In January, prior to Covid, international tourism was down dramatically here in Thailand. These problems did not start with Covid. Though Covid is an easy scapegoat now, it is only a part of the reason for the decline in the Thai tourism industry. Some of the following was written prior to Covid. But, it relates just the same, as they will have these same issues down the road again.
This is a situation where nobody is attempting to get to the root of the problem. Of course, in Thai society, it is not particularly popular to look within for the source of the problem.
I think perhaps a 5 to 10 years from now, they will have tourism classes at university, where they will discuss how Thailand lost the golden egg of Western tourism. Those tourists, unlike many Chinese tourists, spent anywhere from $100 a day, to over $2,000 a day. They brought real money into the country, and in exchange, were treated with utter and complete disregard, scammed, disrespected, and abused.
Eventually, most said no more. Thailand thought the country was something very special, and that nobody would ever say no, or find alternative places to visit. The fact is that there are countless other spots, many in this region, that offer better service, more expertise in food and beverage (especially wine service and selection at fair prices, which rich tourists demand), reasonable import duties to sustain a luxury goods market, better training, and far better English skills.
Thailand simply lost sight of the big picture, and had very little vision, with regard to big spending tourists, who need to be catered to, instead of scorned.
So, what happened? The Western tourists started to decline in number, and the genius minds at the TAT decided it was time to “lure” the Chinese which of course is linked to the Thai military regime headed by the self elected PM General Prayuth who runs Thailand as an army camp. Of course the Chinese came in droves as their is no difference between Communist China and the Army run Thailand. But the Chinese did not spend much money.
Hotels, restaurants, gift shops, jewelers, galleries, spas, massage shops, bars, and countless other businesses suffered, and will continue to suffer from this extreme myopia, on the part of the officials in charge of tourism. Oh well.
Can’t say they were not warned. Zero baht tourists are perhaps the majority who have visited Thailand in the past 3 years even if Thailand says they have clamped down on it. Sure, they spend some money in restaurants, and in 7/11. But, that is about it, for some of the super low budget Chinese tours. Not many rich Chinese are visiting Thailand, for a dozen of good reasons. They have too many other options such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Macau, Japan and South Korea and of course France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
There are countless things the Thai government could be doing, if they wanted to attract the high quality tourists. Granted, they will need to get beyond the Covid phase, but this is the perfect time to be laying the groundwork. The problem with that, is it requires an admission that you are doing things wrong to begin with, and some vision. None of which is going to happen with the current Generals in power.
The very first thing would be to repeal the anti Farang wine bill, that was passed by a few very corrupt senators way back then to protect a local wine industry, that produces a highly inferior product that no tourists want to drink. They are losing billions of Baht a year in revenues, that would be to a 100% wine duty, instead of 360%. The five star hotels would have major wine events, and the entire industry would flourish here.
Then they could lower the luxury taxes. Rich tourists like to spend money when they travel but they don’t want to get ripped of by import duties. Most wealthy people are smart with their money. Thailand could be making a fortune on a 25% luxury tax instead of the 100% of more, which discourages most tourists from buying. How many people do you see in the luxury stores here? They are almost always completely empty. Insane. Beyond insane. Go to a luxury store such as Gucci etc in Singapore and you have a 200 meters line of buyers waiting outside the store. In Thailand you can drop by Gucci and you might me the only buyer.
Thailand will continue to get more Chinese tourists. But, it will be lower income, and lower middle income tourists. Thailand just cannot attract higher end tourists anymore. The focus on quantity over quality will continue to erode the nation on countless levels. More is rarely better. It just lowers the quality of life for nearly everyone, creates more congestion, more smog, more traffic, longer lines at immigration, and makes life difficult, especially in the big cities.
There are countless things the government could be doing, if they wanted to attract the high quality tourists, and go for quality over quantity.
Quantity over quality is never a good thing, unless you are selling one dollar items at a swap meet. It just lowers the quality of the experience for all. This is an emergency situation. It needs to be dealt with, and it needs a high degree of intelligence and competence and not something Prayuth or Pipat possess. Someone else needs to handle this, and it needs to be handled yesterday!
