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New Year tourists get thrills from chills

As chilly temperatures linger in the North and Northeast, New Year holidaymakers are visiting high altitude attractions for the chills and views.

Buri Ram's Phanom Rung castle ruins which daily receive 10,000 visitors, expect to bring

in millions of baht income this five-day holiday period, while Chiang Mai's Doi Inthanon National Park - with temperatures of -4 to 4 degrees Celsius - reported daily visitor figures of around 20,000.

Phitsanulok's Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park at 7 degrees, saw 2,000 tourists daily camping amid frost and red-leafed maple trees.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department yesterday reported that a total of 37 provinces (13 in the North, 20 in the Northeast and four in the Central) had declared their 444 districts as cold spell disaster zones from December 2 until the present and there were 21,853,603 people affected. The department has sent 293,415 winter clothing sets to assist the affected persons.

In Phitsanulok, visitors have crowded key tourist attractions including camping on Phu Hin Rong Kla hill to experience minus 10 degree Celsius temperature while seeing frozen dew drops on leaves. An estimated 2,000 visitors entered this national park and are expected to continue visiting throughout the New Year holiday break, which ends tomorrow.

Temple a draw

A large number of visitors also flocked to Wat Phra Sri Maha That to pay respects to the Buddha image Phra Phuttha Chinnaraj, causing traffic congestion at the temple and the entire Muang district where the temple is located.

Around 10,000 Thai and foreign tourists visited three major national parks and several locations in Loei's Chiang Khan district. A 4-km-long row of vehicles queuing up to reach the peak of Phu Rua national park was reported, before forest rangers pleaded with drivers to park their cars at the foot of the hill and take passenger trucks to the summit.

In Surat Thani province in the South, the area tourism office estimated there could be around Bt1 billion spent by Thai and foreign tourists, judging from high room reservations since Christmas and entering the New Year break. The tourists, mostly Russian, European and Chinese among foreigners, are expected to visit three key attractions - Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Ratcha Prapha dam.

Traffic congestion has been reported in Chiang Rai province following the return of tourists and locals from the five-day break starting from last Friday. The inbound Phaholyothin lanes into the province are clogged with public transport vehicles and sedans while traffic in and out of the Mae Fa Luang airport has also been congested.


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