Property in Thailand

Posted on 29 Aug 2010 In: Flights to Koh Samui

One of the most picturesque countries of Asia, Thailand is a top-notch global tourist hotspot. Be it the coastal lifestyle or the mainland Thai locales, the entire country is full of amazing spots that allure you no end. Thailand’s major USP is tourism and the government knows this fact and has always promoted it on a global scale.

The response from tourists flocking to the country has been overwhelming and they seem to return to Thailand in abundance year after year. Political uncertainty notwithstanding, tourists tend to flock to the country on a year round basis. Though the country is not quite open to full foreign ownership of Thai property, there is no dearth of investors’ interest in the Thailand real estate.

The charm that is Thailand

The special Thai charm assumes much greater significance for the development of the entire Southeast Asia. The miles and miles of pristine sandy beaches, including the world famous Pattaya Beach, dotted with exquisite palms have a unique magical effect on the visitor, which makes it a favourite honeymoon destination for couples tieing the knot!. Phuket and Koh Samui occupy the pride of place on the coastal regions Thailand.

Thai spa’s are world famous for their soothing, calming, and relaxing effects on a tired body. This makes the country one of the best getaway spots in the world to relax the tired mind, body, and soul. The Buddhist monasteries make for a profound experience and worth visiting at least once during your stay. Being the major Thai religion, Buddhism is all-pervasive in the lifestyle of people here. And it’s an open secret how much the Westerners are attracted towards Buddhism and the Buddhists.

Though not an absolute monarchy, yet Thailand has the longest reigning monarchy of the world since 1946. And this has been a constant cause of several coups in the country in the recent years. The country has also seen some of the worst natural disasters in recent times, like Tsunami, SARS, and Bird Flu. But all this has virtually zero effect on the minds of visitors in Thailand.

The capital Bangkok is just like any other advanced European city, with casinos, nightclubs, pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, theatres, cocktail lounges, and massage parlours easily accessible. Thailand is also a haven for the shopping freaks with quality leather and electronic equipments available at much cheaper prices than Europe and the USA.

The regular flights to and from Thailands Airports connecting major European, American, Australian and Asian cities have spelled boom time for Thai tourism and economy.

Property Investment in Thailand

Unfortunately, Thai government is not so open when it comes to inviting global real estate players for developmental purposes. There is a bar on property investments by foreigners in the Thai real estate. As an individual, you cannot own any land, and even as a company, only the Thai partner is allowed to own land and that too with considerable amount of restrictions. The government is particularly strict in this regard post-2006 coup.

The freehold land might not be available for direct purchase by a foreign national, but you certainly can lease the property on a 30-years lease period. The foreign purchasers of condominiums may buy the freehold so long as total foreign ownership does not exceed 49% of the whole structure.

Investment in Thailands real estate should never be completed without soliciting the help of local expert adept in property transactions. This is because the Thai real estate industry is largely unregulated and you’ll hardly find any regulations governing real estate transaction in the country. While a lawyer is not a necessity in completing the contract, if the documents are in Thai, it’s better to hire either a good translator or a real estate expert.

The best property to invest in Thailand is the holiday resorts and other vacation property at prime tourist centres. A beautiful Thai villa can be yours for just £121K at ChiangMai, while a resort property is available for upwards of £50K. Condominiums in Pattaya are available at £30K onwards, while villas for slae in Phuket are heavily priced at a minimum of £480K.

These properties will ensure you get a commanding rental income throughout the year, and you can also enjoy an annual stay for a couple of weeks (or more!) in these accommodation sites.

It’s better to research the country for an appropriate and legally acquirable property because tourism potential notwithstanding, there can be lots of crooks and goons on the prowl waiting for the gullible foreign investors. Make adequate inquiries and research about the individuals and property you are dealing with. The lax political and administrative will has resulted into several criminal elements making Thailand their den. However, if you approach the real estate transaction with due diligence, chances are you’d be able to strike a good and legitimate deal.

Fasting your Way to Wellness

Posted on 26 Aug 2010 In: Koh Samui Restaurants

Today we live in a convenience age. You can save time by eating fast food and you can get better by taking a quick acting pill. But chronic diseases are on the upsurge and there appears to be a veritable epidemic of cancer. It seems in this age of McDo nald’s health is degenerating. Could there be a connection I wonder? If we were to take a minute to look back at history we would see that something altogether not convenient has been around for several thousand years, and that is fasting. Fasting or forgoing food is the world’s most ancient and natural healing procedure. When animals feel unwell they stop eating and rest. They know something that humans appear to have forgotten and that is by ceasing eating the body triggers a very powerful cleansing process. This ‘cleanse’ reaches down into every cell and produces truly remarkable therapeutic results.

