Visiting Thailand

by Linda Ledray

QUESTION: I was just beginning to plan a long-awaited trip to Thailand before the tsunami. I was going to spend a full week in Phuket, as I love to snorkel and relax and read on the beach. I have heard differing opinions about travel to that area now. Do you think it is wise and safe to go so soon? Will I be taking needed supplies away from the locals? I just don’t know if it is the right thing to do now, especially as a solo traveler, or if I should wait another year or so. What do you think? — Ellen B., West Islip, NY

ANSWER: I would not wait. It is my understanding that this is a very good time to visit Thailand.

While the east coast was hit hard, most of the resorts are up on bluffs and sustained very minimal damage; only the low-lying resorts were badly damaged. Nearly 80% of the resorts were fully functional in less than one month. The gulf coast was not damaged at all, and even the popular tourist island of Phuket was not badly damaged and is fully functional once again.

Of course, if you have a specific resort in mind, you will want to check with your travel agent to be sure it is fully functional.

While initially there was an issue with supplies, that is no longer the case.

Your travel to Thailand is much needed for the economy — they badly need tourist dollars. In addition, because so many travelers have decided to stay away, right now there are good discounts for travel that will help offset the usual additional cost of single supplements. You will find discounts throughout the country, even in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and northern areas of Thailand that were untouched by the disaster.

I would say this is a great time to resurrect your travel plans to Thailand. Travel to Thailand will be safe, it will help the local economy, not hurt it, and likely it will be less expensive than it was a year ago.