You know what they say about putting all of your eggs in one basket? I have been warning of the dangers of becoming too dependent on China for years. Now, after you have made your bed, you get to sleep in it. You have alienated all tourists but Russians and Chinese. Westerners are not coming here anymore for a dozen very good reasons. Thailand insulted us and demeaned us. You accused us of being evil, and you accused us of being criminals. You mounted campaigns touting us as bad for the nation. You demonstrated deplorable amounts of racism and xenophobia thanks to a Deputy Prime Minister Anutin.
And now Thailand want Quality tourists back from Switzerland, Germany, Australia and countless European countries to come back? Really? How soon you forget. Sorry, but we have not forgotten what was done and said. What we have forgotten is the nation named Thailand. There are too many alternatives now, and they are not only trying harder, they actually have competent people in charge! Surprise! (Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore are good examples).
Sorry to say, but the high spending tourists are lost for good. They WILL NOT come back to Thailand, for a dozen different reasons. And places like Pattaya, Phuket and Samui will continue to go downhill. So, the goons at the TAT continue to pursue ever higher numbers, regardless of the noxious air, unbelievable congestion on the roads, and woeful service at the airports, that this policy only exacerbates.
I was recently with a group of friends, and we wanted to order a bottle of wine, at of one of those high end restaurants in the EmQuartier complex. It was Bella Rocca Restaurant. I asked about a 2011 Chianti they had on the list. I was told they were out of stock. I asked about a Barbaresco, at 2,600 baht. Again, out of stock. How about this Nebbiolo? Do you have the 2010, as stated on the list? No, we only have the 2015. OK, what is that wine like? Is it drinking well now? I do not know. Is there anyone here that is familiar with this wine list?
No. Sorry sir. Wait a minute. You have hundreds of bottles on this list, ranging from 1200 baht to 10,000 baht per bottle, and NOBODY who works here knows anything about the wine? Are you serious? We all just looked at each other, and got up and walked out. We realized the restaurant was a pretender. And more than likely the food was marginal at best. It was all dressed up to look like a very nice Italian restaurant, but, it appeared to be only window dressing. High end tourists have little patience for that lack of quality and lack of service.
But again, the lack of vision, combined with a naive, surly, silly, churlish, and ignorant sense of Thai nationalism promoted by the Thai Generals, bites the country in the butt. And again, who is the loser? The Thai people. The entire country is suffering from a declining tourism industry and that will not change. It is a permanent declining trend. For a hundred valid reasons.
It is a real shame, as I find most Thai people to be quite lovely, friendly, warm, helpful and fun to be around. There are many aspects of life here, that I truly enjoy. I am sure many feel the same way. Just wish the country was not moving backwards, (and was instead moving forward under the leadership of progressive minds) due to a system of meritocracy, and a complete lack of forward looking vision.
Thailand’s Tourism industry is a nice dream indeed.
Moving the country forward? I think not. More like “Moving Thailand backwards at an alarming pace”.
As a closing statement, I would like to remind those Bangkok generals that it was those farang countries that gave shelter to a large number of members of the Chakri dynasty in the United States, Switzerland when Thailand was in turmoil.
Germany and Switzerland have always shown great respect to HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X), HM Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana and HRH Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti Sirivibulyarajakumar. It would be nice if Farangs would receive the same respect in the Kingdom of Thailand that our ethnicity has provided to the Chakri Dynasty for the past 80 years.
The Global Response to the Military Thugs of Myanmar needs to be a Military Answer
Myanmar is on the brink of becoming a failed state and the Myanmar military is pointing their weapons to anti-coup protesters with over 500 Burmese that have been killed.
The military thugs that overthrow the democratic elected government are now accusing Aung San Suu Kyi of taking bribes in addition to importing walkie talkies and violating social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic and the JUNTA is making it up as they go.
Those military thugs lost most of their seats in last November’s Generation Election in which Aung San Suu Kyi NLD Party won 85% of the popular votes.
