Club Sanook Newsletter - December 2005

September 2006

Bangkok's New Airport

By the end of September Bangkok's crumbling Don Muang Airport will be history as the city's new Suvarnabhumi (say "savanah-poom") Airport opens for business. Almost four decades in the making, this stunning piece of architecture is situated between Bangkok and Pattaya, which will save as much as an hour for our guests who want to go directly to the beach. The new airport was designed to handle 45 million passengers a year, significantly more  than Hong Kong, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. It has the largest single passenger terminal building of any kind in the world. While frequent travelers are looking forward to a more comfortable, more efficient way to come and go from Bangkok, the new airport has not been without its share of scandals and criticism, which is to be expected in this part of the world. Originally, the new airport planned to prohibit taxis from picking up passengers, although they could drop passengers off. A "taxi depot" was constructed about 2km away. However, due to public pressure, airport officials have relented earlier this month and will now issue permits to up to 10,000 taxis to collect passengers on arrival. Will Suvarnabhumi be worth the wait? We will ask our guests what they think of their experience with the new airport a year from now.

Phuket Gay Festival Invites You to Show Your Pride

Pack your sun screen and your glitter. Phuket's annual Gay Festival and parade is just around the corner. Patong town will show its pride March 29 through April 1, 2007. Plenty of activities are planned, including fashion shows, karaoke contests, volleyball tournaments on the beach, fireworks, stage performances starring famous Thai entertainers, and even a "beach foam party." Club Sanook Members will be invited to a free brunch at Club One Seven Boutique Hotel. The annual Festival is one of Thailand's most glamorous, most exciting, most colorful events. Popular hotels will sell out early, so please make arrangements to attend as far in advance as possible.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruck 2006

If you have a green thumb or just enjoy plants and flowers, head for Chiang Mai November through January for an enormous and spectacular agricultural and horticultural exposition. Royal Flora Ratchaphruk has been organized to celebrate the King's 80th birthday and 60 years on the throne. You will see gardens, flowers, vegetables and magnificent architecture on an unbelievably grand scale, including special gardens dedicated to the King, corporately-sponsored gardens, as well as gardens and lavish displays sponsored by many foreign governments. You can get more information on the Expo's website. We will be provide transportation and admission to the Expo in conjunction with our Chiang Mai packages on request.

Thai Visa Blues

Thai immigration officials announced in early September that they plan a major change in visas on arrival beginning October 1st. There has been a lot of conjecture about this new policy and rules are somewhat unclear. However, we can offer some clarity on this matter.

Citizens of many countries automatically get a thirty-day stay when arriving in the Kingdom. Quite a few people living in Thailand without work permits or permanent visas simply leave the country every month (if even for only a few hours) to get a new 30-day stamp, thus avoiding arrest and prosecution. Some people have done this for years, and the government apparently does not like this because some people are abusing the system and working illegally.

New rules, which affect citizens of 41 countries, allow a maximum of three consecutive thirty-day stays until you are essentially "locked out" of Thailand for another 90 days. Most visitors will not be affected by the new rule unless they plan a very long visit. Immigration officials recommend that long-stay visitors get a visa from a Thai embassy before arrival.

Of course this could all change next week.

India and Guilin At Last

When you joined Club Sanook we asked you where you most wanted to visit. Much to our amazement, the overwhelming top pick has consistently been India. For the past year we have been testing, exploring and constructing new adventures in a country we never originally thought we would offer. Our new India packages finally made their debut on September first and we hope you will be as excited as we are. In addition to short-stay programs in Delhi and Mumbai, we offer a new Golden Triangle itinerary that begins in Delhi and includes Jaipur and Agra, for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the Taj Mahal. If you have time and want to explore India in depth, you can add several different options, including a night in a fortified palace that has been transformed into a luxury hotel, two days exploring India's most famous national park, known for its tiger population or Udaipur, India's "City of Lakes." Our Path to the Ganges extension visits Khajuraho ("India's Angkor Wat"), which is known for its wildly erotic temple carvings, and Varanasi, India's oldest city and the holiest place for India's Hindus. After visiting our India menu, you can also enjoy our extensive new India photo album.

