Back in Thailand – What’s New?

Andrew Leeson


Drinks on the beach
There’s nothing quite like having a drink in 29-degree tropical heat right on the beach.

I’m currently in the first week of a three-week trip to Thailand. Only Thailand on this trip, unfortunately. My last trip to Thailand was this last February and you can really tell the difference.

In February the Thai Pass system was horrendously bureaucratic and time-consuming. Basically, we had to apply for the ‘Thai Pass’, which entailed:

  • Proof of vaccination.
  • Proof of minimum specific Covid insurance.
  • Arrange with an ‘approved’ hotel(s) in Thailand to complete required quarantine arrangements
  • Get tested in Sydney within three days of departure, be negative (of course) and provide certificate for Thai Pass to be successful.
  • On arrival at airport in Thailand show all documentation with the Thai Pass, go through immigration then wait in a designated area for your hotel to pick you up in a ‘secured van’.
  • Get tested on way to hotel then Quarantine in hotel on day 1 until a negative result arrived. Took about 18 hours.
  • Then on day 5 get tested again and quarantine further in an approved hotel until a negative result arrived. This took about 14 hours.
  • If at any time you tested positive you would have had to quarantine for five days.
Thailand Calling
Clean and Tidy – Well mostly.

How has it changed?

It’s back to pre-Covid days.

Just buy your plane ticket, hop on a plane, arrive in Thailand, go through immigration as normal and get on with it:

  • NO proof of vaccination needed
  • NO need to get tested or even quarantine if positive
  • NO Thai Pass, just the usual visa on arrival
  • NO anything outside of the usual pre-Covid drama

Streets are once again busy and full of life

The crowds are back and it’s still the off-season.

No-one hardly wears masks; people are just getting on with life. Back in Feb you felt you had the place to yourself. Tourist numbers were way down and many of the locals had returned to their home villages as there were limited work available in the tourist areas. Now businesses are struggling to find workers, some are closed due solely to the lack of staff available. 

The tourists are back, especially form the Mid-East. Is it holiday season over there? The bars and restaurants are busy, and the sound of live music is everywhere. Normalcy at last!

Life's a beach

After a fun night out, I can enjoy an early morning walk. It’s really quiet and peaceful.

The weed on the street in Thailand

Sooooooo many of these shops. For ‘medicinal’ purposes ‘only’ of course and don’t they look relaxed?

What’s not normal…….or more specifically a ‘new normal’?


On June 09th 2022, the Thai Gov’t legalised marijuana. I didn’t see that coming. Not from Thailand of all countries. Now they did state it was for ‘medicinal and health purposes only (not recreational)’, and smoking in public is strictly forbidden.

I can tell you this is not enforced. EVERYWHERE you go you can smell the distinctive smell and weed. Sitting on my hotel balcony, the guy next door on his balcony (from the mid-east) is puffing away. Go for a walk along the beach at 7am, people sitting on the beach puffing away. Go to see a band, yep……you get the picture.

The Thais are an entrepreneurial people, if they see an opportunity you can bet they will find a way to make money off of it. This is so much evident with the extraordinary rise in weed shops, cafes and carts that have sprung up like mushrooms in a wet forest. For example, a small bar on June 8, became a weed shop on June 9. It seems. 

The New Amsterdam of the east is what Thailand is now being touted as.

Tourism accounts for about 15% of Thai GDP. It’s heavily reliant on this source of income and would have taken an almighty whack throughout Covid, as with other countries. The new ‘Weed Law’ changes are considered a huge step for Thailand to regain very quickly the flow of tourism Baht back into the local economy.

Not everyone is happy about it though. I have spoken to many local Thais that feel that this will bring in the wrong ‘type’ of tourism to Thailand.

In any case, once again, it’s great to see the world coming back to normal and making international travel easy. So come and visit Thailand. And if it’s your thing have a smoke. Enjoy! 

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Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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