Since the coup on February 1, those thugs shut down television stations and the internet to have a clear way of butchering their own people and the International community does nothing.
Myanmar’s military chief throwed a lavish dinner party March 27 on Armed Forces Day for his friends from Thailand, China, Russia, Vietnam, Laos, India and to show his cruelty over 120 Burmese were killed by the thugs.
A day later 12 defense chiefs from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the EU jointly condemned the killings of unarmed people’s but surely we must ask how on earth are those 12 countries with such a large military capabilities not being able to stop the killing in Myanmar by retaliating actions to fix the situation.
The death in Myanmar is not going away until their is an international intervention but since the Chinese and Russian’s are blocking the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) it need’s to be a Coalition of the Willing.
If the free world is not prepared to defend democracies in Myanmar we might have to wonder what the free world stands for, besides talking to ASEAN leaders which is a waste of time.
As long ASEAN accepts military coups nothing will change in Southeast Asia and Myanmar’s generals know that they can get away with it when they look at their neighbor Thailand which is headed by another military thug General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
As for consumers of the free world, the only language that ASEAN needs to hear is a full travel boycott to all ASEAN countries which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore.
Hua Hin Cha-am | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Hua Hin Travel Guide
Hua Hin is a district in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province of Thailand, 295 kilometers from Bangkok and 90 km from the provincial capital. It is the oldest and most traditional of Thailand’s beach resorts combining the attractions of a modern holiday destination with the charm and fascination of a still active fishing port. Beaches are located in the east of the province, including a 5km stretch of white sand and clear water. Although it has developed to cater for tourists from all over the world, the resort which began its development over 70 years ago, remains popular with Thais too, a good sign for those looking for an authentic experience.
The resort was originally founded in 1830s, when farmers, moving south to escape the results of a severe drought in the agricultural area of Phetchaburi, found a small village beside white sands and rows of rock, and settled in. The tranquil fishing village was turned into a ‘Royal resort’ becoming popular among Siam’s nobility and smart-set.
Accessibility was greatly enhanced by the construction of the railway from Bangkok, which brought visitors from wider social groups, and kick-started the industry which would bring tourists from other countries. The first hotel – The Railway Hotel – was built in 1921 and it still stands today continuing to serve tourists as the Sofitel Central.
Hua Hin was made famous in the early 1920s by King Rama VII, who decided it was an ideal getaway from the steamy metropolis of Bangkok. He built a summer palace and this was echoed when King Rama VII ordered the construction of the Palace of Klaikangwon (“far from worries”). The latter is still much used by the Thai Royal Family today.
The resort continued to develop slowly, protected to some extent by its Royal reputation. Its fishing port grew alongside golf courses and all the big hotel chains are now represented. Many of Bangkok’s rich and famous and a growing number of expats have built their own summer homes along the bay, making the resort more cosmopolitan every year.
Development has taken over much of the prime government land, so the coast road suffers from obstructed views of the sea these days, but Hua Hin is trying hard to retain its beach-side atmosphere. Compared to Pattaya, the resort remains relatively serene and attracts families and older travelers. The beach has a gradual slope, into clear warm water which so far has escaped pollution of any kind.
Further afield, the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is a charming region, where limestone cliffs and islands, bays and beaches, are home to a national park, and several temples, and travelling through this area will be a welcome experience for those hoping to avoid the tourist traps found further South. Driving from Bangkok through Prachuap Khiri Khan takes around three hours, a journey punctuated by summer palaces, huge temples, beautifully kept gardens and salt flats.
Visitors head to Hua Hin all year round. The area has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, and there’s usually a gentle sea breeze to punctuate the heat, particularly welcome in the summer season between March and September.
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Flights to Hua Hin
Cheap Flights to Hua Hin
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Things to see and do in Hua Hin
As you would expect with a resort boasting a 5km clean white beach, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling are popular pastimes. Swimming is safe, and with one of the driest climates across Thailand, there’s plenty of opportunity to dry off in the sun afterwards.
