Thailand

Here’s what happened in Thailand in 2021

Thailand reopened to (almost) quarantine-free tourism, the prime minister faced a no-confidence debate, and the cannabis industry boomed. Here’s what happened this year in Thailand…

Thailand reopens to tourists

Here's what happened in Thailand in 2021 | News by Thaiger
Photo (October 2021) via Suvarnabhumi Airport

Thailand started its reopening with the Phuket Sandbox on July 1, which allowed fully vaccinated travellers from overseas to enter the island province without being isolated at a hotel or quarantine facility. Koh Samui launched a similar scheme, as well as other tourist destinations later on in the year.

But Thailand didn’t see a major influx of tourists until the launch of the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme on November 1. Under the scheme, fully vaccinated travellers from approved countries to enter Thailand after passing an RT-PCR test upon arrival. Travellers just needed to isolate at a hotel while the waiting for test results to come back, which could take up to a day.

Registration has since closed for the Test & Go scheme due to the emergence of Omicron, but those who have the Thailand Pass QR code can still enter under the programme. The government will discuss the situation again on January 4.

Bars close, sex workers protest

Here's what happened in Thailand in 2021 | News by Thaiger
Photo via Twitter/@opol999

When Covid-19 infection rates go up, bars and nightlife venues are the first to close. There have been several bar closures throughout the year, the latest order issued in April and is still in place, although some h

Most in the nightlife industry have received cash handouts to compensate for the pandemic’s closures, but sex workers have been left out as prostitution, while it’s widely practiced, is illegal. Sex workers have been putting pressure on the government by sending boxes of high heels in the mail with notes demanding compensation and support.

Prime minister under fire

prayut
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha (2021) | Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was put on the spot this year with some accusing his government of mismanagement during the pandemic. The prime minister was subject to a four-day censure debate where he answered questions about vaccine procurement and disease control measures. Prayut’s government won the votes of confidence after the four-day debate.

Pro-democracy movement continues

Car mob protesters urge coalition parties to defect
The Thaiger

The student-led pro-democracy continued throughout 2021, but calls to abolish the draconian lèse majesté law increased this year after numerous protest leaders were charged under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code which carries an up to 15 year prison sentence for insulting the Royal family.

Protesters have been calling for monarchy and government reform, raising issues and making statements considered taboo in Thai society and some that are said to violate the lèse majesté law.

Cannabis businesses blossom

Here's what happened in Thailand in 2021 | News by Thaiger
Stock photo by crystal weed cannabis on Unsplash

Cannabis cafes and products have blossomed in Thailand after most parts of the cannabis plant – with the exception of the high-inducing buds – were taken off Thailand’s narcotics list. Thailand’s Public Health Minister and leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, Anutin Charnvirakul, has been spearheading the push to make cannabis a cash crop.

Cafes offering cannabis tea have opened up across the country, and other restaurants – even the major chain Pizza Company – now offer dishes with cannabis leaves. But if you’re looking for a high, these drinks and dishes won’t get you stoned as the psychoactive component, THC, is still illegal.

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