What happens when you fast? After 24 hours of zero food intake the digestive system no longer has anything to do. Thus digestive enzymes that usually drain a lot of the body’s energy to accomplish their task travel not to the stomach but to the intestines and into the bloodstream where they gobble up waste matter which comprises decaying and moribund cells, metabolic refuse and other pollutants. At the same time as this cleanse is taking place organs and glands get an unaccustomed holiday and this break gives them an opportunity to purify and rejuvenate. Altogether this operation results in enhanced immune system function which at the end of the day means that health is restored and illness killed off. Benjamin Franklin said long ago “the best form of all medicines are rest and fasting.”

Main stream opinion today tends to dismiss this health-promoting trend.

as “faddy and New Age”. As we have already said that is nothing new age about it at all as it has been around for a very long time. Hippocrates according to some claims to be the father of modern medicine. His sensible motto provides the backbone to the ‘The Hippocratic Oath’ to which all doctors swear. This is “do no harm”. He prescribed abstinence from food while a disease was on the increase and particularly so as it approached the healing crisis. Moreover another piece of wisdom from the same source was ‘eat sparsely at all times”. Unlike some pharmaceutical medicines none of these practices do harm. Essentially it is a good idea to leave the table with room for a little more, and follow the very sound advice recommended by our grandmothers “feed a cold and starve a fever.”

More recently both Dr. Kelly and Dr. Roderigo suggested that all disease began in the intestinal tract. By cleaning the intestines you get rid of the toxins which are the main constituents of all disease. Fasting and cleansing with the help of enemas and colonics have become increasingly more popular with those truly anxious to bring their health up to speed. Such treatments have been heartily embraced by people like the Swedes and more and more clinics are popping up in the United States.

Back in the early 1990s a centre specialising in this form of cleansing took root on the Thai island of Koh Samui which was at the time a much favoured destination of back-packers. In 1997 the the Health Oasis Resort Resort. came into being and offers a de-tox programme at a reasonable price in a very beautiful and peaceful setting. If this powerful form of health care interests you perhaps you should check it out!

Just few days and the New Year Holiday are starting. Many people decide to spend their holiday in a tropical place just to take a break from the cold climate at their home country. Thailand is one of the preferred destination in South East Asia for several reasons: Thailand offer hundreds of natural beauties; wonderful tropical beaches, amazing waterfalls, green rain forest with secular trees. Thailand receive several millions visitors yearly, which make the most visited country in South East Asia, in fact in Thailand there is a huge selection of accommodation for every taste and budget.
Student and Young people use to stay in Khao San Road in Bangkok where is possible to find guest house starting from 5 Euro per night. Also Pattaya and Chiang Mai offer guest house at similar rates.
For people who like to stay by the beach is possible to stay in Koh Samet renting beach bungalows at low cost. Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak are all great beach resort in the South of Thailand where you can spend your New Year beach Holiday.
If you like to spend your holiday in a luxury place, Thailand offer a big selection of 4 and 5 star resorts and hotels. Some people think they will never have a chance to spend their holiday in a luxury Hotel because they can’t effort. This is true in the West but not in Thailand: here you can find 4 and 5 star hotels and resort offering room sometimes less than 100 Euro a night. In Bangkok you can find gorgeous Hotel by the river with suites at less than 100 Euro. In Koh Samui you can rent a Villa by the beach with their own private pool, in Phuket you can rent beach cottages with 5 star resort facilities.
For people who like to spend their holiday taking care of their body and spirit, a big selection of Hotels and Resorts with Spa Facilities are available in every Thailand destination.

If you still need to reserve your holiday place for the New Year you will have fewer chance to find a free room. In fact from 24 December to 7 January is the busiest time of the year and many hotels and resort are fully booked. This doesn’t mean that you will not find a room. The hotel that today is full, tomorrow they may have a free room for many reasons: some guest check out earlier, some people change or canceled their reservation, etc.
If you want to reserve now an Hotel Room for new year, there are hundreds of website where you can book your hotel, but all those website have a problem in common: they usually send you the confirmation of your reservation within 24 hours. This is not a problem during the year, but for new year time it is a problem.
You spend a lot of time searching for a suitable place, then you make a reservation giving your credit card details, and, after 24 hours you receive an email saying that the hotel you choose is full and you should choose another hotel. This mean that you’ve loosed one more day a you still don’t have a place for your holiday.
What to do next ? search for another hotel and wait again 24 hours to see if the place is available ? this can go on for several days and in the end you may not find your holiday place.
There are few options for finding your holiday place in the high touristic season:
1- Reserve your Hotel through a travel agency. They provide usually full include packages with airplane ticket, transfer, hotel and dinner. This option is usually more expensive and you need to follow the schedule on the program.
2 – Contact the Hotel directly. This is a good option, it is reliable to make a reservation with the luxury five star hotels and Resorts, but not so for low budget or middle range accommodations. I’ve seen many times that small family running hotels, resort or guest house with limited number of guest rooms don’t take so much care of their reservation if they are fully booked.
If you make a reservation and you don’t pay a deposit, you can’t be sure that you will find your room, sending money can take many days to arrive so this option is not the most safe if you need your reservation fast.
3 – Last Minute Reservation system is the most reliable option for instant confirmation of your reservation.
This system show in real time the room availability of thousand of Hotels, Resort, Guest House in hundreds of cities worldwide. You need to reserve a room in Bangkok in the next 2 days ? or you need a room during Christmas ? If you planning to reserve a room within 20 days you can check in real time the room availability, make a reservation by paying a 12% deposit with credit card or even debit card and get your instant confirmation.
In the Hotel Industry rooms availability change every hour, in the high season every minute, people change schedules, some people cancel their trip, some guest extend their stay, some guest change the room category and so on. There are so many reasons that cause the hotel reservation to change continually.
The Hotels associated with Last Minute Reservation System update on daily basis the hotel room availability up to 20 days in advance; it is normal that some room which was previously reserved, may be canceled or the guest didn’t show up at all and suddenly a room get free just at the last moment. Any Hotel manager never want to have free rooms, so they offer special deals for last minute reservation, in this way they get less, but they get full instead of having vacant rooms.
Booking your Hotel or Resort with Last Minute Reservation System is cheaper, fast and reliable. In just few minutes you can book your room without waiting for the confirmation.
Few simple steps:
1- Insert the destination and the date you want to book
2 -check for available rooms
3 – reserve your room by paying a deposit 12% ( with credit card or debit card )
4 – Get your instant confirmation immediately

