean food. Vegetarians will find plenty to tickle their taste buds here are cheap bites and food carts on the street provide snacks such as pad thai and barbequed corn.

Khao San Road has gained a reputation as a party area over the last few years and once the sun sets people from all over the city come here to play. This is a good place to listen to live bands as a number of bars host Thai bands that play popular Thai and Western pop and rock songs. There are plenty of places to sit with a drink or two and watch the world go by and in the evening a number of stalls set up offering cheap yet surprisingly strong cocktails.

Khao San Road is also a good place for clubbing and many of the clubs located here hire international DJs, pumping out a range of music such as house, hip hop, trance and techno.

Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it on Khao San Road. The only difficulty might be leaving the vivacity of this interesting area behind in order to explore other parts of the city. Luckily, there are a wide range of transport options available including taxis, tuk-tuks, boats and buses, so getting here and around is simple.


A Prison Visit

bangk_175Bang Kwang is famous as the Bangkok Hilton, however, the Thai nickname for it is "Big Tiger" because it eats people.
I remember a few years ago walking down the famous Khao San Road and seeing a sign pasted to a wall that said "Visit Prisoners in Thailand" and it sparked my curiosity as something different a change, but never got round to it, then a few years ago Michael Connell's case made the news when he disembarked from a plane at Bangkok Airport with 3400 disco biscuits in his suitcase. For a long time I was in two minds about going to visit, I'd read the book "Damage Done" by Warren Fellows and wanted to try and see if I could help one of the prisoners but at the same didn't want to be involved in ghoulish tourism. I was speaking to a mate of mine called Spike, who's from Bury in Lancashire and the topic cropped and his eyes lit up.

"I've been visiting Mike every week since he got caught. I send him fags and stuff. He really appreciates visitors, he'd be happy to see you."

With a few more pressing matters out of the way I headed down to Bang Kwang Prison in Nonthaburi on the northern edge of Bangkok yesterday, carefully dressed despite the heat in long trousers and a long sleeved shirt I got out of my taxi at the main gate. Outside there were groups of women praying, some looked like nuns, I don't honestly know if this is a regular sight or if there was a specific reason for them to intercede but anyway I headed over the road to the visitors centre where I handed in a photocopy of my passport and explained that I was there to see Michael Connell.

"Building 2 cannot. Closed. Come back tomorrow. Today building 4, 5, 6." "Are there any other foreigners I can visit from those buildings then." "Not today! Sorry!"

The visitors centre didn't look like much, it was like a lot of Thai places bus terminals, council offices, utility companies, it was a partially open sided building with a thin roof, concrete floor, rows of plastic seating occupied by the odd official behind a grille or desk handing out bits of paper and stamping them when they returned. I was taking in the sights and considering buying some food in the shop/restaurant attached when a foreign lady walked in.


She smiled back and when I politely asked her her business she explained she was visiting her boyfriend and that despite Mike not being eligible for visitors that day another Brit Anthony Flanaghan was so I filled in the necessary forms and was told that I could see him at 9:30 so went and sat with Ellsie, the German lady who helpfully played tour guide for me. I bought some fruit from the counter and put it in a carrier bag then wrote "Anthony Flanaghan Building 4" on it. When the time arrived we were given back our forms and a security card to attach to our shirt, we crossed the road and took a door round the side of the main entrance.

Now despite its reputation the place didn't seem that harsh; the walls were high as you'd expect of a prison but the uniformed staff who searched me and x-rayed the bag of fruit were all smiles the way a lot of Thai people are, more so in some ways, the few corridors and doors we walked through didn't seem that dungeonesque or horrific more like being in the belly of an old ferry - you know, big wooden doors with bolts and 15 coats of paint.

The final big door opened out into a courtyard with two long out buildings running down either side. Ellsie hurried along, she was keen to see her boyfriend. Inside the long houses look more like a big post office terminal rather than a prison where there are glass and aluminum partitioned booths with a chair and a phone on the desk. Through the glass there's a gap and some metal bars and a corridor.

