Bangkok landmarks like Wat Po are not seeing many tourists

PHOTO: Wat Phra Kaew hasn't seen many tourists. (via Look up Look Down Photograph Unsplash)

The doors are open, flights are landing, international tourists are finally allowed back in the country as of Monday. But popular tourist attractions like Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew are so far not seeing an increase in foreign visitors. The temple complex by the Grand Palace that holds such national treasures as the Reclining Buddha and the Emerald Buddha are mostly seeing domestic tourists since reopening to the public on November 1, the same time as borders reopened.

At the Covid-19 screening checkpoint at the entrance of the complex, staff said just over 1,000 people visited the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the first day they reopened. They estimated about 100 of those were foreigners, with 90% being Thai.

Just outside of Wat Po, in an area usually booming with tourists and tons of vendor stalls to serve them, more than half of the stalls remain closed, with sellers feeling there weren’t enough customers yet to warrant reopening their businesses. A local Pad Thai vendor said that the area was usually packed with Chinese tourists, so it’s unlikely to be nearly as busy as before Covid-19 for a long time to come.

A tuktuk driver expressed support for reopening, saying the jobs that will start to return are better than borders remaining closed indefinitely, but saying he doesn’t expect much growth in tourism businesses for at least another month or two. He said he saw few foreign tourists around Wat Pom, Wat Phra Kaew, and the Grand Palace in the last 2 days, but hopes those numbers grow.


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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.