Thailand has always held a special place in my heart. I first travelled there in 1991, a wide eyed kid wet behind the ears with a bucket shop one way ticket to Bangkok. My grand plans of a short beach break before heading down to the east coast of Australia joining the 1000’s of Pommie pilgrims earning a right of passage didn’t exactly go to plan. I left Thailand eleven months later to return home penniless, emancipated and full of great stories, which my friends soon got bored with.

I returned a few times mainly to Bangkok and Koh Samui happy to be back in the land of smiles but feeling slightly disappointed at all the changes. The old story of development being good for the locals but not good for my sense of adventure. That didn’t deter me from joining the Imaginative Travellers Wilderness Adventure two years ago.

Arriving in Bangkok this time was different. I had a hotel booked so no lugging my pack in Bangkok’s suffocating mixture of exhaust fumes, heat and humidity looking for a clean bed. I had a group to meet too, this was also good, eating Pad Thai on your own looking for a fellow traveller to strike a conversation with can be hard work. There were 10 of us, a mix of Poms, Aussies, a Canadian, an American and a South African. We all met for dinner and shortly after my first Thai beer I knew this would be a fun trip

Bangkok to me means food and shopping and the best place to find both is the Chata Chuk weekend market. I headed there with belly empty and wallet full destined to reverse the two. The market is huge, really huge, 35 acres of cheap goodies huge and sells everything from furniture to genuine fake designer clothes. The street food is fantastic but remember the Thai’s like it hot. I left my shopping with the hotel to keep safe as I would be returning there once I finished the trip.

Off to Chiang Mai on the overnight train. I like travelling like this, sleeping while moving makes sense to me and the train is clean, functional, safe and fine. I think Chiang Mai is the perfect place to escape hectic Bangkok. It’s a peaceful, happy place and that reflects in the locals. Sight seeing will take you to the Wat Pratat Doi Suthep temple – stunning and golden on a sunny day. The next stage of the trip was trekking in the surrounding jungle, I decided I needed a massage before we set off.

A trek in the hills of Northern Thailand is a chance to escape everyday life and clear your head. The going is not too difficult for someone with fairly good fitness although if it rains the mud can be tricky. I was enjoying my own head space when we arrived at the first village of wooden homes, pecking chickens and lots of smiles, basic but I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather have been. Chan, our guide, was a local from a neighbouring village and before long he had us divided amongst our village hosts before the sun set and got too difficult for us city people to do anything without electric light. That night, with the noise of the surrounding jungle lying on a mattress roll on a bamboo floor, was maybe the most peaceful night’s sleep I have ever had.

The next day’s trek was shorter and we covered ground quicker, maybe we were getting used to the trekking but I think it was the excitement of the elephant ride to come that afternoon. Lunch was delicious but we were too busy watching the elephants wash in the river to notice. Elephants are brilliant creatures and being on one journeying deeper into the jungle is a fantastic experience.

The next morning Chan had us up early helping him and the village men build our rafts to take us down river to civilization. It is all part of the experience helping the guys and by helping I mean staying out of their way while they expertly craft our rafts. A serene float down to the nearest small town where our bus was waiting to take us to a hot shower and another massage.

We left Chiang Mai and headed back to Bangkok where we broke the journey up to the south with an over night stay in the city of angels.

I had heard a few good things about Khoa Sok national park, not too popular with tourists or backpackers alike due it not having a major bus stop. To get there you need to stop the bus by the 3rd banyan tree after 17th stream near the big hill and you will find a bakkie waiting to take you into the park. I’m glad we had a tour leader. The first night we slept with the birds in tree houses the second and third we stayed in raft houses on a man made dam. It is a truly beautiful area and a few of us spent the days swimming in waterfalls, flooded caves, kayaking and hiking and some of just sat back and took it all in.

