COVID-19: Thailand Travel Updates

Lady wearing a face mask in a Thai market.

Updated 22nd July 2021

See here for Southeast Asia Travel COVID-19 overview.


LATEST NEWS:

  • 21st July 2021 – Most domestic flights within Thailand are cancelled as COVID-19 cases rise in what is being called Thailand’s most severe outbreak so far. There is a ban on all domestic flights in and out of Bangkok as the Phuket Sandbox continues to welcome vaccinated overseas travellers. Source.
  • 20th July 2021 – Phuket Sandbox is being touted as a replicable model for vaccine tourism in Southeast Asia. Source.
  • 15th July 2021 – Koh Samui reopens to vaccinated international travellers. Source.
  • 10th July 2021 – All AirAsia domestic flights within Thailand are cancelled for the month of July to support the recent lockdown. Source.
  • 9th July 2021 – Bangkok’s strict new lockdown measures mean citizens must work from home, adhere to a 10pm-4am curfew and not leave the house except to buy groceries. Supermarkets will remain open, but shopping malls are closed. Source.
  • 1st July 2021 – Phuket Island reopens to vaccinated international travellers. Source.
  • From 28th June 2021 – New restrictions in Bangkok and several other provinces are put in place in a bid to curb the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The restrictions are expected to last at least 30 days. Source.
  • 21st June 2021 – More provinces in Thailand are declared ‘dark red’ zones with restrictions on travel and public activity. See more info below.
  • 16th June 2021 – Thai Prime Minister announces the ‘reopening of Thailand’ within 120 days. Source.

NEWS RE: THE REOPENING OF THAILAND

  1. 1ST JULY: PHUKET “SANDBOX” – From July 1st 2021, the island of Phuket reopened to international visitors who are fully vaccinated. (Source.) Under the ‘Phuket Sandbox‘ scheme, the new arrivals (who must be from countries deemed ‘low risk’) do not have to quarantine, but must stay on the island in an approved hotel for at least 14 days. After that, they are free to travel to other parts of Thailand, providing they can show a negative RT-PCR test on days 1, 6 and on day 12 of their stay in Phuket. Read more about the Phuket Sandbox Scheme here.
  2. 15TH JULY: THE ISLAND APPROACH – “Samui Plus” saw the reopening of Koh Samui on 15th July (to include Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao), followed by “Krabi Even More Amazing” (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai and Railay) and then “Phang Nga Prompt” (Khao Lak and Koh Yao).
  3. SEPTEMBER: THE SEALED APPROACH – If all goes to plan with the island reopenings, TAT will launch the ‘sealed approach’ from September 2021. This will include the reopening of certain tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Buri Ram.
  4. OCTOBER: FOURTH QUARTER REOPENINGS – From October 2021, Thailand will begin to reopen other Thai destinations such as Bangkok, Cha-am and Hua Hin.

Details of Thailand’s reopening are constantly changing. Keep up to date with Thailand’s reopening plans on the TAT News website here.


Disclaimer: COVID-19 travel restrictions are changing daily. The following information reflects South East Asia Backpacker’s current understanding of the rules. We work hard to update this information as often and accurately as possible. However, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. We strongly advise you to contact the embassy of the country you are visiting for the latest information.

Thailand Travel Restrictions (July 2021)

Can you travel to Thailand right now? SUMMARY:

  • Yes, you can. As an international traveller, you must have a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours before departure and adhere to 14-day quarantine in a state-approved quarantine hotel in Bangkok once you arrive in Thailand. 
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can also use the Phuket Sandbox scheme to enter Thailand without having to quarantine.

Current Thailand Visas available

You can currently enter Thailand on the following visas (available before the pandemic):

  1. TR60 – This is the 60-day Tourist Visa that was available pre-pandemic. The maximum stay on this visa is 60 days. However, it can be extended for a further 30 days at a Thai Immigration Office.
  2. Por30 – Visa Exempt Entry – This is the normal 30-day visa-free entry pass that was commonly used before the pandemic. Whereas in the past, this visa allowed travellers to stay in the Kingdom for 30 days, the maximum stay is now 45 days. This can also be extended at a Thai Immigration Office for a further 30 days.

Before you enter Thailand, you will need to:

  1. Apply for a COE (Certificate of Entry) by air via the official Thailand Government website.
  2. Have a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of flying.
  3. Have proof of payment of Alternative State Quarantine Facility. (Or SHA+ Hotel if you are using the Phuket Sandbox.)
  4. Have proof of accommodation after your 14-day quarantine.
  5. Have travel medical insurance with $100,000 US cover, including cover for COVID-19.
  6. Have proof of at least 500,000 THB ($16,000 US) in your bank account.
  7. Hold a valid passport with at least 12 months validity and two blank pages.
  8. Have proof of onward travel out of Thailand within the expiry date of your visa.

*You may be required to download the Thai Chana app (track and trace app) upon arrival in Thailand. Available from 17th May.

Quarantine Period: 

If you are travelling outside of Phuket, quarantine in Thailand is currently a minimum of 14 days regardless of nationality or vaccination status. (14 days at a State Quarantine Facility or Alternative State Quarantine Hotel.) (Since May 2021, the rules now state that all travellers must not leave their hotel room during their entire quarantine period.)

