Thailand Rules Of The Road

August 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

He, who is in front, has the right of way.

Bigger fish have the right of way over smaller fish.

The pecking order – 18-wheelers, trucks, buses, farm equipment, CRV/SUV, car, Baht bus, tuk-tuk, pedicab, motorcycle, motorcycle with food cart attachment, pedestrian.

Crosswalks are merely white lines painted on the road and serve no other purpose.

Painted lines to separate lanes serve the same purpose as crosswalks.

Traffic light countdown timers tell you exactly how much time you have to run the red light.

Traffic police exist solely to wave their arms, blow whistles, and collect bribes.

Minor traffic infractions – driving a motorcycle without a helmet, illegal turn – are 200 Baht fine – either to the traffic cop or after waiting 4 hours at the police station.

Right turns on a red light start when the red countdown timer hits “10”.

Stopping at a red light is optional when making a right turn.

Pedestrians should look both ways 4 times before crossing a one-way street.

Sidewalks are alternate routes for motorcycles.

Pedestrians are allowed to cross streets one lane at a time, pausing on white-line lane dividers.

Every driver and pedestrian is protected by Buddha.

Maximum amount of riders on a motorcycle is 5.

If a foreigner is in a taxi, and the taxi gets into an accident, it is the foreign passenger’s fault.

If a foreign driver gets in an accident with a Thai, it is the foreigner’s fault, regardless.

A fine for a major accident will be directly proportionate to how much money you have in your wallet and savings account.

Driving drunk on wet, slippery roads is authorized during the Songkran holiday (Thai New Year).

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Expats Discover How To Retire To Thailand

April 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

For men looking to get more out of life…

I have 3 questions for you:
1. Have you ever wanted to retire to a sunny tropical climate?
2. Are you disenfranchised with the way things are going in your society and culture?
3. Do you long to become happy again?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may need to discover foreign lands. Those lands that completely break the norm and boundaries of your current culture.

I did just such a thing when I visited Thailand for the first time, and I’ve been going back ever since. I fell in love with the country so much that I plan to retire there early, and spend the rest of my life as an expat.

Why do I want to do so, here are several reasons:
1. I love warm tropical climates
2. An abundance of single appreciative women
3. I need a country where my money can go a long way
4. I always wanted to live on the beach
5. It seems as though I no longer fit in

Finances

One of the main things to consider when planning such a move is finance. Although your dollars may go much further in Thailand, to under-finance your new life will be disastrous. You must look at the big picture. Once over there, your options to create income will be minimal…so you must save! 10 to 20 grand is not going to do it for you.

Most Popular Areas for Expats In Thailand

Two of the most popular areas for expats in Thailand are Bangkok and Pattaya. Bangkok is an incredibly large city with all those goes along with a huge metropolis:
1. Shopping
2. Dining
3. Arts
4. Nightlife

Pattaya is a beach resort area huge into the nightlife. Pattaya first started out as an “R and R” spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam War and has been going strong ever since.

You don’t have to limit yourself to these two areas, but first time expats are usually most comfortable in Bangkok or Pattaya due to the large expat communities.

Visa Runs

Once in Thailand, there is also the subject of remaining there legally. Most vacationers are granted a 30-day visa. When this is nearing an end, you must leave the country and re-enter so you are granted a new 30-day visa. This is a practice that will continue with your tenure in Thailand, unless you do the paperwork with the Thai government for a retirement visa.

Most expats choose to go on visa runs. In fact there are casinos built right on the Cambodian border for just this purpose.

If this sounds like a life you may be interested in, I caution you to read and research as much as you possibly can. You want to talk to as may expats as possible and get opinions on both sides.

Yours for more out of life,
Pattaya Joe

Escape To Kho Tao In The Gulf Of Thailand

April 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Top Vacation Destinations

Koh Tao which literally means Turtle Island, is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, and is a great place for divers who want to escape from places like Koh Samui, because it is a bit quieter, perhaps because it isn’t very easy to reach, in fact your only option is by boat.

The options depend on where you are travelling from:

From the south it will take about three hours by ferry from Surat Thani on the mainland, one and a half hours from Koh Samui, and around an hour from Ko Pha Ngan. You might wish to take an overnight ferry from Surat Thani, it leaves about eleven o’ clock at night and arrives early morning, but if you use this option, get there early to grab a good mattress position, and be warned they are old cargo boats, and very basic, so you might feel happier with your own inflatable life jacket!!

