A bridge to Thailand's third-largest island?

Bad air in Southeast Asia, Chiang Mai's slow train, 359 unfinished buildings in Sihanoukville, the 4000 Islands new city in Laos, and the Phuket light rail is on again

Greetings from Bangkok. I moved camp from Chiang Mai after being smoked out by the haze. It got so bad last week that the mountain disappeared from view. There was an unseasonal storm that cleared the sky for a few days, but it was getting smoky again by the time I left. I was in a cafe the day before I left, and there was an AQI monitor telling me what I already knew.

Not that it is much better in Vietnam this week. Air quality is a big problem across Southeast Asia.

I’ve been thinking about escaping to a Thai island, which got me thinking about this week’s post about the Koh Chang Bridge. There is a bridge to the largest island (Phuket), and a proposed bridge to the second-largest (Ko Samui). Will there be a bridge to the third-largest (Koh Chang)?

I also wrote about the train to Chiang Mai while waiting for a plane to Bangkok.

Latest posts at Future Southeast Asia

The Koh Chang Bridge is a proposed bridge connecting the island of Koh Chang to the mainland in Trat province, Thailand.

Dispatches from Southeast Asia

The Bangkok-Chiang Mai air route flourishes while there is no plan for the slow Northern Line train.


🇰🇭 Cambodia

I missed this article last week. This article mentions a “light” high-speed rail in Siem Reap province linking to the new airport. Fast light rail? The high-speed phrase is being used for all the rail projects in Cambodia, so it is losing meaning.

The photo in the article shows Hun Sen being presented with a model of a Chinese high-speed train. This toy train be a great sales tactic for railway builders.

“Chanthol, who worked as the Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce and Vice-Chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia from 2013 to 2016, also asked his Thai counterpart to upgrade a railroad width to 1.435 metres to enhance transportation more effectively, which will be easy to be connected and reduce time-consuming in doing trade between the two countries.”

I mentioned Thailand’s mixed-gauge problem in this week’s dispatch article (see above). Now Cambodia is telling Thailand that the metre-gauge railway is a problem.

🇮🇩 Indonesia

"The government is putting on a brave face as its time frame for the establishment of a new capital city, to be called Nusantara, looks increasingly challenged by realities on the ground."

“Construction work to develop infrastructure for holding the F1 Powerboat (F1H2O) World Championship at Lake Toba, North Sumatra Province, is 99.97-percent complete”.

🇱🇦 Laos

• Some new links on the 4000 Islands Sithandone SEZ page.

There is now an official website that shows some more images of this project - 4000islands.la.

Another news article says that Lao Airlines will operate flights from Pakse to China starting in mid-2023. Pakse is the closest airport to the SEZ, but it is 130 km north. There is a plan to build an airport at the SEZ, but until then a 2+ hour bus ride awaits those who are coming to the 4000 Islands.

The article says that “new routes will operate from Pakse to Hong Kong, Haikou, Sanya, Chengdu, and other prominent cities of China starting in mid-2023.”

They are also looking into direct flights from Singapore, Seoul, and Fukuoka.

I have been to Pakse airport on the Vientiane-HCMC flight that stops on the way.

This seems unbelievable, so I will need to do a trip there this year to see what is actually going on.

• Also in Pakse, a man has taken it upon himself to replace a drain cover missing from a busy street.

• This article about Lucky Air resuming direct flights to Laos mentions that the flight from Kunming to Luang Prabang takes 30 minutes. The railway will need to get its immigration procedure sorted out if it wants to be a competitive alternative to flying. As reported in the Feb 1 newsletter, it will take 4 hours to clear immigration between Laos and China.

🇲🇾 Malaysia

🇵🇭 Philippines

“The Philippine National Railways (PNR) will stop its train services for at least five years to speed up construction of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) and save P15 billion from the project.”

🇸🇬 Singapore

🇹🇭 Thailand

“The Mass Rapid Transit Authority is ready to start building the first phase of its planned mass transit system in Phuket to support the island province’s bid for the 2028 Specialised Expo”.

🇻🇳 Vietnam

Join the conversation

or to participate.