The Land of Smiles reopens: Here are our top 5 places to visit in Thailand

From Monday, November 1, visitors to Thailand from a list of 46 low-risk countries – including much of Europe and the UK – will no longer need to self-quarantine upon arrival. .

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our top five places to visit in the Land of Smiles. Whether you want to sample some street food, stroll through the ruins of an ancient temple, or just relax on a white sand beach, there is something for everyone.

What are the travel rules in Thailand?

Although Thailand is opening up to tourists, there are still a number of travel rules.

All travelers will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours and undergo a new PCR test upon arrival in the country.

In order to allow sufficient time for the results to be processed, all tourists should book an overnight stay at a SHA + or AQ hotel – hotels that meet Thailand’s pandemic-level health and safety standards – with confirmation reservation displayed on arrival.

Visitors will also need proof of their immunization status. Only those who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel will be allowed to travel to Thailand without going through quarantine first.

Medical insurance is also essential, and you will also need to be resident in your home country for 21 days before traveling.

What is Thailand’s “sandbox” system?

For fully vaccinated tourists who are not on Thailand’s Safe People List, Thailand created the “sandbox” system. Travelers participating in this program do not need to self-quarantine, but must stay in a hotel in a specific location for the first seven days of their trip.

As of November 1, these locations include: Phuket, Samai, Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and other key tourist destinations.

All guests must stay at a SHA + hotel during their seven-night stay. Tourists who are not fully vaccinated will need to self-quarantine for 10 nights at an approved hotel before continuing their trip to Thailand.

Whatever your circumstances, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite places in Thailand for you to relax and explore its rich history.

5. Ayutthaya

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, the ancient city of Ayutthaya lies approximately 89 kilometers north of Bangkok. Founded in the 14th century, this historic site was once an important center of power in the region, before being destroyed by the invading Burmese army in 1767.

What remains of the city is now the Ayutthaya national park, a collection of magnificent ruins and ruined temples. Wat Phra Mahathat is considered the oldest temple in the park, dating back to the 14th century and its collection of ancient headless Buddhas is captivating. The temple is also home to a very famous tree, a banyan tree, whose roots grew and wrapped around a stone Buddha head.

The park is also home to a number of museums which will give you more information about the intricate ruins that surround you. Ayutthaya Historical Study Center will help you understand what the city was like in its heyday and help you better understand Thailand’s rich cultural history as a whole.

4. Krabi

If that’s more than enough history for you, then it’s time to relax on the beach. And there are no better beaches in Thailand than the ones you find in Krabi. With bright turquoise waters, crisp white sand, and craggy green cliffs, these beaches won’t disappoint even the most seasoned traveler.

Surrounded by around 200 small islands and rocky outcrops, Krabi has plenty of beaches and there is more than enough to go around, though you’ll need to hire a boat to get to some of the more remote.

The sheer beauty of Krabi makes it popular with tourists during peak season and the waterfronts are well developed with shops, bars and restaurants. If you want to escape the crowds, there are quieter options.

Koh Mai Phai, also known as Bamboo Island, is a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, making it much less popular with backpackers. A small island – you can hike it in just 30 minutes – there are no restaurants or bars here, just soft white sand, crystal clear water and the bamboo trees that give the island its name.

3. The Similan Islands

Located off the coast of Phang Nga Province in the Andaman Sea, this archipelago of 11 islands offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in Thailand. The islands were declared a national park in 1982 and are teeming with natural life. Expect to see lush forests, golden beaches, and coral reefs.

The islands have already suffered from overcrowding due to their popularity, so the number of visitors is now capped at 3,325 people per day to limit environmental damage to this precious ecosystem.

The Similans’ diving season runs from mid-October to mid-May, and tourists can expect to see white tip sharks, spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles and large barracudas. .

For dedicated divers, onboard dive boats are available so you can spend a few days in the surrounding area. After the diving season, the Similan Islands are closed to tourists to allow local ecosystems to recover.

2. Bangkok

No trip to Thailand would be complete with a visit to Bangkok, the country’s glitzy capital. Whether you’re visiting for the neon nightlife or looking to embrace the city’s rich Buddhist history, there’s something for everyone.

Spend the morning browsing the 8,000 stalls of Chatuchak Market, before visiting some of Bangkok’s many ancient temples. There are over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand with Wat Arun in Bangkok – Temple of Dawn – one of the oldest and most famous. The temple is lit up at night so it appears to be gold, making it a wonderful site to view from the Chao Phraya River.

If you’re looking for something a little off the tourist trail, why not explore Bangkok’s eclectic street art collection? Street art can be found all over the city thanks to the Bukruk Urban Arts Festival that Bangkok hosted in 2013 and 2016. The festivals have brought together the world’s best street performers in the city and local and international artists lean on the collection since.

Much of the city’s best street art can be found near the river, with Bangrak and Chalerm La Park where the festivals were held being key venues. There are works of art to be seen everywhere, however, so keep your eyes peeled whether you’re on your way to a temple or shopping on the street.

1. Koh Phangan

Located just off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, the island of Koh Phangan has become synonymous with partying in recent years due to the success of its monthly Full moon parties – celebrated, you guessed it, during the full moon. Canceled due to the COVID pandemic, the parties are expected to return to Haad Rin Beach in 2022.

If partying the night away isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other goodies in store on Koh Phangan. There are great dives to do among the island’s coastal reefs and for those who like to recharge their batteries on dry land, the island is full of great hiking trails, taking visitors through waterfalls and tropical forests.

After a long day of exploring, foodies can indulge themselves at Thong Sala Night Market. The whole world is here to taste, whether you want to try traditional Thai food, seafood or even pizza.

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