What happens when you set your capital on fire

Drop in hotel reservations due to chaos in Thailand

They say that a picture says a thousand words so I won’t waffle on about the about chart (bigger version here), other than to say it represents the rather precipitous fall in daily hotel reservations through Travelfish via one of our affiliate partners.

This is all reservation enquiries, so doesn’t take into account cancellations — meaning the fall is actually considerably worse than what the above illustrates. I should also note the airport shutdowns instigated by the yellow shirts had an equally destructive effect on reservations — I just don’t have time right now to make two charts!

Given that matters are sizing up for another meltdown around October/November this year (ie just in time for the peak tourist season) it is difficult to understate just how damaging all this is to the Thai economy. While it is clear Thailand has very serious societal issues that do need to be addressed, crucifying the travel and tourism industries seems hardly to be the way forward.

Who would have thought six years ago (when we started Travelfish.org) that today Indonesia would be seeing relatively progressive economic development accompanied by encouraging signs on the tourism side of things, while Thailand would be actively working to reinvent itself into the region’s new basketcase.

Call me Dr Dive Bum

We’ve just added a new feature story, titled “How to become a dive instructor on Ko Tao” written by someone who knows what she is talking about — an experienced dive instructor on Ko Tao!

The story is a useful read for anyone considering following this path and includes details on the cost of the various courses, the amount of time required to learn and, importantly, what you can expect to earn working as a dive instructor on Ko Tao.

You can read the full story here. How to become a dive instructor on Ko Tao.

Corruption in Thailand

We’ve just added a new feature to the site titled “Corruption in Thailand”. As you’ve probably heard or read, Thailand has had a lot of bad press of late and this story briefly discusses the issues. How big are the risks really?

We reflected on out personal experiences of over 12 years in Asia and in the end, conclude that as long as you don’t forget to pack your brain, the risks are minimal.

You can read the full story here: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/144

I look forward to hearing some tales of woe … or not perhaps!

And don’t forget if the police robbed you, use the story to enter our competition to win a Pacsafe bag!

Bangkok’s top ten guesthouses for 2009

In a massive city like Bangkok, where there are quite literally hundreds of places to stay, finding the right place to stay can be both a challenge and, well, a bit of a headache.

We thought we’d save you the pain and on a recent trip through Bangkok we door-knocked and room-inspected our way across the city before coming up with our list of what we consider to be the ten best guesthouses and hostels in the entire city.

Our final list spans different budgets from backpacker, through flashpacker to midrange and also covers different districts of the city.

You can read our opinions on each place and even see where each is located see the story on Travelfish here: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/137

That said, Bangkok’s a big place and everyone has their favourite — if you’ve an opinion to share, please feel free to drop in leave your thoughts in the comments section of the story.

Cheers

Stuart and Sam @ Travelfish

Ban Huay Kon / Muang Ngoen border open

We’ve heard, second hand, of a confirmed independent crossing at the Thailand/Laos border crossing at Ban Huay Kon / Muang Ngoen.

The border had been open for ages to Thais doing 4WD “adventure tours” up to Luang Prabang but we’d been told by the TAT that “there were no plans whatsoever for the crossing to be opened to foreigners at any time in the forseeable future“.

So we assume somebody changed their mind!

What this means is that after spending time exploring Nan, you can cross at Ban Huay Kon, head northeast to the village of Hong Sa and jump aboard a slow boat heading either south to Luang Prabang or north to Pak Beng and Huay Xai — what a terrific new way to enter Laos!

As I mentioned, we got this news second hand (a couple of European backpackers related their trip to a friend of ours while on the slow boat in early May, 2008), so it comes with no guarantees whatsoever and our agent on the boat forgot to ask then if visa-on-arrival was available… just can’t get good help these days!