How to finish this Thailand trip? On the beach of course. The islands around Krabi are what we visualize when we think of a Thai beach and they do not disappoint. The Thai’s have a word called sabai, loosely translated it means an inner happiness and contentment. I woke one afternoon from a napping on the beach and understood exactly what sabai means.

Vegetarianism is on the increase in the UK and it’s now rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve a veggie option or two. A lot of reasons are given for this dietary choice – environmental, moral or personal taste are the most common – but many see it as a recent fad.

Although it’s becoming more popular in Britain, typically vegetarians are more common in Asian countries and some, such as Thailand, hold an annual vegetarian festival where everybody joins in.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held in the ninth lunar month of every year for nine days. During this time the participants eat no meat, wear white clothing, and focus on the cleanliness of their mind and body.

Legend has it that the first ever festival was held in 1825, when a group of travelling Chinese entertainers became ill and in an effort to heal themselves, took up a vegetarian diet and prayed to their emperor gods. The locals watched in astonishment as the visitors got better and the diet, along with the religious ceremonies were seen as the cause. To ensure good health and fortune for themselves they then began to celebrate the festival each year.

As well as the exclusion of eating meat, those who join in the festival also take part in the ceremonies. These can sometimes include gruelling activities such as walking over hot coals or puncturing their own cheeks with items such as knives and skewers.

As well as this festival, Phuket, and Thailand in general, has a lot to offer. Famed for its picturesque views and natural beauty, Thailand boasts some of the most stunning locations to watch sunsets from and Phuket itself has forests, waterfalls and a jungle to explore.

The Thai island of Koh Samui is also a great spot for tourists looking for nature as it is the home of white beaches, coconut trees and coral reefs. Because of its lush surroundings, it is full of wildlife – the Samui Aquarium has a wide variety of tropical fish and marine creatures and the island’s zoo has Bengal tigers and leopards on display all year round.

The country’s capital, Bangkok, is the most popular destination in Thailand and it is revered as one of the world’s top tourist spots; winning many awards in this vein. It boasts many historical palaces that are open to the public and also is also the home to many more modern delights such as theatres and shopping centres.

Whether or not the vegetarian festival is of interest to you, Phuket holidays offer many different options whether you choose to stay on the island or travel around the rest of the country.

One of the best modes of transport for exploring the island is a motorbike. These can be hired at numerous shops across the island and although taxis are available, this is the way to travel. Despite some of the roads being a little nerve-racking, with patches of gravel, sharp bends and hills al commonplace, if you take your time and remain cautious, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Buddhism is the religion of Thailand, with over 90 per cent of the population practicing the faith. As a result, just like you would see churches and cathedrals across Christian European countries, there are few places in Thailand where you won’t find a temple, or wat, and Koh Samui is no exception.

The most visited of all the temples on the island is Big Buddha temple, or Wat Phra Yai. The large golden Buddha statue overlooking the beach is an impressive example of the reverence that Thai people have for the Buddha. Close by, another temple shows a more modern shrine, designed by a Thai artist who also spent 3 years working on certain features of the temple by hand. On the southern tip of the island you will find Wat Khunaram displaying the preserved body of a famed Samuian monk, Lung Padaeng. His body sits in a glass case in the lotus position as if he were meditating.

High in the jungle covered hills of Samui, in a small hidden valley, there are a number of sculptures created by another of the island’s monks. The sculptures represent the dreams of the monk and are situated along a stream in the valley. In addition to this curious museum, the views of the island offer perfect photo opportunities for capturing the spanning beauty of the area.

Those interested in a little giggle at the expense of nature must check out the Hin Ta and Hin Yai (grandfather and grandmother) rock formations which through years of erosion have naturally formed into close representations of both the male and female genital organs.

While out and about exploring the island, you will come across villages that have managed to withstand the tourist industry and hold onto their unique slow pace and quaint charm. Among these villages is the Muslim town of Laem Set, which offers an interesting insight into the lives of such communities.

Waterfalls which offer cascading showers of fresh water during the monsoon and cool seasons can be found inside the foliage of the Samui jungles. Most require a trek but are worth the trip for the seclusion and dense natural surroundings that you won’t find at the beach. Na Mung and Hin Lad are the two most visited, but beware that if you are visiting between the months of March and September, the falls are usually dry.

Muay Thai boxing is Thailand’s number one sport. Since the boom of the tourist industry, these matches have been marketed as tourist attractions, with nightly competitions taking place. The biggest stadiums on Samui are located on Chaweng and Lamai beaches and although tickets can be pricy, you are guaranteed a night of bloody entertainment. It is particularly fun to watch the local spectators betting among themselves and excitedly coaxing their fighters win the match and earn them a few bob.

Snorkelling and scuba diving are among the most popular excursions on the island, with a host of companies offering half and full-day trips to the best sites. Jet-ski hire and speed boat charters can be found on Lamai and Chaweng, and are perfect for high-speed adventure. Or if you prefer to leave your water cruising to the forces that be, try out the tricky sport of kite surfing; kites and lessons are available from agents on Chaweng Beach.

