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  • French 'Cult Leader' Held for 3-Month Visa Overstay in Thailand



    Thai police have detained a French tourist, Evariste Doabu Kudukuho, who self-identified as a religious leader and had allegedly overstayed his visa by three months in the popular tourist destination of Koh Pha Ngan, Surat Thani Province.


    Local authorities reported the arrest came after numerous complaints from residents near Bula Malayu Mosque. Kudukuho, a 39-year-old French national, was actively engaging in and inviting international visitors to join Islamic ceremonies, presenting himself as a spiritual leader.


    Police Major General Saksira Phueak-am, Commander of the Tourist Police, directed the operations led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Winich Boonchit to apprehend Kudukuho on June 22.


    The community had grown increasingly concerned by Kudukuho's activities and his apparent encroachment on local religious practices.


    Residents observed that Kudukuho seemed to reside near the mosque and was recruiting foreign tourists for religious gatherings. These persistent reports prompted the authorities to take action.


    When officers approached Kudukuho, they noted his anxious demeanour. He claimed his passport was stored in a nearby tent, where he had been living. Upon retrieving it, police discovered that he had entered Thailand on a 30-day tourist visa, which had expired 78 days prior, confirming his illegal overstay.


    Kudukuho now faces charges for his unauthorized extended stay in Thailand and was transferred to Koh Pha Ngan Police Station for further processing. Authorities are treating the case with gravity, given the potential implications of his activities on the local and tourist communities.


    In related developments, Thai police have also arrested an Austrian man, Harald Rothauer, for overstaying his visa by over two years in Buriram. Local residents had reported Rothauer for erratic behaviour and harassment, leading to his detention and highlighting an ongoing issue of foreign nationals flouting visa regulations in Thailand.


    Picture courtesy: True Thai News



    -- 2024-06-24


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    23 June 23 2024
  • Italian Man Arrested on Samui Island for Allegedly Selling Cocaine


    Surat Thani – An Italian man was arrested on Samui Island after he allegedly sold cocaine and illegally operated a rental motorbike shop with 70 motorbikes using a Thai nominee to disguise his ownership.

    Surat Immigration told the Phuket Express on Tuesday (June 18th) that they arrested a suspect identified only as Mr. Mattio, 39, an Italian national, on the Lamai Beach Road in the Maret sub-district, Samui district.

    The arrest came after Surat Thani Immigration was notified from concerned citizens that an Italian man was selling cocaine to tourists at bars and nightclubs on the Samui Island. Surat Thani Immigration then conducted a sting operation in which they agreed to buy 25 grams of cocaine from Mr. Mattio for 2,500 baht per gram, costing in total 62,500 baht.


    The two sides agreed to meet at a bar near the Lamai Beach to conduct the transaction. Mr. Mattio met with the undercover officer in the back of the bar but Mr. Mattio tried to escape on a motorbike when he realized that his customer was actually law enforcement. However, Mr. Mattio was blocked from escaping by other police and Immigration officials and arrested nearby. Seized from him were 31 grams of cocaine.


    By Goongnang Suksawat


    Full story: THE PHUKET EXPRESS 2024-06-20


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    19 June 19 2024
  • French Tourist Injured at Koh Samui's Na Muang Waterfall


    Picture courtesy: The Phuket Express


    A French tourist has suffered a serious knee injury after slipping at Na Muang Waterfall 2 in Koh Samui, Thailand. The incident was reported to Koh Samui District Administrative Officials, prompting immediate deployment of tourist police, rescue teams, and local authorities.


    The victim was part of a group of four friends hiking in the popular scenic area. While navigating the slippery, rocky terrain near the waterfall, the tourist lost her footing and fell, severely injuring her knee. Unable to walk, her friends quickly sought assistance from locals who then alerted emergency services.


    Rescue teams arrived swiftly, bringing along essential equipment for a safe extraction. They administered first aid on the spot before carefully moving the injured tourist using a folding stretcher. Despite the challenging conditions of the rugged area, the team efficiently transported her to safety.



    Na Muang Waterfall 2, renowned for its picturesque beauty, has unfortunately seen its share of accidents, often attributed to its treacherous and uneven paths. The latest incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of caution while hiking in such environments.


    Local authorities have reiterated warnings for tourists to remain vigilant and adhere to safety guidelines when exploring natural attractions. They stress the necessity of proper footwear and keeping to marked trails to prevent similar mishaps.


