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Thailand to scrap almost all COVID entry rules from July: Here are our 5 favourite places to visit

People walk on an elevated path called the "Skywalk" at Benjakitti Park in Bangkok, Thailand.
People walk on an elevated path called the "Skywalk" at Benjakitti Park in Bangkok, Thailand.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
By Nichola Daunton

From 1 July, travelling to Thailand is set to get a whole lot easier. 

The country is scrapping almost all of its entry rules including the requirement for foreign visitors to have $10,000 (€9,325) of travel health insurance. 

Thailand has been closely monitoring its COVID-19 situation and frequently updating its travel requirements. The last update in May saw the country get rid of PCR testing for vaccinated travellers. 

Now, with daily cases of the virus dropping to around 2,000, most entry rules and restrictions are being scrapped. 

Visitors will also no longer have to wear a mask in outdoor public places and the opening hours of karaoke venues, pubs and bars are being extended beyond the current rules which require them to close at midnight. 

What are Thailand's new entry rules?

As of 1 July, international visitors to Thailand will only need either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter the country. 

The test will need to be carried out within 72 hours of travel and can be either a PCR or rapid antigen test certified by a healthcare professional. It can either be digital or in physical paper form. 

Airlines are likely to ask you for proof of certification when you check in for your flight. When you arrive in Thailand you could be subject to a random check at both airports and land borders. 

If you don't have the relevant paperwork, you will be required to take a COVID test at the point of entry. 

Previously, vaccinated visitors to the country were required to register for a Thailand Pass. This required a vaccination certificate and proof of a health insurance policy that has coverage of at least $10,000 (€9,325). But this will no longer be required from next month. 

Thailand's full official travel advice can be found here.

Here are some of our favourite spots in Thailand to relax, unwind and explore its rich history if the news of relaxed entry rules has you planning a break. 

Explore Thailand's history in 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 Buddhist statues 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.

Relax on Krabi's beaches

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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 around, 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 the 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.

Scuba dive off 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 snorkelling 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.

Visit the bustling city of Bangkok

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 or taking a walk through the city's newly opened urban oasis, Benjakitti Park. Bursting with trees, ponds and wildlife it has brought a taste of nature to this busy capital city. 

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
People walk on a path running through Benjakitti Park in Bangkok.AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

After you are done there, visit 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 sight 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.

Party on 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.