Fishing excursions include boat trips, lunch and equipment, and are a great way to take some pensive time out. With expert inside knowledge of the surrounding waters and where the best catches can be found, it is almost a given that you will return with your dinner, ready to be barbequed and devoured.

Some prefer to keep their adventures dry and firmly grounded on hard soil. Mountain biking in the dense, steep jungles is one way to use your energy for some serious adventure, while off road motorbikes take the curves and swerves of the most terrifyingly tiny dirt tracks with dust-raising vigour.

Families arriving on the island should take full advantage of the many animal attractions on offer. Kids love animals and what could be more entertaining than an afternoon elephant back riding, spotting the diverse colours on a butterfly at a butterfly farm or giggling uncontrollably at the antics of man’s ancestors at the monkey theatre.

If you have money to burn then shopping will definitely be on your to-do list. Chaweng and Lamai offer the most diverse range of shops, from ornaments stalls to designer stores and original boutiques. The smaller beaches also offer some interesting little shops where you may pick up novel memorabilia to take back home.

It is not uncommon for travellers to Thailand to immerse themselves into some form of study while on holiday. Courses are available across the island, including those in yoga, reiki, Thai cooking, Thai massage and Thai boxing. What better way to return home than with a new skill?

If you have taken full advantage of all that Samui has to offer and would like to venture a little farther, then look into a daytrip to one of the spectacular islands located a matter of hours away. Koh Tao is a top Thai destination for scuba diving, while Koh Pha Ngan is the party capital of the south. Both islands have stunning beaches and a wealth of activities to engage in.

Thailand Hotels: Setting Standards

Posted on 21 Aug 2010 In: Koh Samui Hotels

Thailand is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. With its breath-taking natural beauty, ancient temples, mouth-watering cuisine and comfortable accommodation options, Thailand has truly become a traveler’s paradise. The kingdom of Thailand has lovely hotels and resorts to provide visitors world-class hospitality. The Thailand hotels are successfully catering to the needs of even the most discerning traveler. They are creating standards for themselves. The Thailand accommodation options are well known for their warm hospitality and friendly services.

One of the world-class hotels in Thailand is the Nirvana Place Hotel. The hotel is situated between Jomtien and Pattaya, overlooking the clear azure waters of the Gulf of Siam. This 5-star Nirvana Place Hotel has cozy rooms, with a wide array of facilities and services. Travelers can choose from the decorated one and two bedroom luxury boutique suites to stay in style and elegance. The dining and recreational facilities in this hotel are satisfying.

Anantara Resort & Spa Golden Triangle, located in Chiang Rai is one of the finest accommodation options in Thailand. This resort offers privacy, luxury, comfort and tranquility to all its guests. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with a wide range of in-room amenities. This Anantara Resort & Spa Golden Triangle is a perfect hillside retreat, away from regular hustle-bustle of city life.

In Bangkok, tourists will get the Amari Boulevard Hotel to reside in. This luxury hotel of Thailand is set on the Sukhumvit Road area, which is one of the city’s most lovely destinations. The hotel is comfortable, convenient and is well-known for its personalized services and friendly behavior. The Amari Boulevard Hotel features varied and modern amenities to make you feel comfortable and nice.

Among the famous Thailand hotels, one can stay in Best Western Ban Ao Nang Resort. The resort is located in Krabi in southern Thailand. The location of this Best Western Ban Ao Nang Resort is simply great, with Ao Nang Bay and beach within a walking distance. This resort offers convenience to leisure and business travelers alike.

The Serene Hill Boutique Health Resort and Spa is situated in Koh Samui, one of the popular tourist destinations in Thailand. With its central location, the resort is within easy reach from major tourist attractions and business centers in Koh Samui. The resort is known for its tranquil settings and cordial services.

There are also many budget hotels for the budget-conscious travelers. One of the nice budget hotels in Thailand is the Club Coconut Resort Hotel in Phuket. Club Coconut Resort Hotel offers peaceful accommodation coupled with word-class hospitality and friendly services.

Another good budget hotel is Anyavee Railay Resort Hotel, located in Krabi. The resort is located at a short distance from the famous Railay East beach in Krabi. The property offers peace and tranquility and user-friendly services. Travelers can easily reach this hotel from the Krabi airport.

Asian Holiday Money Guide

Posted on 20 Aug 2010 In: Koh Samui Transportations

Holiday in Asia, probably your flights are booked, guide books bought, and even the packing has started, you are almost ready for that well deserved few weeks, or even months holiday in Asia.

Staying at a one of those gorgeous Bali villas, or a beach side hut in Koh Samui, or even diving in Cebu?

What is probably outstanding is your Travel Money Strategy. No, I don’t mean how much money you expect to spend in Singapore versus Bangkok, but how are you going to have access to the right amount of money, in the right currency, at the right time and place. Of course, without having to carry it all on your person!

