Thai authorities have approved a revised plan to reopen Thailand to international visitors. The new timeline will allow locations including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Pattaya to open up to overseas tourists without the need for quarantine. While the full details of the plan have yet to be announced, it’s likely that the destinations in question will follow the ‘Sandbox’ plan that is already in place for destinations including Phuket and Ko Samui.
Some of the Sandbox restrictions have also been eased. Instead of being required to stay for 14 nights at the Sandbox destinations before travelling to other areas of Thailand, the requirement has now been reduced to 7 nights. The new rules came into effect on 1 October, 2021. The easing of restrictions comes at a time when Covid cases in Thailand have seen a marked decrease since the peak in mid-August. Combined with big progress on the vaccination rollout, it feels like a massive step forward. It’s also significant that Thailand has reduced the quarantine period for vaccinated and unvaccinated arrivals. Fully vaccinated visitors flying in October to destinations not currently part of the Sandbox scheme e.g. Bangkok, will see the quarantine period cut from 14 nights to 7 nights. And for unvaccinated visitors, it is cut to 10 nights.
Revised timeline to reopen Thailand
This is the latest timeline to open up Thailand for international tourists:
July 2021: Phuket Sandbox
The Phuket Sandbox arrangement allows fully vaccinated travellers to visit Phuket without the need to quarantine on arrival.
July 2021: Samui Sandbox
The Samui Sandbox arrangement allows fully vaccinated travellers to visit Ko Samui (+ Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao) without the need to quarantine on arrival.
August 2021: Krabi Sandbox
Under the Krabi Sandbox, fully vaccinated travellers can visit Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach (all in Krabi province) without the need to quarantine on arrival.
August 2021: Phang Nga Sandbox
Under the Phang Nga Sandbox, fully vaccinated travellers can visit Khao Lak, Ko Yao Noi, and Ko Yao Yai (all in Phang Nga province) without the need to quarantine on arrival.
The full details of how this will work are yet to be announced, but destinations that are scheduled to open during November 2021 are:
- Bangkok (all areas)
- Krabi (all areas)
- Phang Nga (all areas)
- Buriram (city)
- Chiang Mai (city, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Doi Tao)
- Chonburi (Pattaya, Bang Lamung, Na Jomtien, Sattahip)
- Loei (Chiang Khan)
- Phetchaburi (Cha Am)
- Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin)
- Ranong (Ko Phayam)
December 2021 and January 2022
More destinations are set to open throughout December and January. This will include some border provinces suggesting that land travel may be possible from neighbouring countries. However, the full details are still to be confirmed.
Requirements for quarantine-free travel
To be able to visit Thailand quarantine-free, travellers must complete a number of steps. This includes:
- Proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required (both jabs)
- Obtain a Certificate of Entry (CoE) before departure
- Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover
- Download the Thailand Plus tracking app
- Must arrive directly into one of the applicable destinations*
(*This may change soon to allow transit via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport)
- Present a negative PCR test result (issued no longer than 72 hours before departure)
- Covid-19 test on arrival
- Stay at SHA Plus accommodation (this is accommodation with enhanced safety protocols and where at least 70% of staff have been vaccinated)
- Minimum number of 7 nights stay at the Sandbox destination of entry before travelling onwards around Thailand
Planning travel to Thailand
Travelling to Thailand (or anywhere) still isn’t quite as simple as it was pre-Covid, but announcements in recent days are a huge step in the right direction.
If you are planning to travel to Thailand, it’s advisable to check the requirements with the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country. For more information, visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom and the Fan Club Thailand website. Fan Club Thailand is aimed at travellers from the UK and Ireland, but I have helped them put together a comprehensive travel advice page that you may find helpful irrespective of where you are travelling from.