Thailand Plastic Bags Ban – Should You Be Worried? Plus, Top 5 “Upmarket” Alternatives (Updated)

Updated as of 24th Jan 2020.

Since late last year, there were rumors circulating about Thailand’s plastic bags ban.  As such, some Thai shoppers have resorted to baskets, buckets, and even wheelbarrows to skirt a new ban on single-use plastic bags. 

This restriction, introduced at the start of the new year, is currently supported by several major mall operators and convenience stores. The plan is to be rolled out into smaller businesses by the year 2021.

This ban was an effort to tackle the country’s crisis on plastic (especially single-use plastic bags) that is creating an escalating problem of land and sea debris.

In support of this ban, while managing our travelers’ shopping joy, DeFreesia found you a solution… Introducing #DeFreesiaShoppingBags!

This is the brain-child of the two founding partners, who spent “hours” cracking the “Plastic Bag Ban” code… Now, you must be wondering what’s so special about this shopping bag? Check this video out!

Plastic Bag Ban - DeFressia Shopping Bag


All Travelers with DeFreesia Transport Services from February 2020 will receive this FREE! Book your travel with up today and no more worrying about Thailand’s plastic bags ban!

For those who fancy more up-market non-plastics bags, these are some options curated for your review:

Non-Plastic Bags #1 – Kiddee Project

What: Kiddee Project’s designer, Vipavat Darapongsathaporn, teamed up with Nan Hospital to create an eco-friendly line of totes made from dialysis bags used for patients with kidney disease.
Aiming to reduce the amount of waste produced by hospitals, the Kiddee Project gives these medical products a fresh spin by upcycling them into urban, utilitarian-style totes. After being cleaned and sanitized, the dialysis bags are combined with polyester to create sturdy and functional bags.

More info can be found at www.fb.com/Kiddeeproject.Thailand 

Non-Plastic Bags #2 – Chaaum Studio

What: You may have noticed Bangkok city-dwellers carrying waist bags and totes that looked like recycled cement bags; here’s the fact, THEY ARE! Designers from Chaaum Studio recycled cement bags into stylish lifestyle accessories, including bum bags, tote bags, backpacks, and wallets.
The bags are functional and sturdy enough to be the perfect carry-all for your everyday essentials, while also being ideal travel companions.

More details can be found at www.fb.com/chaaumstudio 

Non-Plastic Bags #3 – Madmatter

What: A lifestyle brand makes minimal yet stylish totes that can easily fall in with your wardrobe staples. Transforming used fabrics and second-hand clothes collected from landfills into eye-catching patchwork designs are what made Madmatter’s totes unique.

More info can be found at www.madmatterstore.com

Non-Plastic Bags #4 – Vibes Totes

What: A photogenic, fuss-free tote made to carry all of your everyday items effortlessly. The bag is also a canvas for the graphic art of young Thai artists. You can choose from Canvas or Microfiber material.

Description

  • Digital fabric printing
  • Washable material with quality texture
  • Fully lined interior with hidden interior pockets
  • Durable frame and supports heavy load

Details can be found at https://shopjj.co/?s=vibes+tote&post_type=product

Non-Plastic Bags #5 – Angkor Accessories

What: A company that is based in UK collaborated with a social enterprise in Cambodia, to recycle discarded cement sacks into wallets, purses, handbags and more. The aim of this social enterprise is to give local people in Siam Riep fair paid work without having to leave their villages, and also re-uses cement and other bags that would otherwise be thrown out.

More info can be found at https://angkoraccessories.com/

Do you know more “Upmarket” alternatives, please feel free to share with us? You can drop us an email at stories@e-freesia.com, and title your message header as “Upmarket Alternatives – Non-Plastic Bags“.

Talad Neon Night Market – Is this just another joint?

Compared to Ratchada Rod Fai (train station) night market, Talad Neon Night Market is slightly smaller in size but not necessarily less “equipped”. You will find similar items being sold in nearby Platinum Fashion Mall or Pratunam Wholesale market in the day, but for busy locals, this will be a good place to shop. As such, this makes Talad Neon a great place for locals to have their shopping crave eased.

This night market has a good variety of shops, which include the typical “Chang” fashion tees, Thai hand-made souvenir stalls, barber shops, local snacks and more! One special mention will be this hand-made keychain stall situated next to the main road. At THB29 each, these hand-made keychains can be personalised with your name after you have selected the design you want.

