Thailand says it will reopen to travelers in October — here’s what you need to know
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Several countries, mostly in Europe and the Caribbean, have reopened to fully vaccinated travelers in recent weeks. But much of Asia has remained off-limits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thailand, however, said it’s ready to welcome travelers with open arms by mid-October.
The plan is to reopen the popular Southeast Asia country to fully vaccinated travelers “without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on June 17, according to the Associated Press.
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Chan-ocha said Thailand’s goal was to reopen the country within 120 days.
The measure comes not a minute too soon for local tourism operators. Tourism is one of the nation’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a huge blow to the industry. Chan-ocha also cited economic concerns for reopening the tourism-dependent country.
“I know this decision comes with some risk because, when we open the country, there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions,” the prime minister said on Wednesday, according to the AP.
But, if the country wants to avoid delays in reopening, it’ll need to combat a worrying surge in COVID-19 cases. Thailand has recorded over 200,000 positive cases of the coronavirus and over 1,500 deaths. Over 93,000 of the positive cases were from the past month. Just over 2% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Some areas in Thailand have already begun to reopen to travelers, so if you’re planning to travel to the country this year you may want to start looking into your hotel and flight options.
Where to stay in Thailand
If you have a large points balance, or just earned a big welcome bonus, there are several ways to use your points in Thailand. The country has pretty affordable cash rates for hotels, however, so you may want to save your balance for another destination.
- Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a Luxury Collection Hotel: As a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property, travelers can use a free night certificate or spend 35,000 points per night on standard dates.
- Conrad Bangkok: Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, so rates can vary from 13,000 to 40,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
- Mandarin Oriental Bangkok: Rates start at $589 a night for October dates.
- The Siam: Rooms start at $471 a night for October dates
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui: Cash rates start at $458 per night in October.
- Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai: Cash rates start at $286 a night for October dates.
- Park Hyatt Bangkok: Award nights here cost 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
And, starting July 1, the popular island of Phuket will welcome fully vaccinated international visitors without quarantine. And as an added incentive to attract tourists, the Tourism Council of Thailand is considering a “one night, one dollar” promotion that would offer foreign visitors $1 per night hotel rooms.
How to get to Thailand
If you’re flying from the U.S., you may not find much flight availability but Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have flights.
Emirates recently launched the Emirates Skywards card with Barclays. You can also transfer points from the major transferable points programs (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Miles) to Emirates Skywards at a 1 to 1 ratio. With Marriott Bonvoy, you can transfer points at a 3 to 1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
If you were flying from New York-JFK to Bangkok (BKK) in Emirates business, for instance, a one-way ticket would cost you 131,000 Skywards. Out of Los Angeles (LAX), that price would jump to 145,000 Skywards.
Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of three major U.S. transferrable points programs: Amerian Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou. Transferring miles from these credit cards is the easiest way for American travelers to quickly earn Etihad Guest miles.
Economy flights to Bangkok are also pretty affordable for flights originating from the U.S., with flights starting at just under $700 for October dates.
If you have American AAdvantage miles, the program allows one-way redemptions and you’ll avoid the high fuel surcharges British Airways and Iberia would impose.
As the situation on the ground can always change, it’s best to book your award tickets and hotels now, because you can always cancel later down the road if necessary.
Featured photo by Peerapas Mahamongkolsawas/Getty Images
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