Planning to travel to Thailand during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here is what you need to know, including Thailand entry and travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, and travel tips.
Is Thailand Open for Tourism?
Yes, Thailand has partially reopened for international inbound travelers, but with special requirements.
Starting from July 1, 2021, Phuket has opened to vaccinated Thai and foreign travelers under the 'Phuket Sandbox' program. Travelers do not need to do quarantine but they must stay in Phuket for at least 14 days and will then be allowed to visit other destinations in Thailand. Travelers whose intended duration of stay is less than 14 days will only be able to depart for locations outside of Thailand.
Starting on July 15, 2021, Koh Samui and nearby islands of Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani Province have opened to travelers under the ‘Samui Plus Sandbox’ program.
Starting from 16 August 2021, the 'Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension' programme (an upgraded measure for the Phuket Sandbox programme) offers fully vaccinated international travelers to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to 7 days, after which another 7 nights can be spent in Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao), or Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao). It means that you can spend 7 nights in Phuket and 7 nights in selected areas in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thani, and afterwards can travel to other destinations in Thailand.
According to Thailand's reopening plan, from October 1st, five other destinations—Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai— will allow vaccinated travelers to arrive without a quarantine requirement under the seven-day sandbox program.
Optimistically, starting January 1st, 2022, any foreign tourist who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and holds a vaccine passport, may be allowed to enter Thailand without having to enter quarantine at all. But this could be delayed by any further waves of infection.
Who Can Travel to Thailand?
Foreign nationals are generally banned from entering Thailand except in exceptional circumstances.
However, for travel purposes, travelers who meet the requirements of the Sandbox programs may travel to Thailand.
- Vaccinated Thai and foreign travelers from approved countries and territories
- Unvaccinated children under 18 years old traveling with vaccinated parents
- ***Unvaccinated adult travelers will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine at any AQ Hotels for 14 days
- ***Travelers from unapproved countries (vaccinated or not) is not eligible for the Sandbox programs and must undergo a mandatory quarantine
Countries/territories included in the Sandbox programs include the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. The approved countries and territories are:
- Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbados, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bhutan, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
Do I Need a Visa to Enter Thailand?
For general travel for tourism purposes, you can enter Thailand without a visa under the Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme, for which you must obtain a certificate of entry (COE). You will be permitted to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 45 days.
Travelers from countries not on the visa exemption list can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV), which is a long-stay visa for travelers who plan to spend at least 90 days in Thailand. Travelers must apply for an STV via the Thai consulate or embassy in their own country.
Thailand Entry Requirements
Foreign visitors that are permitted to enter Thailand from approved countries are required to present the following documents:
- Valid Thai visa (if required)
- A Certificate of Entry (COE): Travelers must apply for a COE (Certificate of Entry) from their local Thai Embassy or consulate at least 5 to 15 working days prior to their intended date of travel.
- A medical certificate of RT-PRC laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 is detected no more than 72 hours before the travel time;
- Copy of an insurance policy in English covering healthcare and treatment expenses for COVID-19 per applicant for the whole Thailand trip duration with coverage clearly identified as no less than US$100,000;
- Copy of the payment confirmation for no less than 14 nights’ stay and RT-PCR tests at hotels approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, or the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT);
- If the length of stay is to be less than 14 days, travelers must present a confirmed flight ticket out of Thailand and payment confirmation for accommodation and RT-PCR tests at hotels that cover their intended duration of stay;
- A certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) no less than 14 days before their travel date;
- You must download the tracing app ‘Thailand Plus on your mobile phone and register. Upon arrival in Thailand, you will have to show a Thailand Plus QR code.
- Travelers under 18 years of age, traveling with their parents or guardians, must have a medical certificate with a COVID-19 negative RT-PRC test result no more than 72 hours before their travel date.
Phuket SandBox Specific Requirements
- Hotel: You must stay in a SHA+ accredited hotel in Phuket only
- Flight to Phuket: You must fly to Phuket from abroad. No transit in Bangkok. At present, certain airlines are permitted to operate semi-commercial flights to Thailand. Airlines such as El Al Israel, Cathay, Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, THAI, and Singapore Airlines operate flights to Phuket on a daily basis.