Ellsie told me the phones worked in two particular booths at one end and that the guards had to go and get the prisoners and could be anything from 10 minutes to half an hour. Tony who was born in 1970 was arrested in Bangkok in 2004 carrying drugs. The full story is a bit vague but an accomplice of his was arrested shortly after on Ko Samui and a search of his house retrieved smaller amounts of drugs. Shortly after arrest Tony who grew up in Coventry in the West Midlands was sentenced to death, the death sentence was reduced on appeal in December 2006 to life imprisonment and in January 2007 to 33 years.

As I waited for Tony the place started to fill up, mainly with women come to visit husbands, fathers or sons, but there was a small group of English women who seemed up beat and high spirited who congregated near the corner that Ellsie and I were in. Judging from overheard conversation one was a mother come to visit a son, the others were regular visitors who visited once or twice a week and helped keep the spirits of the English inmates high.

When Tony arrived he seemed genuinely pleased to receive a visitor and also well liked by the English entourage he made a few coarse jokes with them and asked if they'd had news from his sister. He appeared healthy, upbeat and in good spirits. When I asked him how he was he said, "Walking on air man. They've just let me off death row a few weeks ago and took my leg irons off. They weigh 3 and a half kilos it's not easy getting around in them and when they come off it's like learning to walk again."

He talked about his predicament and accepted his fate which he seems to have come to terms with (as did Mike when I spoke to him later) and struck me as being a likeable and intelligent character. When I asked him how he occupied himself he told me that he wakes at 6:30, when he is allowed out of the cell into the open area where him and two or three mates have their own little shelter or "house" as they like to call it, where they can cook, chat, exercise, read until 3pm when they have to go back to the cell. Tony then likes to be asleep by 9 so tries to exercise as much as he can in the free part of the day but will often read until he sleeps.

When asked what he likes to read he told me, "Philosophy mainly, I've been reading Plato, Socrates, Marx things like that, there's quite a big library here we all put our books in there when we're finished. I've read loads of novels and fiction I can't be bothered with them."

I was expecting having read "The Damage Done" in which an Australian serving time for a similar offence to Tony tells of the horrors of the jail to be regaled with stories of eating lice and mixing the puss out of open sores in to add flavour and although there were some unsavory details passed on I was surprised at how little Tony complained.

He told me the cell is crowded, his has 20 men in a space around 7 meters by 5, others can hold as many as 30 although some hold less as well. Now he's off death row things are a lot easier and although he has a long sentence he intends to stay in the Thai prison system for the duration and relatively speaking he has a short sentence.

But Tony to his credit when mentioning a negative will always counter it with a positive, he told me of his two sons Kyle and James aged 19 and 16 and how James is joining the army, after telling me that he has to shower and wash using river water he tells me he's got top marks in his Thai language lessons.

The subject of Michael Connell crops up as it was him I initially wanted to visit and he explains that Mike is hoping to get transferred to British jail although Tony would prefer to stay in Thailand because of the violence within the British prison system. He elaborates that stuff does go on in Thai jail, but it is confined and manageable.

As we talk (despite being told by officials to the contrary) Michael Connell walks past behind Tony and I point him out, Tony explains I can speak to him later once our visit is nearly up. When Mike comes over to talk he appears again like Tony upbeat and complicit of his fate. He appears underweight and explains he's lost a lot because he's playing football in free time and sweating it out in the heat and not really eating properly, he looks forward to being in the UK, although Tony feels life is a bit more easy going in a Thai jail despite the uncertainty. They both remain optimistic of further reductions in their sentence however readily admit that the uncertainty of any reduction is part and parcel of the Thai system.

There seems a genuine camaraderie amongst the inmates receiving visitors and despite the lengths of their sentences a genuine optimism for the future. When the visit was over I passed the bag of fruit through a hatch to be passed on to him and wondered if Tony would eat it or turn it into the hooch he told me the inmates use to get pissed on at the weekend.