    The injured tourist is currently receiving medical care, and while the severity of her condition remains unconfirmed, authorities are keeping close tabs on her situation. Her friends noted the swift and professional response of the rescue teams, expressing gratitude for the timely assistance rendered.


    This incident underscores the need for heightened awareness and preparedness when visiting natural sites, ensuring enjoyable and safe experiences for all.



    -- 2024-05-20


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    19 May 19 2024
  • Koh Samui’s tourism renaissance: An island reawakens


    Koh Samui, Thailand’s renowned resort island, is experiencing a remarkable revival in tourism. The island has witnessed a 69% year-on-year increase in visitor numbers during the first four months of 2024, driven by an influx of domestic tourists, the opening of new international markets, and improved air connectivity.


    In 2023, Samui hosted 3,541,821 visitors, a balanced mix of domestic and international travellers. This is a notable shift from the pre-COVID era, which saw a higher number of overseas tourists. The island’s accessibility—via planes, ferries, and automobiles—played a significant role, as many visitors arrived by ferry from the mainland.


    The surge in domestic tourism has been crucial for the island’s recovery. The C9 Hotelworks Samui Hotel & Tourism Market Review documents that the number of registered hotel guests exceeded 2019 levels by 1.5 times. While airport arrivals reached 94% of pre-pandemic levels with 1,208,364 passengers, ferry arrivals made up the difference.




    International tourism dynamics have also evolved. Chinese tourists, once a major market, now account for less than 4% of visitors. This gap has been filled by travellers from Europe, the US, and a resurgent Israeli market, resulting in longer stays on the island.


    Koh Samui’s tourism was historically influenced by its limited access, primarily through Bangkok Airways, which led to higher travel costs. However, this exclusivity attracted affluent tourists, maintaining the island’s status as a premium beach destination.


    Looking forward, Koh Samui’s tourism infrastructure is set to expand. Plans to upgrade Samui International Airport and develop a cruise terminal aim to increase visitor numbers. New flight routes, including those by Scoot Airlines from Singapore, are expected to attract more upscale regional travellers.


    Since 2017, the island’s hotel supply has grown steadily, reaching 630 establishments with 24,107 keys by 2023. Most new properties are boutique-scale, concentrated in the northern region, particularly Bophut. Branded hotels account for 69% of the development pipeline.


    Tourism peaks in Koh Samui during the high season, with visitor numbers 1.5 to 2 times higher than in the low season. International travellers typically visit during winter and summer holidays, while the domestic market peaks in August, with additional rises in February and April for the Lunar New Year and Songkran festivals.


    The Thai government is positioning Samui as a luxury destination, with plans to build a cruise terminal through a public-private partnership. This initiative aims to attract high-end tourists and further differentiate the island from other resort areas in Thailand.


    As 2024 progresses, Koh Samui is set to solidify its reputation as a premier luxury destination. This resurgence signals an exciting new chapter for the island, promising growth and a dynamic future in the global tourism landscape.


    Source: The Thaiger 2024-06-14


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    14 June 14 2024
  • Thai Airport's Resort-Like Features Impress London Couple - video



    A London-based couple were amazed by the remarkable architecture of an airport in Thailand. They shared their experience on TikTok under their shared account, @dcandkd. Their video, posted on March 26th, has garnered a significant number of views, currently standing at 146,900.


    The couple, 32-year-old content creator and songwriter Daniel, along with 27-year-old content creator and dancer Nakita, recorded their time at Koh Samui Airport. This airport, located on Thailand's east coast, absolutely astounded them. After spending two weeks on the island, they were heading to Bangkok and then back to London when they noticed the unique features of the airport.


    Their video showed an unusual airport, filled with green foliage, providing a relaxing environment for passengers on bean bags, sun loungers, and outdoor café tables.


    In the video, Daniel says, "Arriving in Koh Samui, you don't see the airport's beauty in as much detail as when you leave it. After checking in our luggage, we were struck by how stunning it was, with everything being outdoors."


    What left the biggest impression on the couple was the open-air setting and a scenic lake inside the departure area. They had never seen an airport designed like this, resembling a hotel resort.


