Thailand has further extended a national ban on smoking in public areas to include pubs, restaurants, discos and market-places, both open-air and air-conditioned.

Previously, the regulations applied only to public buildings and closed air-conditioned areas. The regulations took effect February 11, 2008.

Individual violators can be fined as much as 2,000 baht (US$65). If any public places violate the rules, they will be warned but after May 31, 2008, they will be fined 20,000 baht.

However, smokers are permitted to smoke in designated areas which the affected places will have to set aside.

Numerous public places in Thailand are planning to distribute brochures and post signs in at least five languages such as Thai, English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese to inform tourists of the new regulation.

Thailand is estimated to have over 11 million smokers nationwide and over 40,000 restaurants, pubs, bars and marketplaces.

The initiative comes in the wake of a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on countries to strengthen tobacco control measures as a means of preventing tens of millions of premature deaths by the middle of this century.

The report recommended a package of six policies called MPOWER for countries to implement, such as: monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco.

The MPOWER package is designed to help countries meet their commitments to the widely embraced global tobacco treaty known as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in 2005.

The report contained a very specific warning to the developing world, where 80% of the more than eight million annual tobacco-related deaths projected by 2030 are expected to occur.

The global analysis, compiled by WHO with information provided by 179 Member States, gives governments and other groups a baseline from which to monitor efforts to stop the epidemic in the years ahead.

Thailand a secret no more

It is not called the Caribbean of Asia for nothing. Yet, until recently, Thailand's unparalleled marine playground has been quite difficult to access, enjoyed by but a handful of cruising yachts and an even smaller group of charter holidaymakers. But no more. A surge in the development of marina facilities and in the number of yachts available for charter mean that Thailand is set to burst upon the international scene as the world's newest yachting playground.

Unimaginable coastline, & beaches
Over 1,000 miles of coastline bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, literally thousands of islands, countless beaches with pristine white sand, crystal waters and superb coral reefs, hidden creeks and headlands meeting the sea, mystical sea mountains. All these combine with a tropical climate to create the world's most stunning cruising waters. Welcome to Thailand... The Thailand that independent cruising yachtsmen tell tales about on their travels... The Thailand that many have never left.

Safe tropical climate
Although in the tropics, Thailand has no typhoons. It is not in a hazardous weather zone. Even the seasonal monsoons are gentle. Temperatures range from 25' - 35'C for most of the year, and the sea rarely varies from a balmy 28'C. This means comfortable, exotic cruising all year round.

Stunning culture
Who has not heard of the friendliness of Thailand's people, the magnificent cuisine and the stunning cultureω They are all fact. And all are harnessed to ensure visitors to this magical Kingdom have an unforgettable experience. Whichever part of the kingdom you visit, the experience of Thailand adds a wonderful extra dimension to a boating holiday.

Thailand's weather
Coastal Thailand lies between 5'C and 13'C north of the equator, which places it firmly in the monsoonal weather patterns of the northern hemisphere. This means that the prevailing winds from November to April are northeasterly and from May to October are southwesterly. Typhoons are not a risk in Thai waters and temperatures range from maximum 35'C to minimum 25'C.

The Andaman Sea coast in the West experiences regular, fair to strong, breezes between May and October, when the best sailing is in the sheltered waters of Phang-nga Bay. Rain showers are frequent but not persistent and are interspersed with excellent sunny clear days. During this season, the Gulf experiences the same prevailing winds, but tends to be dryer in the lee of the southern Thai peninsula.

Between November and April, the winds can be quite strong in the early mornings tailing off in the afternoons. Later in the season, the winds become lighter. Thailand is unique as a sailing holiday destination. There is no off-season. Indeed, the May-October 'Green Season' offers near-perfect conditions for keen sailors with reliable winds averaging 12 – but rarely exceeding 25 – knots, bright sunshine interspersed with showers, and generally cooler temperatures.

