David Revisits Thailand 2022 – Completely Reopened – No Mask No Pass.
As of 01 July, Thailand is abolishing the need for the visitor pass, plus masks will no longer be required once in-country.
You will still be required to show proof of double vaccination, and have medical insurance for at least £10K. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date to the UK, and you might need to show you have the finance to complete your proposed stay in Thailand. Not a problem with travellers choosing someone like Chic Locations as all the accommodation has been pre-booked as can be seen with your travel documents.
I last visited Thailand in December so just 6 months ago. At the time travel was limited from province to province, you had to take a test before and on arrival. This time it was much more open. I arrived in Phuket, showed my Thailand pass and vaccination certificates, and collected my case – all within 45 minutes.
My first hotel was Kalima in Phuket. I had seen it before so knew the location. This was my first time experiencing it and I really liked the accommodation, the roof bar and the easy access to Patong.
In the past, I have been one of the critics of Patong. It does have its seedy pole dancing side but it also has lots of restaurants and shops.
Kalima also has a resort in Khao Lak and a combination of the two hotels would be ideal for shopping, nightlife and restaurants in Phuket and then total chill out in Khao Lak. They are only a 70-minute scenic road transfer apart but are different worlds. At Chic, we have a fantastic deal with up to 4 nights free in Phuket – check for details.
Whilst there I also went to revisit Keemala and enjoyed a superb beachfront dinner at Rosewood. Also saw the new Intercontinental at Kamala, rather impressed, and the renovated Outrigger Surin (formerly Manathai).
Then it was up to SAii Laguna for two nights. I really like the Laguna / Bang Tao area – and it was busy. The area has a nice buzz to it, lots of restaurants in the estate area and many more in Boat Avenue. 10 minutes taxi ride. Next to SAii I discovered Pig’s Beach bar (pigs used to walk along the beach way back). Just my scene. Thatched roof, feet in the sand, chilled music and good local food. Amazing sunsets.
Spent a day travelling up to Khao Lak. I just love the place. It’s like Phuket 30 years back – and I am one of the few who can say that with any authority! During my visits around the Laguna area, I noted Dusit opened in 1987 – really, gosh, I came for the official opening party in 1988! How time flies.
Then it was a short move to Angsana Laguna. I last stayed here about 8 years ago when it was a Sheraton. One of my main reasons for visiting Phuket this time was I was invited to attend Thailand Travel Mart (TTM). Three days of meetings, and the first face-to-face show in Thailand since 2019. It was a hard graft, full-on, 40-plus meetings – and a whole lot of fun. I had a room at Angsana which was super convenient and I must say I was impressed. Also full marks to TTM for the excellent organisation.
So Phuket weather: Officially the months of May to October is known as the Green season – most clients think they are going to plant a tree. Or Monsoon season – not really accurate as most days are sunny interspersed with heavy tropical showers. The main disadvantage is the high waves making swimming nigh impossible unless you are a surfer or super confident swimmer. So at Chic, we say red flag season, which most understand.
After the show, it was a 35-minute Bangkok Airways flight across to Samui. What a weather contrast. Bright blue cloudless skies, golden beaches and calm seas. The best time to come here is March to September, so a summer option to the winter appeal of the Phuket region. It was my first time back on the island since 2018. I first came here before they had an airport, so I think 1986. Yes, I am that old. I am a great fan, the island still has a tropical vibe. It has developed, but there are still parts that have barely changed.
In Samui, I stayed at the Absolute Sanctuary health resort. Very different and told in a subtle way I might consider adjusting my lifestyle. It was very good, and the advice came with a smile. Then it was off to see the new Kimpton Kitalay resort. Very Impressed. Then had dinner at the totally enhanced Centara Reserve Hotel in Chaweng. What a pleasing difference.
The next day it was Bangkok Airways again for a 65-minute flight up to Bangkok. Overnight at the Capella, located on the riverside. I had seen it in December, but staying took it to another level. Incredible quality and huge rooms, with equally large patio balconies. After dinner, it was down to Soi Nana in China Town for some cocktails in the really good bars in this area. I stress I am not talking about Nana Plaza, which has a totally different style to it.
I am not really supposed to have favourite cities, but if I were, Bangkok would be right up there. It’s in your face Asia, with contrasts galore, sometimes side by side.
Then flight up to Chiang Mai. 65 minutes on Thai Smile. This is another place I really enjoy. It’s the 2nd largest city in Thailand, but everything is slower-paced, and it was quiet. The city has just reopened to tourism after covid so, in some places, I was the only European. Stayed at Na Nirand – lovely – and then visited our other two featured hotels, Anantara and 137 Pillars House. All three of our hotels in the city have their own personality and amazing history.
Took a boat trip on the Mae Ping River for 2 hours, superb – just me and the boatman.
And then it was time to return to Bangkok and connect with a flight to London.
I saw so much, and it was wonderful to be back. Business to Thailand is improving week on week and the protocol easing will make it even more attractive. The hotel value for money is superb, one of the best.
Unfortunately, the airfares are high and when you factor in the taxes and fuel increases, you are looking at around £1,200 on average. A big jump over 2019. However, when compared to many other places, what you get for your money still makes Thailand one of the best long-distance destinations.
DK Chic Locations – June 2022
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