    Nakita captured more unique features in the video, such as spots with bean bags amidst trees, outdoor café tables, a pathway surrounded by trees, and a quaint lake filled with lily pads. Daniel was visibly impressed.


    He described it as being, "Incredibly beautiful, it's like being in a hotel resort. This is the first time I've seen an airport like this".


    The cleanliness of the airport, the variety of shops, and the calm atmosphere particularly impressed them. They said, "You could unwind there the whole day. The ambiance is so calming that it doesn't feel like you're traveling. You're picked up in a buggy and transported to the plane, which was also spacious and clean."


    Photo courtesy of The Thaiger



    -- 2024-05-31


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    31 May 31 2024
  • Nigerian Arrested for Exploiting 'Influence' for Free Food and Room on Koh Phangan



    A Nigerian man was arrested on Koh Phangan after using his claimed influence to demand free food and accommodation, sparking complaints among the island’s residents. The suspect, 35-year-old Benjamin Chemelia Ene, had overstayed his Thai visa by 276 days.


    The arrest was made by a team led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Vinij Bunchit from the Tourist Police Division 5, along with Koh Phangan Sub-district Chief Naphadol Khaomali. The team acted on multiple complaints from local businesses and residents who reported Ene’s suspicious behaviour and his tendency to claim false influence back in Nigeria.


    Authorities swooped in on Ene after he displayed suspicious behaviour upon sighting a Tourist Police patrol car. Attempting to flee, he darted into a nearby hotel but was swiftly apprehended. He was taken to Koh Phangan Police Station, where he disclosed his overstay and confessed to the fraudulent claims he used to avoid payment for accommodations and food.



    Picture courtesy: Naewna


    Residents of Koh Phangan expressed relief following Ene’s arrest, as his behaviour had caused significant concern in the local community. Many local businesses were wary of his intimidating tactics, particularly his assertions of possessing influential connections in Nigeria to gain free services.


    The incident underscores ongoing concerns about visa overstayers and their impact on tourist destinations in Thailand. Local authorities have stepped up efforts to monitor and manage such occurrences, ensuring both residents' and tourists’ safety and comfort.


    Tourist police say they will continue vigilant monitoring and encourage the public to report any suspicious activities. This strategy is part of broader efforts to maintain the integrity and welcoming atmosphere of popular tourist destinations like Koh Phangan.


    For now, Ene remains in custody and will face legal proceedings both for his visa overstay and the fraudulence used in exploiting locals.


    Picture courtesy: Naewna



    -- 2024-06-01


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    1 June 01 2024
  • British Man Arrested in Thailand for Posing as Tour Guide



    A British man was arrested on Koh Phangan, Thailand, for posing as a tour guide and charging 70,000 Baht per head for tours. This illegal operation was unearthed by local authorities and tourist police following public complaints.


    E (name witheld)., a 25-year-old British national, was apprehended at a hotel in Ban Tai. The arrest, on May 30, 2024, followed an intensive investigation into his activities. E. had been conducting tours without the necessary permits and licences required under Thai law.


    The scheme involved organizing 18-day tours for foreign tourists, covering popular destinations including Bangkok, Khao Sok, Koh Phangan, Phi Phi Islands, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. The cost per participant was £1,499, which converts to about 70,121.91 Baht. The Koh Phangan leg of the tour spanned days 5 to 8, with tourists provided free accommodation during their stay.


    The police discovered that E. had hired two silver vans to transport tourists around the island. Destinations included the Chinracha Boxing Stadium and other popular sites. These unauthorised tours were run by his company, Sterling Ling Travel.




    During interrogation, E. admitted to orchestrating the tours and operating under the radar of legal requirements. Authorities noted that this illegal activity not only evaded local taxes but also potentially jeopardised the safety and satisfaction of the tourists involved.


    The arrest marks a significant step in the crackdown on illegal tour operations in Thailand, highlighting the stringent regulations governing the industry. Ensuring tourist safety and the integrity of the tourism sector remains a top priority for Thai authorities.


    E. was taken to Koh Phangan Police Station for further investigation and will face legal proceedings for his actions. Tourists are advised to verify the authenticity and legal standing of tour operators before partaking in travel packages.


    Picture courtesy: Khaosod




    -- 2024-05-31


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    31 May 31 2024
  • Officials Guarantee Safety on Koh Samui Following Minor Earthquakes



    The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, has reassured residents of Koh Samui that they are safe despite the island experiencing three minor earthquakes recently.