Here are some insider tips to money matters for those who will travel in Asia, beyond the metropolises like Singapore and Hong Kong.

Travelers Cheques

Whilst these are the regular staple for travels to Europe, in Asia, they are somewhat less convenient. As a rule of thumb, they are not as widely accepted in Asia (outside of larger cities), as they would be elsewhere in the world.

If you are taking any travelers cheques with you, plan to change these at bigger cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

Of course, the rate you will get for changing travelers cheques will be less than hard cash.

Also, once you are off the beaten track, expect people to look at you as if your are offering them Monopoly Money, when you put your travelers cheques forward.

ATMs/Cash Machines

These are increasingly available across Asia, and now a days have penetrated well beyond the big cities, into second/third tier cities, as well as most of the main Asian holiday resort destinations, such as the Bali Island, Phuket, and Langkawi.

Whilst in bigger cities, you will spot ATMs with ease, at many other destinations you will have to actually go looking for them. In Bali, for example, many cash machines are located at Circle K outlets (convenience store chain), or petrol/gas stations. In other more remote places, you will need to try your luck at the local mini-market and even the chemists!

However, ATMs are by far one of the most convenient ways of accessing cash easily in Asia, without having to carry huge amounts in person.

However, again, similar to travelers cheques, you will have to pay for the convenience/service in an incremental way. Banks and credit card companies will make money from you in two ways.

Firstly, because you are withdrawing at a foreign currency, there are exchange rates involved. For ATM withdrawals you will almost certainly end up getting a poorer exchange rate than if you were changing cash.

The second area of payment, is in the form of foreign currency withdrawal charge that will be imposed on your transaction. Given that this charge is often a flat fee, you are better off making fewer withdrawals of bigger amounts of money, than many withdrawals, each of which resulting in a separate charge.

Money Belts

There is no two ways about it, keeping your cash and valuables in a money belt is a safer way than carrying a big wallet, or a handbag which may be snatched with ease.

However, keep in mind that, unless you are traveling to Beijing or Seoul in the winter, your Asian travels will inevitably take you to hot tropical destinations.

As those who have had to carry money belts in the tropics will attest, they can very quickly become very uncomfortable (and wet!). Also, when at more humid environments, a money belt easily becomes very visible when perspiration sticks your clothing onto your body, or you remove your top for a swim. All of a sudden, what once was a discrete security measure becomes a bill-board advertising that you are carrying valuables on you, in the process pinpointing the location too!

So, as they say, horses-for-courses. You will need to decide on the best method of carrying your valuables depending on the environment. Or even better, if you feel like you are in a high risk situation, it is probably best to leave most of your valuables under the protection of a reputable hotel safety box.

Money Exchange

As a general rule of thumb, you will get a better exchange rate for your money at your Asian destination, than back home, regardless of where you change your money. Of course with the exception of larger international hotels, where the exchange rates on offer match the nightly room rates! So, it is well worth doing your homework before your leave home, and check the prevailing exchange rates for your currency, at some of the bigger banks’ internet sites for your destination(s).

Once you are in Asia, the best and safest way of changing money is to visit one of the local banks. It is worth noting that, in Asia banking office hours will vary substantially from country to country. For example, in Bali, most banks will open at around 9 am, where as in Singapore, some bank branches will not open their doors till 11 am. If your need is time sensitive, it will pay to plan ahead the day before. The good news is, most banks in Asia will accept many different currencies, and often offer fair rates, and provide official receipts. (Of course, some currencies such as the US Dollar, the Euro, and the Japanese Yen, are more readily accepted by more banks than currencies from some other countries.)

If however, you wanted to squeeze a little more from your money, or you have no other choice, you may be tempted to use an Exchange Services/Kiosks, found throughout Asia. Typically, these should offer slightly better rates than banks.

If you are going to use this option, here are a few tips and tricks.

You will probably get a fair rate, and be treated fairly in cities like Singapore, where local laws and enforcement will help protect you.

However, in some other cities/resorts you do need to take care, and be on the guard.

In many countries, most of these exchange kiosks are no more authorised than the handwritten (or nowadays printed) authorization sign they carry!

Some are blatantly unscrupulous, and will successfully short change even the most worldly-wise of travelers.

If you decide to use an exchange kiosk, here are some best practice tips:

Never change money on your own – don’t be alarmed, in most places there is usually no risk involved to the individual, but you are better off with 2-3 pairs of eyes than just your own

Change small amounts at a time – reduces your exposure and their greed!

Agree on the rate, and the amount you are going to change before taking out your money – unless of course you want to see your real $100 bill change into a recently printed fake in front of your very eyes!

