Smiling Albino

The Early Arrival Privilege: Visit Thailand before the world returns.

25 october 2021

Traveling to Thailand in 2021 and early 2022 is a once-in-fifty year experience. It is the tourism crowds of the 1960’s, with the prices of the 1990’s, and the modern luxuries of 2021. Like a sneak preview of pre-tourism Thailand, come now, before the world returns.

Thailand is reopening to citizens of 46 countries on 1 November 2021 and guests who arrive early will be rewarded.

Our advice? We say it’s time for you to getaway.

Not away like a weekend stay at the Fairmont near the airport or sneaking a mid-week stay in your neighbour’s cottage, but an actual getaway. Away enough that you’re separated. Away enough that creates a deep change-is-as-good-as-a-rest situation. Away enough that you won’t begin to miss that slew of new hipster Peruvian-Korean restaurants (take-out of course) that popped up in the past 6 months.

We know what you’re doing right now. You should be working, but instead, you’re reading this. Reading and thinking that you need a vacation, but this work-from-home clusterjumble makes it too hard to actually get away. How about the kind of vacation that can ween you off work, let you relax on the beach and eat some of the best food in the world? The sandboxes in Thailand are the perfect fit…

Seriously, if one of the world’s most famous countries safely opened its doors for you to explore with 2% of its regular visitors, what would you say? Well, Thailand is doing just that.

 

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Visiting Thailand now means experiencing them with the crowds of the 1960s but with the modern conveniences of 2021, and prices somewhere in the ‘90’s. Come now before the world returns next year.

Why Thailand now?

You know that excuse you’ve been looking for to get away? That opportunity just came knocking in the form of a concierge wearing flip-flops and drinking out of a coconut. 

You’re still reading this, right? I know, there you are, working through the paperwork on the Johnson account for the third time this week, wondering why you bother putting pants on at all anymore, and this well-crafted note comes in suggesting you should work from the beach, where pants are actually optional. You could get away to Thailand. Then slow down, ween yourself off work, finish that book on the beach, learn a few local bartender’s names, and do all the things you skipped in pre-Covid high-speed holidaying.

Excited? Let’s set up a Zoom call (also pants optional), and discuss in real terms what your Thailand travel experience could look like.

 

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Imagine Bangkok’s narrow alleys and cocktail bars with locals. Imagine iconic landmarks like the Grand Palace with a handful of people, or Chinatown with its smallest crowds in decades, but with the hipster bar scene of today.

What’s in it for the traveler?

Simply put, you’re invited to the sneak preview of one of the world’s great destinations. This is rock star parking at Club Thailand.

Visiting Thailand now means experiencing them with the crowds of the 1960s but with the modern conveniences of 2021, and prices somewhere in the ‘90’s. Come now before the world returns next year.

As outlined in our recent blogs about Phuket, the island is mostly open and business as usual, less some of the grittier entertainment strips.

Imagine beaches with a fraction of the crowds and day trips exploring lost paradise islands before anyone else. How about hip beach clubs requiring no advance booking, night markets with mostly locals, and funky boutiques eager to greet international travellers again.

Or, go to Northern Thailand and experience it like before it was famous. Few people, quiet temples, verdant jungles and stunning national parks. Experience zen in the time and place it was intended.

Imagine Bangkok’s narrow alleys and cocktail bars with locals. Imagine iconic landmarks like the Grand Palace with a handful of people, or Chinatown with its smallest crowds in decades, but with the hipster bar scene of today.

Throughout 2021 we’ve been visiting famous sites in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Phrae, and Nan. These are places that we’d rarely visited the past decade simply to avoid humans. It felt like it must have been half a century ago, just with better bathrooms and Thai iced coffee nearby. No-fuss, no jostling for position to snap a photo. Just you, zen, and history to soak up.

Previously only the ultra-wealthy could see landmarks with few to no guests, or experience rooftop lounges as if visiting after hours. Travelling to Thailand in 2021 and early 2022 means you are this traveller. Suddenly landmarks are cool again, quiet again, yours again. We think there’s something special about this. Come see Thailand in its glory before the world comes back.

What could be better than that?! This: consider that your trip puts people back to work. Thailand has tens of thousands of hibernating guides, drivers, fixers, hosts, chefs, bartenders, bike mechanics, boat drivers, fruit vendors, motorcycle taxis, etc. Your single trip gifts them the dignity of work. That’s powerful. That’s eco-tourism, sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism all wrapped up in a ball of travel goodness.

 

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And when the world does return and the floodgates are open, that’s when Smiling Albino shines. We take people off that grid, into the quiet nooks and secret corners, we opt for hidden gems and fewer landmarks.

Is there a catch?

To be sure, there are steps in getting to Thailand – or anywhere – at the moment. 

For the near-term future, travel is temporarily back to that slower age with visas and vaccinations. We’ve become accustomed to a digital express lifestyle, but we’ll manage.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that these requirements were the norm, and we were required to get several shots and process various documents to travel. Do you remember that?

It was a clear and reasonable choice: no shots and visa. The world we’re (re)entering is not so unfamiliar. Travel processes are going back 30 years for the time being. Bonus: travel is quieter than it was 30 years ago too!

Of course, there are potential downers, like any travel experience, and nothing worth doing in human history has been completely void of risk. There is a small chance you could test positive on arrival and suddenly be escorted to a hotel quarantine instead of your holiday*. So far 99.8% of the 35,000 arrivals have NOT had this occur.

Further, you could get the misfortune of someone on your flight within two rows of you testing positive and be put in a temporary quarantine as you’d be deemed high risk until proven otherwise. Again, so far, of the 35,000 arrivals, this has happened to 0.03% of the people. Our guess is that incoming flights space people out to avoid this and remember these flights are hardly full so spacing out should not be difficult. In short, these risks are largely manageable, and the data shows it is a resoundingly safe experiment for incoming arrivals and for locals.

*By the way, if you did test positive on arrival, you could always choose just to go home rather than spending 14 days in a quarantine hotel room staring at the beach you wish you were dancing on with that guy who was three rows in front of you.

Early in Thailand’s reopening, we had some media guests be among the first arrivals. Here are a couple of articles from their experience: Fodors, Travel + Leisure, InsideHook.

From the traveller’s perspective, the other arguments against coming to Thailand in 2021 and late 2022 actually bolster reasons for coming. One argument is that Thailand is not yet catering to mass tourism. Yay! Areas like Bangkok’s backpacker mecca, Khao San Road, are barely open (as of late October anyway). Amusement parks and nightclubs and the neon-lit entertainment zones are either significantly toned down, or temporarily closed. But for travellers keen on experiencing a deeper Thailand, that matters little. They’re keener on cocktails in old town mixologist’s bars than nightclubs, and would rather explore obscure temples or neighbourhood alleys than amusement parks full of Instagrammers. They’re coming for substance over form, with a backstage pass.

And when the world does return and the floodgates are open, that’s when Smiling Albino shines. We take people off that grid, into the quiet nooks and secret corners, we opt for hidden gems and fewer landmarks.

It is Happy Hour once again in Thailand. Friends, come for the ride before the world comes back!

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