Copyright Dominic Lavin. Not to be reproduced in part or whole. Anyone wishing to use this piece should contact the author for permission. Visit Dominic's MySpace Page.


Prison Visits

Visiting Prisoners in Bangkok Don't go to Bang Kwang prison with any illusions…

'Brokedown Palace' is a movie, and although there may be the occasional exception, the foreign inmates in Bang Kwang have broken Thai law. Given that, Bang Kwang's foreign prisoners are a long way from home and often short of a few of the necessities in life. A visit from someone with a bit of time on their hands can therefore be something the foreign prisoners in Bang Kwang genuinely cherish - and if you are up to it, it's a worthwhile thing to do.

What follows is the definitive guide to how to become a prison visitor.

Provided by "Princess" from the UK, apparently an old hand at visits, the information given should be read carefully before even considering going up to Bang Kwang - if you don't you could make things worse for the people you are trying to help.

Getting there:
From Banglampoo Pier (Khao San) take the big whistling boat going upstream (to the right). It costs 6 Baht to Nonthaburi and takes 40 minutes. Nonthaburi is the last stop and you will recognize it by the white clock tower by the pier and the AMPM convenience store. Jump off the boat and walk straight on - ignore the touts! Take the 1st left and walk about 250 meters. You will see Bang Kwang prison on the right. You will need to go to the registration area on the left…

Guys must wear long trousers. Dress respectfully, whatever your sex. It really pisses the guards off girls wearing tiny shorts and vest-tops. Please dress properly because there are rumors the prisoners' visits will stop because of backpackers. Make sure you know exactly who you will call out as well - it annoys the guards when people ask for names they don't know. If you want names you can call the relevant embassies: UK Embassy - 02 305 8333 - ask for Maureen, Kate or Anita. They will not give prisoners' names over the phone though so you will have to go down to the embassy in person to meet them. American Embassy and others may give names over the telephone - I'm not really sure.

If you bring food from outside put it in a large clear bag. You can buy bags at the registration area cafe for 2 Baht. Write the name of the prisoner you are visiting on the bag. After you have visited the prisoner, you have to hand the food in at the counter (where 100 people or so hang around!). You hand in the original form and your passport. Wait for your passport to come back (usually takes 10 minutes) and off you go.

Books, etc.:
If you want to bring mags, books or papers hand, them into the Foreign Affairs office on the right as you go into the prison area. Leave the prisoner's name and building number on the cover and they'll get them… Don't bring magazines with too many naked pictures in them though - they won't get through. Other info: Please be aware that the prisoners sometimes have family or friends visiting. Look in the registration book to see if someone has already called out the prisoner you are visiting. It's very frustrating for prisoners when they have people they know over and someone randomly chooses to visit them! Beware that in August and December this may occur more often because that's when contact visits take place and families come over… Be very careful at these times. Very few women get visitors and have to rely on missionaries.

To write to a prisoner:
Address an envelope as follows -

Name of prisoner
Bldg. No.
Bang Kwang Prison
Nonthaburi Road

Final thoughts:
If you are not really up to this, don't go… time wasters won't help anyone. Be sensitive to the prisoners' situation - if you say you will do something for them, such as send an email for them or something, then please do it - imagine their frustration if you don't. It's also handy to take a pen and paper in. Just chat normally. If they want to tell you their story, they will. But they've probably told their story 1,000 times so they may want to talk about other stuff!

Footnote from KSR.com
For more information about this you can take a look at the Internet and find a number of sites. It's not our intention to link to any of these sites because some of them are critical and make what we regard as slanderous remarks about Thailand. We can't support those sorts of sites, but visit them if you want to. However, be aware of what you are reading - there are far fewer victims around than you might think! Most people know what they are getting into...