If you’re coming from the north, Chumphon is the place you will travel from and here you will find agents selling tickets for all kind of boats, some take as little as 90 minutes, but others will take 5 hours, so you choose according to how much you want to spend.

Another way is to get yourself on a day diving charter from Koh Samui, these are high speed boats, and you could make Koh Tao in around an hour.

However if it is comfort you are after, and a choice of departure points, such as Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Chumphon, then the Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran is probably the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Ko Tao. They run twice daily, have online booking, air conditioning, and movies.

When you get to Koh Tao there are some safety issues you need to address

You need to go snorkelling at Shark Bay, see the sunset from the Thipimarn restaurant, and generally walk everywhere, because you will see more and enjoy it more.

Currency Conversion In Thailand

March 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

Your trip to Thailand is all set. You have booked your flight and hotel, packed your bags and you are ready to go. But, you just found out that your money is no good in Thailand!

Well, actually it is good; it just needs to be converted to the local Thai currency. You have many options – some good and some bad.

Option #1 is to go to your local bank or currency exchange in your home country to get some of the local money. This is a bad idea because you will get a really bad rate of exchange.

Your second option is to change some money at your home airport. There will be a small booth with the rates posted and this will be as bad as option #1.

Your third choice is to pick up some traveler’s checks at home and cash these in Thailand. This can be good or bad. It is ok if you don’t have to pay any fees for the TCs. And don’t even think about cashing them in at your hotel. You will get ripped off big time. Cash them in at a Thai bank. Don’t forget to record the numbers somewhere and stash them safely.

Fourth option is to bring all cash with you. This is obviously dangerous because if you lose your wad, your vacation is over. Bringing some cash with you is ok – but just enough for one or two days.

Fifth would be to bring an ATM card with you. Having a debit ATM card is an easy way to get Thai Baht at the current rate of exchange. Having a second debit card specifically for your trip is a good back up.

Last would be to use your credit card to get cash. Be careful. You may get a double whammy. You may get charged when you get your cash and then get charged an international exchange fee. There is also the possibility of your credit card being cloned – so be careful. I recommend that you don’t use a credit card in Thailand.

When I go to Thailand I bring a few hundred dollars to exchange to se me through my first couple of days. I also usually have a few thousand Baht left from my last trip. I transfer money to two different debit ATM accounts and use one as a primary and one as a backup (just in case). I bring my checking account ATM card with as a last resort. I have yet to use this but it is good to know that I have options.

I used to bring traveler’s checks with me but when the bank started charging me 1% for them, I stopped using them. Also, only being able to exchange them at banks during business hours, or cashing them in at the hotel at terrible rates is not how I want to do business.

I prefer to use a debit ATM card since ATM machines are everywhere in Thailand and they are open 24 hours per day. You get the best rates and ATM machines provide the most convenience. Just plan to have a couple of different ways to fund your trip. It is no fun to be in foreign country on vacation with no access to funds.

A Simple And Easy Guide To Renting A Service Apartment In Bangkok, Thailand

March 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Destinations

What are the best areas of Bangkok to rent? What facilities and services can I expect from a Bangkok serviced apartment? What are the best and worst serviced apartments in Bangkok? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and much more in my simple and easy guide to renting a serviced apartment in Bangkok for both expats and travelers.

Bangkok is the Center of Southeast Asia

As the commercial center of Thailand and the hub of business and leisure travel within Southeast Asia, Bangkok has exceptional hotels of all kinds catering to the business elite and casual traveler.

Recently, a new kind of accommodation has gained favor with business executives on short stays in Bangkok–the luxury serviced apartment. With increased commercial expansion over the past several years, serviced apartments are quickly becoming the favorite choice of living style for their affordable luxury.

What is a Serviced Apartment?

The serviced part of the equation usually refers to the daily or twice weekly cleaning of your room, the furniture, kitchen amenities and so on that normal apartments do not include. Some service apartments also function as hotels, and these are called Aparthotels.

What’s So Special About Bangkok Serviced Apartments?

Real estate and relocation agents believe Bangkok has the most number of sophisticated apartments the world has to offer. There are not just one or two luxurious apartments, but close to 50. This is because skilled labor is cheap in thailand, and the city itself is a major business hub for the southeast asia region.

