What it’s really like travelling through Thailand at this time
There appears to be considerable confusion about the possibilities of traveling in Thailand at the current time. I have therefore written details of our experiences during the last two weeks on an itinerary that started in Pattaya and included: Khao Yai, Yasothon, Chum Phai, Uttaradit, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Song Loop, Chiang Mai area(again), Tak and return in November 2021.
We are both double vaccinated, wear masks at all times and aware that we could contract Covid as well as infect others. We have worn masks all the time, avoided crowds and observed social distancing for our own safety and that of others. We have noted that everywhere we went people were masked, unfortunately just a few foreigners wish to ignore this!
Obviously with the lack of any International visitors this article is primarily targeting those of you living in Thailand. It is a wonderful time to travel, there are so many sights to see both historical and natural beauty. The advantage now is that there are virtually no other tourists.
Despite many reports, we have only passed through one control point on the road in 4,000+ kms. This was close to Pai and her Thai ID card sufficed. However, at two National Parks we were asked to show Passports & Vaccination Certificate. At the first we did not even exit the car as it was raining and the second was at the Nam Lod Cave where we were the only visitors!
Our Road Trip journey was with our own car, travelling at our own pace with only a vague itinerary that allowed us to deviate whenever some un-expected view or sight appealed to us. The roads are not busy and it is a pleasure to drive both the long straight roads and the winding mountain vistas. As always in Thailand, expect the un-expected, and always be vigilant. All petrol stations are open and PTT appear to increase their dominance on the market with superb new facilities thoughtout the country.
The majority of hotels are open and there are some amazing prices and opportunities available. I make most of my bookings through www.Booking.com as I find their App convenient and easy to use. Hotels were happy to see us and still only required a copy of the Passport and we were never asked to show our Vaccination certificates.
Chiang Mai was like a deserted ghost town and even many of the wonderful cafés were closed. There was a strict ban on alcohol and the restaurant was not allowed to use the A/C. It was not an inviting atmosphere in general, and we left the next morning. Everywhere else was open! Yasothon, a provincial town was bustling with no signs of closed businesses and it gave a good feeling of ‘normalness’! All other provincial towns were the same and in all we were offered drinks openly.
It appears that we have an inverse situation where it is better to visit the non-tourist towns as they are not only open and lively and operating as nearly normal where as the traditional tourism destinations are shuttered up, deserted and generally un-inviting.
We met few people on our travels and I don’t believe that we even saw a single tourist bus, just the inter-provincial line busses. In some of the locations around Chiang Mai we came across small groups of mostly young Thais travelling by car and vans.
Traffic was tolerable and fortunately in the mountains minimal, though we did pass long delays returning to Bangkok after the weekend. It really is a great time to travel and my advice is to avoid the established tourism centres and explore more of this wonderful country by visiting the less tourist affected areas. Individual articles on our various visits, will be appearing shortly.
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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