If you’re planning to travel to Thailand, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand has recorded close to 2,800 deaths and more than 345,000 cases of Covid-19 as of July 14. The country is currently battling its worst wave since the start of the pandemic.
Most travelers must quarantine for 14 days in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility.
If the Phuket reopening is successful, officials say they will open nine more popular tourist destinations on October 1: Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Petchaburi, Prachuap Kiri Khan, Phang Nga, Krabi, Surat Thani and Buriram.
Picture-perfect islands. Golden beaches with swaying palms. Ornate temples and lush forests. Thailand has long been the go-to destination for those after a no-nonsense, easy-on-the-eye tropical break.
Holders of US, Canada, UK and Australia passports are among those not required to obtain a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes and will be permitted to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 45 days on each visit. However, they are still required to obtain the Certificate of Entry and quarantine upon arrival.
All travelers who have received a Certificate of Entry are required to download the ThailandPlus Application and register. Upon arrival in Thailand they will have to show a QR code that will be scanned by the Thai authorities upon arrival.
Thailand has released an online step-by-step guide offering detailed information on entry procedures.
What are the restrictions?
Meanwhile, the STV, introduced in October 2020, allows for 90-day stays, and can be renewed twice.
Having initially been offered to travelers from low-risk countries, it is now available to travelers from all countries worldwide. You must apply for an STV via the Thai consulate or embassy in your own country.
All travelers must provide proof of an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 up to the cost of $100,000 and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
A PCR test must be taken on arrival, after which all travelers must quarantine at government-approved quarantine facilities or 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 rates, can be found here: asq.locanation.com.
The only exception to this is in Phuket. On July 1, the popular island reopened to vaccinated travelers from low- and medium-risk destinations without quarantine restrictions. However, visitors need to stay in a SHA+ accredited hotel on the island for 14 days before they are allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.
Phuket visitors need to apply for a Certificate of Entry. They will also need to provide proof of an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 up to the cost of $100,000, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure and a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine administered no less than 14 days before their travel date.
On July 15, the country will launch a similar program on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, dubbed “Samui Plus.”
Fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to fly into Koh Samui. They will need to stay in a approved hotel on the island for seven days before they’re allowed to travel between the three islands.
At the end of the 14 days, they will be permitted to travel elsewhere in the country. Find out more on entry requirements and movement restrictions on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.
What’s the Covid situation?
For months, Thailand reported few locally transmitted Covid-19 cases thanks to strict quarantine on arrival rules.
However, the country continues to battle its third and worst wave of infections, which emerged from outbreak clusters in several Bangkok nightclubs in early April.
At the moment, the country is reporting close to 10,000 new cases per day on average, with the majority of cases in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.
A nationwide vaccine program officially kicked off on June 7. Thailand aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
What can visitors expect?
A new round of restrictions, including a curfew, has been imposed on Bangkok and nine other provinces from July 12 and will be in place for at least 14 days. Nonessential interprovincial travel is discouraged.
Entertainment venues — including bars and nightclubs — throughout most of the country have been ordered to close. Restaurants in Bangkok and several surrounding provinces are open for takeout only.
Masks are worn at all times in public, both indoors and out, while temperature checks are the norm. Those who do not wear masks face fines.
Areas within driving distance of Bangkok have been able to benefit from domestic tourists prior to the latest restrictions, but other normally popular destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui haven’t been as fortunate.
Visitors to these destinations will find empty beaches and heavily discounted accommodation options.
In Phuket, many shops, restaurants and hotels in the southern beaches of Patong, Kata and Karon have closed due to the lack of tourists.
As Thailand continues to battle its third and worst Covid-19 wave since the start of the pandemic, the popular resort island of Phuket has reopened to vaccinated travelers without quarantine restrictions.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report