If you are planning to travel to Thailand, here is what you need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand has recorded more than 2,000 deaths and more than 265,000 cases of Covid-19 as of July 2.
Most travelers must quarantine themselves for 14 days at an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility.
However, on July 1, the island of Phuket reopened to foreign visitors vaccinated without a quarantine requirement.
If Phuket’s reopening is successful, authorities 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.
What’s on offer
Islands perfect for the image. Golden beaches with swaying palm trees. Ornate temples and lush forests. Thailand has long been the go-to destination for those after a no-frills tropical break that is pleasing to the eye.
Who can go
Holders of US, Canadian, UK and Australian passports are among those who are not required to obtain a visa to enter Thailand for tourism purposes and will be allowed to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 45 days each visit. However, they are still required to obtain the entry certificate and self-quarantine upon arrival.
Tourists from countries not on the visa waiver list can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV).
All travelers who have received an entry certificate must download the ThailandPlus app and register. Upon arrival in Thailand, they will be required to show a QR code which will be scanned by Thai authorities upon arrival.
Thailand has published a step-by-step online guide with detailed information on entry procedures.
What are the restrictions?
Travelers under the “Tourist Visa Waiver Scheme” can stay for up to 45 days.
Meanwhile, the STV, introduced in October 2020, allows for 90-day stays and can be renewed twice.
Initially offered to travelers from low-risk countries, it is now available to travelers from all countries of the world. You must apply for an STV through the Thai Consulate or Embassy in your own country.
All travelers must provide proof of an insurance policy covering treatment of Covid-19 up to $ 100,000 and a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure.
A PCR test must be performed on arrival, after which all travelers must self-quarantine at government-approved quarantine facilities or Alternate 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 prices, can be found here: asq.locanation.com.
On July 1, Phuket reopened to vaccinated travelers from low and medium risk destinations without quarantine restrictions. However, visitors must stay at a SHA + accredited hotel on the island for 14 days before being allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.
Visitors to Phuket must apply for an entry certificate. They will also have to provide proof of an insurance policy covering the treatment of Covid-19 up to $ 100,000, a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of departure and a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine administered no less than 14 days prior to their travel date.
A full list of requirements for Phuket can be found on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website and guidelines for the reopening can be found here.
What is the situation of the Covid?
For months, Thailand has reported few locally transmitted Covid-19 cases thanks to strict on-arrival quarantine rules.
However, the country continues to fight a third wave of infections resulting from outbreaks of epidemics in several nightclubs in Bangkok in early April.
Currently, the country is reporting around 5,000 new cases per day on average, with the majority of cases being in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.
A national vaccination program officially started on June 7. Thailand aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
What can visitors expect?
Masks are worn at all times in public, indoors and outdoors, while temperature controls are standard. Those who do not wear masks face fines.
Entertainment venues – including bars and nightclubs – across the country have been ordered to close. Restaurants are open but are not allowed to serve alcohol.
More than 80 national parks have temporarily closed.
Areas within driving distance of Bangkok may have benefited domestic tourists, but other normally popular destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui have not been so lucky.
Visitors to these destinations will find empty beaches and heavily discounted accommodation options.
In Phuket, many shops, restaurants and hotels on the southern beaches of Patong, Kata and Karon have closed due to a lack of tourists.
Thai Embassy, details of entry certificate
Entry certificate form
Special Tourist Visa
Thailand Tourism Board Newsroom
Our last blanket
As Thailand continues to battle its third and worst wave of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, the popular resort island of Phuket has reopened its doors to vaccinated travelers without quarantine restrictions.
With international tourism sidelined for over a year, Phuket continues to struggle. Many of the island’s beaches are deserted, while businesses remain closed. Find out more about what it’s like to visit now.
Most travelers who have backpacked Asia have spent at least a few days on Khao San Road in Bangkok. We take a closer look at how this busy thoroughfare grew from a rice market to the world’s most famous travel hub.
Phuket is one of the best known beach resorts in the world and is also home to one of the best beaches in the world for spotting planes. Are you planning to go there? Don’t miss the Pru, Phuket’s first and only Michelin-starred restaurant.
Meanwhile, resort towns within driving distance of Bangkok are enjoying the locals’ urge to travel. Among these is the seaside town of Hua Hin. Here’s a look at how resorts have adapted to the pandemic.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report