The information here is in response to questions readers have been sending in. Please note that the details here are subject to change and I will try to keep it updated. In all cases you should check the latest details with the Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate in your home country. Different rules may apply depending on your country of residence and your reason for travel to Thailand.
Can I fly to Thailand?
Although travellers are able to fly to Thailand, anybody arriving in the country is obliged to undergo compulsory quarantine for two weeks. While this won’t appeal to the average tourist who would normally stay in Thailand for two or three weeks, it does at least provide an option for those travellers who are looking to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time.
Can I do self-quarantine?
No. Even if you own property in Thailand, non-Thais are obliged to undergo what is known as Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ). The ASQ facilities are state approved hotels which meet all the criteria laid down by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.
When can I travel to Thailand without the need for quarantine on arrival?
At the moment, nobody knows when this will be. The introduction of a vaccine should, in theory at least, make this an option. But it’s still too early to say whether Thai authorities will allow vaccinated international tourists to forego quarantine. They may also decide to wait until the vaccine is rolled out in Thailand which is slated to start mid-2021.
Do I need a visa to fly to Thailand?
Whether you need a visa or not depends on your country of origin and how long you plan to stay in Thailand. The options listed below are a guide, but you need to check with the Royal Thai Embassy (RTE) in your home country. The RTE will also advise you what paperwork you will need to complete (including Certificate of Entry, and compulsory insurance).
Allowed to stay in Thailand for: 30 days (may be extended to 45 days)
In mid-December, the Thai authorities agreed to allow travellers to enter Thailand under the visa exemption scheme. This allows passport holders from 56 countries to stay for 30 days. The Thai government is currently considering a proposal that would allow an extra 15 days to cover the 2 week quarantine period.
Tourist Visa (TR)
Allowed to stay in Thailand for: 60 days
At the beginning of December 2020, a new Tourist Visa (TR) for visitors to Thailand was agreed. To see if you are eligible, contact the Royal Thai Embassy in your home country.
Special Tourist Visa (STV)
Allowed to stay in Thailand for: 90-270 days
In September 2020, the Thai government agreed to introduce a Special Tourist Visa (STV). This was initially limited to residents from specific countries, but was subsequently extended to allow for more people to travel to Thailand. The STV allows for an initial stay of 90 days. This can be extended twice (for 90 days each time) when in Thailand.
What happens after I finish quarantine?
If you meet all the requirements to travel to Thailand, you will need to complete a 2-week quarantine period on arrival. Once quarantine is successfully completed, you are free to travel around Thailand (subject to any new local restrictions). However, you may still have to agree to take part in any Covid-19 test and tracing procedures.
Update: January 5, 20201
Thailand saw a rise in recorded Covid cases at the end of December 2020. A number of provinces have announced local restrictions. For an updated official list, please check the Tourism Authority of Thailand newsroom.
Before you travel to Thailand
Before you travel to Thailand you need to:
- Check the advice from the Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate in your home country.
- Check if you are eligible for visa exemption or arrange the appropriate valid visa to cover the length of stay required
- Apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE)
- Obtain Fit to Fly certification (proof of negative Covid-19 test) within 72 hours of departure
- Purchase travel & health insurance (including Covid-19 cover)
- Provide proof of flight booking
- Book 14-day quarantine in an official ASQ or ALSQ hotel
- Confirm post quarantine accommodation for the duration of your stay in Thailand
Many expats currently in Thailand (myself included) will say they feel fortunate to be in Thailand compared to how the crisis has played out in other countries. The Thai authorities rightly say they have a duty to protect the health of their own people first. However, with the prolonged closure of the country to international tourists, the preventative measures taken have come at a huge cost for individuals and the Thai economy. From my own travels around Thailand, it’s heartbreaking to see how many Thai people have already lost their jobs and how many businesses have been forced to close down. And the longer Thailand’s borders remain closed, that figure will only increase.