Here's one site we can link to http://www.correct.go.th/brief.htm


In our 'Banged up' section giving information about visiting prisoners in Bangkok, we wrote: "Some countries offer support to nationals who find themselves in prison abroad, others do not. The United Kingdom, for instance, offers British prisoners on Thai soil no support whatsoever." We received the email below from Angela Tokalau at the British Embassy who gave us a more informed picture:

Dear Sirs,

I happened on your site by accident and read, with much disappointment, the comment made in your seciton on visiting prisoners in Bang Kwang.

I am the Second Secretary (Vice Consul) at the British Embassy and feel that you need to have some more information about what we actually do for our prisoners while they are on Thai soil.

Prisoners in Bangkok receive a visit from an Embassy official every month, more often if there is a problem (health etc). For those in prison in the provinces, we visit every three months. We provide vitamins and prescription medicine free of charge and also pay for medical, dental and optical treatment for each prisoner, regardless of their circumstances.

We do shopping on their behalf, run bank accounts for them at the Embassy, arrange their transfers to British prisons if they are eligible, advise on preparing Royal Pardon Petitions and keep in regular contact with their families. For some of our priosners, we are the only visitors they get.

Can you honestly call this no support?!

Also, please note the Embassy telephone number was changed over a year ago to 02 305 8333.

I would therefore be grateful if you would arrange for the comments about the Embassy's lack of support to be removed from your website.

Yours faithfully

Angela Tokalau (Mrs)
Second Secretary (Vice Consul)
British Embassy Bangkok

Our sincere apologies for this misinformation.


Missing Persons

Leon Adler
writes: "I was hoping to find the whereabouts of my friend. We have heard nothing from him since December 2008 when he stayed near Khaosan road a long time. His name is Rory (last name?) about 1.80 tall, normal build and black short hair. Last time we saw him near Khaosan he had an open wound on his forehead, should have left a scar. Any info would be helpful." Any news, let Leon know. Let us know, too.

C. Nageswararao writes: "My son named CHERUKURI RAGHAV SRINIVAS, aged 36, fair and tall, has been living in Thailand in various places like NAKARNPATHOM, PATTAYA & PUKHET since the year 2000. From June 2005 he has been incommunicado. Could you kindly trace him for me. My wife has taken ill and may not recover till he comes back home. I shall be very grateful to you for this act of kindness. Thanks and regards, C Nageswararao Tel: 91-40-23170138 Hyderabad, India." 

John Moats
Debbie writes: "I'm looking to find out how my brother is doing in Thailand. We have lost contact and are all very worried. His name is John Moats, he is an English teacher. If anyone knows any information, it would help. Thank you. His last known whereabouts was Khon Kaen working at a high school."

Richard ThompsonRichard Thomson
Rogier writes:" We are looking for a guy named Richard Thomson. Richard comes from Scotland (Aberdeen I believe) and left his family early 2005. I would like to get in touch with him. He was reportedly seen in a BKK shopping mall around 2005-2006. At the time that he was in Thailand, he was hopping jobs (English teacher). Hopefully somebody can help me get in touch with him." If any can help Rogier, let him know... Let us know, too.

Tang Bich Hang
Tang Bao Can writes: "Tang Bich Hang was born on March 13, 1971 and has a brown birth mark on the top of her right thigh. She was lost when escaping from Vietnam on a boat in 1984. At that time she was 14 years of age. Her parents, Tang Bao Can and Thai Thi Lan, and her brother Tang Duc Khanh, are searching for her. Her picture can be seen here." Any clues, please let Tang know.

Danny Hall (Daniel Christian Hall)Danny Hall (Daniel Christian Hall) 
Danny Hall (full name Daniel Christian Hall), a British citizen, arrived in Thailand at the end of January and was last seen on February 24th at the Full Moon Party, Koh Pha Ngan.
He was staying at Lam Son bungalows from the 16th February onwards on Hat Yao beach. He has not been seen or heard from since. He is 35 years old, about 5'10" and has an average build. He is into Muay Thai and playing guitar. He was planning on leaving Koh Pha Ngan after the party. If anyone has any information whatsoever regarding his whereabouts, please use the form below or call Roy on: (66) 087 008 0787.