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Thailand’s rise in serene tourism amidst overcrowded hotspots

Traffic woes: Phuket (left) on the main thoroughfare through the island and the road between Sichon and Khanom (right)
Traffic woes: Phuket (left) on the main thoroughfare through the island and the road between Sichon and Khanom (right)

Thailand’s tourist influx causes congestion in places like Phuket, while Nakhon Si Thammarat emerges as a serene, sustainable travel alternative with new airport terminal.

SICHON, THAILAND – Thailand was home to three of the world’s most visited tourism destinations in 2023, underlining the country’s position as one of the planet’s most popular places to visit. This influx of tourists however, is having an impact on many of the kingdom’s favourite resort destinations. In Phuket, it has been predicted that “carmageddon” awaits in 2024, as the volume of road traffic exceeds the planned expansion of the island’s transport infrastructure, while the rising trend of tranquil tourism points to a desire for a more peaceful travel experience.

Tourists in hotspots such as Phuket, Pattaya and Hua Hin are facing significant road congestion in 2024, while the buzz of jet skis and banana boats is not conducive to rest and relaxation. It is little wonder that Condé Nast Traveler recently revealed that “silent travel” – including secluded nature resorts, peaceful retreats and walking tours – is expected to be a major global trend this year.

“The high season 2023/2024 is likely to see a traffic gridlock scenario that will have a profound impact on tourists and residents alike. The absolute failure to bring transportation infrastructure projects from paper to reality over the past decade will have long-term repercussions,” stated Bill Barnett, Managing Director of leading tourism and hospitality consultancy, C9 Hotelworks.

One idyllic southern Thai province however, is embarking on a new era of serene and sustainable travel. Nakhon Si Thammarat, the tropical province that blends natural scenery and rich cultural heritage, recently unveiled its new international airport terminal, which will pave the way for direct flights from key cities across Asia. The facility will enable Nakhon Si Thammarat International Airport to handle to four million passengers a year, serving a vast province that covers 9,885 square kilometres. In comparison, Phuket, which has a total area of 547 square kilometres, recently unveiled plans to raise its airport capacity to 18 million passengers per year by 2027.

Beaches: Patong Beach (left) and Sichon Beach, named as one of Thailand’s best by Lonely Planet

Beaches: Patong Beach (left) and Sichon Beach, named as one of Thailand’s best by Lonely Planet

All of which makes Nakhon Si Thammarat a front runner for global explorers seeking an alternative to the congested roads and crowded beaches of other Thai destinations. Upon arrival, guests will not be greeted with traffic jams and long transfer times. Instead, they will enjoy wide, open roads and the opportunity to travel seamlessly to their final destination – including the powder-soft sands and crystal-clear seas of Sichon, on Thailand’s gulf coast.

The roads also offer opportunities for cycling. The “Emerald Route” showcases the spectacular scenery around Khao Luang National Park, which is home to the 1,780-metre Khao Luang Mountain, as well as cultural and historical sites such as Wat Phra Mahathat, the 13th Century Buddhist temple and Khiriwong Village, the eco-tourism community which is famed for producing organic, hand-woven silks. Alternatively, cyclists can end their ride with a refreshing dip in the sea at Sichon, which was recently named as one of Thailand’s 10 best beaches by Lonely Planet.

This sense of freedom is likely to appeal to affluent travellers who are seeking personal wellbeing and a sense of seclusion. According to a recent study, a rising number of high-net-worth individuals (those who make more than 200% the median household income) desire more meaningful travel experiences that cater to their physical, mental and emotional needs.

Sichon as a destination is gathering pace in terms of accommodation and living opportunities. One example is Urasaya Beachfront Residences. Nestled directly on the shore at Sichon Beach, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, Urasaya is a collection of four- and six-bedroom residences, complemented by world-class resort-style facilities such as a clubhouse, restaurant, beachfront bar, infinity pool, fitness centre and spa.

The project recently won two honours at the 18th PropertyGuru Thailand Property Awards.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.