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Tourists Attacked in Hua Hin: Thai Police Under Fire

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments · Thailand News

Thaizer – Thailand news, tips & advice

Four Thai men have been arrested following a savage attack on a British family on holiday in the beach resort city of Hua Hin. The incident took place on Soi Bintabaht in central Hua Hin late in the night on April 13. Details of the event only began to emerge towards the end of last week when video footage from a security camera was published online. If found guilty, the accused men face jail sentences ranging between six months and ten years.

With various versions of the Hua Hin video going viral last week, Thai police and officials have been criticised for the way they have handled the case. There have been accusations on social media that Thai police and officials were trying to keep the video clip secret as part of an attempt to hush-up the incident which took place in a city with long-standing royal connections and one which is popular with foreign retirees and senior citizens. In response, Thai police say that the video clip was confidential evidence forming a key part of their investigation and should not have been released into the public domain.

security cameras on Soi Bintabaht, Hua Hin, Thailand

security cameras on Soi Bintabaht, Hua Hin

The video shows Rosemary Owen, 65, and her husband Lewis Owen, 68, walking along Soi Bintabaht with their 43-year-old son. The narrow street in the middle of Hua Hin city is lined with small bars and was thronged at night with party-goers enjoying the Songkran New Year Water Festival. The video clip shows the son of the family brushing against a Thai man walking in the opposite direction. The Thai man responds by turning round and shoving the tourist resulting in the British man stumbling and falling to the floor. The video then shows Rosemary Owen approach the Thai man. After a short period of talking, the British woman appears to slap the Thai man in the face. There is then some grappling and something of a melee before another Thai man wearing a black t-shirt re-enters the scene and punches each one of the British family in the face knocking them all to the ground. The sickening clip goes on to show the tourists being stamped on and the 68-year-old woman being savagely kicked in the head as she lays prone on the floor. Rosemary Owen suffered fluid on the brain that needed draining. Her husband suffered two black eyes and needed six stitches to his forehead. The son required multiple stitches for his injuries.

Thai police say that shortly after being apprehended one of the Thai men admitted he and his three friends were drunk. The accused also said he thought one of the tourists had hit one of his friends first. Rosemary and Lewis Owen have been regular visitors to Thailand over the years and have apparently told friends in the past how much they loved the country. The married couple gave evidence in court today ahead of their return to the United Kingdom tomorrow. Their son, who lives in Singapore, was quoted in a British tabloid newspaper saying he and his parents will never return to Thailand again. However, speaking to Thai media today Rosemary and Lewis Owen apparently expressed their love for Hua Hin and vowed to return.

Following the adverse publicity the case has created, Thai officials in Hua Hin have gone on a charm offensive. Senior figures from the city’s police and tourism departments were on the streets of central Hua Hin over the weekend to meet and greet tourists and assure them of their safety. Thai officials have expressed their shock at the attack and said that this was an isolated incident with alcohol playing a major part.

The post Tourists Attacked in Hua Hin: Thai Police Under Fire appeared first on Thaizer written by Roy Cavanagh

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Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong)

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments · Thailand Information, Thailand News, Thailand Stuff

Thaizer – Thailand news, tips & advice

Located on the fringe of Bangkok’s Chinatown district, Bangkok railway station is the main rail terminus for the Thai capital. Many Thai people refer to the station by its official name of ‘Krungthep’ although there are some locals who call it Hua Lamphong which was the name of a local road and canal that were here before the station was built. Hua Lamphong train station is also the name often used in English language websites and city travel guides.

Bangkok Railway Station Hualamphong viewed from the frontfront view of Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong)

History of Bangkok railway station
Construction of the Bangkok railway station began in 1910 during the reign of King Rama VI with the building officially opened on June 25, 1916. Although Dutch architects collaborated on the project it is the Italian architect, Mario Tamagno, who is given most credit for the neo-classical design of the railway building. Tamagno also worked on several other projects in Bangkok in the early 1900s including the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. Initially, Bangkok railway station was used as both a passenger and freight terminal. In 1960, the station was redeveloped to be used solely as a passenger terminal.


The vast majority of train services departing from or arriving in the Thai capital use the main Bangkok railway station at Hua Lamphong. There are exceptions though with some local services, including those to and from Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai, using the smaller Thonburi station (Bangkok Noi) across the other side of the Chao Phraya River.