Possibly due to its noble history and elegant clientele, Hua Hin has the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand, although it has yet to be discovered by the international golf tournament circuit. Green-fees and other costs are surprisingly low, given that course maintenance and services are superb. The Royal Hua Hin course is one of many, but considered to be the best.
Shop till you drop
Chatchai Market is colourful and inexpensive and is one of Hua Hin’s major attractions. Vendors gather nightly in the centre of town, where they cook fresh gulf seafood for hordes of hungry Thais and provide a spectacle for visitors. As well as plentiful food shops, it offers much that will appeal to souvenir hunters too.
Klai Kangwon (which means ‘Far From Worries’ ) is the Royal Palace built by King Rama VII in 1928. It was designed by Prince Iddhidehsarn Kridakara, an architect and the Director of the Fine Arts Department at the time, and officially opened in 1929. Further structures have been added over time, including a mansion ordered by King Bhumibol (Rama IX) for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and accommodation for the royal entourage, built in the style of the original buildings so as to preserve the harmony of the palace. Although Klai Kangwon is still in regular use by the Royal family, it is also open to the public.
Hop on a train
Or more importantly, visit the railway station. Built in the reign of Rama IV, the brightly painted wooden buildings somehow combine traditional Thai ideas with a Victorian feel, and in 2009 Hua Hin made it onto NewsWeek’s Best Stations list, in great company such as New York’s Grand Central, and London’s St Pancras.
Although one of the joys of Hua Hin is its serenity and calm, if you’re keen to take in more, its fairly easy to find trips which will take you to many of the other southern beach destinations such as Koh Nangyaun, Koh Toa, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Koa Sok. You may find however that some of these legendary destinations have suffered more at the hands of the global tourist industry than Hua Hin has.
Khao Takiab is referred as Monkey Mountain, but as well as the mischievous residents, it also boasts a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin, a pagoda-style shrine and a giant golden Buddha which faces the sunrise.
Walk in the Park
The region boasts several parks, and natural attractions, such as the Kangajan National Park, and the Koa Sam Roi Yod Marine Park. You’ll find miles of good walking, amongst lakes, caves and waterfalls, and you’ll be in the company of as elephants, tigers, wild dogs and leopards.
Eat, drink and sleep in Hua Hin
As more affluent ex-pats from all over the world gather to weather the winter, or snap up beachfront properties in Hua Hin, the restaurant scene becomes more cosmopolitan. French, Italian, German and Scandinavian restaurants are all here, in case anyone feels homesick. However, there are also rustic seafood restaurants, especially on the pier, and at several of these you can choose your own fish from the fish market right outside and waiters will bring you the finished result.
There are plenty of simpler local restaurants both inside and out on the streets where you can sample authentic Thai food too.
If you want to try to cook your own Thai food in Hua Hin, the very best place to buy your ingredients, not because it’s the cheapest, but because it is a fabulous experience, is the night market. Right in the centre of town, it opens at 18:00. It’s also a terrific place to buy handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing.
The Chatchai market is a great day market and the place to go for the best street food, as vendors grill, fry, boil and dress the fabulous local fish and shellfish, but don’t forget to leave room for a real local speciality. Roti Hua Hin is a delicious dough-based snack filled with strawberries, custard or raisins.
In a side street just off the market is the Hua Hin Thai Show, a pagoda-style restaurant which combines great food with a nightly musical performance, where you can sample folk with your fish or classical over your clams.
Unlike many Thai resorts, here you will also find more elegant dining, including Thai and Vietnamese food with a more upmarket touch for a real treat. Monsoon is the most romantic and expensive, but it’s worth it for the wine list and the elegant atmosphere. If your budget doesn’t run to dinner, you can enjoy afternoon tea on its teak-decked terrace.
Hua Hin isn’t as lively as many of its neighbours, but that doesn’t mean it’s no go for night life. There are quite a few live music venues, including El Murphy’s the Irish bar, which has its own local band rocking the town with rock and blues classics. There are a couple of country music pubs, and several nightclubs, but for a really classy experience, head to Satchmo’s where a vibrant Filipino band will serenade you as you drink the best Mojito outside Mexico.