    Responding to public fear and to provide security, Pol Gen Patcharawat directed the Department of Mineral Resources to fix a seismometer on the island. This would help ensure the safety of both residents and tourists. The first earthquake, which had a magnitude of 2.4, hit the island on Thursday, June 30. Two more quakes, measuring magnitudes of 2.4 and 2.2 respectively, occurred on Saturday. These earthquakes originated from the sea near the Bo Phut subdistrict and are thought to be a result of a shifting fault line.


    Both Pichit Sombatmak, the head of the Department of Mineral Resources, and Dr. Virachart Wiwekwin, the head of the active faults unit of the Seismology Division, confirmed the minor nature of these earthquakes. They stated that there was no structural damage or aftershocks caused by these tremors. They also reassured that Koh Samui is a geologically stable area and it's unlikely to face any major seismic activities.


    Officials from the Department of Mineral Resources are scheduled to visit Koh Samui later this week. They will spot potential sites for installing the seismometer. After the initial survey, there will be a series of discussions with relevant parties to finalize the installation plans.


    File photo for reference only



    -- 2024-06-03


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    3 June 03 2024
  • Koh Samui Tourism Struggles Amid Infrastructure Challenges



    Efforts to boost tourism in the southern islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao are underway as the government tackles pressing issues such as water shortages and illegal businesses.


    Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanich recently engaged with entrepreneurs from Surat Thani’s Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan islands to address the province’s pressing tourism challenges.


    Koh Samui district Chief Kampanat Klinsaowakon noted a marked improvement in tourism since late last year, with a significant influx of tourists, particularly those arriving by cruise ship.


    Tourism growth, however, is being stifled by infrastructure problems, including inadequate water supplies, road safety concerns, and traffic congestion due to the increased number of visitors.




    President of the Koh Samui Tourism Association, Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, pointed out that the island’s infrastructure is struggling to keep pace with the rising number of tourists. He highlights how Koh Samui lacks a cruise ship pier despite over 40 cruise ships scheduled to visit this year.


    Small boats are currently employed to transfer passengers ashore, creating inconvenience and delays that impede tourism growth. He further underlines the persistent issues of water shortages and power outages that plague business operators, particularly during peak tourist seasons.


    Koh Pha Ngan faces similar infrastructure woes, with the island also dealing with land ownership disputes and tourist safety concerns, especially during the Full Moon Party events.


    Ratchaporn adds that many business operators in Koh Samui are still grappling with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, advocating for lower interest rates and increased access to credit.


    Additionally, there are calls for the government to intensify efforts against illegal businesses, promote legitimate land ownership, and address nominee investment issues.


    The concerted push to resolve these challenges aims to bolster the tourism sector, ensuring sustainable growth and improved visitor experiences in these popular Thai destinations.


    Picture courtesy: Royal vacation



    -- 2024-05-28


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    28 May 28 2024
  • A minor earthquake occurs in Koh Samui during intense weather advisory warnings



    A minor earthquake with a magnitude of 2.4 hit near Koh Samui in Surat Thani today, May 30, at 8.24am. According to the Earthquake Surveillance Division of the Thailand Meteorological Department, the quake occurred 4 kilometers below the earth's surface and caused noticeable ground shake around the Ang Thong sub-district of Koh Samui area. The quake was triggered by the release of heat energy from beneath the earth's crust.


    Residents in Surat Thani Province reported feeling both their houses and the ground shaking, with some mentioning a loud noise similar to an explosion. Although there were no reports of damage, local people did describe car alarms going off, indicating a significant level of disturbance from the quake.


    In addition to this seismic event, meteorological authorities warned of incoming thunderstorms across Thailand triggered by a southwesterly monsoon covering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Sea sailors in these areas are being advised to be cautious as wave heights could reach 1 to 2 meters. This weather pattern may be influenced by a low-pressure system over northern Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin.


    These combined events of the earthquake and the forecasted adverse weather highlight the need for local residents and visitors in Thailand to stay alert and heed any guidance from the authorities. Despite the challenges, it's a reminder of the region’s vulnerability to both earthquakes and severe weather, and the authorities are actively watching the situation to ensure public safety.


    Photo courtesy of The Thaiger



    -- 2024-05-30


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    30 May 30 2024