Thailand has announced it will end quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from 10 low-risk countries from November 1 – including the UK. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a televised address that visitors will need to “present a [negative] Covid test… and test once again upon arrival”. If both tests are negative, they can then “travel freely like Thais”.
That means the Land of Smiles, as it’s affectionately known, will once again become a viable holiday destination for many, and the country’s tourism industry – which lost an estimated £37bn during 2020 – can start to recover.
Tempted by Thailand? If you’ve already been to Bangkok and popular islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, or you want to avoid the crowds, try these off the beaten track destinations instead…
1. Ko Phayam
A tiny island off the south west coast, Ko Phayam is as one of Thailand’s best kept secrets.
Only a 45-minute speed boat ride from the mainland town of Ranong, the unspoiled isle is home to idyllic beaches and miles of mangroves, perfect for kayaking. While more upscale resorts offer all mod cons, to really switch off from the stresses of modern life, hire a beach bungalow and enjoy a digital detox.
2. Chiang Rai
Often overlooked in favour of sister city Chiang Mai picturesque Chiang Rai is located north and can be reached from Bangkok on a short flight (or an 11-hour bus ride, if you’re on a budget).
For a bit of rural relaxation, take a trek through tranquil paddy fields and bathe in stunning waterfalls, and be sure not to miss the breathtaking Wat Rong Khun, aka the White Temple.
Another gem nestled in the north of Thailand, the laidback riverside town of Pai is a world away from the frenetic pace of life in Bangkok.
Surrounded by misty mountains, it’s a great base from which to begin treks or rafting trips, and while the town has a sleepy reputation, its streets come alive at night as travellers gather at bars and restaurants to sample spicy local cuisine washed down with Singha beer.
History buffs should make a beeline from Kanchanaburi, around a two-hour drive west of Bangkok, home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai and the Allied War Cemetery, where you can discover the tragic history of the Death Railway.
As well as World War Two memorials and museums, the region is known for its outstanding natural beauty, with waterfalls and watersports opportunities found at nearby Erawan National Park.