Hua Hin has more than its share of upmarket and luxury accommodation. All the main hotel chains are here, and most have lovely grounds, top facilities and restaurants. There are elegant luxury boutique-style hotels too, many with villas and private pools. Sadly, there aren’t as many budget options as there used to be, but if you’re prepared to do some research you can find clean an friendly guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts at reasonable rates. If you’re planning to stay a while, a rental apartment can be a good option; many of the holiday homes owned by people who live abroad can be rented for at least part of the year. Wherever you stay, Hua Hin is an oasis of calm in a country of exciting contrasts.
Hotels/Resorts in Hua Hin
Hotels Hua Hin: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa||★★★★★||-24%||331 250|
|G Hua Hin Resort & Mall||★★★★|
|Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa - SHA Certified||★★★★★||-21%||218 172|
|Hop Inn Hua Hin||★★|
|Anantara Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★||-15%||212 181|
|Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin||★★★★★||-17%||230 191|
|Blu Marine Hua Hin Resort and Villas||★★★|
|Amari Hua Hin - SHA Certified||★★★★★|
|Asira Boutique HuaHin||★★★★||-20%||118 95|
|Bann Lom Le Guest House||★★|
|The Herbs Hotel Hua Hin||★★★★||-17%||80 67|
|Corner Cafe Bed & Breakfast||★★|
|Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★||-23%||235 181|
|The Restro||★★★||-7%||149 139|
|Whale Hua Hin - SHA Certified||★★★★||-60%||207 83|
|Dadddy's home Huahin||★★|
|Ruenkanok Thaihouse Resort||★★★||-45%||102 56|
|InterContinental Hua Hin Resort, an IHG Hotel||★★★★★||-25%||307 229|
|Hyatt Regency Hua Hin||★★★★★||-19%||319 259|
|Prinz Garden Villa||★★★||-41%||113 66|
Ko Si Chang | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
In the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Sichang’s proximity to the shipping lanes has made it a convenient anchorage for dozens of barges which transship their cargoes to lighters for the trip up the Chao Phraya to Bangkok. Ko Si Chang makes a nice weekend outing for local tourists.
While the beaches are not as enjoyable as those on islands further east and south, such as Ko Samet, tourists can explore the remains of a former royal palace which was built as a summer retreat for King Chulalongkorn. The royal residence was abandoned in 1893 when the French occupied the island during a conflict with Thailand over who would control Laos.
The island has many places of religious interest and value. Be respectful of the local culture and wear modest clothes when visiting the temples and religious shrines. Always remove your shoes and cover your shoulders when entering a holy area. Refrain from topless or nude sunbathing/swimming.
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The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.
By bus You can catch a government bus from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) or Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai). Both stations have buses that leave everyday, on the hour. The trip to Si Racha takes about 2 hours. At Mo Chit, go to Window 54 to purchase your ticket. Tickets are 92 Thai Baht from Mo Chit, 88 Thai Baht one-way from Ekamai and there is no discount for buying a return fare.
By boat Upon arrival in Si Racha, take a tuk-tuk for 50 Thai Baht to the pier. Boats to Ko Sichang leave hourly (every two hours in low season) from the pier on Ko Loy. The ferry takes about 40 minutes and is 50 Thai Baht per person each way (July 2019).
The information counter at the pier in Ko Sichang provides useful information and a brochure identifying five important locations on the island, written in Thai and English. This counter may not be open in low-season.
When leaving the island, be careful. The ferry may leave from a pier different from the one you came in on (eg. the one north of the marina or the one near the 7-11). It’s best to ask a local motorbike taxi driver when you are close to the piers, and he will direct you.
Motorcycle buffs will be intrigued by the strange motorcycle samlors peculiar to Ko Sichang, three-wheeled motorized rickshaws with outrageously powerful car or Harley Davidson engines. These once roamed the streets of Bangkok, but were banished to Si Racha years ago. They can be hired for about 60 Thai Baht an hour to take visitors on a tour of the island.
