Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April
From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Surat Thani (Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan) have been chosen to pilot the scheme.
Foreign tourists opting for area quarantine will be required to remain in their hotel rooms for the first 3 days of their stay. They will be tested for Covid-19 and, if negative after 3 days, will be allowed to leave their room and roam freely around the resort for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine. At the end of the 14-day period, they will once again be tested for the virus and, if negative, allowed to travel around the quarantine area.
In order to avail of the scheme, tourists will still need to fulfil the other requirements for travel, including obtaining a Certificate of Entry, a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel, and adequate health insurance. Nation Thailand reports that the area quarantine plan will be run by 29 travel agencies, under TAT supervision.
Songkran Festival gets the go-ahead for 2021
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday (Mar 3) signalled further easing of travel restrictions to stimulate the economy, saying the Songkran festival could be celebrated fully, but only if social distancing rules are respected.
He gave an interview at Government House on the government’s relaxation of COVID-19 measures for Songkran.
He said he expected it was likely to travel curbs would be further eased, which could further boost spirits at festival time. “The government is in the process of considering what can be allowed, whether to permit some activities or all of them. But if the virus spreads [because of it], the government might be blamed for it,” Gen Prayut said. “So I call for your understanding. Easing restrictions is not an easy call to make since the government has to take responsibility for the whole country.”
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome said the ministry decided to permit Songkran activities this year but insisted disease prevention measures must be strictly maintained. “Chief among the measures are social distancing and capacity limits,” he said.
Organizers of Songkran celebrations, particularly those at famous venues such as Khao San Road, were allowed to decide for themselves whether to organize any activities this year, he said.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the Songkran festival “has to proceed as usual”. Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Business Association and CEO of Buddy Group, said permission for Khao San Road to host the Songkran festival offers hope to entrepreneurs in the area who have been struggling to shore up their cash flow due to the lack of tourists.
“We know that it won’t help much as there are still no international tourists, but at least it is a good starting point to reignite business activities on Khao San Road,” he said.
Mr Sanga said the economy on Khao San Road has been stagnant since the pandemic hit Thailand last year because 80% of business activities on the famous street rely on foreign tourists.
“At the moment, we can only count on the support of local tourists to survive,” he said.
“For some businesses such as massage shops and souvenir shops, there are no customers at all. “For pubs and bars, there are just a few customers per night. Out of 500 entrepreneurs on the road, only 50 are still operating.”
Phuket, Phang Nga gain new entries in Michelin Guide
The number of Phuket and Phang Nga entries in the famed Michelin Guide has risen to 21.
Salaloy at Rawai Beach is a new entry to the Bib Gourmand section, while Tu Kab Khao on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town has been promoted from the Michelin Plate to Bib Gourmand.
In total, the Bib Gourmand selection features 106 restaurants and street food establishments, with 65 located in Bangkok, 20 in Chiang Mai, 21 in Phuket and Phang Nga (see full list below), noted a release announcing the new edition.
“This year, 17 are joining the list for the first time (nine in Bangkok, three in Chiang Mai, five in Phuket & Phang Nga), while four are promoted from the MICHELIN Plate (one from each provincial territory),” said the announcement.
“The Bib Gourmand distinction, symbolized by the famed ‘Bibendum’ or ‘Michelin Man’ licking his lips, recognizes eateries that offer quality cuisine carefully prepared and reasonably priced with very good value-for-money at a maximum of B1,000 (a three-course meal: starter, main course, and dessert – exclusive of a beverage),” the Michelin announcement explained.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown, we would especially like to boost the morale of restaurant professionals, continue to support the culinary industry, and encourage local foodies to embark on more food ventures – of course, within the parameters of current public health guidelines,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of MICHELIN Guides.
“Providing a combination of quality dishes and affordable prices, the Bib Gourmand establishments serve as the ideal dining solution for budget-savvy foodies, and play a significant part in keeping Thailand’s culinary scene alive during these tough times,” he added.
In the fourth edition of The MICHELIN Guide for Thailand, the 17 new additions to the Bib Gourmand list include:
Bangkok, Burapa, a restaurant with the Orient Express theme that takes diners on a journey east-by-northeast to taste a unique, flavoursome cuisine that joins culinary elements from Isan and the province of Trat; Chang-Wang-Imm, a restaurant in a charming two-story house built in 1957 on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, serving delicious wallet-friendly Thai cuisine that highlights traditional cooking techniques and flavours; and Phed Phed Bistro, a restaurant with the minimalist décor and wire mesh accents, focusing on comfort food made with quality ingredients;
Chiang Mai, Go Neng (Wichayanon), a street food establishment that has been around for more than three decades, specializing in deep-fried dough sticks, Pa Tong Go, that boast puffy perfection and crispy texture, uniquely shaped as crocodiles, dinosaurs, dragons, and elephants;
Phang Nga, Hok Kee Lao, a Thai-Chinese restaurant beloved for decades for its delicious and affordable banquet-style food; and Tokola, a restaurant in lush gardens beside Khuekkhak beach, serving intensely-flavoured traditional and southern Thai dishes using locally sourced ingredients as well as ancient and original cooking methods;
Phuket, Salaloy, a casual Rawai Beach eatery, famous for a good selection of fresh seafood on the menu that is freshly cooked to order.
The four restaurants promoted from the MICHELIN Plate to Bib Gourmand are:
Bangkok, Somtum Khun Kan, a restaurant offering its famous Som Tam, plus a wide variety of authentic Thai and Thai-Isan dishes that are of high quality and great flavour;
Chiang Mai, Charoen Suan Aek, a restaurant well known and loved in the neighbourhood by both locals and visitors for a long time, with its authentic and boldly flavoured northern Thai dishes that rely on indigenous, seasonal ingredients;
Phang Nga, Nai Mueang, an authentic Southern Thai restaurant featuring a charming retro ambience with old tin-mining memorabilia, record players, sewing machines, and other nostalgic bric-a-brac;
Phuket, Tu Kab Khao, an elegant, atmospheric restaurant set in a grand Sino-Portuguese building, serving tasty Southern Thai cuisine with high-quality ingredients.
“By expanding the geographical scope of this year’s selection, MICHELIN Guide inspectors found more eateries worthy of a Bib Gourmand rating. Thus, we would like to encourage local foodies to go on tasting ventures of their own, and discover by themselves – as our inspectors did – that Thailand is a true haven for good value, quality, and reasonably priced dining experience,” concluded Mr Poullennec.
Entries in the Bib Gourmand selection: PHUKET & PHANG NGA
Hok Kee Lao - NEW
Hong Khao Tom Pla
Khanom Chin Pa Son - NEW
Khok Kloi Bami Tom Yam Khai - NEW
Khrua Luang Then
Mor Mu Dong
Nai Mueang - PROMOTED
Roti Taew Nam
Salaloy - NEW
Surf & Turf by Soul Kitchen
Takola - NEW
Tu Kab Khao - PROMOTED