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Fancy a holiday to Thailand? Here are our 5 favourite places to visit

Thailand
Thailand   -   Copyright  Canva
By Nichola Daunton

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

To celebrate this, 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’s something for everyone.

What are Thailand’s travel restrictions?

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

All travellers will have to present proof of a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, and have a new PCR test on arrival in the country.

In order to allow adequate time for results processing, all tourists must book a one night stay in a SHA+ or AQ hotel - hotels that meet Thailand’s pandemic level health and safety standards - with confirmation of booking shown on arrival.

Visitors will also need proof of vaccination status. Only those who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travelling will be allowed to move around Thailand without going through quarantine first.

Medical insurance is also a must, and you will need to be a resident in your home country for 21 days before travel too.

Thailand's official travel advice is here.

What is Thailand’s ‘sandbox’ scheme?

For fully vaccinated tourists not on Thailand’s safe list, Thailand has created the ‘sandbox’ scheme. Travellers taking part in this scheme do not need to quarantine, but must stay in one hotel in a specific location for the first seven days of their trip.

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

All guests must stay in a SHA+ hotel during their seven-night stay. Tourists who are not fully vaccinated will be required to quarantine for 10 nights in an approved hotel before continuing their travels around Thailand.

Whatever your circumstances, we’ve brought together some of our favourite spots in Thailand to relax, unwind and explore its rich history.

5. Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya's Historical ParkCanva

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, the ancient city of Ayutthaya is around 89 kilometres north of Bangkok. Founded in the 14th century, this historic site was once an important centre 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 crumbling temples. Wat Phra Mahathat is thought to be 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, whose roots have grown and twisted around a stone Buddha head.

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A headless Buddha in AyutthayaCanva

The park is also home to a number of museums which will give you more background on the intricate ruins surrounding you. The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre will help you understand what the city was like in its heyday and help gain insight into the rich cultural history of Thailand as a whole.

4. Krabi

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A white sand beach in KrabiCanva

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 those you find in Krabi. With luminous turquoise waters, bright white sands and rugged green cliffs, these beaches won’t disappoint even the most seasoned traveller.

Surrounded by around 200 little islands and rocky outcrops, Krabi is packed full of beaches and there are more than enough to go round, though you’ll need to hire a boat to get to some of the more remote ones.

The sheer beauty of Krabi makes it popular with tourists during high season and the beach fronts are well developed with shops, bars and restaurants. If you want to escape the crowds though, there are some quieter options available.

Koh Mai Phai, otherwise known as Bamboo Island is a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, making it much less popular with the backpack crowd.

Koh Mai Phai, otherwise known as Bamboo Island is a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, making it much less popular with the backpack crowd. A tiny island - you can walk around it in just 30 minutes - there are no restaurants or bars to be found here, just soft white sand, crystal water and the bamboo trees that give the island its name.

3. The Similan Islands

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The Similan IslandsCanva

Lying 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 previously suffered from overcrowding because of their popularity, so visitor numbers are now capped at 3,325 people per day to limit environmental damage to this precious ecosystem.

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A turtle in the Similan IslandsCanva

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

For dedicated divers, there are live-aboard dive boats available so you can spend a few days in the vicinity. After the diving season, the Similan Islands are closed to tourists to allow local ecosystems to recover.

2. Bangkok

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A floating market in BangkokCanva

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

There are over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand with Bangkok’s Wat Arun - Temple of the Dawn - one of the oldest and most famous.

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

If you’re looking for something slightly off the well beaten tourist trail, then 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 which Bangkok hosted in 2013 and 2016. The festivals brought the world’s best street artists to the city and local and international artists have been building on the collection ever since.

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Street art in BangkokCanva

Much of the city’s best street art can be found close to the river, with Bangrak and Chalerm La Park where the festivals were held, being key sites. There’s artwork to be spotted everywhere though, so keep your eyes peeled whether you’re on the way to a temple or shopping for street food.

1. Koh Phangan

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Koh Phangan in ThailandCanva

Sitting just off of Thailand’s gulf coast, the island of Koh Phangan has become synonymous with partying over the past few years due to the success of its monthly Full Moon Parties - celebrated, you’ve guessed it, during the full moon. Cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, the parties are set to return to Haad Rin beach in 2022.

If partying all night isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other treats in store on Koh Phangan. There’s great diving to be had among the coastal reefs of the island and for those who like to get their nature fix on dry land, the island is full of stunning hiking trails, taking visitors through waterfalls and tropical forests.

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