The secrets of Thailand revealed: What every traveller should know
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Thailand reopens to fully vaccinated South Africans from November 1, a year and a half after closing borders due to the pandemic. Travellers can visit 17 attractions within the country, dubbed Blue Zone Destinations.
These include Bangkok, Krabi, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Trat, Buri Ram, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phang-Nga, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Ranong, Rayong, Loei, Samut Prakan, Surat Thani, Nong Khai, and Udon Thani.
Chiravadee Khunsub, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand praised Thailand as an “all in one" destination.
“It offers something for everyone. For those seeking a quality holiday, Thailand is that and more,” she said.
What to do
Travellers to the country can enjoy wellness retreats with indulgent spa treatments or tap into their adventurous side with adrenaline-fuelled watersports like snorkelling, scuba diving, and surfing. Khunsub recommends renting a catamaran to spend a day at sea or to go island hopping.
For culture and history buffs, travellers can explore the temples and historical sites or learn the way of life through thought-provoking agri tours. Elephant sanctuaries (not the ones that promote elephant riding) are also popular.
For nature enthusiasts, places like Khao Lak, just under two hours from Phuket, and Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand tick all the right boxes.
For those travelling to Bangkok, take an excursion along the Chao Phraya River.
“The views are incredible. You get to learn so much while there, and it isn’t heavily populated with tourists,” said Khunsub. She said Bangkok was famous for its shopping, The Grand Palace and floating markets.
Where to stay
Thailand offers different star grading accommodations, from B&Bs to luxury hotels.
“Whether you want to be in places where you meet new people or somewhere a little private, you are bound to find accommodation that suits your needs. Try to book properties with the Amazing Thailand Safety & Health Administration (SHA) stamp of approval,” Khunsub said.
Eat your way through Thailand with delicious food offerings like pad thai, Panang curry, fresh seafood and mango sticky rice.
“Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the country’s top culinary hotspots boasting the cream of gourmet Thai restaurants and the best international cuisines. In other parts of Thailand, you can eat well and cheaply, especially the smallest provincial towns that showcase regional specialities.
“In fact, you could eat more than adequately without ever entering a restaurant, as itinerant food vendors hawking hot and cold snacks materialise in even the most remote spots, as well as on trains and buses. Night markets often serve customers from dusk until dawn,” she said.
Satisfy your street food craving at Yaowarat, also known as China Town, in Bangkok. The famed attraction is lined with market stalls, street-side restaurants and gold shops. To fully appreciate the cuisine, take a cooking class or dine with the locals.
Most Thai restaurants, shopping malls and attractions accept cards. However, Khunsub advised that travellers carry cash if they visit markets or street vendors. She said public transport, bike and car rentals were affordable and a perfect way to explore the hidden gems in the country.
“There’s so much to see in Thailand. It offers scenic routes with mountains, jungles and beach backdrops, so plan as many road trips as you want.
“Those who want to explore the off-the-beaten-track should ask the locals for tips and tricks,” she added.