Will a $16 Fee to Get Into Thailand Bring Classier Tourists?

Siim Teller, Flickr

Tourists to Thailand may soon be charged an entrance fee of 500 baht. That comes out to about $16, not really overkill for getting into a country that’s full of street markets, pad Thai and full moon parties, now is it?

The proposed entry fee is backed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Public Health and the Royal Thai Police, and the collected fees would of course go back into government initiatives. But it’s not necessarily raking in fee money that has the Thai government behind it. It has to do with who they want and don’t want in the country. And they want better tourists.”Now is the time for us to have quality tourists,” said Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong to the Bangkok Post.

Take that dread locked, sandal wearing, backpackers!

The travel industry however isn’t necessarily excited about the proposed fee. “The plan will affect the tourism industry, both in the short run and the long run, because tourists will feel bad about Thailand and they may feel they are being cheated,” Sitdiwat Cheevarattanaporn, chairman of the Association of Thai Travel Agents said.

Might be time for the Thai government to figure out another way to keep the riff raff out.

Strange Laws That Can Get You Locked Up Abroad

feeding birds venice
F Delventhal, Flickr

Getting arrested is probably far down the list of most people’s travel concerns. After all, we’re usually focused on checking museums and monuments off our bucket list — not engaging in illicit activity. But seemingly innocuous behavior can get you into trouble in many parts of the world, including things like wearing bikinis and chewing gum.

The British Foreign Office has released a warning about strange foreign laws after a report revealed that nearly a third of Britons seeking consular assistance were arrested or detained abroad. They say many travelers don’t realize that activities that are perfectly legal at home could get you locked up or fined in another country.

A few of the unusual foreign laws they highlighted include:Venice: It’s illegal to feed pigeons here.

Nigeria: Taking mineral water into the country could land you in hot water.

Singapore: Chewing gum on public transit is a big no-no.

Japan: Watch out if you have allergies. A lot of nasal sprays are on this country’s black list.

Wondering what other laws could get you locked up abroad? Here are a few more we rounded up:

Dubai: Kissing in public could land you in jail in this conservative country.

Thailand: Stepping on the local currency — which bears the image of the king — is seen as disrespecting the monarch and could get you arrested.

Greece: Wearing stilettos at archaeological sites in Greece will get you into trouble. The pointy shoes are banned because of the damage they cause to the historic monuments.

Germany: It’s against the law to run out of gas on the autobahn. Stopping unnecessarily on this fast-paced high way is illegal, and that includes those who forget to fill up their tank.

What other unusual foreign laws have you come across?

Photo Of The Day: Spot Of White

photo of the day

This interesting Photo of the Day, titled “Spot of White,” comes from Gadling Flickr pool member Mark Fischer and was captured in Bangkok’s Siam Square using a Nikon D90.

Mark captions the image:

“On Sunday, May 8th, 2011, an estimated 100,000 people attended a ceremony to give alms to 12,600 monks in front of CentralWorld in downtown Bangkok. Almsgiving is a daily event in Thailand and is a way for lay people to support the monks and to gain merit. This ceremony was organized as a symnbolic and practical gesture of support for 286 temples in Southern Thailand. Monks at those temples are unable to collect alms due to the risk of being shot and killed. The food and other items collected here will be sent to support the temples in the South.”

Want to be featured? Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

Tips for being featured: add a caption describing the image and (better yet) your personal experience when capturing it, details of the photography gear used and any tips you might have for others wanting to emulate your work.

Now, you can also submit photos through Instagram; just mention @GadlingTravel and use the hashtag #gadling when posting your images.

[Photo Credit Gadling Flickr pool member Mark Fischer]

Thailand Wants To Be The World’s Most Popular Golf Destination

ThailandThoughts of Thailand may bring images of red shirts and yellow shirts, the temples of Bangkok or swimming with elephants. But what about golf? Thailand has hundreds of golf courses and wants the world to know about them.

Starting May 1, 2013, Golf In A Kingdom kicks off, showcasing 12 of Thailand’s 260+ courses and resorts to promote the land of smiles as a major force in golf tourism.

“Golf In A Kingdom has played a major role in Thailand becoming one of the world’s top three golf tourism destinations, so we have decided to showcase it to golf tour operators and media from around the globe,” founder Mark Siegel said this week.

In its fifth year, Golf In A Kingdom aims to capitalize on their unique formula of golf, entertainment, value, golf infrastructure, safety, climate and friendly Thai people.The May 1 international launch will be held at Siam Country Club’s Plantation Course and attended by tourism executives from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.
As 60 percent of travelers coming to Asia for golf already choose Thailand, Golf In A Kingdom hopes to compete with Spain and the United States as the world’s most popular golf destination.

Think golf is not a big deal in Thailand? At OneAsia’s $1 million Thailand Open at Thana City Golf & Sports Club in Bangkok earlier this month, it was big news when Prayad Marksaeng became the third Thai to win their national championship with a two-stroke victory as we see in this video:




[Photo credit – Flickr user Shane D2]

Travel Tool: Interactive World Heritage Site Map

When it comes to planning my next trip, a pretty photo only inspires me half as much as a good map. I’m particularly partial to UNESCO‘s interactive World Heritage List map, which I spend more time clicking on than I’d care to admit. The map identifies the List’s 962 properties across the globe and provides information about each, including an array of photos for those who need the photographic impetus.

More than anything else, it’s a useful tool to find astonishing places beyond the Angkor Wats, Serengetis and Venices of the world. Did I know there were 100-meter-tall stone towers in northwestern Russia. Or that there’s a place called the Inaccessible Islands in the South Atlantic? I do now, and I want to go.

The map is also a great way to find less touristed sights in popular countries. The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex in Thailand gets short shrift from most visitors, for instance, but is a completely unique environment in Southeast Asia.

Don’t know where to start? The red points are World Heritage Sites in danger of being destroyed or permanently altered by man or nature, so they may not be around forever.

[Photo Credit: UNESCO/Google]