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Tuesday,  June 18, 2024 7:55 PM 

Goway, Tourism Authority of Thailand have all the answers

Goway, Tourism Authority of Thailand have all the answers
From left: Kayla Shubert, representative for Canada, Tourism Authority of Thailand; Diane Molzan, general manager – Asia, Goway; Belinda Combrink, product & marketing manager – Asia, Goway; Anthony Saba, general manager - retail, Goway.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

With Thailand ranking the number one Asian destination for Goway, it’s only natural that a number of questions about the destination arise from prospective visitors.

Those questions were the focus of a Thailand Travel Talk hosted by Goway and the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Toronto last night, presenting the destination to travellers while providing answers to the top 10 inquiries received via social media.

“Thailand is a very hot destination right now,” Diane Molzan, Goway’s general manager for Asia, told PAX. “It’s a great romance destination for honeymoons and milestone anniversaries but also for all travellers in general. The one key thing to know is that if you send clients to Thailand, they’ll come back extremely happy and will likely provide repeat business for you.”

That last point rings especially true in light of Thailand’s latest tourism statistics. According to Kayla Shubert, the Canadian representative for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the destination welcomed 35 million international visitors – including 258,000 Canadians – of which 55 per cent were repeat visitors.

As for what kind of travel experience is most sought after in Thailand, Molzan told PAX that the majority of travellers booking with Goway are seeking a luxurious way to unwind. “As much as people say ‘travellers are into more unique destinations these days,’ I think people still want to be pampered. There comes a time when you want to have that high-end experience and whether that’s a four-star of five-star, most people just want to relax.”

island-1973839_1920.jpgKoh Tapu, known as 'James Bond Island'

Q&A: Thailand travellers’ top 10

Here are the 10 questions presented during the event, along with answers from Goway & Tourism Authority of Thailand:

When is the best time to go?

It depends on which part of the country you travel to; Thailand’s rainy season takes place from April to October on the west coast (where Phuket, Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands are located), with the east coast receiving the most rain from September to December. November to February is generally the country’s cool season, while March to June becomes very hot.

Is it safe?

With the huge number of tourists, Shubert reminded attendees that Thailand continues to invest in safety.

What are the visa requirements?

Travellers spending 30 days or less do not require a visa, Shubert said. For those planning to spend more time in the destination, such as snowbirds, she suggested taking a quick overnight trip into nearby Malaysia, Laos or Cambodia and returning to Thailand. On a similar note, the country has no vaccination requirements but depending on their travel style (such as trekking through the rainforest versus staying in a Bangkok hotel) travellers should consult with their physician or a travel vaccination clinic beforehand.

Is it recommended to bring U.S. dollars?

Not at all. Canadians can exchange their dollars for bhat at any number of locations. Molzan recommends making any currency exchanges in-destination for a better rate, with the best rates available at larger banks in areas such as downtown Bangkok.

What’s the most popular itinerary?

For Goway, it’s the 10-day Classic Thailand, which Molzan said features three nights each in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and either Koh Samui or Phuket. The completely-customizable tour starts at $1,999 for a three-star experience with a four- and five-star option available.

What are the top things to do in Bangkok?

Described by Shubert as “completely overwhelming” for first-time visitors, Bangkok has numerous tourism draws. For the new visitor, a temple visit – such as the Grand Palace or Wat Po and its Reclining Buddha – are a must, along with a visit to the city’s Floating Market and Sampran Riverside, a village known for its cultural displays. Other points of interest include Kanchanburi, famous for the site of the Bridge over the River Kwai and its connection to World War II history; and Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which served as the capital of Siam for more than 400 years. For guests looking to ‘top’ off an evening in style, a dinner at the Banyan Tree Bangkok’s rooftop patio provides guests with a panoramic view of the city’s skyline.

asia-2461446_1920.jpgThe Grand Palace in Bangkok

What are the top draws in Chiang Mai?

Heading to Chiang Mai? Be sure not to miss Doi Suthep, a hilltop temple known for its manicured gardens just an hour from the hectic pace of downtown Bangkok. The city also has its own thriving marketplace, including a night bazaar running every evening, with several hotels located nearby. Chiang Mai is also known for its elephant experiences, where guests can interact with the gentle giants outside of the city.

Which beach is best?

With 3,200 km of coastline, it’s a tough choice. For Shubert, it’s all about the east, with sites such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangnan (known for its ‘full moon parties’) and Koh Tao, or ‘Turtle Island,’ a renowned diving site where sea turtles gather to breed. Alternately, Molzan said that west is best, with the party atmosphere of Phuket and beaches such as Patong, Kata and Karon. The west’s limestone landscape also creates such memorable sites as Koh Tapu or ‘James Bond Island,’ a limestone pillar known for its appearance in The Man With The Golden Gun and the opportunity to kayak through the limestone karsts during low tide. The west also provides a quiet beach escape in Khao Lak, north of Phuket.

What should I pack?

Pack lightly and for the climate, but make sure you include these essentials: going from the heat of the day into air-conditioned buildings or taxis, a sweater or light jacket is recommended for travellers. In addition, anyone making a temple visit is required to cover their shoulders and wear pants instead of shorts, while removing footwear before entering.

How much should I budget?

With the favourable exchange rate, Canadians can count on a three-star package working out to approximately $150 per day, while a five-star package will run $350 per day. Savings can also be had taking advantage of Bangkok’s extensive street food scene, where a great meal – drinks included – can be purchased for roughly $10.