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.
Thailand has recorded over 2,000 deaths and more than 265,000 cases of Covid-19 as of July 2.
Most travelers must quarantine for 14 days in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility.
However, on July 1 the island of Phuket reopened to vaccinated foreign visitors without quarantine requirements.
If the Phuket reopening is successful, officials 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
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-eye 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. However, they are still required to obtain the Certificate of Entry and quarantine upon arrival.
Tourists from countries not on the visa exemption list can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV) .
All travelers who have received a Certificate of Entry are required to download the ThailandPlus Application and register. Upon arrival in Thailand they will have to show a QR code that will be scanned by the Thai authorities upon arrival.
Thailand has released an online step-by-step guide offering detailed information on entry procedures.
What are the restrictions?
Travelers entering under the “Tourist visa exemption 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.
Having initially been offered to travelers from low-risk countries, it is now available to travelers from all countries worldwide. You must apply for an STV via the Thai consulate or embassy in your own country.
All travelers must provide proof of an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 up to the cost of $100,000 and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
A PCR test must be taken on arrival, after which all 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.
On July 1, Phuket reopened to vaccinated travelers from low- and medium-risk destinations without quarantine restrictions. However, visitors need to stay in a SHA+ accredited hotel on the island for 14 days before they are allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.
Phuket visitors need to apply for a Certificate of Entry. 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.
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 continues to battle a third wave of infections stemming from outbreak clusters in several Bangkok nightclubs in early April.
At the moment, the country is reporting around 5,000 new cases per day on average, with the majority of cases in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.
A nationwide vaccine program officially kicked off 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, both indoors and out, while temperature checks are the norm. Those who do not wear masks face fines.
Entertainment venues — including bars and nightclubs — throughout the entire country have been ordered to close. Restaurants are open but not permitted to serve alcohol.
More than 80 national parks have closed temporarily.
Areas within driving distance of Bangkok have been able to benefit from domestic tourists, but other normally popular destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui haven’t been as fortunate.
Visitors to these destinations will find empty beaches and heavily discounted accommodation options.
In Phuket, many shops, restaurants and hotels in the southern beaches of Patong, Kata and Karon have closed due to the lack of tourists.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report