Your dose of ASEAN information

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Taiwan Granting Visa-Entry To Tourist From Southeast Asia

The small island nation which was once called Formosa and known today as Taiwan, is attracting tourists from Southeast Asia. 

Starting on 1st August, citizens of Thailand and Brunei will be given a free visa- entry to Taiwan for 30 days.

Meanwhile, nationals of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will be given an e-visa entry to Taiwan starting on September 1. 

"The visa regulations are part of the government's New Soutbound Policy, a comprehensive startegy to strengthen the nation's ties across the board with South and Southeast Asia. Taiwan already grants visa-free entry to passport holders from Malaysia and Singapore, and e-visa priveleges to citzens of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India," Taiwan Today reported.

So, yes. This is just the beginning. I have a feeling each country in ASEAN will soon enjoy the free-visa entry to Taiwan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Phuket among world’s top 10 islands," says the world's largest travel website

Thailand's largest island, Phuket, seems to be getting more international limelight this year.

The mecca for beach-goers was ranked No. 8 in the Traveller's Choice Awards by TripAdvisor as the world's top 10 islands.

"Blue lagoons and salmon sunsets make for a dream-like atmosphere, and indeed, a vacation here can feel a bit surreal. Watersports are the most popular activities, though once you've had enough sun there's still plenty to explore at the island's aquariums, gardens, and Buddhist temples," said TripAdvisor on its website.

Apart from securing the top 8 spot of the world's best island award, Phuket's Kata Noi beach was voted one of the world's best beaches by the same travel website.

In Asia, Phuket was ranked the second best island in Asia after Bali. Kho Samui and Koh Tao were tanked third and fourth respectively.

I can't help but be proud of Bali and Thailand. They are indeed ASEAN's pride.

Friday, March 18, 2016

ASEAN has the "World's Best Airport"

Asian airports dominated this year's list of Skytrax's "Worlds Best Airport," taking six out of the top ten spots.

Singapore's Changi Airport. Photo:
That said, we, ASEANERs, have another reason to be proud as Singapore's Changi Airport is once again  regarded as the "king" for the fourth year in a row, the 2016 World Airports Awards revealed on Thursday.

"Changi Airport continues to innovate in both product and service for its customers and focus on making customer experience at the airport as enjoyable and relaxing as possible," said Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo:
Kuala Lumpur International Airport which came out 24th in the world is ASEAN's number 2. 

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on the other hand, which ranked 36th in the world, is 3rd in our region. 

Suvarnabhumi Airport. Photo by: Lurson leket Nateepitak
The survey was conducted from June last year to February this year and the results were based on 13.25 million questionnaires from travelers using 550 airports worldwide.

Source: CNBC, Bangkok Post

Friday, March 4, 2016

Asean last surviving 'Founding Father' dies at the age of 101

The last surviving "Founding Father" of ASEAN, Thanat Khoman, has died at Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok. He was 101 years old.
From left, Philippine foreign secretary Narcio Ramos, Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik, Thai foreign minister Thanat Khoman, Malaysian deputy premier Abdul Razak and Singapore foreign minister S Rajaratnam stand before their national flags at the Foreign Ministry on Aug 8, 1967. (Bangkok Post file photo) 
According to Sirilaksana Khoman, his daughter-in-law, Thanat passed away on Thursday at 3:49 pm, just two months short of his 102nd birthday.

Thanat earned his doctorate in law in France and was Thailand's foreign minister from 1959-1971.

During the conflict between Indonesia and Malaysia in the 60's, Thanat played a pivotal role as mediator.

As a respect for his active role in the ASEAN formation, Bangkok was chosen as the founding place on August 8, 1967.

That same day, five leaders coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration in the main hall of the Department of Foreign Affairs building.

The five ministers — Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso R Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat — were hailed as the Founding Fathers of Asean.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowfall pounds Myanmar's Kachin State

With the cold spell from China moving down and covering Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Burma, people are experiencing a very chilling winter indeed.