Talad Neon Night Market is located right next to Berkeley Hotel on Petchaburi Road, Pratunam, and about 7mins walk from Chit Lom BTS.

Artbox Bangkok – Worth the trip?

Ok, if you are looking for the typical night markets’ kinda experience, you will be disappointed. Artbox Bangkok is a cool “pop-up” market with a difference; started in June 2015, these stalls (not all of them) are housed in giant metal shipping containers which can be moved around the city.

This container-box themed night market is packed with lots of artistic food creations and innovative products! Definitely Instagram-friendly thanks to its fairy-land lights that set the ambiance.

From 30th May 2019, Artbox Bangkok has moved to a semi-permanent location address located in Sukhumvit Soi 10 @ Chuvit Garden. This night market will be at this location till 30th November 2019. Previous locations include Queen Sirikit MRT Station, Makkasan MRT Station and Chatuchak. 

Best time to visit? What to expect?

  • Go in the evening or night time; best times to visit are between 5pm to 9pm
  • Less hot in the evenings, and you can take nicer photos when the lights come on!
  • Lovely alfresco picnic and eating area for you to chill, wine and dine while enjoying live band performances!

Artbox Bangkok invites some of the best aspiring young artists and artisans in Bangkok to showcase their talents. Get yourself sketched in hand-drawn portraits, or take home one of thousands of locally hand-made products!

Creative foods is another thing that makes Artbox Bangkok so special. You will find many creatively served snacks and drinks here, so come with an empty stomach and open mind for trying as many delicacies as you can.

Artbox Bangkok at Chuvit Garden (5mins from Nana/Ashok Station)

The easiest way to get to Artbox Bangkok @ Chuvit Garden is by taking BTS SkyTrain to Nana station or Asok station as the park is located on Sukhumvit Road between these 2 BTS stations (about 250 m from Nana and 350 m from Asok).

Verdict:

is it worth the trip? If you are expecting to find usual touristy souvenirs such as “Chang” t-shirts or elephant pants here, you will be disappointed. However, if you’re into creativity, you will definitely like strolling between rows of stalls selling local fashion brands, artworks, and unique accessories.

FAKE Somboon Seafood

Did you know that there are eight official branches operated by the REAL Somboon Seafood restaurant? Famous for their Fried Curry Crab, Somboon Seafood has been in operation since 1969.

Somboon seafood real deal 1

Here’s their history:

1969 – “Somboon Seafood” first opened in Samyan Area, occupying a shophouse close by Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy. This was where the famous “Poo-Phad-Phong-Karee’’ (Fried Curry Crab) was originated and became very popular among Thai diners for its freshness, deliciousness and reasonable prices.

1990 – The second outlet ‘’Surawong’’ opened on the more urbane Surawong Road and the brand Somboon Seafood started to be well-known among Japanese and international expatriates.

1991 – At end of the lease for the Samyan outlet, the restaurant was moved to a new location, “Banthadthong”.

1993 – Introducing “Somboon Chinese Restaurant”, on Banthadthong Road. The new restaurant brand features authentic Cantonese cuisine and is well received by local and international public figures and businessmen.

1996 – New expansion of Somboon Seafood, the “Ratchada Branch”, on Ratchadapisek Road, which at that time was an emerging business district of Bangkok

2001 – The restaurant launched its “Udomsuk (Bangna)’’ branch in the prime residential area of eastern Bangkok.

2008 – The return of “Samyan Branch” at the newly-built Chamchuri Square Building, the same spot where the first Somboon Seafood restaurant was established 40 years ago.

2014 – Somboon Seafood is proudly celebrating its 45th anniversary with the launching of two new branches: “Central Embassy” and “Siam Square One”. The new outlets are located in the middle of the city’s prime entertaining and commercial districts and easily accessible by BTS skytrain.

OKAY, enough of the REAL DEAL!  Now, lets have a look at WHO’s the FAKE?!?

somboondee somboon real fake

Apparently, there is a not-so-new-kid-on-the-block named SOMBOONDEE SEAFOOD MARKET. It was reported multiple times by different bloggers and tourists that they have been cheated by their “flagged drivers” to patronise this seafood restaurant which is passing off as the original SOMBOON Seafood. This has annoyed the original SOMBOON Seafood so much that they decided to warn their clients but sharing that they have only eight outlets and be aware of SCAMMERS!

So next time, please only go to the following outlets to feast on their Fried Curry Crab! I am slurping my saliva while finishing this post! Haha.

