COVID-19: Thailand Travel Updates

Lady wearing a face mask in a Thai market.

Updated 15th October 2021

See here for Southeast Asia Travel COVID-19 overview.
Related: Pandemic Travel Essentials.


  • 11th October 2021 – Thailand has announced that it will be reopening for fully vaccinated travellers from 1st November 2021. Travellers will have to be from list of ‘low-risk’ countries which includes the UK, US, Germany and China. Source.
  • 4th October 2021 – The Tourism and Sports Ministry has confirmed it will collect a 500-baht tourism fee from international visitors beginning 2022. This money will go towards transforming the travel industry to focus on high-value and eco-conscious projects. Source.
  • 2nd October 2021 – Sandbox schemes now to welcome fully vaccinated tourists, whichever country they come from. Source. All of Thailand’s sandbox schemes have been shortened to 7 days. Source.
  • 29th September 2021 – Phuket restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol again (though only until 10 pm) from October 1st 2021. Source.
  • 28th September 2021 – Special Tourist Visa to continue until September 30th 2022 to encourage long-term visitors to the country. Source.
  • 27th September 2021 – Several restrictions relaxed, including reduced quarantine period, now seven days for fully-vaccinated tourists. Source.
  • 23rd September 2021 – Tourism Authority of Thailand governor confirms delay on reopening of several major cities, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin until November. Source.
  • 21st September 2021 – Bangkok City Hall lays out three criteria that must be met before the city opens, making it unlikely until mid-November. Source.
  • 10th September 2021 – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi set to reopen on 1st October. Source.
  • 16th August 2021 – 7 + 7 Extension scheme launched allowing travellers to transfer to a new location after the first seven days in Phuket. Source.
  • 15th July 2021 – Koh Samui reopened to vaccinated international travellers. Source.
  • 1st July 2021 – Phuket Island reopened to vaccinated international travellers. Source.
  • 16th June 2021 – Thai Prime Minister announces the ‘reopening of Thailand’ within 120 days. Source.


  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 (As of October 1st, only 7 days). After that, they are free to travel to other parts of Thailand, providing they can show two negative RT-PCR tests on days 1 and 6 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. OCTOBER: PILOT PHASE: Throughout October, the focus will be on destinations and islands that have already opened over summer, including Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. This phase will focus on reopening specific areas such as resorts, public spaces and beaches. The mandatory 14-day quarantine will be reduced to 10 days for non-vaccinated travellers and 7 days for fully vaccinated travellers.
  4. NOVEMBER: FIRST PHASE: Beginning November 1st, Thailand will open 10 of it’s most popular destinations including all of Krabi, Bangkok and Phang-Nga. It will also begin the reopening of designated areas in Chiang Mai, Phetchaburi and others.
  5. DECEMBER: SECOND PHASE: More than 20 tourism-driven provinces will reopen to travellers. These include those famous for culture and art or popular border destinations. Examples of these include Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Sukothai.
  6. JANUARY: THIRD PHASE: A further 13 border provinces including Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Udon Thani will reopen from January 2022. See the full list of provinces and their reopening timeline here.

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

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 quarantine in a state-approved quarantine hotel in Bangkok once you arrive in Thailand. The length of this quarantine as of September 27th 2021 will be… Fully vaccinated – 7-day quarantine. Non-vaccinated arrive by air – 10-day quarantine, non-vaccinated arrive by land – 14-day quarantine.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can also use the Phuket Sandbox scheme or the Samui Plus 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 (regardless of vaccination status).
  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: 

The quarantine period that you are required to serve depends on your vaccination status and how you are entering the country. As of September 27th 2021, quarantine requirements are as follows:

  • Fully vaccinated: 7 days with proof of full vaccination. Need to take two R-PCR tests on day 0-1 and 6-7.
  • Not vaccinated (entered by air): 10 days. Need to take two RT-PCR tests on days 0-1 and days 8-9.
  • Not vaccinated (entered by land): 14 days. Need to take two RT-PCR tests on days 0-1 and days 12-13.

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. After the first seven days, you can request a transfer to one of three areas. Read more here.

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.

Phuket Sandbox 7 + 7 Extension

On 16th August, the Phuket Sandbox 7 + 7 Extension was introduced. From that date onwards, it is possible for travellers to request a transfer to either Koh Phi Phi, Railay or Koh Ngai in Krabi Province, Khao Lak or Koh Yao in Phang-Nga Province or Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao in Surat Thani Province.

To apply for the 7 + 7 extension travellers must complete a transfer form, provided for them in their hotel in Phuket. Upon arrival at their extension destination, they will be required to show proof of two negative PCR tests, taken on day 0 and day 6 or 7 of their stay in Phuket. During the seven days of extension, travellers must stay at an SHA Plus hotel. It is possible to change hotels during this time, as long as each hotel is an accredited SHA Plus hotel.

To reach the extension location, it is only possible to travel by ASH Plus transport options. These include boats/ferries to Krabi and the islands of Koh Yao, a car to Khao Lak and a flight with Bangkok Airways to Surat Thani.

All seven days of any extension within this scheme must be carried out in the same area. It is not possible to transfer between Surat Thani, Krabi or Phang-Nga during this time.

It is possible to cut the stay short if and only if you will be leaving Thailand the same day on an international flight to another country. It is only possible to fly from Phuket airport or Samui Airport.

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.

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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