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Thailand Weekly Vol. 14

Thailand news and stories delivered free to your inbox every Sunday 🇹🇭

Hope all of you had a fantastic week and are one day closer to your return to this wonderful country called Thailand. Bangkok continues to come back to life and I suspect that it will start to get especially busy this July. Do you have your next trip here booked already?

Three Islands To Become Entertainment Hubs?

A call for Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao to become a world-class entertainment cluster is gaining traction with travel operators in the area as Thailand continuously tries to find creative ways to revive its tourism economy. The proposal comes in the midst of an exponential increase in arrivals since the government scrapped the Test & Go scheme last month. A local Samui hotel operator says that “the island desperately needs help to revive its economy and the concept of an island entertainment cluster is unique and rarely seen elsewhere”.

There have been all sorts of suggestions put forward to expedite this process and get numbers back to 2019 levels sooner rather than later. Previously, ideas such as golf packages, special wellness retreats, and yacht hubs have also been discussed, but perhaps the most interesting concept has come from health minister Anutin Charnvirakul and his concept to make Thailand a world-class medical marijuana hub. On this note, the production, import, export, distribution, consumption and possession of this substance will be formally legalized on June 9th and any ongoing trials and detention related to cannabis offences will be cancelled when the new rules come into effect.

Our Take

I feel that any ideas to expedite the timeline in which mass tourism returns to Thailand is a good thing for the millions of Thai people that depend on the this industry to survive. The concept of combining the three most popular Islands in the Gulf Of Thailand into one mass entertainment cluster is certainly worth exploring and is sort of happening already.

There’s all sorts of opportunity to have resorts, bars, pubs, and clubs establish strategic partnerships and provide special pricing to travellers that are looking to take advantage of all three Islands. Imagine if you were able to book a hotel stay at a top hotel in Samui and then hop on over to Koh Tao for a scuba diving certification course and get discounted drinks at a partner bar while on the Island? What about if you were able to book a round of golf at a top course on Samui and then get special pricing at select restaurants over on Koh Pha Ngan? It’s true what the hotel representative mentioned above, an arrangement like this would be extremely unique and rarely seen anywhere else, but given the fact that this concept requires loads of cooperation from both the public and private sectors, it feels like there’s still a long way to go.

500 Year Old Buddha Artifact Returns To Thailand

With the help of the US Government, Thailand has just received a 500-year old antique, gold-crown which forms part of a Buddha statue from the Lanna era. Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome revealed that the crown is made up of 95% pure gold and weighs 42.6 grams. It’s being kept at the National Museum in Bangkok for study before being exhibited at some point in the future.

The Minister went on to say that officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are also investigating other historical sculptures that are currently on display at the Denver Art Museum and that there’s a chance that these too will be returned to the Kingdom. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked the US directly for its help in ensuring a smooth return of the gold crown.

Our Take

Beyond the wild nightlife, amazing food, friendly people, and picture perfect nature, Thailand is a country full of deep rooted tradition and culture that you can still experience to this day. Although I’ve never been to the National Museum in Bangkok, its cool that something as meaningful to Thailand as this will be back on display in the very country that it originally came from. I also applaud the cooperation that US officials have shown as it pertains to ensuring that this artifact was safely returned. I am curious as to where in the US they found this crown? Was it from a museum? Did someone personally own it? What is its origin? Details are still vague but I’m sure there will be a follow up article in the world of Thai news in the coming weeks.

Thailand Travel Tip

Many of you know from our YouTube Channel that one of our favourite beach resorts in all of Thailand is the Meliá down in Koh Samui. It’s a world-class spot located in Choeng Mon, which is a super cool part of the Island with an amazing beach and awesome restaurants. The resort itself has rooms that are perfect for a couples retreat, or a full-on family vacation, all tied together with friendly staff and an EPIC pool that snakes through a good chunk of the resort. It was recently listed as one of the best hotels in all of Thailand according to TripAdvisor, and you’re guaranteed to have a lovely time should you decide to book your Samui stay here.

Since we made our first video of this spot way back in October 2020, there’s been a ton of you that have reached out to us mentioning that you’ve stayed here or are planning on staying here. Given that we’re Retired, WORKING FOR YOU, just last week we were able to convince them to give all of you 10% off your next stay. Just contact the reservations team at reservation.kohsamui@melia.com (or through their website), tell them the code “RW4U” and they’ll give you 10% off your next stay. Easy as pie.

THAI x Warner Bros.?

Thai Airways and Warner Bros. recently partnered up to start carrying out more projects in Thailand in a bid to promote the country’s film industry. Thai Airways will be the first-choice carrier for all Warner Bros. projects that involve travel to to the Kingdom. The airline’s director of sales says that “each year, many foreign film production companies select Thailand as their locations to make movies, documentaries, TV programs, commercials or music videos. THAI, as the national flag carrier, is pleased to facilitate all air travel arrangements. We can offer direct flights from many destinations worldwide as well as cargo services that can accommodate various types of items that require special attention such as video camera, lenses, lighting and other filmmaking equipment. This and future cooperation with WBD will mark an important milestone in promoting Thailand as one of the top destinations for international film productions. Furthermore, this partnership aims to boost the recovery of the national tourism economy and strengthen the country as film industry hub in Southeast Asia region.”

Our Take

This is one of those things that seems to make a lot of sense. A win-win for all involved. Thailand is a country that is extremely diverse, meaning that its possible to shoot all sorts of movies, commercials, shows, etc. in a compact location that is easy to get around. Whether Studios or Production Companies are looking for Jungles, Beaches, Islands, Mountains, or Skyscrapers, this country has it all. Thai Airways is also a company that is strapped for cash and are in the process of creatively looking for ways to drive revenue. This is a partnership that seems to be symbiotic no matter how you slice it and hopefully results in more Warner Bros. films being shot here in the Kingdom. It’ll be very interesting to see where the Thai film industry goes in the coming years. A part of me feels that it has the chance to emulate a little bit of what Korea has achieved over the past decade in the entertainment biz, but let’s see how it all plays out.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

It’s Durian Season in Thailand baby. The pungent fruit is making its rounds in markets across the country, and it’s certainly one of the more expensive Thai food items you can buy. At upwards of 350 Baht for a small part of a single Durian, it can be big money. A man has been arrested at the Thai/Laos border checkpoint in the Isaan province of Ubon Ratchathani. He was caught trying to deliver durian trees, valued at around one million baht, to a customer in Laos. Who would have ever thought that Durian is a Class A commodity?

Press Worthy 🔥