Traveling to Thailand during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

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Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you’re fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 22.

(CNN) — 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.

The basics

Thailand has recorded more than 18,000 deaths and over 1.8 million cases of Covid-19 as of October 22. The country is currently easing out of its worst wave since the start of the pandemic, with Covid-19 cases now declining.

On November 1, Thailand will allow vaccinated international travelers who have resided in one of 46 countries and territories for at least 21 days to enter without quarantine. Approved countries and territories include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the UK, the US and Hong Kong.

The full list can be found on the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Further details below.

For now, vaccinated travelers flying into Bangkok must quarantine for seven days in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility. Travelers who have not been fully vaccinated are required to quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days.

On July 1 the island of Phuket reopened to vaccinated foreign visitors without quarantine requirements in the “Phuket Sandbox” scheme. On July 15, the country launched a similar program on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, dubbed “Samui Plus.”

What’s on offer

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-eyes tropical break.

Who can go

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.
Tourists from countries not on the visa exemption list can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV), which allows for 90-day stays, and can be renewed twice. You must apply for an STV via the Thai consulate or embassy in your own country.

What are the entry restrictions?

From November 1, fully vaccinated travelers residing in one of the approved 46 countries/territories wishing to enter Thailand without quarantine restrictions must provide proof of an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 up to the cost of $50,000 and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Upon arrival, they will need to undergo a second PCR test and check into a Thailand Safety and Health Administration accredited (SHA+) hotel for one night to await the results of their test.

Unvaccinated 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.
At the moment, all travelers need to apply for a Certificate of Entry before their flight, but the government has announced plans to replace this with a new system called the “Thailand Pass” to shorten the process.

As noted, on July 1, Phuket reopened to vaccinated travelers without quarantine restrictions. Vaccinated travelers arriving in Thailand from countries/territories not on the approved list are still able to enter the country via the “Phuket sandbox” program.

Visitors need to stay in a Thailand Safety and Health Administration accredited (SHA+) hotel on the island for 7 days before they are allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.

Phuket visitors need to apply for a Certificate of Entry before traveling. 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.

For the “Samui Plus” program, fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to fly into Koh Samui. They need to stay in an approved hotel on the island for one night and If the result of the first RT-PCR test upon arrival is negative, they can travel on Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao.

At the end of seven 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 is now coming out of its third and worst wave of infections, which emerged from outbreak clusters in several Bangkok nightclubs in early April.

At the moment, cases are dropping following a lengthy lockdown period and the country is reporting around 9,000 new cases per day on average.

A nationwide vaccine program officially kicked off on June 7. Thailand aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of 2021.

What can visitors expect?

Restrictions imposed on 23 high-risk provinces, including Bangkok, were further eased on October 1.

Museums, art galleries, historical sites, ancient monuments, spas, cinemas, pools, tattoo studios and sporting facilities in these areas have been permitted to reopen under strict public health measures and limit the number of visitors at 75% of normal capacity.

Affected areas are Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Tak, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Prachin Buri, Pattani, Ayutthaya, Yala, Rayong, Ratchaburi, Songkhla, Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon and Saraburi.

Restaurants in these areas are open to in-person dining, however, they are not permitted to serve alcohol.

A curfew is in place in the 23 high-risk provinces from 11 p.m.-3 a.m, however it will be lifted in some areas, including Bangkok, on November 1.

Entertainment venues — including bars and nightclubs — throughout most of the country remain closed.

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.

Useful links

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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report

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