If you are travelling via the Phuket Sandbox, you do not have to quarantine, however you must book a stay in an SHA+ hotel on Phuket Island and cannot leave the island for 14 days.

Phuket Specific Quarantine – For anyone travelling domestically within Thailand, there is a 14-day quarantine for anyone travelling to Phuket. You do not have to quarantine if you have been fully vaccinated or have a COVID-free certificate.

Rules for entering Phuket
Rules for entering Phuket for both Thai and foreign visitors.

Face Masks: 

From 26th April 2021, face coverings must be worn in all indoor and outdoor public places across Thailand. Fines will be issued for those disobeying this rule. See our recommended face masks for travel here.

See here for recommendations on the best face masks for travel.

COVID-19 Tests Required: 

  1. Negative COVID-19 test result needed within 72 hours of flying. 
  2. All visitors arriving in Thailand must undertake a COVID-19 test.
  3. During quarantine, you will be required to take a further two COVID-19 tests.*

*If you test positive for COVID-19 at any time once you arrive in Thailand you will be transferred to hospital and must stay in isolation for 14 days. You will have to provide two negative COVID-19 tests (five days apart) before you can be released from the hospital.

Costs of Travel: 

Costs of travel to Thailand currently include flights, travel insurance, COVID tests and stay in a quarantine hotel for 14 days. The estimated cost of the hotel quarantine stay is $1,000 USD for the room, food, COVID-19 tests and airport pick-up. See more info here.

Internal Travel Restrictions in Thailand: 

18th July 2021 – Most domestic flights within Thailand are cancelled to halt the spread of COVID-19. Source.

Travel domestically around Thailand is currently still possible but some ‘high risk’ areas have restrictions and specific virus control measures. Each of Thailand’s 76 provinces has a colour rating based on the number of COVID-19 cases. (The highest level of risk is in the ‘dark red’ zone.) Travel restrictions in each province depend on the colour rating and local rules vary.

  • Dark Red Zones – Schools are closed. Activities with no more than 50 people. Sports fields are allowed to open. Dining at inside restaurants set at 50% capacity and can open until 11 pm. Shopping malls can open until 9 pm. Sale of alcohol prohibited. Entertainment venues are closed. Masks must be worn outside of the home.
  • Red Zones – Schools are open. Activities with no more than 100 people. No limits on capacity at restaurants and can open until 11 pm. Shopping malls can open as usual. Sports centres are allowed to open until 9 pm with limits on spectators. Entertainment venues are closed. Masks must be worn outside of the home.
  • Orange Zones – Schools are open. Activities with no more than 150 people. No limits on capacity or opening hours at restaurants but the sale of alcohol still prohibited. Shopping malls and sports centres can open as usual, with limits on spectators. Entertainment venues are closed. Masks must be worn outside of the home.
  • Yellow Zones – Schools are open. Activities with no more than 200 people. Restaurants, shopping centres and sports venues can open as normal with limits on spectators. Entertainment venues are closed. Masks must be worn outside of the home.

From 28th June 2021: Bangkok (as well as the 9 other provinces: Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani & Narathiwa are ‘dark red’ zones. Source.

9th July 2021 – Bangkok specific lockdown asks citizens to not leave the house except for essentials. Shopping malls closed. Curfew from 10pm – 4am. Curfew in place until further notice. Source.

Travelling from a dark red zone to another part of Thailand? If you are travelling from any of the provinces in a dark red zone to another part of Thailand you must do a swab test upon arrival at your new destination, even if you are vaccinated. You must do a 14-day ALQ quarantine unless you live in the destination, then you can complete your 14-day quarantine at home.

Land Borders: 

It is not permitted to cross land borders into neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Hotels and guesthouses: 

Hotels and guesthouses are still open in Thailand, though many have been forced to close due to lack of tourists. We advise you to contact hotels directly when booking to check their regulations and any local restrictions that are in place. You must wear a mask at all times whilst in public places in the hotel and many hotels check temperature upon arrival.

Public places in Thailand: 

Local restrictions in public places across provinces in Thailand vary. Many tourist attractions are closed and local tours are not running due to low numbers of tourists and COVID-19 restrictions.

On the Ground Traveller Reports: 

I’m a domestic traveller, in Phuket right now with my family and my parents have come over from the UK. It’s excellent! Quiet but enough people to make new friends, bars and restaurants open (not all, but enough), weathers amazing considering it’s rainy season! Would thoroughly recommend it. – Steve, 22nd July 2021

Sh*t just hit the fan here as we are seeing more than 10,000 COVD-19 cases and 100+ deaths every day for the past week without signs of slowing down. We went into April-2020-level lockdown this past week here in Bangkok and the number just kept going up. In fact, there have been talks of going full-on Wuhan-level lockdown around Greater Bangkok for the next 2 months which means we can’t even get out of the house for food, the government will supply food for us. There are protests spreading across the country, businesses are closing left and right, the delta variant is ravaging the land, and vaccines availability just went from poor to non-existent. Pete, Bucketlistly Blog (Newsletter – 19th July 2021)

Resources for keeping up to date with the Thailand COVID-19 situation:

Dave Noakes Bio Pic, with Nikki Scott
Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor

Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker. At age 23, she left the UK on a solo backpacking trip and never returned. After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine about backpacking in Asia. The rest is history.

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