Count the money given to you, and then when you are finished – hand it over to your partner to count again. (You should never count at the same time together, as you need that 2nd pair of eyes to observe the transaction

If at any point you are in doubt – just smile and walk-away

In a Nut Shell

1 – Make a Travel Money Strategy before you leave home

2 – Ensure that you have sufficient funds/credit on your cards

3 – Do take some travelers cheques with you, just in case

4 – Take some cash with you, even if a small amount

5 – Decide where and how you want to use you money belt

6 – Do use reputable hotel safes

7 – When exchanging money, try to stick to official banks

8 – If changing money elsewhere, try to make sure there is more than just you overseeing the transaction

9 – Make sure you never loose sight of your money at exchange kiosks

10 – If you feel uncomfortable during a transaction, just smile and walk away

As they say, prevention is better than the cure. If you decide to use these tips, please also observe your environment, and apply common sense. Just don’t forget, in many of the Asian destinations you will be traveling to, what you pay for a hamburger or a Skinny-Late is probably almost equal to someone’s local wage. Always carry the minimum amount of money with you, and apply caution when at remote parts of the developing world.

Having said all this. Asia has been my second home for more than 20 years now, and I have taken many holidays in Asia. May be I have been lucky, but in these 20 years I have had the most wonderful time of my life, and never really been cheated changing money. Well, almost never, there was that time when I was a backpacker when…

Enjoy your Asian holiday.

Many happy returns…

Southern Thailand islands also known as the “Paradise” Islands are among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. More than 12,000,000 tourists have visited Thailand in 2005, and the majority of them had left the Bangkok International Airport immediately after their arrival and headed straight to the Southern Islands. Some of the visitors were fascinated by the stories of people who were caught in the charms of the unforgettable ambience of the islands, some of them were taken by images they saw on the web, while others were convinced as per the words of their travel agent that the Thai Islands were indeed the ultimate tourist destination that fits every taste, age, budget and personality type. This can partly explain the massive flow of honeymooners, backpackers, families-on-vacation, partygoers, divers and many others to the Thai Islands every year.

However, the inexperienced Thailand traveler may be unconscious to the fact that a satisfying vacation is not a surefire thing even in a place nick named Island Paradise. In order to be successful, enjoyable and fulfilling, your vacation must be thoroughly planned. Unfamiliar destinations often hide little unknown secrets, which hold the enormous potential to make the desired positive change in your vacation.

This article will discuss the biggest mistakes you can make prior and during your visit to the Thai Islands. Adhering to or ignoring the five amendments below can literally make or break your vacation in the Southern Thailand Islands.

Mistake 1: choosing your vacation island spontaneously. Web pictures of tropical islands often make them look almost identical. The inexperienced traveler is likely to assume that no matter where you go in Southern Thailand Islands – you will bump into the same picturesque beach with white sands, turquoise water and a single coconut tree. Falling into the illusion of images while choosing your vacation island out of pure impulse can be a very disappointing experience in case the final destination island does not meet your needs, your personality or expectations at all. To avoid this mistake, define your preferences before hand, make a dedicated research prior to choosing your destination by gathering the relevant information using guidebooks in addition to using the Internet. As you choose the island that fits your needs, pay close attention to the following points:

1. The level of tourist development. Some travelers like their islands loaded with tourist facilities (i. e. Phuket, Koh Samui), whereas others prefer the classic touch “old school” isolated touch (i. e. Koh Phangan, Khao Lak).

2. Nightlife – Phuket, Koh Samui and at lesser extent Krabi offer a thriving nightlife, whereas Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao are quiet and drowsy.

3. Diving sites – Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao offer the best diving sites in Southern Thailand.

4. The prevalent level of accommodation. Phuket and Koh Phi Phi offer a immense variety of luxury hotels, while Koh Phangan and Koh Tao offer mostly basic (not necessary low standard) accommodation.

Mistake 2: Assuming that a great vacation can be carried out at a very low budget. Some travelers tend to wrongly assume, that Thailand being a country with developing economy will provide everything including a high standard hospitalization in ridiculously cheap prices. This is partially right, since the local tourism industry suggests an inexpensive travel opportunities to backpackers. However, the spoiled tourist who is used to savor on luxury westernized accommodation will find out the hard way that in order to meet his or her traveling expectations the expenses are appropriate to what is offered. To avoid this mistake and eliminate serious deviations from the planned budget – make your research to learn about price gaps in Southern Thailand Islands. For instance, one should know that staying in some islands (i. e. Koh Phi Phi) is expected to be more expensive, while staying in other islands (i. e. Koh Phangan, Koh Tao) can be significantly cheaper. To avoid any disappointments related to over expenses, I recommend adhering to the following guidelines:

1. Avoid planning a budget on the basis of someone else’s estimations, especially if that person visited the Thai Islands many years ago; spent the vacation in another island than the one you chose; much younger than yourself/ or prefers a different life standard.

2. Make an informed decision regarding the desired level of accommodation. The basic accommodation that includes a clean air-conditioned room and western style bathroom can be booked on relatively low, albeit not ridiculous, price. Contrary to that, a luxury accommodation (that kind of accommodation is quite common in Phuket and Koh Samui) may be almost as expensive as the hotels in your neighboring country.

