Are you dreading the sudden drop in temperature and the days that get shorter and shorter as we approach a cold and gloomy winter?
Perhaps it's time you start narrowing down your winter getaway options and, dare we say it, to one Southeast Asian country in particular.
Famous for its paradisaical beaches, nightlife districts, vibrant city breaks, and low cost of living, Thailand is slowly but surely becoming one of the most sought-after tourism hotspots worldwide, being expected to have hosted as many as 25 million visitors by year's end.
Here are 4 of the main reasons why the Asian gem is not only a world-class tourist destination but the ultimate winter escape:
The Thai Capital Is The 4th Most Popular City Worldwide
Bangkok has always been a go-to destination for backpackers exploring Southeast Asia due to its lower prices compared to most national capitals, a wide range of attractions, and lively social scene, but now it's been officially named one of the leading tourist destinations worldwide.
According to a survey published by eDreams Odigeo, an important travel company, the Thai capital is the 4th most popular tourist city right now, behind London, Paris, and New York, and the highest-charting Asian hub on the list.
This is further proof Thailand as a whole is surging in popularity with international visitors, as Bangkok is the main entry point into the country, as well as its largest cultural center, home to a plethora of historical temples, ethnic districts, and entertainment zones.
Among Bangkok's most famous landmarks are the Grand Palace, an important symbol of the traditional Kingdom of Thailand, the only one in Southeast Asia not to have been colonized by European powers, the imposing Wat Arun, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Beautiful Off-Path Sites
Thailand's trendiness is not only linked to all-time tourist favorites like Bangkok, overdeveloped Phuket, or the adult entertainment capital that is Pattaya: beyond the most obvious points of interest, there is an entire undiscovered country Westerners are only now getting acquainted with.
Off-path tourism is a leading trend in a post-crisis world, especially now that the tourist hordes are back, yet fortunately for the crowd-wary visitor, Thailand certainly has no shortage of lesser-known gems where they can still escape the madness.
One of them is the mysterious Ko Kut island, which unlike Phuket, has not been essentially dollarized nor overrun by Americans and Europeans.
It remains very much an unspoiled Thai island at heart, with pristine nature reserves, unruffled beaches, and undisturbed fishing villages.
90 miles from Bangkok, Lopburi is yet another coastal town that does not often feature on tourists' wishlists, though it should: it is mentioned by legendary Italian explorer Marco Polo in his Travels book, and it boasts a high concentration of temples and shrines.
Thailand Is Hugely Affordable
We know Americans are heading en masse to Cancun, Punta Cana, and the wider Caribbean this winter, but these are far from being affordable sunny getaways by any standard.
Hotel rates in Cancun can easily go as high as $500 per night during the peak travel season, and across the Caribbean as a whole, the hospitality industry is almost exclusively geared towards big spenders and luxury tourism, making it less attractive to budget-conscious travelers.
Thailand, on the other hand, is a budget traveler's paradise, with lower prices across the board, from accommodation down to transportation to food in local restaurants.
According to BudgetYourTrip, visitors can spend as low as $30 per day during their stay in the country.
A mid-range vacation for two people in Thailand costs on average $1,178, including two or three-star hotel rates, local transportation, and even sightseeing, making it one of the least-expensive tropical destinations globally.
Americans Don't Need Visas To Enter Thailand
Southeast Asia may be an incredibly popular destination among Westerners, but it is by no means the easiest place to go, nor the least bureaucratic.
A majority of countries in the subregion still have pretty strict visa rules, either requiring Americans to obtain a pre-authorized entry permit or even applying for a visa upon arriving – Thailand, on the other hand, allows them to visit hassle-free.
Landing in the kingdom, American passport holders can stay up to 30 days without applying for a visa, or an e-Visa in advance.
This means, as a U.S. citizen, you are free to book the next flight out to Bangkok without hesitation or fear your entry authorization will not arrive in your inbox on time.
Additionally, Thailand is now considering extending visa-free stays to up to 90 days for some nationalities, starting with Europeans.
While this does not yet apply to Americans, we wouldn't be surprised if the United States is soon added to the 3-month visa-waver list.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.