A regional base
Thailand has deservedly become Asia's premier cruising and boating destination. Residents of South East Asia already take advantage of this magical marine world, as do cruising yachts on their way between the two hemispheres. If you base your own boat in Thailand, you may find you never need finish exploring within the Kingdom's borders, but should you want to look further, there is no better base from which to explore the whole region. And Thailand welcomes you each time you return. Explore the region from Thailand

Thailand's coast borders three other countries – Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia – each with coastal assets of its own. North of the Andaman Sea coast is the border with Myanmar and its magnificent Mergui Archipelago. An unspoiled region with many uninhabited islands, only a few dive and adventure holiday operators have been given access to date, but the region is earmarked for sustainable development. The gateway to this little-explored area is Phuket and Ranong.

Southwards, at the entrance to the Malacca Straits, is the Malaysian west coast with a number of islands offering marina facilities. Phuket and Satun are well placed to provide easy access to these cruising grounds, the last stop in Thai waters being Ko Tarutao. On the Gulf coast of Malaysia, marinas are planned in each major sea port as stepping stones to or from Ko Samui.
Cambodia is the least developed coastline in the region and, along with neighbouring Vietnam, is set to become the next significant area of interest. The Cambodian border is just a few miles from Ko Chang.

To the east of Phuket lie the Andaman Islands, in Indian waters. These sleepy islands, steeped in tradition, are just 350 miles off Thailand's west coast and have only recently begun to welcome visiting yachts. If you are looking for new frontiers, Thailand provides the perfect hub from which to explore the budding cruising grounds of the region.

A thousand places to see
The world-famous ‘Pearl of the Andaman' – Phuket – to the mysterious limestone karsts, mangrove swamps, creeks, islets and perfect beaches of Phang-nga Bay, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta. The almost unknown and unspoiled islands off Thailand's west coast, heading towards the Myanmar border, to the extraordinary Similan Islands northwest of Phuket and south to the Malaysian border. From the favourite holiday islands Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan in the Western Gulf of Thailand across to the mountainous and heavily forested Ko Chang and Kut Archipelagos in the Eastern Gulf.

The sheer number of destinations awaiting you within Thailand's borders is outdone only by the unbelievable variety. From world-class marina to tiny fishing village, from big city Pattaya to deserted beaches and uninhabited islands, this is the marine wonderland of Thailand. This is Asia's boating playground. This is the ‘Caribbean' of the East.

History of SongKarn

Deriving from the Sansakrit language, the word “Songkran“ means to pass or to move into. In this context, the meaning implies to the passing and the moving of the sun, the moon and the other planets into one of the zodiacal orbit. And the Grand Songkran Festival which falls on the Aries indicates the new era of the Thai New Year. Owing to the ancient Indian belief, the Grand Songkran Festival is most appropriate to be the Thai New Year due to the timing of the best season which is known as the spring of India which comes right after the cold season of winter. Also, there are other aspects supporting this belief such as the blooming flowers, the fresh atmosphere of the nature and the livelihood of all the living creatures.

With the great influence from the Indians, the Songkran Festival portrays the typical ways of life of the Thais which involve the agricultural aspects. Free from their regular routine work, the Thai citizens will find time to perform their annual rites of showing respect to their ancestors. The highlight of the festival will include the younger Thais paying respect to their elders by sprinkling their hands with scented water. And in order to welcome the New Year, the celebration will include the delighted colourful local entertainment which, in fact, suitably unite the mutual relationship between members of the family, the society, the nature and surrounding. Therefore, this Songkran Festival has proved to be the most important and grandest festival of the year. Moreover, our neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos have also organised this type of festival.

Since the old days during the Sukhothai period, the Songkran Festival had been practised both in the royal court palace and among the ordinary citizens. However, the size of the celebration had not been as elaborated as of today. Back in those days, civil servants and other government officials would pay homage to the king, and would drink the oath of allegiance to the king or the government, while the king would provide annual salary to all officials. Later on in Ayutthaya period, the festival had been expanded by including the bathing of the Buddha image. Also, the festivities would include the forming of sand pagodas and entertaining celebrations. In the Rattanakosin period, the rituals had been conducted in the similar pattern as those during the Ayutthaya period.

Enchant yourself with the phenomena of non stop merry festivities in Thailand. Thailand is always in circle of festivals and events all year whether it be the traditional Thai festival or the international sports event. Be updated with the fun factors through the exciting travel packages and accommodations at the festival destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin and many more.