Thailand Weekly Vol. 24

Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭

A few good reads in this week’s edition of Thailand Weekly. Some exciting action taking place along the Andaman Coast, big news in the world of Tourist visas, and signs of promise from Thailand Lovers in China. On a totally separate note, I hope you all got up to some fun stuff this past weekend! I actually spent the past few days hanging out with one of my good university buddies from Toronto. He just landed in Bangkok for the very first time after spending 3-months in Europe and can’t believe how awesome this place is. It’s so cool being able to get out and explore the city with him. Makes me think of when I arrived a year and a half ago and how different things were. No more hotel quarantines, no more 9PM curfews, no more COVID tests. Good riddance to those days!

Marine Department Pursuing Andaman Maritime Hub

The Marine Department of Thailand is moving forward with plans to do a feasibility study on the establishment of a proper maritime hub along the Country’s Andaman Coast. The project would result in the construction of 6 marinas, each with capacity for 30-40 boats across Phuket, Pha Nga, Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Satun.

It’s reported that 4.7 billion baht (USD $133 million) has been requested for the project, 25 million baht (USD $700K) of which would be used to fund the year and a half long feasibility study. The ultimate goal is to boost maritime-oriented tourism, while also attracting more mega-yachts to the region.

Our Take

This seems like an interesting idea. If you’ve been, you’d know that Thailand’s Andaman Coast is epic, and certainly worthy of investment on the infrastructure side of things. It’s also cool that the Marine Department is looking out for some of the less popular, but equally as beautiful provinces of Trang, Ranong, and Satun. There’s so many amazing Islands down there that literally look like those tropical beach screensavers that we’ve all seen. I think that over time, it has a shot at becoming a global marine hub similar to certain parts of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. It’s also a BIG area that we’re talking about. From Ranong in the north to Satun in the south is over 600km of coastline, so I can’t imagine that building 6x new marinas would result in over-tourism where the environment is severely impacted and the marine experience gets worse, but I guess that’s what the year and a half long feasibility study is for.

Officials Consider Extending Tourist Visa To 45-Days

Thailand is considering extending the length of stay for their visa on arrival/visa exemption programs from 30-days to 45-days. As things currently stand, citizens of select countries are automatically granted 30-days in the Kingdom without the need for a visa, while others are granted a visa on arrival. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will officially propose extending the length of stay in both cases on August 19th. If passed, it would be in effect from the date of approval until the end of the year. TAT predicts that this would result in the average person extending their time in Thailand by 5-days, spending anywhere between 4000 and 5000 baht per day, meaning an additional 20,000 baht of tourism-related revenue for each person that enters Thailand through these two extremely common pathways.

Our Take

I’m a big fan of this move. After two-years of minimal travel, I’d imagine that there’s A LOT of people out there looking to take an extended trip to Thailand should their situation allow for it. I’ve had 4x friends from Canada since the start of the year alone that this built-in extension would have been perfect for. Each of them stayed for 5-6 weeks and soaked in a lot of what Thailand has to offer, but had to spend a half-day at the immigration office to get a full 30-day extension even though they only had a week or two left on their trip. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I can guarantee that they, and tens of thousands of others like them would have loved an extra 2-weeks built into their visa-exception or visa on arrival period.

Thailand Travel Tip

The photo that you see above is me and my buddy Khun It sipping a cocktail at a Christmas party in Samui late last year. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but what I do know is that he’s one of my favourite people in the world. Best of the best right there, and on that note, Thais in general are some of the coolest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of hanging with. They’re awesome in every way. Friendly. Relaxed. Creative. If you plan on travelling here, being able to speak a little bit of their language will improve your experience 10X. English isn’t that prominent outside of the main tourist areas, so if you’re looking to do some exploring throughout the Country, it’s worth doing a little bit of prepwork by learning some basic Thai. For the foodies out there, picking up a few key words and phrases will also grant you access to all sorts of Thai recipes you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Ling, the App I used when I first moved here is designed to make it fun. They’ve gamified the whole experience really well and make it a pleasure to go through the modules. This isn’t some sort of a magical app that’ll have you speaking fluently in a matter of weeks, but it will help you learn some of the basics so that you’re able to get out of your comfort zone and show some language love to the people that define this amazing country.

Chinese Rank Thailand Number 4 As Preferred Destination

According to Government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Thailand ranks near the top as a preferred destination for Chinese people eagerly waiting to enjoy international travel for the first time in over two years. The report comes from the Global Times, a paper controlled by the CCP’s flagship news outlet. The Kingdom ranked 4th, just behind South Korea, Japan, and the US. Pre-pandemic, more than 10 million people per year from mainland China travelled to Thailand which made up almost a quarter of all international arrivals annually. The opening of widespread outbound travel from China will be a key moment for Thailand in its post-pandemic recovery.

Our Take

This is great news for anyone that operates in the Thailand tourism sector. I’ve linked a really interesting graph that shows the number of Chinese arrivals into Thailand compared to other countries. Even though there’s been massive percentage increases in the number of arrivals from India over the past 5-years, it’s still fair to say that the number of people flying into Thailand from mainland China almost single-handily determines if TAT hits their tourism-related goals or not. In 2019, Chinese arrivals exceeded the next highest country (excluding Malaysia because many are day-trips for work) by a factor of 5x. Wild. My guess is that Bangkok, and the rest of Thailand as a whole will feel very different once those daily outbound flights from Beijing, Shangai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, etc. open up at scale again. That’ll be the true return of mass-tourism that operators here are waiting for.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

You definitely can’t blame one policeman for lack of effort this past week. An officer in Thailand’s Ratchaburi Province received news from locals that there were drugs being sold near a temple complex in his department’s jurisdiction. He went ahead and shaved his head, borrowed traditional monk robes, and waited as a ‘monk’ until two men pulled up and did the deal. He quickly jumped into action and put both perpetrators into headlocks while waiting for backup to arrive and make formal arrests. There were 34 pills of Ya Ba confiscated, but the officer broke the law in catching the two individuals involved. If you are not ordained as a Buddhist monk in an official ceremony, wearing monk’s robes is illegal.

Press Worthy 🔥