Elephants, Treks and Rafting in Chiang Mai

So you’re in Asia, Chiang Mai to be exact, and you are planning on going to see the elephants. Good idea! Now I bet you’re wondering which tour to do? Who to sign up with? One of my absolute favourite day trips i’ve done during my travels would be the elephant, trek and rafting trip […]

via Elephants, Treks and Rafting in Chiang Mai

Sukhothai – Wat Mahathat

Sukhothai, which means “dawn of happiness”, was the seat of a kingdom from 1238 until 1438. The ruins of the capital, a UNESCO World Heritage site, lie in a beautifully well-preserved and maintained park just outside the modern city. The largest and most impressive temple in the park is Wat Mahathat founded between 1292 and 1347 as […]

via Wat Mahathat

How to get a Cambodia Visa

If you are holding any Southeast Asia country passport (Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Myanmar), congratulations! You do not need a visa for Cambodia, which means, you can just walk thru the border and get stamped easily. For travellers from other countries, you can either get the visa done before […]

via How to get a Cambodia Visa

Thailand – Yen Sira Phro Phra Bori Ban exhibition to honour late King Bhumibol

HIS Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn will be invited to preside over the opening of the exhibition “Yen Sira Phro Phra Bori Ban” on Friday, which will be staged in honour to the late monarch, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The exhibition will be held at Sanam Luang, and feature the late King’s royal works and some of his personal items.

PM’s Office Minister Ormsin Chivapruck, secretary of the command centre monitoring the mourning period for the late King, revealed yesterday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would issue the invitation to the new King.

Since the passing of the late King, a huge number of people dressed in black have flocked to Sanam Luang each day to queue for the opportunity to pay their respects to him and lay prostrate before his body in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace.

 Tomorrow, a biking event in tribute to the late King will start at 6am. According to the government’s Public Relations Department, the bike route stretches from the Provincial Electricity Authority headquarters in Chatuchak to Ngam Wong Wan Road, through Pongpetch Intersection, Tao Poon T-junction, Saphan Sung, Rama V Road, the Chitralada Royal Villa compound, Wat Benchamabophit Intersection, the Equestrian Statue of King Rama V, Rajdamnoen Avenue and the Phan Phiphop Lila Intersection, before ending at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus.

On the same day, the 6th Thailand International Half Marathon will take place from 4-8am. Around 4,500 runners are expected to fill the route between Rama VII Bridge and Elevated Borommaratchahonnani Road.

The public are encouraged to avoid these routes as traffic will be blocked from entering them when these events are held.For more details, call the 1197 hotline.

Source: TheNation

Myanmar boosts incentives for infra development, labour-intensive projects

An advertising billboard of Ooredoo in Yangon. Foreign investment, particularly in the telecoms sector, continues to flow into Myanmar.

Myanmar boosts incentives for infra development, labour-intensive projects

THE MYANMAR Investment Commission, a government body to facilitate both foreign and local investment, has planned plans to provide more incentives for investors in the two areas that are crucial to the country’s growth, labour-intensive industries and infrastructure development, a senior official said.

According to Aung Naing Oo, secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission and director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, the MIC will also encourage agricultural-based industries, aside from its two priorities.

He also explained about the two things MIC would look at before allowing any investor to do business in Myanmar.However, he said proposed investments had to meet standards. “First, any investment must be in line with our existing laws and regulations. Second, we prefer quality investments rather than trying to improve on the quantity level. For example, if a mega project may bring negative impacts to the country, we do not think it is a good investment,” he said.


LEDSIGNZ

Other things that the government investment agency takes into consideration include a project’s prospects for profitability, how it can improve the national income and revenue, while creating job opportunities. The MIC also considers how a proposed project sits in the international and local market situation, generates demand for domestic consumption, makes use of innovation, and results in the application of relevant technology. A project must also have arrangements to minimize environmental and social impacts.

 During the new government’s term,From April to early October, the MIC has approved 45 foreign investments totaling more than $400 million and 22 citizen investment projects worth about $100 million.

and Ks170 billion.By August 31, Myanmar had approved 1,131 firms from 45 countries for investments of $64.4 billion. China stands as the top investor with 141 firms that have committed to invest $18.1 billion, followed by Singapore (214 firms, $13.5 billion) and Thailand (98 firms, $10.6 billion). Among the Top 10 investors are Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, India and Vietnam.