1. Bantadthong Branch (nearest BTS National Stadium) – 895/6-21 Soi Chula 8, Bantadthong Rd., Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
2. Surawong Branch (nearest BTS Chong Nonsi) – 169,169/7-12 Surawong Rd., Suriyawong, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
3. Ratchada Branch (nearest MRT Huai Khwang) – 167/9-12 Huay-Kwang Intersection, Ratchadapisek Rd., Din Deang, Bangkok 10320
4. UdomSuk Branch (nearest BTS Udom Suk) – 26 UdomSuk 60, Sukhumvit 103 Rd., NongBon, Pravet, Bangkok 10250
5. Samyan Branch (MRT SamYan Station) – 315 Chamchuri Square Building, Room101-102-103 Ground fl., Phya Thai Rd., Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
6. Central Embassy Branch (BTS Ploen Chit Station) – 5th fl., Central Embassy 1031 Ploenchit Rd, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
7. Siam Square One Branch (BTS Siam Station) – 4th fl., Siam Square One Building Rama 1 road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
8. CentralWorld Branch (BTS Chit Lom Station Exit 1) – 6th fl., CentralWorld 4, 4/1-4/2, 4/4 Ratchadamri Rd., Pathum Wan, BKK 10330


Article contributed by Calvin Ng, Fitness Trainer and Online Business Coach

Top 7 Cafes in Bangkok

coffee bangkok cafe near BTS

While researching on the growing digital nomads community in Bangkok, this topic came to mind and I decided to investigate what would be the top cafes in Bangkok and I ended up with the following list. I have not personally been to all of them but this curated list of coffee joints were mentioned repeatedly by various influencers on the worldwide web.

I will go through the following list in random order and will have  a separate table showing the different cafes based on proximity to BTS stations.  Do let me know if this list becomes obsolete as I admit that I am not based in Bangkok 24/7.

Top 7 Cafes in Bangkok
1. FILL IN THE BLANK
2. KARMAKAMET DINER
3. (UN) FASHION CAFE
4. AFTER YOU
5. AUDREY CAFE & BISTRO
6. CASA LAPIN
7. D’ARK BY PHILLIP DI BELLA

Proximity to EKKAMAI Station
1. FILL IN THE BLANK
2. (UN) FASHION CAFE
3. FEATHERSTONE BISTRO CAFE & LIFESTYLE SHOP
4. ONE OUNCE FOR ONION
5. VANILLA GARDEN
6. INK & LION
7. KAIZEN COFFEE CO
8. NIKKO CAFÉ
9. THE GARDEN OF DINSOR PALACE (another branch near Thong Lo as well)

Proximity to PHROM PHONG Station
1. KARMAKAMET DINER
2. D’ARK BY PHILLIP DI BELLA
3. CERESIA COFFEE ROASTER
4. FUCHEER BY LUKKAITHONG
5. KARMAKAMET SECRET WORLD
6. LIBRARY CAFE
7. PERHAPS RABBITS’

Proximity to SAPHAN TAKSIN / THONBURI Station
1. THE NEVER ENDING SUMMER

Proximity to SIAM Station
1. AFTER YOU (quite a few branches now)
2. PHIL COFFEE COMPANY (another branch near Thong Lo as well)
3. MERMAID CASTLE SIAM
4. MR JONES ORPHANAGE
5. ONCE CAFE & CUISINE

Proximity to THONG LO Station
1. AFTER YOU
2. AUDREY CAFE & BISTRO
3. CASA LAPIN
4. GREYHOUND
5. HAND & HEART CAFE
6. PHIL COFFEE COMPANY
7. ROAST
8. ROCKET COFFEE BAR
9. ROOTS COFFEE BAR
10. GRAM
11. JONA WAFFLES
12. THE GARDEN OF DINSOR PALACE
13. TOBY’S ON SUKHUMVIT

Hope the list above is helpful!  Have a Caffeine great time!


Article Contributed by Calvin Ng, Fitness Coach & Online Business Trainer

Top 7 Tourists' Scams in Thailand

top 7 thai scams

Have you noticed that not all tour operators in Thailand (especially local tours) are licensed? Also, do you know what are the Top 7 Tourists’ Scams in Thailand? Check this out!

