The Land of Smiles is once again beaming: After two years of border closures, lockdowns, and COVID flare-ups, Thailand’s government recently announced that it will finally make visiting (almost) as frictionless as it was before the pandemic: As of May 1, fully vaccinated Americans are no longer required to test nor quarantine upon arrival, and only need an approved Thailand Pass (which requires a COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate and proof of an insurance policy covering at least $10,000) to enter the country.
And luckily, the pandemic hasn’t brought all development to a standstill: From a wellness retreat on an island in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River to grassroots creative hubs that blossomed in the far south, the past two years have seen dozens of exciting new projects pop up all around the country. Below, the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and things to do in Thailand—from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, to beaches in the south—to bookmark for your next visit.
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Don’t make a beeline for the beach after touching down in Bangkok: With tourist droves still a thing of the pre-pandemic past, there has never been a better time to stick around the capital for a few days.
Last years’ buzziest hotel openings were the Capella Bangkok and Four Seasons Bangkok, which share a marble-walled estate along the Chao Phraya River. Capella’s trump card are its riverside villas—the first of their kind in the city—that open to private plunge pools in a lounge-y garden right on the waterside. Next door, the Four Seasons’ seven bars and restaurants are worth hitting up even if you’re not spending the night. Highlights include the real-deal Cantonese dim sum at Yu Ting Yuan, and drinks at Argentina-inspired BKK Social Club that taste as if they’ve come straight out of Buenos Aires.
To shake off those pandemic-induced jitters, RAKxa offers plenty of remedies. At this next-gen wellness retreat on a jungle-clad island just outside Bangkok’s city limits, you can hop between cryotherapy booths, crystal healing sessions, vitamin-packed IV-drips, and traditional Thai therapies (Tok Sen hammer massages, and medicinal herb-burning treatments) performed by a doctor whose ancestors practiced at the court of King Rama II.
This June, the city’s already star-studded hotel lineup will shimmer even brighter with the arrival of The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon, which will turn the top floors of the landmark Mahanakhon tower into a boldly patterned hideaway spearheaded by Spanish artist Jamie Hayon. It comes hot on the heels of the brand’s Thailand debut three hours south, where The Standard, Hua Hin (a Hot List 2022 winner) channels Miami-meets-Hollywood vibes as a sunshine-yellow beachside retreat.
After more space? Splurge on the four-bedroom Siri Sala for full access to a gorgeous riverside villa just a short ferry-hop from the Grand Palace. Other perks include a private chef, a 65-foot saltwater pool, and a guided cruise around the khlongs (canals) of Bangkok Noi.