Oil and gas, power, and manufacturing are the sectors in which Myanmar receives the most FDI. These three sectors are followed by transport and communications, real estate, mining, hotels and tourism, livestock and fisheries, agriculture, industrial estate, construction, and other services.

By September, the commission has allowed more than 46,000 local investors and over 5,000 foreign investors to do business. To cope with the increasing activity, MIC staffing was increased from 200 to more than 500 staff during the administration of President Thein Sein.

With the opening of its regional office in Hpa-An township in Kayin state on October 6, MIC now has nine branches, and two more branches will be opened by the end of this year, in the Bago and Magway regions.

“We hope to open branches in every state and region by 2017. If we can expand our network by opening new branches, things will get easier when we do investigation on project sites,” Aung Naing Oo said. He said he was confident that the MIC has the capacity to keep away dirty money.


LEDSIGNZ

“It is impossible to invest in Myanmar with black money, because we usually check the financial documents of all the companies, whether they register under the Foreign Investment Law or with Myanmar Citizens Investment Law,” he said.

Applicants’ finance is thoroughly checked, starting with their bank statements. Only transactions through banks are accepted, and this is under the monitoring of the Central Bank of Myanmar.

“It is really hard to transact black money via recognised banks.”

For investment by local entities, MIC cooperates with the Internal Revenue Department to check if the applicants pay taxes. The commission also has to report to the Home Affairs Ministry if a proposed investment exceeds 100 million kyat (Bt2.6 million), in case the ministry wants to check if money laundering is involved.

“Every investor has to attach necessary documents whenever they submit investment proposal. For example, if an investor submits a proposal to invest 10 million kyat but his bank account shows he possesses less than the proposed budget, we usually investigate how he will earn the remaining amount of money. This may involve a loan from an international organisation or a commercial bank and we may assess how he will manage to pay the interest etc,” Aung Naing Oo said.

Scrutiny in 2 steps

He said a project is scrutinised in two steps. “First, by MIC staff and secondly by the investment proposals assessment committee, which consists of high-ranking officials from relevant departments including ministries of commerce, labour, industry, construction, forestry and environmental conservation, the customs department, the internal revenue department, etc.” he said

“They also review the projects from their own perspective. If all of us are not satisfied with the proposal, we usually ask the investors for clarification and some necessary documents. Only when we all are happy, we will allow them to do business in Myanmar,” he said.

Aung Niang Oo noted that Myanmar welcomes all kinds of investment proposals. But the MIC may be unfamiliar with some projects and has to seek opinions from ministries, which sometimes lead to delays in the approval process.

Issuing permits is merely part of the MIC’s responsibilities. After issuing the permits, it has to check if the investors have followed their commitments in the proposals. This monitoring is the most exhausting process, the official said.

“Nowadays, we have more things to do than ever. We also have to help investors with their exports and imports after they receive the permits. So, our staff are usually super busy. That checking is usually carried out on weekends,” he said.

An investor who does not honour their commitments is liable to four types of penalties. First, a warning will be issued, then incentives like a tax holiday could be revoked. In some cases, a company’s operations will be suspended until the investors can satisfy the MIC. Lastly, a company can be blacklisted.

During the previous government term, two Korean garment factories were forced to shut down businesses for failing to follow the rules.

Source: TheNation

Mongolia Camel Festival

Of pharaohs and camels

Mongolia’s two-humped beasts showcase their impressive speed in the Gobi desert

THE GOBI DESERT, camels, nomadic music and hospitality will lure adventure junkies into Mongolia’s hinterland for the famous Ten Thousand Camel Festival. This annual festival, which sees 1,000 camels racing against each other, makes the end of winter in Mongolia way more special than in other part of the world. From March 6 to 7 (days and nights) the festival will take place in the desert town of Dalanzadgad – 550 kilometres from Ulaanbaatar. It gets going with cultural shows on the first day and visitors can expect to see nomadic herdsmen from near and far riding their best camels into town to attend the festival. Camel polo competitions, as well as performances of traditional Mongolian music and dance, are among the highlights of the second day with the race itself taking part later in the day as 1,000 two-humped Bactrian camels show off their best speeds.