Renting a serviced apartment in bangkok can be a daunting task for several reasons–the primary one being there are so many ‘fine print’ and extra costs involved when signing a weekly, monthly or yearly contract.

I have been living in Bangkok for a few years now, and have gone through several serviced apartments, learning on the way which ‘services’ are included and what to expect from your stay in Bangkok.

Bangkok’s City Plan

The Bangkok Jungle has several meanings, one of them being that the city was never built with a city plan or urban design in mind. The city is a sprawling landscape, a montage of residential and commercial buildings juxtaposing one another. It is home to 10 to 15 million people, depending on who is arriving from the rural country and abroad. The people as well, from poor to affluent, live side by side.

The city itself is lopsided; if you look down any major road in bangkok, you will see that both sides of the road arent balanced, building heights are different, and there is an overall lack of symmetry. This is what makes Bangkok unique and charming. And what makes it a jungle.

The Best Areas To Live In Bangkok

Bangkok contains inexpensive to exclusive apartments, but the best ones are found in the following regions of Bangkok:

* Sukhumvit, the main road or artery of Bangkok

* Asok, one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live

* Thong Lo, the chic and fashionable street,

* Sathorn, the business district of Bangkok

* Silom, another business and red light district

* Ploenchit, business district

* Chit Lom, business district

The areas listed above are all within easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, trains, skytrains, and expressways. If you choose to live in one of these areas, you will experience life in the center of Bangkok’s thriving business and shopping centres while indulging in an ultra private serviced apartment in Bangkok. I personally recommend Asok and Chit Lom, as they are the classiest areas of Bangkok, but if you are looking to be close to the night markets Silom is perfect, and Sukhumvit is always a colorful experience.

Facilities and Services of Typical Bangkok Serviced Apartments

These vary between the different types of apartments and condos, but a standard of excellence has been establlished from the increasing competition among serviced apartments. Facilities and services are upgraded regularly to keep up with rival residences. However, before investing in a serviced apartment, be sure to check if these services and facilities are available.

5 Services That Should Be Included Free of Charge:

* Room Cleaning

* Water/Utilities

* Internet Usage

* 24 Hour Security

* Room Service/Errand Boy

4 Facilities That Should Be Included

* Restaurant

* Gym

* Pool

* Convenience Store

The Loopholes: Length of Stay, Deposits and Electricity

If you are staying for a month or year, the serviced apartment may charge you for electricity. Make sure that you negotiate this price to 6.5 Baht/Unit. A lot of times the apartment owners will charge 8 Baht/Unit for more profit. They only pay 3 or 4 Baht/Unit.

Be careful when signing leases; most require a 2 month deposit, and if you move out before your contract is finished you forfeit this deposit.

Make sure the serviced apartment has a laundry service, either in house or out of house. Most serviced apartments have coin operated laundry rooms as well as pick up services. More deluxe suites will have washing machine in the room. Note that most places do not have dryers.

How much Should I Pay?

This is a difficult question to answer, but the more facilities a serviced apartment has, the more it will cost. If a serviced apartment has a pool, gym and also functions as a 24 hour hotel, then the monthly price will be above 30,000 Baht.

Location also has a large part to do with cost of a bangkok serviced apartment. If you are staying in an area not close to skytrain or subway access, your price will be much lower. Conversely, staying in the business districts of Silom or trendy spots like Ekkamai or Thonglor will raise your monthly rent.

Which Serviced Apartment Should I Choose?

The serviced apartment market in Bangkok is lead by three groups, The President Group, The Ascott Group, and Centre Point. Most of them offer first class accomodation and have a decent system of serving their customers. However, there are numerous independent serviced apartments to choose from.

The 2 Worst Serviced Apartments in Bangkok

* Ascott Bangkok Sathorn

There have been several articles written in trade journals about the decline in service at the once famous and most prestigious serviced apartment in Bangkok. Once known for attention to customer relations, their lack of it is now glaringly obvious to everyone who stays there. This place is an example of a chain serviced apartment becoming too much like a corporation with no human touch of service.

* Lebua

Rumor is their staff is very untrustworthy. Read the trade journals and ‘google’ the residence for reviews.