Kachin State
In Vietnam half of the mountainous areas in the north are covered in snow. Residents of the areas affected revealed that "this is the lowest for many years and the biggest snowfall." 

Apart from Vietnam our Burmese friends particularly those residing in Kachin, the northernmost state of Myanmar that is absolutely not a stranger to snow, is being pounded by heavy snowfall too.

Kachin State, Myanmar
"It's getting colder these days. Most people stay indoors without going out," Hing Wawn, head of the Kachin Independence Organization's IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee (IRRC) told The Irrawaddy.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Covers Northern Mountains in Vietnam

Lao Cai, Vietnam - Many areas in the mountainous region is covered with snow after strong cold spell hit the country since yesterday.

Buffaloes battling the cold spell. Photo: Viet Nam News

The temperature in the mountainous province of Lao Cai particularly in Sa Pa, plummeted to -5 degrees yesterday as snow enveloped the area. This morning, the measured temperature was at 0 degree.

"This is the lowest for many years and the biggest snowfall," local elderly people said.

Other areas were also reported to have freezing temperatures. Tam Dao in Phu Tho province recorded -0.4 degrees Celsius, -0.2 degree Celsius in Dong Van in Ha Giang province, and -4 degrees Celsius in Mau Son of Lang Son province.

If snow in some places happens regularly, that's not the case in other areas such as Nam Bung and Tu Le communes, as well as in the province of Yen Bai. Residents were surprised to see snow for the first time in their respective places.

The capital Hanoi, however, is forecast from 7-10 degree Celsius today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cheap direct flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap via Thai Smile Airways

Planning to experience some culture without hurting your pocket?

Lucky you! Next month Thai Smile Airways, a subsidiary of Thai Airways, will launch direct flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap.

The low cost carrier which flies to Phnom Penh, was recently granted a permit to operate the route to the home of Angkor Wat.

It will be a tough competition since Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia also fly the same route however, Thai Smile Airways is gearing up to offer low fares. Its one-way ticket starts at THB2,489 including taxes and fees.

The service will commence on February 1, offering 10 flights each week.

Mount Bromo: "Sea of Sand's" Most Famous Attraction

Standing magnificently at 2,329 meters or 7,641 feet in the vast plain and protected nature reserve since 1919 called "Sea of Sand," is an active volcano called Mount Bromo; the most famous of the Tenggar Massif, a visited tourist attraction in East Java, Indonesia.

Although Indonesia is an Islam dominated country, Hinduism influenced the country strongly a long, long time ago. Thus, the name Bromo was derived from the Hindu God Bahma, pronounced Bromo by the Javanese people.

The most common way in visiting Mount Bromo is from Cemoro Lawang, a nearby mountain village which gives about 45 minutes walk to the volcano. If walking is something that doesn't appeal to you, you can take an organised jeep tour. It stops at the viewpoint of Mount Penanjakan (2,770 m or 9,088 ft).

The best way to see Mt. Bromo is during sunrise. However, depending whether a visit to the mountain is not safe, the Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Hazard Mitigation will absulutely issue a warning.

Photos: 1, 23

Irrawady River: Myanmar's River of Spirits

Myanmar has a significant number of rivers flowing majestically in different parts of the country. These rivers continue to play even to this day an important role as they are used in transporting goods and other merchandises.

Among the many rivers of Myanmar, the Ayeyarwaddy River formerly called Irrawaddy River, is the country's largest and most important commercial waterway. It stretches from north to south of Myanmar measuring about 1,550 km (960) miles long.

According to the people of Burma, the name "Ayeyarwaddy" which means Elephant, came from a Sanskirt word "Iravati" or "airvati." Why elephant? Because elephants were often a symbol for water and was used as the name of several other rivers, such as Achiravati.

The Ayeyarwaddy River is also home to the Irrawaddy dolphin, a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin. They are found in the lower reaches of the river and known to be helping fisherman to fish.

Photos: 1, 2, 3

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