3. Although checking the room rates is possible using the Internet – the prices of meals should be carefully checked as well. Don’t assume that no matter where you eat – the meal will be cheap. During my first visit to Thailand, I was very surprised to receive a check of the same value as in my home country. Now I know, that the Southern Thailand Islands offer a myriad of western style restaurants with western style prices. Therefore, before you enter a well-designed restaurant – check the menu and make clear budget estimation.

Mistake 3: choosing your vacation beach spontaneously. This is similar to mistake number one – but probably easier to correct, because checking other beaches on the destination is easier logistically and cheaper than checking other islands. However, the “wrong” beach choice can make you feel that you haven’t exploited the full potential of your vacation, or that you have wasted significant part of it. For instance, during my first visit in Koh Phangan I found out two days before the end of my vacation, that my “perfect” beach is located on the other side of the island. The following tips can help you avoid a similar situation:

1. The most developed and crowdie beaches on most islands are located in proximity to the airport (in case there is an airport in your island) or to one of the main seaports.

2. In case you prefer the above type of beaches – be aware of the fact that some of them, especially in Koh Samui and Phuket, are not family friendly.

3. The old school quiet and picturesque beaches are always on the other side of the island. If the “old school” beach is what you are looking for – don’t give up even if the way to Thailand was long and exhausting, and try to make a small effort to cross the island on your way to the opposite side; it will be well worth your while.

Mistake 4: insisting on Westernized food. Some of us tend to worry about experimenting with an unfamiliar food. The Thai tourist industry is aware of this fact; therefore the supply of Western style restaurants in Southern Thailand Islands is huge. Having said that, limiting yourself to these restaurants could be a huge mistake, since the prices for western cuisine are much higher compared to the ones in authentic local restaurants; and even worse– you miss out on one of the most important experiences of the Thai culture – the superior Thai cuisine, probably one of the best in the world. To avoid this mistake, don’t hesitate entering small restaurants with ridiculously neglected interior design, plastic maps and un-plastered walls. These restaurants’ owners are probably the worst marketers – but usually are superior cooks. Your meal in one of these restaurants will often be unbelievably cheap, tasty and mostly made of fresh sizzling ingredients. You will fantasize about these meals long after you have left the island.

Mistake 5: To take your big business suitcase to an island that could be only accessed by sea. A big suitcase is of course very convenient [in Europe]: using it, you can pack everything you need; it can be carried easily thanks to those little wheels; and it makes you look very representative. However, taking a big suitcase to Koh Phangan or Koh Tao is not something I would recommend. The platforms in the piers are extremely narrow and occasionally unstable. So if you’re really lucky – your big suitcase will be safe. If you’re a little bit less lucky – it can fall into the water. If you ran out of luck – you can fall into the water together with your suitcase. I seriously think a back bag would be your best bet. Just for the record, the huge suitcase that was taken by yours truly to her first trip to Koh Phangan was left somewhere in the jungle to frighten local monkeys.

So, on the next time the idea of heading the Thailand Islands crosses your mind, as tempting as it may be, try not to succumb to rumors and fascinating imagery. A thorough research and planning ahead may take some time and effort on your side, but it will be more than worth your while.

Melbourne is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Over the years it has emerged as one of the most sought after tourist destinations. Melbourne has a plethora of good hotels for accommodation and fabulous restaurants for a memorable dinner. Melbourne has a restaurant to suit every mood. Be it a Singles Dinner, a date or a family outing; Melbourne has a restaurant to suit everyone’s taste. Melbourne has restaurants that specialize in a variety of cuisines. Here are some of the most sought after restaurants in Melbourne -
1. Le gourmet – located in the eastern part of Melbourne the le gourmet is well known for its appetizing French cuisine. The food of this place is exceptionally good and the interiors are spacious and elegant giving it quite a chic look. This award winning restaurant is only a minutes away from the heart of the Melbourne city. The restaurant is open for 5 days in week, from Tuesday to Saturday and is one of the best places in Melbourne to dine.
2. Lynch’s restaurant – it can be rightfully said that the experience of Melbourne is incomplete without a dinner at the Lynch’s restaurant. This restaurant is as old as 30 years and has been under the personal care of its owner Paul Lynch since then. The restaurant is elegantly built and has a romantic atmosphere. The food of this place along with exceptional list of wines makes this place quite famous in whole Australia. The restaurant is located in close propinquity to the St’ Kilda road which is the business area of the city. The restaurant has special provisions for corporate dinners. Private celebration can also be organized in the three private rooms. The restaurant is open for the diners at 6.30 pm from Monday to Saturday while lunch is served on Monday to Friday from 12’0 clock onwards.
3. Koh samui – Koh samui is well known for the exotic and exquisite Thai cuisine they serve. The chefs of this restaurant are drawn from some of the best hotels and restaurants that serve Thai food. The chefs are quite experienced. This makes the dining experience in Koh samui quite fabulous. The menu of this restaurant is quite extensive and many dishes exclusive. The specialty of this restaurant is that all the ingredients used here are of the highest quality and are very fresh. It is sometimes said that the food available here is even better than the restaurants from Thailand.