If you are planning to travel to Thailand, here is what you need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand recorded more than 14,000 deaths and more than 1.35 million cases of Covid-19 as of September 14. The country is currently facing its worst wave since the start of the pandemic.
International travelers arriving in Bangkok must self-quarantine for 14 days at an alternative state quarantine facility (ASQ).
However, on July 1, the island of Phuket reopened to foreign visitors vaccinated without a quarantine requirement. On July 15, the country launched a similar program on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, dubbed “Samui Plus”.
What’s on offer
Islands perfect for the image. Golden beaches with swaying palm trees. Ornate temples and lush forests. Thailand has long been the go-to destination for those after a no-frills and eye-catching tropical break.
Who can go
Holders of US, Canadian, UK and Australian passports are among those who are not required to obtain a visa to enter Thailand for tourism purposes and will be allowed to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 45 days each visit. However, they are still required to obtain the entry certificate.
Tourists from countries not on the Visa Waiver List can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV), which allows stays of 90 days and can be renewed twice. You must apply for an STV through the Thai Consulate or Embassy in your own country.
All travelers who have received an entry certificate must download the ThailandPlus app and register. Upon arrival in Thailand, they will be required to show a QR code which will be scanned by Thai authorities.
Thailand has published a step-by-step online guide with detailed information on entry procedures.
What are the restrictions?
All travelers must provide proof of an insurance policy covering treatment of Covid-19 up to $ 100,000 and a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure.
Another PCR test should be performed on arrival, after which all travelers (except fully vaccinated travelers heading to Phuket or Koh Samui) should self-quarantine in government-approved quarantine facilities or in Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facilities. This can include luxury hotels, some of which have developed quarantine packages.
A full list of participating hotels and resorts, along with package prices, can be found here: asq.locanation.com.
As reported, on July 1, Phuket reopened to vaccinated travelers from low and medium risk destinations without quarantine restrictions. However, visitors must stay at an SHA + accredited hotel on the island for 14 days before being allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.
Visitors to Phuket must apply for an entry certificate. They will also have to provide proof of an insurance policy covering the treatment of Covid-19 up to $ 100,000, a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of departure and a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine administered no less than 14 days prior to their travel date.
Currently, all travelers must arrive on direct international flights to Phuket only. Transit through Bangkok is not permitted.
A full list of requirements for Phuket can be found on the Thailand Tourism Authority website and guidelines for the reopening can be found here.
On July 15, the country launched a similar program on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, dubbed “Samui Plus”.
Fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to travel to Koh Samui. They must stay at a licensed hotel on the island and are not allowed to leave the property for the first three days. After seven days, they are allowed to travel between the three islands.
At the end of the 14 days, they will be allowed to travel elsewhere in the country. Learn more about entry requirements and movement restrictions on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.
On August 16, Thailand launched the “Phuket Sandbox 7 + 7 Extension” program, which allows eligible international travelers to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to seven days. Then they are free to spend the next seven nights in Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao) or Surat Thani (Samui Plus – Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao).
The Thai government has announced plans to reopen Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan from October 1 as part of the second phase of the country’s reopening schedule.
What is the situation of the Covid?
For months, Thailand has reported few locally transmitted Covid-19 cases thanks to strict on-arrival quarantine rules.
However, the country continues to struggle with its third and worst wave of infections, which emerged from clusters of epidemics in several Bangkok nightclubs in early April.
Right now, cases are declining after a long period of lockdown, and the country is reporting around 14,000 new cases per day on average.
A national vaccination program officially started on June 7. Thailand aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
What can visitors expect?
Restrictions on 13 high-risk provinces were relaxed on September 1, with restaurants allowed to reopen for in-person dining. However, they are not allowed to serve alcohol.
The affected areas are Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Ayutthaya, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala.
The spas of the health massage shops in these areas are open but only for foot massage services. Shopping malls, parks and outdoor swimming pools have also been allowed to reopen.
A curfew is in place in these areas from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Interprovincial travel has been allowed to resume, including domestic flights to and from high-risk areas. Full updates available on the Thailand Tourism Authority website.
Entertainment venues – including bars and nightclubs – across much of the country have been ordered to close.
Masks are worn at all times in public, indoors and outdoors, while temperature controls are standard. Those who do not wear masks face fines.
Bangkok’s driving distance areas were able to benefit from domestic tourists before the latest restrictions, but other normally popular destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui have not been so lucky.
Visitors to these destinations will find empty beaches and heavily discounted accommodation options.
In Phuket, many shops, restaurants and hotels on the southern beaches of Patong, Kata and Karon have closed due to a lack of tourists.
Thai Embassy, details of entry certificate
Entry certificate form
Special Tourist Visa
Thailand Tourism Board Newsroom
Our last blanket
As Thailand continues to battle its third and worst wave of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, the popular resort island of Phuket has reopened its doors to vaccinated travelers without quarantine restrictions. As the pilot project is well advanced, several other tourist islands in the region are paying attention.
With international tourism sidelined for over a year, Phuket continues to struggle. Many of the island’s beaches are deserted, while businesses remain closed. Find out more about what it’s like to visit now.
Most travelers who have backpacked Asia have spent at least a few days on Khao San Road in Bangkok. We take a closer look at how this busy thoroughfare grew from a rice market to the world’s most famous travel hub.
Phuket is one of the best-known beach resorts in the world and is also home to one of the best beaches in the world for spotting planes. Are you planning to go there? Don’t miss the Pru, Phuket’s first and only Michelin-starred restaurant.
Meanwhile, resort towns within driving distance of Bangkok are enjoying the locals’ urge to travel. Among these is the seaside town of Hua Hin. Here’s a look at how resorts have adapted to the pandemic.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report