Thailand is visa-free for Indian passport holders till May. The White Lotus crew is there too

“The White Lotus” fans, rise and shine because the third season of the coveted series is currently being filmed in Thailand.

This is probably the most opportune time for Indian tourists to visit the Southeast Asian country because visa is free for Indian citizens. The cherry on the cake is the fact that you might be lucky enough to cross paths with your favourite actors shooting in this picturesque country. Convinced much?

An opportune moment for Indian passport holders

  • To boost tourism and attract more Indian visitors, Thailand, last year, declared a visa-free entry policy for Indian citizens starting from November 10, 2023, to May 10, 2024.
  • Therefore, if you are planning a trip before May this year, you can enjoy a hassle-free entry into the country with a maximum permitted stay of 30 days.
  • This step appears to have worked in favour of the Southeast Asian country as it has witnessed a 321 per cent increase in travel searches year-over-year since the announcement was made.
  • India is a crucial source market for Thailand’s tourism industry; it ranks fourth after Malaysia, China, and Singapore, as of 2023.
  • To top it all, the Thailand government has targeted 3.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2024, aiming for increased tourism receipts from Indian visitors, which totalled 1.62 million last year.

“There has been a notable surge in travel searches for visa-free destinations among Indian travellers, signifying a heightened interest in travel to easy and hassle-free destinations this year. Countries like Iran, Malaysia, Kenya, and Thailand have experienced an 80-100 per cent increase in travel searches since implementing visa-free policies,” Aloke Bajpai group CEO and co-founder, Ixigo told India Today.

A 10-day itinerary

This is what a standard 10-day Thailand itinerary looks like.

Day 1-3: Bangkok

Upon arrival in Bangkok, consider staying at one of the city’s top hotels recommended for Indian tourists, such as the Baiyoke Sky Hotel or Ambassador Hotel Bangkok. These hotels are known for their impeccable service and offer easy access to the city’s major attractions.

Spend your first day exploring the historic sites of Bangkok, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Don’t miss the chance to experience the city’s vibrant street food scene, where you can savour exotic Thai cuisine at an affordable price. Don’t miss the delicious mango sticky rice!

Mango sticky rice is a traditional Southeast Asian. (Photo: Ananya Bhattacharya)

The street food scene in Bangkok is just amazing and you can’t miss it at any cost. (Photo: Ananya Bhattacharya)

On your second day, dive into the shopping paradise that is Bangkok. Visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you can find everything from souvenirs to fashion items at affordable prices. For a unique shopping experience, head to the Pratunam Market, located opposite the Baiyoke Sky Hotel.

The Hangover Suite at Lebua was named after The Hangover movies and was where the cast stayed during filming. If staying is not the purpose, you can dine at any restaurant housed in the building. That will be an experience of a lifetime, won’t it?

The Hangover Suite at Lebua. (Photo: Ananya Bhattacharya)

Once a summer retreat for the Thai royal family, Hua Hin is now one of the country’s most luxurious holiday destinations. Hua Hin is located a few hours southwest from Bangkok on Thailand’s east coast. You can obviously dedicate a day to this beach destination.

Sunset View of Thai Pavilion in Khao Tao Reservoir, Hua Hin. (Photo: Unsplash)

Day 4-6: Phuket

Next, catch a flight to Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and a haven for beach lovers. Stay at one of the popular beaches like Patong, Kata, or Karon, where you can enjoy the sun, sea, and sand to your heart’s content.

Phuket is not just about beaches; it’s also home to the iconic Big Buddha, a must-visit for its breathtaking views and serene atmosphere. Spend an evening strolling along Bangla Road in Patong for a taste of Phuket’s lively nightlife.

Day 7-9: Koh Samui

From Phuket, take a ferry or a short flight to Koh Samui, another gem in Thailand’s crown. This island is famous for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, and dense, mountainous rainforest.

Visit the majestic Big Buddha temple (Wat Phra Yai), relax on Chaweng Beach, and explore the natural beauty of the Na Muang Waterfalls. Koh Samui is also a great place to experience Thai culture and hospitality.

