Update: 20 January
The Thai authorities have agreed to reopen the Test & Go scheme from 1 February 2022. Full details to follow when officially confirmed.
The rules to enter Thailand are complicated with a number of different regulations in place depending on which scheme you use to enter the country. In a nutshell, there are three main options for visitors wishing to travel to Thailand:
- Test & Go (reopening to new applications form 1 February 2022)
- Alternative Quarantine (also known as AQ or Hotel Quarantine)
The Test & Go scheme is
suspended for new applications set to reopen from 1 February 2022. Visitors who have already been issued with a Thailand Pass are still allowed to enter regardless of their travel date.
Bookmark this page and I’ll add any updates to the entry requirements here. In the meantime, you should also check the links below for the official information from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Table of contents
- Rules for entry to Thailand
- Test & Go
- Sandbox Extension
- Alternative Quarantine (AQ)
- How to apply for a Thailand Pass
- Do I need a visa?
- What is SHA, SHA Plus and SHA Extra Plus and how do I book the approved hotels?
- What happens if I test positive for Covid?
- Should I travel to Thailand now or wait for things to improve?
Rules for entry to Thailand
The rules to enter Thailand have changed a number of times over the last few months and may change again depending on the Covid situation. There are different rules depending on where you are flying from, your vaccination status and which airport you arrive at in Thailand. Before arranging travel:
- Check the latest advice from the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country
- Check with your airline for any specific rules they may have in place
- If you are transiting via another country, check the rules for that country too
Test & Go
- Open to new applications from 1 February 2022
- Travellers who have already been issued with a Thailand Pass for Test & Go can still enter Thailand under the scheme
- Open to fully vaccinated travellers
Test & Go FAQs
The list below is a quick overview. For a full list of requirements, please see the information in the links in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.
- Sandbox destinations:
Ko Samui (including Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao)
Phang Nga (including Khao Lak)
Pattaya (from 1 February)
Ko Chang (from 1 February)
- Open to fully vaccinated visitors
- Need to spend a minimum of 7 nights in a Sandbox destination before travelling to other areas of Thailand
- Undergo a RT-PCR test on arrival and then have to wait in your hotel room until you get a negative result (results should be back within approximately 6-12 hours).
- After receiving a negative test result you are free to explore the Sandbox destination
- Undergo another RT-PCR test on Day 5 or 6 of your stay and if test result is negative you are free to travel to other areas of Thailand once your initial 7 night stay is finished
Information from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Newsroom
Information from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (UK & Ireland)
This advice is aimed at travellers flying to Thailand from the UK & Ireland, but has a helpful and extensive FAQs section for each of the different entry schemes that may help visitors from other countries too:
From 1 February, the Sandbox Extension programme will also be introduced. The Sandbox Extension covers Krabi, Phuket, Phang Nga, Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Tao. Visitors can travel between these destinations during their first 7 days in Thailand and can change accommodation up to three times.
Alternative Quarantine (AQ)
- Open to all visitors
- Quarantine on arrival at a designated hotel within a 2 hour drive of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport
- Fully vaccinated visitors must quarantine for 7 nights
- Unvaccinated/not fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 nights
Alternative Quarantine is also known as Hotel Quarantine and, somewhat optimistically, is described by the Tourism Authority of Thailand as ‘Happy Quarantine’.
Alternative Quarantine FAQs
How to apply for a Thailand Pass
Before travelling to Thailand, every traveller must apply online for a Thailand Pass. The system allows you to fill in your travel and health information and upload the related documents before travelling. Applications can be made on the official Thai government site here:
Thailand Pass FAQs
Do I need a visa?
There is no one-size fits all policy when it comes to who does or doesn’t need a visa for Thailand. It depends on where you are travelling from, the purpose of your visit and the length of stay. Check with the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country and also in the link below:
FAQs for entry to Thailand from TAT Newsroom
What is SHA, SHA Plus and SHA Extra Plus and how do I book the approved hotels?
SHA is an abbreviation of Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA). To be awarded SHA status, businesses must meet strict safety protocols. The SHA Plus (SHA+) certificate is only granted to businesses that meet all the safety protocols plus at least 70% of their staff have been vaccinated against Covid-19. SHA Extra Plus (SHA++) hotels are those that meet the Amazing Thailand SHA Plus standards and have also partnered up with certified hospitals for the RT-PCR test.
More details on the SHA scheme here
Because of the way the Thailand Pass system works, you may find it easier to book directly with the hotel instead of using an online booking agent. SHA Extra Plus hotels can be searched using the link below (enter the province in the drop-down box);
List of SHA Extra Plus hotels in Thailand
Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao are in Surat Thani province. Khao Lak is in Phang Nga province.
What happens if I test positive for Covid?
There is a chance, albeit a small one, that you could test positive either before departure or on one of the two RT-PCR tests that you are required to take during the first 7 days of your stay in Thailand. If you do test positive in Thailand, it will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. You may be allowed to quarantine in your hotel or may be admitted to hospital. Travellers must have insurance in place to cover the risk of testing positive and requiring hospital treatment.
Should I travel to Thailand now or wait for things to improve?
That’s a decision that you have to make for yourself. For whatever well-meaning advice I, or anybody else gives, you have to do what is right for you. There is a small chance that you could test positive and ruin your holiday, but it’s a chance. If you are staying for longer than a few weeks or have a compelling reason to be in Thailand, you may decide the rewards far outweigh the risk. It’s your call to make.
Things had all been going in the right direction in Thailand up until December 2021. There was huge optimism that there would be a mini-boom in tourism over the New Year and into early 2022. Sadly, the worldwide concern over the Omicron variant and the suspension of the Test & Go scheme and the subsequent uncertainty largely put pay to that.
It’s hoped that the Test & Go scheme will be able to resume at some stage. It’s anybody’s guess as to when it will restart, but my gut feeling is it will resume at some point during the first half of 2022*. The Thai authorities have previously said that Thailand must learn to live with Covid and that’s true. It’s a difficult balancing act for a country where tourism contributes such a large amount to the economy. Unfortunately, it’s already too late for many businesses who have been forced to permanently close their doors.
Thailand will bounce back at some point and, if and when the entry requirements are relaxed, this country remains an amazing destination to visit.
*Surprised but pleased to see this resuming again so quickly with the Test & Go scheme set to reopen from 1 February 2022.