It is now easier to plan for a Thailand holiday, and satisfy cravings for affordable Thai food, endless shopping pursuits, adventure activities and three-hour-long spa sessions. Here are six destinations for around the Kingdom that you can consider.
For history buffs: Kanchanaburi
Three hours by train west of Bangkok is Kanchanaburi, a town made famous due to the Death Railway Bridge, a bridge that was erected by WWII prisoners of war. While it is possible to book a full-day tour from the capital city, visitors who wish to dig deeper into Thailand’s war chronicles should stay a few days, and take a trip back in time through the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, Thai-Burma Railway Centre Museum, and Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Stay the night at River Kwai Jungle Rafts, a floating accommodation moored along River Kwai Noi surrounded by lush green mountains. Each eco-friendly room offers an ensuite private bathroom, balcony and a hammock, but note that there’s no electricity here (traditional kerosene lamps are used instead).
For shopping: Bangkok
A perennial favourite, the capital city is usually the first stop for Singaporeans to indulge in reasonably-priced massages, nosh on delicious Thai cuisine, and purchase wholesale-priced clothes. Shopping meccas like Platinum Fashion Mall and Terminal 21, weekend market Chatuchak, and night market Jodd Fairs are thankfully still around selling everything from clothes to homeware, even if they are a shadow of their former bustling and crowded selves.
After a day on your feet, treat yourself to a Royal Princess Dinner Cruise and admire Bangkok’s glittering skyline from the Chao Phraya River, or unwind with a two-hour Aromatherapy Body Massage at Divana Scentuara Spa.
For foodies: Chiang Mai
What’s better than eating Thai food? Being able to cook these dishes in your kitchen too! The sprawling northern Thai city is known for its reputable cooking schools, all of which will impart travellers with the necessary skills to whip up Thai cuisine at home.
A full-day cooking session with Grandma’s Home Cooking School includes a visit to an organic farm and market, and the chance to rustle up dishes such as mango sticky rice, stir-fried pork with basil, and fried spring rolls.
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is also a must-visit in Chiang Mai, and travellers will be able to find rows upon rows of stalls selling locally-made handicrafts and carved elephants, to souvenirs and mouth-watering northern delicacies.
And if you can’t travel to Thailand yet, you can always pop by SAFRA Toa Payoh to get your Thai food fix at Siam Kitchen or Suki Suki Thai Hot Pot.
SAFRA members enjoy 15% off at Siam Kitchen and Suki Suki Thai Hot Pot; more info at www.safra.sg/amenities-offerings/siam-kitchen and www.safra.sg/amenities-offerings/suki-suki-thai-hot-pot
For nature lovers: Khao Yai
Escape the city into Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s first national park that was established in 1962. It is the third largest national park in the country, and within it are more than 50km of trails that take hikers through the dense jungle and grasslands, and up Khao Laem or Khao Khiau – two of the area’s highest mountains; some trails require the hiring of a park ranger guide.
The wildlife here is the main attraction, where over 70 mammal species such as sun bears, pig-tailed macaques and Asian black bears call the park home. Visitors, however, are most likely to spot birds such as kingfishers and hornbills, as well as the park’s resident 300 wild elephants. Be sure to include a visit to the park’s waterfalls – Haew Narok, Nam Tok Sarika, and Haew Suwat. The vistas are worth the trek.
It is possible to arrange for an all-inclusive private tour from Bangkok, which can span one, two or three days.
For sun worshippers: Phuket
To soak up some much-needed Vitamin D, travellers will not go wrong with any of Phuket’s beaches. Regardless whether it’s Kata Beach, Patong Beach, or Bang Tao Beach, soft sand, gently-lapping waves, and nodding palm trees are to be expected.
Inject some adrenaline fun by booking an ATV Adventure and zoom over jungle trails and past rubber plantations. The tour ends with a visit to the famed Big Buddha statue, from where guests can enjoy panoramic island views.
Meanwhile, divers should make it a point to book liveaboards to Similan Islands, an area 100km north-west of Phuket that is only open from October to May. Experience the magic unfolding below the surface, and spot all sorts of corals and underwater creatures such as manta rays, hawksbill sea turtles, and barracudas. Day tours for snorkelling and exploring white sandy beaches are also available for non-divers.
For motorheads: Pai
One of the best ways to get to Pai in northern Thailand is by renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai, and pootling up into the picturesque mountains. Though paved, the road can be daunting for inexperienced riders, as the stretch between Chiang Mai and Pai alone features 762 curves, but it will be an unforgettable experience.
Pai itself has dozen of fun activities – from lazy tubing down the river and exploring Tham Lod Caves on a bamboo raft, to trekking Pai Canyon for the sunset and swimming at Mo Paeng Falls.
For those with more time, Pai is part of the 600km-long Mae Hong Son Loop which will take adventurous motorbikers through other tranquil towns of Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son.
Thailand is planning to treat Covid-19 as endemic by July, which means border controls will be further eased.
At press time, travellers are required to apply for a Thailand Pass to enter the country. It is advisable to apply for this at least a week before travel. This, along with other paperwork such as vaccine certificates, will be checked upon arrival. No pre-departure test is required, but medical insurance with a minimum coverage of US$10,000 is compulsory.
For the most updated rules, please see www.tatnews.org
SAFRA Members receive 10% off first-time bookings on the KKday app; more info at www.safra.sg/promotions/kkday
Don’t forget to lock in your travel insurance as well. With AIG Travel Guard, SAFRA members enjoy 20% off ALL Single Trip Plans that include 24/7 in-house Global Assistance. For more info, go to www.safra.sg/travelinsurance.
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