COVID-19: Thailand Travel Updates

Lady wearing a face mask in a Thai market.

Updated 4th June 2021

LATEST THAILAND COVID-19 NEWS: 

  • PHUKET “SANDBOX” REOPENING 1ST JULY – From July 1st, it is believed that the island of Phuket will reopen to international visitors who are fully vaccinated. (Source.)
  • Under the so-called ‘Phuket Sandbox‘ scheme, the new arrivals (who must be from countries deemed ‘low risk’) will not have to quarantine, but they will have to stay on the island for at least 14 days. After that, they will be free to travel to other parts of Thailand, providing they can show a negative RT-PCR test on day six and on day 12 of their stay in Phuket. You can read more about the Phuket Sandbox Scheme here.
  • The Thai Tourism Minister says that Phuket must reach zero infections before this goes ahead and have at least 70% of its population vaccinated. There has been a 2-week quarantine imposed on any domestic travellers to Phuket (who are not vaccinated) in order to achieve this goal.
Phuket Reopening Proposal Letter
Letter from the Tourism Authority of Thailand regarding Phuket opening 1st July 2021.
  • THAILAND REOPENING 1ST OCTOBER – On 7th May, a government official said that Thailand has plans to reopen to travellers with proof of vaccination (without the need to quarantine) from 1st October. It has been suggested that this would be for Thailand’s major tourist destinations. The destinations of Krabi, Pattaya, Bangkok, Buriram, Cha-am, Koh Samui, Phang-nga and Hua Hin have been earmarked as possible destinations to try out a similar ‘sandbox’ scheme should Phuket’s reopening be successful. Source.
  • All travellers from India are currently banned from entering Thailand. Source.

See here for Southeast Asia Travel COVID-19 overview.


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 contact the embassy of the country you are visiting for the latest information.

Thailand Travel Restrictions (June 2021)

Can you travel to Thailand right now? SUMMARY:

Yes, you can. As an international traveller, you must arrange a visa in advance, have a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours before departure and adhere to 14-day quarantine in a state-approved hotel once you arrive in Thailand. 

Current Thailand Visas available

From 1st July, Thailand will be scrapping the Special Tourist Visa.

  1. STV – Special Tourist Visa (Max. stay 90 days, can be extended twice to up to 270 days).
  2. TR60 – 60-day Tourist Visa (Max. stay 60 days).
  3. Por30 – Visa Exempt Entry ((Max. stay 45 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.
  4. Have proof of accommodation after your 14-day quarantine.
  5. Travel medical insurance with $100,000 US cover, including cover for COVID-19.
  6. Proof of at least 500,000 THB ($16,000 US) in your bank account.
  7. Passport with at least 12 months validity and two blank pages.

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

Quarantine Period: 

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.

Phuket Specific Quarantine – For anyone travelling domestically within Thailand, there is now 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. This is due to attempts to make the island entirely COVID free by 1st July in order to open up to foreign travellers via the Phuket Sandbox Scheme.

Phuket Quarantine
Special Phuket Quarantine Rules.

Face Masks: 

As of 26th April 2021, face coverings must be worn in all indoor and outdoor public places across the country. 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: 

Travel domestically around Thailand is currently 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. Travel restrictions in each province depend on the colour rating and local rules vary.

The highest level is dark red and from 1st May, this includes the following provinces: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani. In the dark red zones, you cannot leave your province except for emergency situations, restaurants, bars and pubs are closed and gatherings of more than 20 people banned.

COVID-19 measures in Thailand from 1st May 2021.
New COVID-19 Thailand measures from 1st May 2021.

Curfews: 

Nightly curfews of varying times are in place across Thailand in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. (For example, Phuket has a curfew of 10 pm – 4 am starting 4th May 2021.)

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 across provinces vary. In dark red zones, restaurants, bars and pubs, massage parlours, theatres, swimming pools and fitness centres etc. are closed. 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 in Bangkok right now. It’s hot. Restaurants are open for takeaway, Entertainment/gym/pool closed. Masks everywhere, but otherwise good to walk around, fewer people outside. Malls cool. Hotels with promotions. – Stefan, 15th May 2021

I’m in Pak Meng, Thailand. (An hour or so south of Krabi.) I’m sat on the beach having a beer. There are a few restrictions, like not being able to eat on the beach. A few restaurants are still open and there’s a curfew from 10 pm but it’s not a late-night place anyway. The weather is gorgeous. The sea is warmer than I normally have a bath. There’s been a roadblock into the village for a few days but I didn’t see anyone get stopped and now it’s gone. Rumours are that the borders will open for inoculated tourists within the next few months. – Alan, 14th May 2021

Bangkok has almost no traffic. It’s heaven! – Steve, 14th May 2021

I’m in Phuket, Thailand. It’s like a ghost town. We’re in our third wave of COVID, so things are very shut down. Beautiful beaches though! – Arianna, 14th May 2021

I’m in Koh Tao, it’s paradise! Some, but not many people here, restaurants are open and you can still go scuba diving and rock climbing. – Charly, 15th May 2021

I’m in Koh Samui. It’s quiet. I’ve been told this is how the island looked like 20 years ago. – Miguel, 15th May 2021.

I’m in Bangkok. Things are not great at all. Parks and green spaces have been shut down and there is a mask mandate even for exercise, but the shopping malls are open. It’s crazy – stop people from being outside in the fresh (for once) air and from exercising, but allow everyone into crowded malls! – Jess, 15th May 2021

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

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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