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Happy Dogs Koh Chang

If you have ever been to the island before, you’re likely to know of the amazing work Happy Dogs Koh Chang do each and every day. Happy Dogs Koh Chang are a charitable, not for profit organisation that helps and supports the stray and homeless dogs on the island. The charity was founded in 2012 by a German lady, Tina, who has lived in Thailand for over a decade. Here is Tina’s story:

Message from Tina

My name is Tina, I am of German origin and live in Thailand for almost a decade. Ever since I am here, I am caring for those that have no voice and so in 2012 I founded Happy Dogs Koh Chang to reach out to animal lovers worldwide hoping for help and support.

My main goal is to spay and neuter stray dogs and cats to control the population an ethical and humane way. Relying entirely on donations, I need help and support from animal lovers such as yourself.

Still believing in miracles… sometimes wonders are going to happen and maybe one day someone with the same compassion but also a corresponding bank account comes along, willing to pre finance the start up, so that the necessary all can be done to build a legal, charitable not for profit dog rescue with enough money left to build an appropriate, safe shelter and being able to employ a vet and few regular staff, to keep the dogs of Koh Chang alive, safe, happy and healthy and from where finally, the so badly needed mass spay/neuter programs can be organized.

Meanwhile I am still here, doing what I always did, helping and saving dogs in need, where I spot them and as long as I am able to. I am always very happy to see more and more people to join in and giving HDKC a FB like and supporting us with money, donations in kind, food, treatments, fostering, sponsoring, adoptions…the list goes on and on!”

Making Koh Chang a better place for dogs & cats

“Making KC a better place for dogs and cats, relieve the suffering and pain of the animals on the island and to stop the barbaric and common poisoning through sterilization and care, was my main intention to start the project.

As an organization founded purely from heart & compassion for the countless number of suffering strays on the island.

I might have been naive, to highly underestimate the invincibly of most the hurdles, obstacles and stumbling blocks on my way to legalize such mission by becoming a registered by Thai law, charitable organization.

I have just quietly continued what I always did and do ever since I am in Thailand; feeding the starving, give medical help and take the one in need to the vet and pay for it.”

Mission

“First and foremost the mission is to help the dogs and cats that no one cares for. Spay and neuter, feeding, treating, healing..1st. aid for the sick and injured… But on the long run the aim of building and establishing a shelter for the neglected and abandoned and all those who need foster and ideally finding new. caring and forever homes is one of the priorities I have in mind and where I am continuously fighting for..

Keeping the population of stray animals on the island down by means of the realization of humane spaying and neutering programs, was and still is a major priority to start with. Giving vital, life-saving treatments to sick and injured animals, I continuously will do, as far as I can.”

Find out how YOU can help and support Tina on her mission. To donate or become a volunteer visit www.happydogskohchang.com

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Thailand Bucket List

Thailand, with its pristine white beaches, pulsating cities and fascinating culture is a dream for travellers – but where to start? Sometimes the wealth of things to do can be overwhelming, so I’ve put together a Thailand bucket list.

8 must-do experiences to get out the way before you croak!

1. Get wet during Songkran festival

During Thai new year celebrations in April, the whole country descends into three days of water-fight mayhem. The streets (especially around tourist centres like the Khao San Road in Bangkok) fill up with water pistol and bucket toting revelers, as everyone gets thoroughly and happily drenched!

2. Hunt for bargains in Chatuchak market

With almost 10,000 stalls and around 200,000 visitors each DAY, Chatuchak is not for the faint hearted! The atmosphere, however, in the warren-like maze of stalls, is unbeatable – wander through rows of stores selling everything from clothes and textiles to pets and furniture as pop music and chat wafts through the market. Arm yourself with some comfy shoes and a willingness to haggle and you’ll be sure to come away with some great bargains.

3. Chow down on some street food

Head on a journey of discovery through the street food stalls of Bangkok (or any other large Thai city), sampling everything from deep-fried flowers to pad Thai. Street food in Thailand is fresh, cheap and fabulously cooked – lots of vendors specialise in particular dishes, so ask them what they’d recommend and enjoy! Check out this video of some of the best eats in Bangkok.

