Less than two months into 2023 and wanderlust has many travel enthusiasts and digital nomads updating their calendars and travel to-do lists with the destinations they’d like to visit. Whether you’re looking for a place to set up your mobile office for a few weeks or the perfect place to touch down and enjoy some rest and relaxation, Thailand has everything you could ask for in a world-class travel destination.

These are the words of Sadudee Sangnil, director at The Tourism Authority of Thailand London Office, who has kept a close eye on how the latest industry trends are influencing the way South Africans think about travel. As she explains: “post-pandemic, we’re seeing more South Africans beginning to revisit the travel plans that were disrupted by COVID-19. Thailand’s many tourism service providers have met this renewed enthusiasm by preparing for an influx of travellers, particularly during our peak season, which is in full swing.

Travellers will be relieved to know that Thailand has fully reopened its doors to international travellers, with a policy that does not require visitors to show proof of vaccination or comply with any stringent travel restrictions. We’re open for business – and we can’t wait to welcome South Africans to our shores.”

Encouraging South Africans to consider the Land of Smiles as their next getaway go-to, Sangnil shares her top reasons why Thailand should be top of mind:

Visa-free travel

Visa requirements are one of the drawbacks to international travel for many South Africans who would prefer to skip the administrative effort involved. Thankfully, South African travellers don’t need a visa to visit Thailand. Simply pack your bags and go – with no extra hassle.

Indulge your taste for the finer things in life

Challenges related to the status of the rand can waylay plans to ‘live it up’ and ‘live large’ while travelling overseas. Thailand is however, one of the world’s most rand-friendly travel destinations. Top-tier resorts and experiences are well within the reach of South African travellers – from world-renowned massage and beauty offerings to delectable cuisine and pristine natural expanses, Thailand is a haven for affordable luxury.

Rediscover health and happiness at journey’s end

Apart from its reputation as one of the most beautiful places on earth, Thailand has earned global acclaim as the spa capital of Asia. The island abounds with spas, holistic health services, different forms of therapy, and retreat programs aimed at providing an environment for mindfulness, meditation, and self-care. Sangnil recommends RAKxa Wellness in Samut Prakarn for its idyllic wellness offerings and fitness centre.

A shopping Shangri-la

Avid shoppers and bargain hunters will have their fill of fun in Thailand’s many markets brimming with souvenirs and keepsakes, from traditional Thai clothing and handcrafted jewellery to intricate soap carvings and exotic spices. Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok tops the list. Chatuchak Weekend Market is a fascinating place in Bangkok to visit on a Sunday evening. The market boastfully houses more than 8000 shops which host products of all kinds. There are more than 500 food stalls attracting an equal amount of attention from shopaholics and street food lovers.

A world leader in eco-tourism

According to a 2022 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 81% of travellers worldwide believe that sustainable travel is important. The last decade has seen eco-travel transition from being a trend to being a mainstream sub-sector that speaks to the global call for environmental awareness.

In 2022, Thailand announced a ban on single-use plastics within its natural parks. Today, these parks are sanctuaries for a breathtaking array of fauna and flora from Asian elephants and gibbons to oriental tree squirrels and pangolins – an ecotourist’s dream. Garrya Tongsai Bay Samui in Bophut, Koh Samui comes highly recommended.

A gastronomic adventure awaits

Thai cuisine is regarded as being among the finest in the world. Traditional Thai dishes are known for both flavour and fragrance, with some of the most popular tourist picks being green curries, noodle dishes and vegetarian specialties. Thailand is also home to several Michelin-starred restaurants.

The very best of surf and sand

The aspect that most tourists associate with Thailand is its majestic shoreline, which features many beaches and secluded coves. White sand, golden sun and azure sea come together at these tropical playgrounds where travellers can partake in activities such as boat rides, snorkelling, jet skiing and deep-sea diving in beaches like Maya Bay in Kho Phi Phi and Phra Nang Cave Beach in Krabi.

Fascinating cultural heritage

Thailand has a rich and colourful heritage, captured in fascinating narratives about ancient customs and culture. Travellers who are keen to add a learning experience to their itinerary can visit sites like the Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Many of these sites offer tour guide-led experiences that provide tourists with a window into the island’s history and ancient practices.

Experience island life under the stars

The streets of Thailand come alive at night, with many different locations opening their doors to the night-owls and adventure-seekers that visit the island for a taste of all things tropical. Some of these destinations include night markets, beach bars, street parties and dance clubs, each of which cater to a wide selection of musical and entertainment tastes.

Soak up some tropical sun

Although the dry season occurs from November until April, Thailand enjoys a tropical climate for most of the year. Those who have never experienced tropical weather are in for a treat. Expect warm temperatures of around 26 – 30 degrees Celsius with just enough humidity to warrant a dip in the cool ocean and some time spent enjoying the refreshing sea breeze.

Featured image: Yavor Punchev via Unsplash