Train times

Trains usually depart on time from Bangkok train station, but arrivals are often late (by an hour or more) on long distance routes so use the arrival times shown on train timetables as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Computerised real-time arrivals and departure boards are displayed at the station.

main concourse at Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station

ticket counters and displays at Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station

Buying tickets at Bangkok railway station

Buying a train ticket at Bangkok Hua Lamphong station is relatively straight-forward with lots of information available in English as well as Thai. Although the process of buying a ticket is easy enough, the fare system is more complicated with supplements added depending on the type of seat and class of train. Please note you may also be asked to show your passport when purchasing tickets.

Ticket office for tourists
Bangkok railway station has recently opened a dedicated ticket office for foreign tourists. If you enter the station concourse from the front, the ticket office is in the far left-hand corner. The office is run by the State Railways of Thailand (SRT) and uses English-speaking staff to help overseas visitors. The office sells 1st and 2nd class tickets for same-day and advance travel on most trains. The cheapest tickets for 3rd class trains are not available from here and must be bought from the counters outside. Combined train/ferry tickets to popular destinations including Ko Tao and Ko Samui can be purchased here as well as combination train/bus tickets to Krabi and Phuket. The office also sells tickets for some of the special weekend excursion trains run by SRT. Because the office is run by SRT there are no outside agency fees and you pay the standard ticket price.

ticket office for foreigners at Bangkok Hua Lamphong railway station

Tickets for same-day travel
Tickets for same-day travel can be purchased from the main ticket counters. Display screens above each counter describe in Thai and English what trains you can buy tickets for although the screens will often show ‘all trains’ rather than specific destinations. If you’re intending to travel on the cheapest 3rd class train services, the earliest you can normally buy tickets is an hour before departure.

Tickets for advance travel
To buy a ticket for advance travel, you may find it more convenient to use the dedicated ticket office for foreigners. As mentioned above, entering the station from the front this office is in the far left-hand corner. However, you can also go to the advance booking office which is open daily from 8am-4pm and located in the far right-hand corner of the station. You’ll need to get a queue ticket from the machine and then wait for your number to be called. There are also some ticket windows on the main concourse that sell advance tickets, but from previous experience these tend to be closed more often they are open.

In many cases you can book train tickets on the same day you travel. But during peak season and on popular routes (e.g the overnight sleeper service from Bangkok to Chiang Mai) this may not always be the case. Many trains are also booked out well in advance over the long New Year holidays at the end of December and again in mid-April for Songkran. If you have confirmed accommodation or have to be at a certain destination on a specific date, it’s advisable to pre-book your train tickets regardless of the time of year. This can be done in person at any main station in Thailand with booking clerks using SRT’s computerised system. The State Railway of Thailand used to operate an online e-ticketing service, but that is currently unavailable. Selected ticket agents can also pre-book tickets for you. This is the list of ticket agents approved by SRT.

Touts, agents and scams

Bangkok train station does attract some scam artists and touts. Be on your guard, but don’t be paranoid. There are people wandering around with official looking badges who don’t work for SRT. Instead, they are getting paid commission from hotels, taxi companies and tour agents to attract customers and will often make a beeline for tourists carrying luggage. It’s best to go the official information and ticket counters and speak to SRT staff if you need assistance. There are a few tour offices located on the second floor of the station who can book hotels and onward travel for you. They may also offer to sell combination train/ferry tickets although they will usually charge a premium compared to buying direct from SRT counters.

taxi driving in front of Bangkok train station

Taxis, tuk-tuks and buses

Looking at the station from the front, the taxi rank is outside the station on the left. Tuk-tuks also congregate in this general area with buses a short walk further back. Taxis should use their meter, but for tuk-tuks you will have to negotiate a price and it will normally work out more expensive than taxis. The other option is to take the modern and efficient metro which connects to Hua Lamphong.

Metro station

The MRT metro system is open daily from 6am to midnight. The routes currently in operation are limited, but the metro does connect with the BTS Skytrain system and can be very convenient depending on where you are travelling to or from in Bangkok. Be prepared to open your bags for a quick security check when entering MRT metro or BTS Skytrain stations.

If you are heading in to Bangkok by train from the north or north-east, you can get off at Bang Sue train station and connect with the MRT metro there. However, at the time of writing this doesn’t work so well the other way round and you may find it more convenient to board trains heading north at Bangkok Hua Lamphong rather than Bang Sue. There are future plans to start more long distance trains from Bang Sue so this situation is likely to change as facilities and services at Bang Sue are upgraded.

Don Muang airport train station

Many train services to and from the north call at Don Muang station. In theory this makes it an easy way to travel between Bangkok Hua Lamphong and Don Muang, but the reality is trains are often late and services are infrequent. Whilst trains between Bangkok Hua Lamphong and Don Muang are an option, generally it’s more convenient to use the airport bus or take a taxi. If you do use the train, an overhead walkway from the station connects to the airport at Don Muang. It used to be a short walk from the train station to the airport check-in desks, but with the new terminal buildings opened at the end of 2015 this can now involve a bit of a trek.

