Post Tsunami and Economic Crisis Recovery
The lingering memories of a devastating tsunami, political unrest and skirmishes at the Cambodian border can understandably keep the wary traveler away from Thailand. When looking beyond the news headlines on the ground in Thailand, the ever friendly, service oriented Thai people are going about their business and welcoming visitors as they always have. Full flights, packed ferries and booked hotels also paint a rosier picture as the country starts to show hopeful signs of recovery from both the tsunami and the economic recession.
Thai Recovery from Tsunami and Economic Crisis
In the 2004 tsunami, the densely populated center isthmus of Phi Phi Island was annihilated and sad stories abound of those who were swept away. Many international volunteers who came to help re-build never left and are still assisting with the re-birth of the island. They are there as well to witness and celebrate the welcome return of the tourists. The Thai Hotels Association reported recently in The Nation, Bangkok’s independent newspaper, that advanced bookings are down this year from the same period last year. However, guest house owners on Phi Phi Island are talking about an earlier season than usual which is obvious as ferries docking at the terminal in Ton Sai Bay spill out hundreds of young, mostly European backpackers – which proprietors say is a relief from the slow business of last year. Things had only just begun to pick up after the tsunami when the global economic crisis hit.
Thailand Deals: Cheap, Yet Comfortable, Accommodation
Thailand has always been known for affordable vacations and there are still deals to be found, especially for the adventure traveler willing to go a little further a field to areas like Phi Phi Island or Ao Nang Beach in the Krabi Region. Or even on Phuket, a little further beyond the more popular Patong Beach is the idyllic Karon Beach. For the real intrepid explorer, Raiwai Beach is even further along, past the cape.
Guide books and tour operators typically highlight higher end hotels and sometimes feature a “budget” hotel section. But, for the real bargain hunters there are guest houses and bungalows not only in these areas but all parts of Thailand for as low as 800 Thai Baht per night (approx. CDN$25). A quick internet search will uncover hundreds of sites making discount offers which are often the best deal, however, many of the most quaint accommodations are pretty rustic and aren’t sophisticated enough to do any online marketing, which is one of the things that makes them appealing. Advanced booking for one or two nights is advisable but then, on arrival scout the area for other options.
Exploring Phi Phi Island
On Phi Phi Island many small lodgings that are tucked away hidden from view can be discovered while exploring the island from end to end and taking a look a little further down that lush jungle path. On Phi Phi Island, the only mode of transportation is on foot as there are no vehicles allowed on the island. So, the copious motor scooters found in most Thai towns and villages are no where to be seen. This was also the case pre-tsunami. The island has always been a simple, laid back haven well removed from the crowded streets of Bangkok. It’s getting busier but it’s easy to move out of the way of the foot traffic…and the people watching is spectacular.
Staying Safe While Traveling
Safety should always be a priority when traveling anywhere in the world. Travelers worried about another tsunami can be assured that Thailand has learned from the experience and has well-marked evacuation routes and early warning systems installed throughout the islands and along the coasts. Natural disasters and potential bursts of violence from civil unrest in foreign countries can happen anytime but are hard to predict. Caution is always recommended and travel advisories should be adhered to. There has been political unrest in Thailand recently, however, the clashes are generally contained and don’t usually involve tourists. A safe and incident-free visit can be ensured by following the advice of the local police and staying clear of areas of conflict should a volatile situation arise.
Thailand Offers Safe and Affordable Activities for all Ages
The Thai government has embraced the nick name “The Land of Smiles” for a reason. Even in times of turmoil, a genuine smile is the Thai way of life. The Thailand experience encompasses warm customer service, miles of white sandy beaches, sumptuous Thai cooking, traditional Thai massage, hiking, diving, kayaking, elephant trekking, rock climbing, sailing…and the list goes on.