1. This Place is Closed
– This happened some time back when I was travelling with my mum and wife to Bangkok for a short break. We wanted to go to Chinatown for some Sharkfin soup and seafood, so we hailed a taxi outside Platinum Mall. Once we boarded, the taxi driver commented that there was bombing and Chinatown is closed for redevelopment and insisted to take us somewhere else for dinner. As we started driving off, I felt something wasn’t right and googled while in the taxi on redevelopment of Chinatown after bombing… nothing came up. I immediately yelled at the driver to stop and he dropped us off the roadside, in the middle of nowhere. With my awesome navigation skills, my family walked back safely to our hotel 15mins later.

– Another common version of this scam can happen near any tourist attraction but still happens a lot outside the Grand Palace. As you approach, someone will tell you that the palace is closed for various reasons. Ignore them as you will end up in either a gem store or a tailor shop.

2. Damaged Jetski / Motorbike
– Some of us like to play watersports and explore the city in a motorbike by renting them from local pop-up stalls along the beach, especially in Phuket or Pattaya. It’s all smiles of happiness when you scoot-off, but when you come back after your fun, they will point out scratches and dents in the jet ski (or motorbike) and they will demand large sums of money. What they fail to mention is that a dozen other customers have already paid for those scratches. If you rent anything, be it motorcycle, car or jet ski, make sure all scratches and dents are documented.

3. Help me get FREE Gas
– This happens every so often on a Tuk Tuk ride where the driver will bargain with you on the pricing for his ride to a location you wanna go to. He will then tell you that in order to match your price, he will need your help to visit a Gems factory or Tailor shop for a short while so he can get FREE gas. If you are not in a rush for time and have a big heart, you will walk right in t o this scam.

4. Priceless Gems
– Not sure about you, but I am no expert on gem stones so I will typically avoid any gems factory outlets visits no matter which overseas destination I go. It is just too common to be pressured in to buying something very expensive which may be worth next to nothing just for a SAFE ride back to your destination once you are stuck in that situation. Of course, to make you feel better, the shopkeeper will have “actors” who will tell you what a great bargain you had!

– A variant of this scam revolves around the shopkeeper accusing you for paying with a counterfeit note. He or she would go to the back of the store, away from your sight, swap the note you handed over with a realistic counterfeit one and return. Giving the fake note to you, he or she would demand for new payment, leaving you to pay for twice or thrice the original amount.

5. Tailor, Tailor, Alligator!
– Similar to the Gems factory, such tailor shops are typically low quality in workmanship and materials used. This can happen anywhere, but is more likely at tourist locations. Halfway through a Tuk Tuk trip, your driver might ask you to wait as he take a toilet break. Coincidentally, a stranger approaches you, and start telling you about some bargain he found at a tailor shop which only Thai people know.  At this point, your tuk tuk driver will be back and the stranger will “helpfully” tell him where the shop is. At the shop, the prices seem like a good deal and high pressure sales tactics are used to make you pay everything upfront with FREE home delivery! Too good to be true? You decide!

– If you want a genuinely great tailor, go to Paul’s Fashion at Sukhumvit Road (BTS Asoke) SUKHUMVIT SOI-20 (200 meters inside the Soi opposite 7/11 )

6. Ping Pong Show
– Don’t believe the touts outside those shady bars, especially when you are at Patpong area. They will lure you with free sex shows and drinks for only 100 baht each. You will end up paying a bill in the thousands. Stay clear if you are alone as they can turn violent (some may even threaten your life with “tainted” needles with AIDS virus) if you refuse to pay.

7. Meter? No Meter, Spoil
– This is probably the most notorious of all; even the Tourist Police acting deputy commissioner Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal vowed to step up its crackdown on taxi drivers who take advantage of foreign tourists. Many Taxi drivers were accused of refusing to use the meter (claiming the meters are spoilt), and some tourists complained that they were charged Bt800 (S$33) for just a 300-metre ride!


Article contributed by Calvin Ng, Fitness Trainer and Online Business Trainer

Hua Hin Top 10 Attractions

thailand-hua hin top 10

Wondering what to do and see in Hua Hin?  Here’s a list of top 10 attractions/activities you can look forward to:

1.  Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park – a marine national park in Kui Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand. It covers 98.08 km², of which 20.88 km² are marine areas. The park was established in 1966, and was the first coastal national park of Thailand.

2.  Pala U Waterfall – part of the Kaeng Krachan National Park, which is about 60 kilometers west of Hua Hin, near the border to Myanmar.  It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls not only in Hua Hin District but also in Prachuab Khirikhan Province.

