Whale watching in Antarctica and trekking up Machu Picchu are among
the most popular premium tour packages for Thai outbound travellers
after the Covid pandemic. However, for those seeking a nearby
destination, Vietnam's Bana Hills and Sa Pa offer a refreshing cool
The scorching heat makes it all the more necessary to plan a
vacation, particularly during Songkran, which is usually the peak time
for domestic and outbound travel for many Thais.
A record 11 million Thais travelled abroad in 2019, with 1.3 million
of them heading to Japan, Thais' all-time favourite destination.
Industry experts predict that a similar number could be expected this
While inflation and economic uncertainties may keep some Thais
travelling domestically, industry experts predict that Thai outbound
travel will increase by approximately 60% compared to pre-Covid levels
Longer and more premium trips
Chotechuang Soorangura, associate managing director of N.S. Travel & Tours and vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Association that destinations like India or China, which have only recently reopened visa applications, are still not favoured by Thai travellers.
Traditionally popular destinations such as Hong Kong, Hainan, and
South Korea are still top choices for Thai travellers. However, other
new destinations are slowly gaining popularity among Thais.
"The Ukraine war has discouraged people from travelling to Russia.
However, new destinations such as Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, or Kenya have
become more in demand because people want to see new places, especially
after the Covid pandemic ends," according to Chotechuang Soorangura,
associate managing director of N.S. Travel & Tours and vice
president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.
There is a pent-up demand for travelling abroad among middle-class Thais. They want to spend more on luxurious accommodations and dining options and are willing to travel longer, but less frequently.
Although affluent Thais are travelling less frequently than they did
before the pandemic, said Chotechuang, they now prefer taking longer and
are seeking out more unique destinations.
"There is a pent-up demand for travelling abroad among middle-class
Thais. They want to spend more on luxurious accommodations and dining
options and are willing to travel longer, but less frequently," he said.
This means that unique destinations, such as those in Latin America
or Antarctica, have recently been chosen by his clients at N.S. Travel
& Tours, an established travel agency known colloquially as Noom Sao
Tours for over four decades in the industry.
"It is more challenging to travel to destinations in Latin America
because of the distance, but many have found it to be worthwhile,"
Chotechuang said. "Clients can trek up Machu Picchu in Peru, enjoy Rio
de Janeiro or travel to Argentina for an ocean cruise and whale watching
Regional destinations keep their allure
Vietnam is the most desirable destination for Thais due to its affordability and visa-free requirement, according to a freelance outbound tour agent. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/zephyr_p
However, many Thais are still discouraged from long-haul or
international travel due to increased airfare. Popular destinations such
as Japan's Sapporo are now off-limits for some segments due to
skyrocketing ticket prices.
"Air tickets to Sapporo can cost about the same as tickets to Europe.
However, tour packages to Europe, which cost 70,000 - 80,000 baht
before Covid, have now risen to over 100,000 baht," said Chinnapong
Krittayacharoenpong, a freelance tour agent. "Thais could have travelled
abroad more, but they are discouraged by the high airfares."
On the other hand, Chinnapong notes that more affordable options such as Vietnam are a popular option among his client base.
"Tour packages to Vietnam sell particularly well. Thai passport
holders do not require a visa to visit Vietnam, and it is very
affordable. A five-day trip could cost under 20,000 baht, and the north
of Vietnam, in Sapa or Bana Hills, is cool all year round," he said.
Popular destinations such as Japan are now off-limits for many due to skyrocketing ticket prices. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Narin Sapaisarn
Chinnapong also recommended Taiwan as an affordable and rewarding
destination. "You can spend between 30,000 - 40,000 baht on a package
tour to Taiwan. It is very popular, along with Hong Kong and Hainan.
After three years of border closing, Thais have longed to return to
China for its natural beauty, like Jiuzhaigou," he said.
However, while Thailand has experienced an influx of Russian, Indian,
and Chinese visitors, these countries are less favoured as travel
destinations for Thai travellers, according to Chotechuang.
"Thais have yet to resume travel to destinations such as India or
China, which only recently reopened visa applications," he stated. "In
contrast, inbound flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand are often full."
Due to the recent earthquake in Turkey, Thais have not been able to
travel to the country as they used to. "Since its reopening in 2022,
Turkey has been popular and reasonably priced," noted Chotechuang.
As well, Chotechuang, who is also vice president of the Thai Travel
Agents Association, noted that understaffing remains an issue in the
travel sector as many tour agencies shut down during the Covid pandemic
and remain permanently closed. He added that those who have resumed
operations are doing so with half the staff, which is hindering a full
recovery of the outbound sector.
Before Covid, there were around 14,000 registered travel agencies
with the Department of Tourism, according to Chotechuang. However,
during the pandemic, the number dropped by half.