4. Live a beach life

Thailand wasn’t chosen as the backdrop for Alex Garland’s novel The Beach for nothing: the country boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and the best beach culture to go with them. Head for the all-night raves of Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Parties or just relax and let the world go by on tranquil islands like Koh Tao and Koh Chang.

5. Watch a Muay Thai match

While Muay Thai (Thai boxing) isn’t the most delicate of sports (it’s reputedly the most brutal martial art), watching it is certainly a spectacle. As well as the grit and determination you’ll see during the boxing itself, where fighters are allowed to inflict damage on every part of the body apart from the head, you’ll also get a glimpse into the tradition behind the scrapping, with fighters having to go through a series of rituals before they get stuck in.

thailand bucket list

6. Go diving

The sapphire waters surrounding Thailand’s coast are teeming with all kinds of exotic creatures, including clown fish, leatherback turtles and whale sharks. Head to any of Thailand’s major dive centres, including Koh Tao and Koh Chang, as well as the Similan and Surin Islands. You’ll find all levels of diver catered for – so even if you’ve never even strapped on a snorkel before, you’ll soon be getting up close with Thailand’s underwater inhabitants.

7. Witness Phi Ta Khon

Each June or July, the streets of Dan Sai in Loei Province, fill up with men dressed as ghosts brandishing phalluses dipped in red paint. Yes you did read that correctly. Phi Ta Knon, often dubbed ‘Thai Halloween’, is both an animist fertility rite and a celebration of the penultimate incarnation of Buddha, when he was greeted by ghosts on return to his hometown. It’s also a fascinating spectacle and a damn good party!

8.  Cruise along the Chao Phraya River

Escape the frenetic pace of Bangkok with a leisurely cruise along the city’s main waterway. Hop on and off river taxis as you explore the golden temples nestled on the banks of the river or soak up some luxury on an evening cruise as you float through an illuminated Bangkok during a slap up meal.

For more information and articles about Thailand check out the Thailand group on i-to-i’s travel community Campfire.

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Islands Off the Beaten Path in Thailand

Thailand is one of the greatest vacation spots in the world. There are so many islands off the beaten path to discover. Thailand is cheap, has welcoming people, tasty food, a diverse culture and an amazing variety of sites to visit. You can rest on wide sand beaches, climb tropical mountains, dive fantastic coral reefs, discover ancient historical sites, explore great caves, and hang out in crazy and fast paced cities.

Most travelers come to Thailand for the beaches and, these tropical islands are the best reason to come to Thailand. However, Thailand has hundreds of tropical islands to choose from.  Most tourists stick go to a few popular Thai islands and with good reason. They wouldn’t be popular if they weren’t good.

However, despite Thailand being firmly on the tourist trail, there are still many undiscovered islands in Thailand.   Here are seven tropical Thai islands that are relatively not very touristy:

Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is a tiny island located in the southern Thai province of Satun and is situated in the Andaman Sea. The island is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park. The name “Ko Lipe” means paper island in the local Chao Ley language. Though this destination is slowly becoming more touristy, it is still a relatively quite place for now. There are coral reefs right off the island for diving, white sand beaches, cheap food, and very friendly people. Most places only have electricity until midnight, giving you a place to watch the stars at night. Avoid the holiday season when the crowds peak.

Koh Tarutao National Marine Park

Koh Tarutao National Marine Park is made of 51 islands located in the Andaman Sea. Ko Tarutao is the main island and is where the park headquarters is located. There are no lodges, resorts, restaurants, or bars on the island. There is just the park’s canteen and a small store that is only open until 8pm. Accommodation here is simply cheap bungalows or tents. For those looking for a cheap and secluded island in Thailand, this place is it.

koh chang travel guide

Ko Chang

The island of Koh Chang is a tropical marine national park. Situated in the east near the Cambodian border, it’s Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. Recently, with the surge in development and popularity, Ko Chang is Thailand’s new popular tourist destination. 