3.  Plearnwan Eco Vintage Village – brings you back to the period between 1950-1970s, where you will enjoy good food, shopping for old school toys, sweets, tee shirts and mini fun fair entertainment!

4.  Hua Hin Hills Vineyard – sipping wine during the trip is fun, wait till you try touring the vineyard on elephant back or bicycle. The paved bicycle trail runs for about 3km and caters to leisure cyclists.  For more seasoned riders, there is another red-marked trail (1km) that goes through rougher, steeper terrains.

5.  Hua Hin Railway Station – one of the country’s most beautiful train stations marked by its meticulous details in architecture.  Located in Hua Hin Subdistrict, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, it takes about 4.5hrs to travel from Hua Hin to Bangkok.

6.  Night Markets in Hua Hin – there are a few night markets in Hua Hin, so be sure to check them out one by one! Cicada Market, Chatsila Night Market, Grand Night Market, and Hua Hin Night Market.

7.  Santorini Park – an amusement park opened in 2012 located in Cha am, Thailand.  From classic whitewashed buildings with blue rootops, colourfully painted windows, down to stone-paved paths and domed towers, it makes this place looks just like the real Santorini in Greece. It also has an impressive lineup of shops and restaurants that suits everyone.

8.  Vana Nava Water Jungle – the first ecologically aware community waterpark in the region, it was literally transformed from an empty plot of land into a tropical jungle, with over 200,000 plants and trees from across Thailand. In ancient Sanskrit, Vana means “forest” and Nava means “boat”.

9.  Cooking Class in Hua Hin – what better way to learn about the Thai culture than through its flavourful food culture! Spice things up by cooking a four-course meal for yourself or experience team-bonding cooking as a family.

10.  Massage, Massage and More Massage – everyone knows the wellness Thai massages offer, and yet not everyone knows how to pamper themselves in Hua Hin. Check out THE BARAI, an award winning Spa with 18 remarkable treatment rooms and 8 exclusive residential spa suites located on more than 4.5 acres of serene beach adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin. Embark on a personal wellness journey that treats the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

Here you go! Top 10 Attractions in Hua Hin.  Book your transfer from Bangkok city here:  Bangkok – Hua Hin Transfer

Need help securing your accommodations?  Click Here.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating market 1

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – is a world-famous floating market and the bustling scene is a timeless snapshot of the exotic Thailand. Located about 100 km from Bangkok, this tour makes it easy for anyone to see this unforgettable sight for themselves.

You will get picked up bright and early in our air-conditioned transport and taken out of the city, towards Samut Songkram Province.  Once you reach the floating market, you will get to experience the lifestyle of locals who live and work on these interconnected waterways and enjoy the daily bustle while admiring massive piles of fruits and vegetables, fresh produce and colourful handicrafts on small boats!

If you are interested to book this exciting tour with us, drop us a message at
sales@e-freesia.com

Maeklong Railway Market

Maeklong Railway Market is about one hour drive from Bangkok centre.  It is a market which has a train running right through the middle of it, multiple times a day.

The Maeklong Railway Market has been around since 1905. It is found in the province of Samut Songkhram, located on the Gulf of Thailand. Fishing was (and still is) one of the main livelihoods of the people who lived here, and the market was another way in which to sell their goods.

The market offers everything you expect a Thai market to offer but the Maeklong Railway Market differentiates itself from the other markets by having a railway located in the middle. If the products for sale are not placed on the railway itself, they are placed really closed to it.

Tourists and the vendors gather together very close, but far enough, along the railway to let the train pass by safely.  For many tourists this is the moment to take a video or a picture of this impressive moment.  Right after the train has passed the stands, the vendors immediately place their belongings back at the railway and it looks like nothing has happened.

Maeklong Railway Market 2
Maeklong Railway Market 4

If you are interested to book this exciting tour with us, drop us a message at sales@e-freesia.com

Chinatown – 10 Foodstalls to visit on your next trip!

Have you wondered where to find food that locals eat in Chinatown or Yaowarat in Bangkok?  Check out this video.


Here’s a list of the “delicacy” consumed:
1. Kuey Chap
2. Phad Thai
3. Crab Noodles
4. Fish Maw Soup
5. Cockles & Mussels
6. Mai Fa or Dragon Beard Candy
7. Soya Beancurd dessert
8. Bread dessert
9. Roast Duck Noodles
10. Crispy Pork Rice

Stay tuned for more video updates!