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5 Countries That Are 'Back to Normal' and What to Experience There

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After three long, interrupted years, it looks like things are finally going back to normal, especially after Singapore announced in late August that masks would no longer be mandatory in most places. 

 

For travellers who would love to relish the same freedom overseas, we’ve selected five countries that have done away with almost all pandemic-related restrictions, allowing visitors to enjoy the same level of ease and spontaneity as they did before the pandemic. Here, luxury tour operator Scott Dunn have curated an exclusive list of experiences that will help you enjoy these destinations, filled with the hustle and bustle of life, to the fullest – and to enjoy them as safely as possible. Read on to discover them all.

 

Immerse yourself in Croatia’s vibrant cafe culture, or hunt for truffles with the locals

Entry restrictions to Croatia have been completely lifted since 1 May 2022, which means that travellers are able to enter the country without needing to present a health certificate – on-arrival tests and masks are also no longer needed. 

What you can look forward to:

  • Dine in bustling rustic taverns known as gostionas, or stop for a drink at a kavana, a local café or a bar where you’ll be able to get a coffee and a pastry, and, later on, a beer, a bottle of wine or a fiery spirit of your choosing.

  • For those looking for an adventure off the beaten track, visit the charming village of Motovun to experience the life of a truffle hunter and learn the art of foraging truffles with the locals in the beautiful forests of Istria. Enjoy your well-earned efforts with a hearty lunch paired with a tasting of local truffle delicacies.

  • History and culture lovers will adore the historic Judita Palace in Split, whose architecture is a fascinating mix of Roman, Gothic and Renaissance influences. Its internal courtyard also overlooks the main city square, making it the perfect base to explore the city.

  • In the beautiful mediaeval town of Rovinj, you’ll find the Monte Mulini nestled amongst the green pine trees, a quiet, intimate property which boasts incredible views of the Adriatic Sea.

 

Bask in the sun in Greece’s idyllic islands, or revel in chic waterfront restaurants

Visitors will be glad to know that as of May 1, Greece has removed any need to show proof of vaccination or recovery to enter the country. Masks are also no longer compulsory in all indoor and outdoor spaces, save for on public transport and within taxis.

What to do:

  • Journey through the ancient capital city of Athens as a private guide brings you on a gourmet tour to the best bakeries, markets, and traditional eateries that locals love.

  • Search for the best beaches island hopping around the idyllic Greek Islands such as Zakynthos, Milos and Naxos your very own private yacht.

  • Unwind in complete isolation on your own private beach at the award-winning Porto Villas & Spa, is an elegant choice for those who wish to explore the beautiful island of Zakynthos at their own pace.

  • For a romantic getaway, opt for The Romanos, a tranquil resort nestled amidst lush olive groves, vineyards and groves that overlook the cerulean Ionian Sea.

 

In Italy, dine in a palace, or take a magical ride on the famed Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

From June 1, Italy lifted all COVID-19-related entry requirements, allowing travellers to visit the country without having to show proof of vaccination, get tested, or show proof of recovery. Like Greece, masks are also no longer compulsory in all indoor and outdoor spaces, but are necessary on public transport and in taxis.

What to do:

  • Indulge in a grand meal on one of the terraces of a stunningly well-preserved palace in Noto while listening to live Baroque music and entertainment.

  • Whisk yourself away on a once-in-a-lifetime experience aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express as you speed towards the enchanting city of Venice. 

  • Soak in the full buzz and glory of Rome at the stately Hotel de Russie, which is situated right between the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish steps. Nearby, you’ll find some of the hottest restaurants in the city set under stunning terraced gardens and intimate courtyards alike.

  • On the Puglian coast of Southern Italy, you’ll find the historic Borgo Egnazia, a sprawling property reminiscent of ancient Rome with some 30 villas, each boasting private, panoramic views of the Adriatic sea. 

 

Immerse yourself in Thailand’s luscious natural landscapes with these unique experiences

Incoming travellers to Thailand will only be required to show proof of a certificate of vaccination – if vaccinated – a negative RT-PCR test, or professionally administered ART result within 72 hours of travel if they are unvaccinated. Since 23 June, Thailand has removed the mask mandate for both locals and visitors in public places.

What to do: 

  • Experience an innovative dining experience in a Tree Pod: Guests will be elevated five metres into the tree canopy for a unique meal with a view. Food is delivered to you by a flying waiter attached to a zip wire who will leave you to enjoy the surroundings. 

  • Relax in style at the Six Senses Yao Noi, a private boutique resort that offers magnificent views of Phang-Nga Bay’s magical limestone formations.

  • For an exciting safari-style adventure, stay amongst Thailand’s exotic bamboo jungles with the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, where one of 15 supremely luxurious tented accommodations – which come with roll-top baths – await you.

Discover the cultural heart of Vietnam, or retreat to spectacular, secluded resorts

Travellers no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination certificate to enter Vietnam. Since 6 September, the country has also relaxed its mask-related rules, allowing travellers to do away with wearing masks in public areas, save for on public transport.

What to do: 

  • Discover the customs and traditions of Vietnam’s Tay ethnic group and soak in the breathtaking views of the famous rice fields and waterfalls of the Red Dzao village in Nam Toong.

  • With more than 250 art galleries to visit, Vietnam’s cultural heart, Hanoi, is a must-visit for art aficionados.

  • Situated on the dramatic coastline of the Nui Chua National Park, which is perched at a height of 1000m above sea level, the tranquil Amanoi clifftop resort makes for the ultimate relaxation retreat, especially for those looking to reconnect with nature.

  • Experience barefoot luxury at its finest at the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Situated in the secluded Ninh Van Bay and at the end of a jungle-clad peninsula, the scenic property is only accessible by a resort speedboat, ensuring the utmost exclusivity and privacy. 

 


Written by
Poppy covers a wide range of topics at Billionaire, having spent the past 13 years at companies including Singapore Tatler, Her World Plus and Harpers Bazaar UK. She has a passion for fashion, jewellery and travel as well as an avaricious fascination with crime novels. Follow her at poppypskinner on Instagram. 

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