For groups of tourists, a one-day around-the-island transport package can be arranged at the pier. The charge for the three-wheeled motorized tuk-tuk, which can accommodate 5 persons, is around 250 Thai Baht, and the pick-up truck, which can accommodate 10 persons, is around 500 Thai Baht. Tourists can spend however long they wish at each location, and the pick-up time for the next location can be agreed as you get off at each location or you can call the driver’s mobile phone when needing pick-up.
By motorbike By far the most popular way to get around the island is by renting a motorbike, usually priced at around 300 Thai Baht/day. As there are few steep hills, the island is easily navigated by novices. Motorbikes can be rented at the pier, or at many guest houses or rental facilities along the main road
By foot For travellers who have more time or want to see the island at a slower pace, the island is easily navigated on foot. All of the island’s main attractions can be seen in one day, and you can walk to most places in less than an hour.
What to see and do
- Buddha’s Footprint and Lookout. Accessible from the main road, or from San Jao Phaw Khao Yai, this lookout offers amazing views of both the island and the small lake known as Buddha’s Footprint. The lookout has a shrine and a bell. If you wish to notify the spirits that you are visiting, ring the bell three times.
- Rama IV Summer Palace and Gardens (Halfway down the east coast). The remains of the 19th century palace. You can spend an hour or two wandering around the old buildings, gardens, the pier, and the small beaches.
- San Jao Phaw Khao Yai (Northeast of the piers). This venerable multi-level Chinese temple is perched high on a cliff and has a spectacular view back toward the mainland. The temple has many rooms and caves to be explored. To the right, just before entering the main hall, you will see stairs leading up to Buddha’s footprint.
- Wat Tham Yai Prik. This large temple on the hill includes a giant golden Buddha visible from the ferry, as well as many other Buddha statues. The temple has a great view, caves and many buildings to explore. The local monks will be happy to show you around and offer a blessing, although as with anything related to monks in Thailand this will cost. Please note that any legitimate Buddhist Monk is forbidden from handling money, donations are always welcome at Wat (temples) but it is never expected or asked for. Payment for any legitimate blessing would be given in a donation box, anything else is a tourist scam.
What to do
- Caves. Of interest is the large cave known as Tham Saowapha which is said to extend over a kilometre into the limestone interior of the island. Another cave, the chimney-like Tham Chaprakong gives access to the view from the top of the hill. Other caves on the island are home to meditating hermits, so visitors should take care not to cause any disturbance. Many of the temples on the island also have caves used for worship which can be explored as long as you are being respectful.
- Taam Pang Beach. The only real beach on the island offers nice swimming and good snacks. Beware of rubbish which can find it’s way onto the beach when the tide comes in. The island offers beautiful sunsets seen off Taam Pang Beach or Chom Kao Kard.
The cafe on the beach is very good, with reasonable prices.
- Pan and David’s. A good mix of Western and Thai food.
- Tiew Pai Park Resort Restaurant. Reasonably priced, mostly Thai food.
- Ban Khun Ning Sichang Resort , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A nice place to stay. Built in Thai residence style, it offers guests large and comfortable rooms. Air-con, hot showers, free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea, and cable TV. 600+ Thai Baht.
- Charlie’s Bungalows. A centrally-located guest house. Air-con, hot showers, and cable TV. 900 Thai Baht.
- Jeff Bungalows. Spotless rooms with DVD, cable TV, free coffee/tea/soft drinks. 600 Thai Baht.
- Malee Blue Hut. Built in an old Moroccan-style mansion called “Dracula’s Castle” by the locals. Air-con rooms go for 1,200 Thai Baht, including cable TV and breakfast.
- Tham Phang Beach Resort. Not the cleanest or cheapest accommodation, but it is on the island’s only real beach.
Be careful at night. As you move away from the more popular areas, the street lighting is poor or non-existent. If you are planning on walking around the island, a torch would be helpful.
Where to go next after Ko Sichang
Be careful when leaving the island. Your departure pier may not be the same as your arrival pier.
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