Samui Plus Sandbox Specific Requirements
- Hotel: You must stay in Samui Extra Plus Hotels (Day 1-7) in Samui only and stay in HA+ Hotels (Day 8-14) in Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
- Flight to Samui: You can fly to Samui on a direct international flight or international flight via Bangkok and be connected with approved sealed flights as details below. For the flight via Bangkok, the ticket must be issued on the same booking with an international flight in conjunction with such approved Bangkok-Samui-Bangkok flights. Any flight reservations booked separately will not be allowed. Bangkok Airways Flights: PG5125 and PG5171.
Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension Specific Requirements
- Before being allowed to travel to the selected areas in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thani, travellers must obtain a ‘Transfer Form’ issued by their hotel in Phuket indicating that they have stayed in Phuket for 7 nights, which they will need to show together with the negative results of their two COVID-19 tests (conducted on Day 0 and Day 6-7 in Phuket).
- Travelling from Phuket to the selected areas in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thai is available only via approved routes and approved modes of transport.
- Once travellers have completed the 7-night extension in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thani, and have tested negative in their third COVID-19 test (conducted on Day 12-13), they will receive a ‘Release Form’ from their hotel, and will be able to continue their journey to other destinations in Thailand.
- If the stay in Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Surat Thani is less than 7 nights, travellers must proceed directly to Phuket International Airport on the day of departure. At the port of entry back into Phuket, they will need to show a plane ticket or other proof of their international travel from Phuket.
Thailand Quarantine Requirements
Fully-vaccinated travelers, you may enter Thailand without quarantining through the Sandbox programs. Although there are no quarantine requirements, you are required to stay at specially designated hotels. During your stay on the islands, you will be required to do COVID-19 testing and temperature checks.
The travelers who are not included in the Sandbox programs are required to quarantine for 14 days at an approved site regardless of nationality or vaccination status.
Please note that: As travel requirements and restrictions for foreigners entering Thailand might vary depending on the country and traveler, we would recommend you to contact your local Thai embassy or consulate before making any plans or reservations.
Restrictions may change at short notice. You can keep up to date with the latest information on the official website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand: https://www.tourismthailand.org/home.
What's the COVID Situation in Thailand Now? (August 2021)
Thailand is suffering from its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began, with a daily average of 20,000 new infections and 180 deaths in the past week.
Travel restrictions and containment measures have been in place in 29 dark-red zone provinces including Bangkok. Air, boat, and bus services have seen temporary suspensions, except for transportation in the Sandbox programs.
Interprovincial travel is discouraged at the moment. Airline flight schedules have been reduced.
Domestic travelers from other Thai regions to the Sandbox islands, such as Phuket, have been restricted so as to minimize the impact of the outbreak on the islands.
What to Expect in Thailand
Travelers to Thailand will find empty beaches and many of the famous tourist places with no crowds and many accommodation options with heavy discounts.
Operating hours have been restricted for many restaurants and shops, and entertainment venues including bars and nightclubs have been ordered to close.
Travelers should expect health screening measures in public places, including airports, train stations, and hotels. Face masks are compulsory in public and temperature checks are the norm.
A Professional Travel Agency Can Help a Lot
With the frequent changing of regulations as different regions react to the pandemic situation, having a professional local tour company, like us, in charge of your itinerary and transportation can be a safeguard for your trip. We will:
1. Ensure a smooth trip: Many travel agencies are closed due to COVID-19 hardships, which makes travel itself more difficult without updated travel information. Traveling with us will enable you to plan your trip with the best info and expert suggestions/arrangements.
2. Get tickets booked for you in advance according to the various new CoV-prevention requirements at each tourist attraction.
3. Provide safe transportation: We will provide a private car that is sterilized every day.
Why Travel with Asia Highlights
- Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
- Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
- No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.
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