We have also been hard at work in Guilin, our newest China destination. Although very popular with Chinese visitors, it has barely been discovered by Westerners. What a pity, because it is one of China's most attractive cities, surrounded by some of the planet's most breathtaking scenery. If you enjoy your food spicy, you will be in heaven in Guilin, which is one of the best gastronomic destinations we have ever experienced. You can add Guilin to a long China itinerary, or enjoy it as a quick side trip from Bangkok, only two and a half hours away by daily non-stop flights. While we are still working out some of the details, you can see our Guilin itinerary on the Purple Dragon website already. A new China Photo Album will also be available soon.

From our New Concierge

My name is Nattaphat Ruaenwong. (You can call me "Nut.") I am the  Concierge at Purple Dragon. I can help you with things like finding a serviced apartment in Bangkok, booking train travel, shopping for special gifts, restaurant and spa reservations, arranging for mobile phone for use during your visit, finding a battery for your watch, downloading the photos from your digital camera to a CD, chartering a helicopter or jet, including an eye lift or a tummy tuck in your holiday arrangements, or making sure the money you send for your friend's English lessons are actually spent on English lessons.

Club Sanook Members who use our packages in Bangkok, Siem Reap, Phuket, Beijing or Shanghai can use a Club Sanook mobile phone free during your trip if you make arrangements with me in advance. We will give you the number before you depart so you can leave it with friends and family. There are a few rules, of course, but I will send you details before your trip.

Let me know if there is anything I can do to make your visit a little more special, although you have to find your dates on your own: [email protected]

Where to Stay

We constantly fine-tune our programs and we listen closely to what our customers have to say about the hotels we use. Here are two hotels we have added to our packages. We know you will love them:

Borei Angkor Hotel
Douglas, our Managing Director passes this hotel several times a week when he goes to buy supplies for Figo, our restaurant and bar in Siem Reap. It never seemed appealing enough for him to visit until the hotel's sales manager sent him an invitation. He fell in love with the place. They didn't spare the forest when the built this place. It's full of beautiful, dark wood everywhere. Rooms are spacious and lavishly decorated. The hotel has a magnificent pool and health club, and Douglas thinks the pastry chef should win a prize of some kind. We are trying to talk them into having a special gay wing and they are thinking about it. In the mean time, the Borei Angkor is a great deal--a four star hotel at a two-star price. We have added it as the "Sublime" level hotel on our Angkor packages.

Rose Hotel, Bangkok
If you have been a regular visitor to Bangkok you may be surprised or even amused that we would add the Rose Hotel to our collection. This venerable property on Surawong Road fell into an era of decay, which gave it a reputation as a ragged "short time" hotel. If you saw it during that incarnation you would not believe your eyes now. The ugly duckling has become a classy, polished swan. While rooms are on the small side, they are attractively decorated, prices are low, and the location could not be better for our guests who enjoy nightlife. We will begin using the Rose Hotel on all of our Bangkok packages at the "Value" level on 1 October.

On the Drawing Board

Purple Dragon is hard at work on several new programs in our ever-growing world. We will soon offer "Wocking on the Beach," a Thai cooking school package in Phuket, "Honeymoon in Pattaya" at the lovely Rabbit Resort, a long beach holiday in Hoi An, meditation in India, and a two night private luxury cruise from Bangkok to Ayuttaya. Have a special request or suggestion of your own? Contact us.

And When You Visit Phuket...

Purple Dragon's new Phuket satellite office is open and ready to help you. You will find us in the lobby of Club One Seven Boutique Hotel in Patong. (This is one of our favorite places to stay and you should consider making it your home if you plan a visit to the Island.) If you plan to arrive in Phuket without stopping in Bangkok, Daniel and Mac can help you with arrangements in one of our exciting destinations. A visit to Angkor Wat? Myanmar? Chiang Mai? Vietnam?  Of course it's best to make arrangements in advance during the peak travel season October through March. You can use the reservations system on our website: No plans? Stop by for a cup of coffee anyway. We'd love to meet you and answer your questions about what to do and see during your adventure in Phuket. We want you to have fun! By the way, we also have a new office in Siem Reap. We'll tell you about that next time.

About This Newsletter

You are receiving this newsletter because you are a former guest, because you have asked for information about our company, or because you have registered as a Club Sanook Member. Our list is very private. We do not share it with anyone. However, If you do not wish to receive future email from us, we will remove you promptly at your request. Just remember, points you may have accrued in our Club Sanook program will be lost.

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Copyright 2006 Club Sanook. All rights reserved.

Purple Dragon is proud to be a founding Member of the Thai Alternative Tourism Association