Food & drink

It’s fair to say that Bangkok train station isn’t food heaven, but there is a reasonable Thai restaurant, coffee shops, a few fast-food options and mini-markets to keep you going. Refreshments are also available from mobile vendors on the platforms and the enterprising vendors that board the trains at various stations along the route selling drinks and Thai snacks.

Alcohol ban

Since mid-2014, the sale and consumption of alcohol has officially been banned at SRT stations and on trains. How rigorously this ban is enforced may vary depending on the route and the discretion of the train staff. I’ve heard recent accounts from friends who say they had no problems drinking beer they’d brought with them for the journey on the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. However, all passengers should be aware that it is an offence under Thai law to sell or buy alcohol on trains and at stations and can be punished with a 10,000 Baht fine or even imprisonment.

alcohol ban on Thailand trains

Toilets & showers

Toilets and showers are located on the far right hand side of the station with signs in English as well as Thai. Take some small coins with you to pay for use of the toilet (3 Baht) or shower (10 Baht). Passengers can also get a Thai massage at shops located inside the main station building.

Left luggage office

As you enter the front entrance of the station, the left luggage office is just to the left near the ATM machines. Open daily from 4am-11pm, prices depend on the size and weight of your bag. Smaller bags weighing less than 10kg cost 20 Baht per day. For larger bags and backpacks weighing more than 10kg expect to pay between 40-80 Baht per day.

left luggage office at Bangkok Railway Station Hua Lamphong

Bangkok Railway Station

Show your respect

The Thai national anthem is played over loud speakers at the station at 8am and 6pm. Please show your respect by standing as the Thais do. You may also notice a separate seating area at the front of the station concourse which is only for the use of Buddhist monks. Signs in Thai and English explain that the seating is not to be used by the general public.

The post Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong) appeared first on Thaizer written by Roy Cavanagh

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Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm), Chiang Rai

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments · Thailand Information, Thailand News

Thaizer – Thailand news, tips & advice

Singha Park is owned by Boon Rawd Brewery, the company who produce Singha Beer, but visitors hoping to find a brewery and endless supplies of Thai beer are out of luck. Instead, the picturesque park in the Chiang Rai countryside is a family-friendly attraction and makes for a pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon.

landscaped grounds at Singha Park, also know as Boon Rawd Farm

Previously known as Boon Rawd Farm, the fertile soil here was used to grow barley for beer production and the farm was off-limits to the general public. That all changed when Boon Rawd decided to transform the area into a sustainable tourism project with Singha Park opening its gates to visitors in December 2012. Large areas of the park are still a working farm with fruit orchards and tea plantations as well as some of the original barley fields. These days though, the barley is mainly used for malted drinks and health foods. The farm is now more famous for its production of oolong tea and tours of the park provide visitors with the chance to see how the tea is grown and carefully picked. The park has also been sympathetically landscaped with trails, lakes and meadows all combining to make this an attractive destination for people in Chiang Rai.

giant golden Singha lion at Singha Park, Chiang Rai

The distinctive golden Singha logo dominates a small mound at the entrance to the park providing Thai visitors with the obligatory selfie opportunity. As an agro-tourism destination, Singha Park works closely with schools and colleges in Thailand with Thai youngsters forming a large percentage of the visitors during the week. At weekends the park is particularly popular with local cyclists and Thai families who come here to enjoy the wide open expanses and scenery.

signs at Singha Park

scenery at Singha Park

The word ‘Singha’ is actually pronounced ‘Sing’, but some Thais are so used to hearing it called ‘Sing-ha’ by overseas visitors that they may even use this name too without trying to correct you! If you listen carefully to Thai people ordering a Singha Beer, you should be able to hear them say ‘Beer Sing’.

Getting around Singha Park

The park covers a large area and although you can walk around the pathways closest to the entrance, if you want to explore more of the landscaped grounds the Singha Park staff encourage visitors to use bicycles or take the electric tram. The tram stops at various points of interest and gives you time to enjoy the walking trails and flowers.

cycling at Singha Park, Chiang Rai

walking trail at Singha Park

The bicycle routes in Singha Park are excellent and are free to use if you bring your own bicycle. If you need to hire a set of wheels, a tandem will set you back 150 Baht, a mountain bike is 100 Baht and a children’s bike is 50 Baht. Prices are per hour an include the use of a bicycle helmet. An hour will give you enough time to explore most of the park whilst two hours should be ample for a leisurely ride and plenty of stops for photos. There are various cycle paths to choose from with informative maps telling you the length of the ride in kilometres and the degree of difficulty on each route. Please note that all cyclists are asked to register at the bike desk before setting off on any of the routes in the park.