THOSE CONSIDERING posting a picture of their boarding pass on social media should think twice –for their own good. The aviation trade magazine Aerotelegraph points out that pranksters and strangers can obtain and abuse your passenger information from the photograph. If the passenger’s name and reservation number is visible, a third party might be able to get access to the booking and even cancel the flight as a prank, the report said. They could also possibly dig out the passenger’s email address and telephone number. There is also a lot of data in the barcode, which can be read out with the help of barcode reading software which is available free online, the magazine warns. So think twice before posting a picture in social networks like Facebook or Twitter of your boarding pass as proof that your exciting trip is about to start. – DPA

“RAMSES – DIVINE RULER ON THE NILE” is at the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe, Germany until June 18. The exhibition honours the most powerful of Egypt’s pharaohs through 260 exhibits gathered from notable European museums, some of them on display for the first time. According to the organisers, the last exhibit about Ramses of this size was in Paris 40 years ago. Among the items on display are one of the few monumental statues of the ruler, copies of the oldest peace treaties, documents from his royal household and a three-metre-high plaster cast of a Ramses bust. A reconstruction of the imperial capital city of Pi-Ramesses is also on show. Ramses the Great was the most powerful of all the pharaohs. – DPA

KALIBO, in the central Philippines, celebrates the Ati-Atihan Festival from January 8 to 17. This famous nine-day event features parades and feasts in honour of Santo Nino (Infant Jesus). It’s like the Brazil Carnival though more sober and tribal in nature. Soot-black painted faces, feather head-dresses, and animal bones create an arresting visual impression. Drumming and dancing break out at dawn and continue on until the festival ends three days later at a masquerade ball. A mass outdoor procession follows a sacred image of Santo Nino from the Kalibo Cathedral to Pastrana Park. Don’t miss the masquerade ball. Kalibo is a hub of transportation to the resort island of Boracay.

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Source: TheNation

Cambodia – Angkor Wat still top draw

Ticket sales revenue for the Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap, the country’s biggest tourist draw, increased by 4.2 percent last year – the first year since the government took over ticket sales management from the private firm that had operated it for 17 years.

Data released yesterday by the Angkor Institution, the park’s state-run ticketing agency, showed the number of tickets sold in 2016 topped 2.19 million, generating nearly $63.6 million in revenue for the state coffers.

The Angkor Institution was established in January 2015 after the government took control of ticketing services from local firm Sokimex, a firm owned by tycoon Sok Kong. The decision followed repeated allegations of financial irregularities.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said the government has demonstrated its competence in handling ticketing for the ancient temple complex, and tourists were benefit-ting from easy access to Angkor Wat.

“The ticketing service offered by the government body is going smoothly,” she said. “We hope that the government will use some part of the revenue for the tourism infrastructure around the park and make the place more attractive to tourists.”

Sivlin said she expected the government’s management of ticketing to improve as it gained more experience.

In 1999, the government outsourced ticket sales for Angkor Archaeological Park to Sokha Hotels and Resorts, the hospitality arm of Sokimex, under a profit-sharing scheme with the Apsara Authority, the government body that manages the ancient temple complex. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the end of the arrangement during a cabinet meeting in November 2015, with the handover taking place last January.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan denied at the time that persistent rumours of corruption had led to the decision to end Sokimex’s concession.

“When the business started, the government needed a partner. At that time the government had no ability to invest in that sector, so we looked to the private sector,” he said.

“Now the government sees this business is stable, the number of tourists has increased and, instead of partnering with the private sector, the government prefers to do it on our own to maximise the income for the state.”

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said the ticket sales revenue figure for this year was slightly disappointing given the solid tourism growth witnessed in other ASEAN markets. He said the government and private sector needed to do more to provide better services and attract more tourists.

The Angkor Institution announced last August that it will nearly double price of single-day passes for foreigners and increase the fees for multi-day tickets to the Angkor Archaeological Park starting February 1, 2017. The move prompted widespread fears that the price hike could discourage many tourists from visiting the site.

Vandy said he expects the higher ticket fees will increase overall revenue, but any drop in tourist visits would have negative repercussions on the broader economy. He suggested that the government work to incentivise tourism, encouraging visitors to stay longer in Cambodia, which would lead to higher profits for everyone in the sector.

However, he said he was willing to give the new price scheme a chance.

“Let’s go with the flow at first and then wait and see how the results [of the increased fees] for this year turn out,” he said.

Sourse: PhnomPhenPost

Cambodia winter 2016

After a long day yesterday, we went to bed at 10pm, woke up around 7am without problems. We spent the whole day visiting the temples in the Siem Reap area, including the infamous Angkor Wat temple! In the evening, we stayed in the touristic center of Siem Reap, explored the city and went to a […]

via Winter 2016