Top 2 Most Luxurious Bangkok Serviced Apartments

* Siri Sathorn Apartments

Siri Sathorn is a five-star luxury `boutique` property which epitomises private and elegant living in a residential setting. It is a concept of the perfect home which appeals to international traveller. This place caters to Japanese clientelle but of course is open to everyone.

* Fraser Place Urbana Langusan

They have an exclusive 45-metre driveway leading from the main road to the serviced residence for great privacy. They also have some of the best services and customer relations I have ever experienced, pampered is the only word that comes to mind

Best Value Bangkok Serviced Apartments

* Silom Convent Garden

Newly built in November 2006, this chic serviced apartment is located in the Silom-Sathorn area but has some of the cheapest rates for this business and night market district. For 36,000 Baht/$1000 a month you can have a 38 square meter, 1 bedroom, fully furnished luxurious apartment complete with full kitchen, washer machine, flat screen tv, and rain shower. The only drawback is the place doesn’t have a pool or gym, but thats the reason the price is so low and why its one of the best values in Bangkok.

If you are still undecided whether to have a stay in Bangkok on your next trip, it was just recently announced that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) plans to make Bangkok a “paradise” city. The article from the Bangkok Post states the BMA will establish a fund to address trash, pollution and traffic problems. Now is the time to take your next vacation or business trip to Bangkok, as life couldn’t get any better in the City of Angels!

A Family Vacation Getaway In One Of The Best Luxury Hotels In Krabi Thailand

March 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Destinations

So far as luxury hotels go anywhere in the Far East, the Rayavadee in Krabi Thailand is as good if not better than most other luxury hotels.

It is a great beach vacation hotel, with 77 rooms, perfect for a family vacation getaway, and equally fantastic for a honeymoon vacation special deal.

The Rayavadee has to be seen to be believed and everything from the staff to the accommodation, to the grounds, the beaches, and the food are close to being perfect. Krabi is possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth so it is just the perfect position for the Rayavadee.

You have to get to Rayavadee by boat, and the first thing that will strike you is the boat. White leather upholstery and the crew all in matching sailors uniforms. Initial impressions are lasting ones, and this certainly makes you feel you are going to a luxury resort. Moving from the speedboat to reception, the impression continues with details all being taken whilst sitting down with hot towels and drinks, which beats standing around a crowded reception area any time.

The accommodation is top class, and if you are on a family vacation getaway there is the family villa with two bedrooms, one on the ground floor, the extra bedroom being the only difference from the De Luxe Pavilion

A two storey villa, and it is so well equipped with all mod cons. It is the small touches like the bathroom own brand products, the bottles of water everywhere, tea, coffee, and biscuits replaced every day. More food and drinks in a huge sideboard, and chocolates left every night by the bed.

A huge bath which holds two, is a feature of the bathroom, and a huge bed are all part of the ambiance.

A great luxury resort has great food, and on a family vacation getaway with hungry kids to feed, this is a very important consideration. If the reader is considering the Rayavadee for a Beach honeymoon vacation special then food is probably high on your agenda.

You will find the restaurants at the Rayavadee are all of the very best, with impeccable service in each of the four different restaurants. It is fair to say that food is not cheap but the views are just out of this world, and you may find it sensible to go down the beach and eat instead, where you will pay perhaps $15 instead of $100, and get genuine Thai food. It’s perfectly safe and worth the effort.

If you want to be active, then there is lots to do from kayaking through the sea caves hiking, swimming, snorkelling, tennis.

The service from the staff could not be more helpful, you will be treated like royalty.in every way. The only downside is the service by the pool which seems to be on the slow side of slow, but always extremely polite.

They are exceptional apart from that small point in every way, and are a big part of the success of the Rayavedee.

Words cannot do justice to the incredibly beautiful beaches, especially the Phranang and Railey beaches which have powder white sand and views of islands in the distance with little caves to explore. Beware however of the monkeys, who although friendly are everywhere!!

All in all there is no doubt that the Rayavadee in Krabi is one of the best luxury hotels in the Far East. It is an ideal spot place for a family vacation getaway on some of the best beaches anywhere. It would also be a good choice for a honeymoon vacation special, so look out for some great honeymoon vacation deals.

For more informaton on Far East Hotels go to http://www.worldwidevacationspots.com/categories/Far-East-Hotels/

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