An electric tram carries visitors to various parts of the park with stops at the fruit orchards, tea plantations and the petting zoo some of the highlights. Tickets for the tram are purchased at the information counter near the front entrance. On busy days (especially weekends and holidays) you may have to wait at least an hour for a seat on the next available tram. There are coffee shops and food outlets where you can sit and wait or you could just opt to hire a bicycle to save time. The price of the tram is 50 Baht for adults and 25 Baht for children, but does include two vouchers which can be exchanged for bottles of water at the refreshment stops on the route. A guide accompanies the tram, but at the time of writing announcements are only made in Thai. Trams run at least every half-hour from 10am-5pm.

electric tram at Singha Park

flowers in bloom at Singha Park, Chiang Rai

Activities at Singha Park

There are a number of attractions at Singha Park which make it suitable for visitors of all ages. Young children will probably enjoy the petting zoo most of all with the chance to feed the zebras and giraffes. There are also a number of locations around the park where visitors can pick their own fruit and vegetables or simply enjoy the walking trails through the meadows.

zebras at Singha Park, Chiang Rai

feeding the giraffes at Boon Rawd Farm, Chiang Rai

For something more active, ziplining and wall climbing are both available. Whilst the setting is scenic, it’s a steep 800 Baht per person for the privilege of a short ziplining flight to take in some of the panoramic views from above. The climbing wall costs 150 Baht per person. If you’re looking to do something active at Singha Park, hiring a bicycle provides the best value and most reward.

Food and drink

The best place to eat at Singha Park is the highly regarded Bhu Bhirom Restaurant. With an elevated position and expansive views over the park and plantations, the restaurant is a lovely place to dine and relax with a choice of Thai food, including northern Thai specialties, as well as Western food. The restaurant uses freshly grown fruit and vegetables from the farm. Bhu Bhirom also incorporates oolong tea leaves into the menu with signature dishes such as the spicy tea-leaf salad. And if you have a taste for tea, stop at the Singha Park shop and buy some packs of the locally produced oolong tea leaves to take home with you. Bhu Bhirom Restaurant is open daily from 11am-10pm.

views from Bhu Bhirom Restaurant

fresh fruit and vegetables grown at Singha Park

In addition to Bhu Bhirom Restaurant, Singha Park hosts a number of very good coffee shops and the popular Barn House Pizzeria for pizza and beer (opens daily from 11am-8pm). There are also a number of local restaurants and food stalls outside the park opposite the main entrance.


Throughout the year, Singha Park stages a number of music concerts with some big name Thai bands pulling in the local crowds. The park also hosts an annual balloon festival in February and various cycling events during the year.


The main part of Singha Park is open daily from 9am-6pm although restaurants are open until later. Entrance to the park is free with visitors paying extra depending on how much they want to see or do when they are there.

I’ve enjoyed my trips to Singha Park and whilst I wouldn’t describe it as a must-see attraction, it is an interesting and attractive destination and one that sees far more Thai visitors than foreigners. It’s well worth spending a half-day at Singha Park especially if you have your own transport and can combine it with a trip to the nearby White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) which is approximately 10 minutes away by car.

Best time to visit Singha Park
The park is open all year round, but is at its blooming best during the cool season from mid-November to the end of January. From mid-February to the beginning of April, the haze and smog can detract from some of the views.
Read more about the Chiang Rai weather here »

Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm) Chiang Rai)

How to get to Singha Park

Singha Park is located approximately 12kms to the south-west of the centre of Chiang Rai city. The main entrance to the park is located on Den Ha-Dong Mada Road (Route 1211). There is currently no public transport that goes directly to Singha Park although the owners have said they may introduce a shuttle bus from downtown Chiang Rai at some stage in the future. For the moment though, the easiest way to get to Singha Park is with your own transport. Cars and motorbikes can be hired by the day in Chiang Rai city centre. Another option if you’re reasonably fit is to hire a bicycle in Chiang Rai and cycle out to the park.

Singha Park features on some shared tour itineraries, but it’s best to explore the park at your own pace. Enquire about prices for shared or private tours of Singha Park at any tour office in Chiang Rai city. You can also try negotiating directly with a songthaew or tuk-tuk driver. Taxis will also take you there and back, but are likely to ask for a set fare to take account of the waiting time. A trip to the park can also be combined with a visit to the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and your driver may suggest this.

The post Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm), Chiang Rai appeared first on Thaizer written by Roy Cavanagh

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