With its chain of white sandy coves and beaches, pristine rain forests, abundant wildlife, coral reefs, high mountain peaks, waterfalls, and great nightlife, Ko Chang is one of Thailand’s most sought after holiday destinations. If you stick to the east side of the island, there is very little development and you can still enjoy a holiday away from the crowds.

Surin National Park

Surin National Park is found some 60 km off the west coast of Phang Nga province. The excellent diving, snorkeling, hiking and game fishing are what most visitors come for, and those hoping to find a quiet refuge from the tourist traps will be delighted with the lack of “development.” Surin Nuea is also home to a community of around 150 Moken, or “sea gypsies”, who have settled there on a semi-permanent basis for several decades.  The islands are protected and can only be visited by organized tours, which helps keep the diving good and the crowds thin.

Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are composed of nine granite islands washed by a clear blue tropical ocean and blessed with some of the world’s finest beaches. Despite a rough start, the Similians and all its reefs have recovered from earlier calamities and overuse. Boats entering the Similan Islands have to follow strict rules imposed and controlled by the national park officials, have to use the moorings prepared by the national park and use closed waste water systems to avoid any pollution.

Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It’s popular with a more relaxed crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing.  And even when the island is at its fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax – the beaches are never full.

Koh Mak

Koh Mak is one of Thailand’s best kept treasures. It is an ideal destination for visitors who want a tranquil environment unspoiled by mass tourism. Amongst 10,000 palm trees, there’s a temple, three fishing community villages, rubber plantations, and two uninhabited beaches. Hardly anyone comes here, except couples and divers. Koh Mak is the perfect place to relax, explore, calm your mind and soothe your senses.

Trips to these Thai islands will give you serenity, quiet, empty beaches, clear water, and not a lot of people. Let’s keep this secret between us though so the islands stay that way for as long as possible, otherwise these tropical island treasure will be ruined at a quick pace.

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5 Reasons why you need to try Scuba Diving

Vacations present us with the perfect opportunity to try new things. Whether it’s trying new activities, visiting new places or sampling new foods. One activity I think everyone should try at least once is scuba diving.

Having the opportunity to explore the amazing underwater world which surrounds us should be considered as a huge privilege. Here are 5 reasons why you need to try scuba diving on Koh Chang, at least once in your life time.

1. It’s easier than you think

Taking that first step is much easier than you probably think it is. Even with no previous experience you can try scuba diving. You don’t need to study for days and take exams before you’re allowed to dive. You simply need to sign up for an introductory 1 day course which will teach you the basic about diving, before you try scuba diving in the water for the first time. It’s often referred to as a Discover Scuba Dive (DSD) and is something anyone over 12 years can experience. All dive centres on Koh Chang offer DSD day trips to popular dive sites as well as dives straight off the beach if you prefer. You can even try using the equipment in a swimming pool first.

2. See the real ocean

It’s once been said that we know more about what lies above us than about the ocean bottom. This is one statement that I believe is very true still. To try scuba diving and get the opportunity to witness what lives, breeds and breathes in the waters that surround us is a real privilege. Life forms you could encounter during a dive are unlike any other creatures. Koh Chang has some awesome marine life which you’ll be able to get up close and personal to if you try scuba diving.

3. Photo opportunity

If you love taking photos then you’ll really enjoy taking your camera below the surface. Not only will you be able to film and record your experience of diving and the dive site, but you’ll also be able to capture the local marine life. Some of the things you’ll encounter during a dive you wont want to forget in a hurry, so capturing them on camera is a great way to preserve the memory.

4. Add some excitement to your vacation

We all know that vacations are all about unwinding and relaxing on the beach or by the pool. Forgetting about home and work for a week or two, and soaking up the hot sunshine. However, the great thing about visiting a different country is the opportunity to experience all that that country has to offer, which for Koh Chang includes diving. Add some excitement into your day and get yourself along to your nearest dive centre to sign up for a dive trip! I know you’ll love it!

5. A feeling like no other

Finally, and probably most importantly is what you’ll get to feel when you try scuba diving. It’s a truly amazing feeling being completely weightless, floating around in such a huge space. Unless you’ve travelled into space before, chances are you’ll not have ever experienced anything like this before. There are no words to quite describe it. You have to try it to believe it!