The Big Buddha temple (Wat Phra Yai). (Photo: Unsplash)

Day 10: Return to Bangkok

On your last day, return to Bangkok and, if time permits, indulge in some last-minute shopping or visit any attractions you may have missed earlier in your trip. Or, if you have enough time, you can visit Ayutthaya. It is named after Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram, this could pique a lot of history buffs interest.

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Thailand depends on the specific region you plan to explore, as the country experiences three main seasons: the cool and dry season, the hot season, and the rainy season.

Cool and dry season (November to February): This is generally considered the best time to visit Thailand. The weather is cooler, and there is less rainfall. It’s ideal for exploring cities, cultural sites, and beaches in areas like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

Hot season (March to June): During this period, temperatures can rise significantly, especially in April. This is a good time for beach destinations, and northern regions like Chiang Mai can still be enjoyable. However, be prepared for higher temperatures.

Rainy season (July to October): The rainy season brings higher humidity and frequent rainfall, particularly on the Andaman seaside. While some areas, especially in the north and northeast, may still be suitable for travel, islands on the west coast can experience rough seas and heavy rain.

Flight tips

Travelling from India to Bangkok offers a variety of airline options and the pricing fluctuates between peak and non-peak seasons, ensuring travellers can find flights that suit their preferences and budget. Amongst the airlines available for this route, Thai Airways stands out as the most popular choice. Other airlines such as Thai AirAsia, IndiGo, and Air India also serve this route.

The cost of flying from India to Bangkok varies significantly depending on the time of year. During non-peak seasons, travellers can find the most affordable fares. For instance, the cheapest flight found was priced at Rs 5,686.

For those looking to plan their trip, it’s advisable to book flights at least 2 weeks before departure to secure a below-average price, with some data suggesting that booking 75 days in advance could offer the absolute cheapest rates. Prices during peak season can soar, with the average cost of a ticket reaching up to Rs 27,373.

Flights to Bangkok are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Kochi.

Currency tips for Indian travellers

  • When you touch down in Thailand, consider exchanging some currency right there.
  • Airports, banks, and those little exchange kiosks scattered about can hook you up with Thai Baht, the official currency. Remember, 1 THB equals approximately 2.31 INR.
Airports, banks, and those little exchange kiosks scattered about can hook you up with Thai Baht, the official currency. (Photo: Unsplash)
  • Having a bit of cash comes in handy, especially when you’re hitting up smaller spots and local markets.
  • Mobile payment options like e-wallets are gaining popularity in Thailand. However, they might not be as widely accepted in all areas.
  • Be cautious and check for counterfeit bills, especially in busy markets.
  • Major credit cards like Visa/Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and Citi Bank, are accepted at many hotels, and restaurants.

Upcoming events you can’t miss

If “The White Lotus” cast shooting in the Southeast Asian country is not the deal maker for you, there are numerous upcoming events that might pique your interest.

Thailand hosts several world-class events attracting tourists globally. Don’t miss the S2O Music Festival in April this year, which will be happening from April 13 to 15.

Other upcoming concerts include performances by trance legends Bryan Kearney and John O’Callaghan on early March 1 and 3, respectively.

The White Lotus 3 shooting and tourism boost in Thailand

The production of HBO’s hit series “The White Lotus” has chosen Thailand as its backdrop, with filming taking place in Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui. The series is being shot in luxury resorts, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas.

The filming of “The White Lotus” in Thailand is not just a boon for viewers eager to see their favourite series unfold in new, exotic locales, but also for Thailand’s tourism industry.

The series has previously sparked increased interest in its filming locations, with the first season filmed at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea in Hawaii, causing a 425 per cent year-over-year increase in web traffic for the property, and the second season turbocharging interest in the Sicily property.

This phenomenon, dubbed “The White Lotus effect,” is expected to bring a similar tourism boost in Thailand, as travellers often flock to the locations featured in the series.

In a nutshell

If you’ve been dreaming of a Thai getaway, 2024 is the year to make it happen. With visa requirements relaxed for Indian citizens (at least for the first few months of the year) and the chance to walk in the footsteps of “The White Lotus” cast, Thailand awaits with open arms, promising unforgettable experiences and stories to tell for years to come.

Published By:

Tiasa Bhowal

Published On:

Feb 27, 2024

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