Thailand is reopening the country in stages, starting with the Phuket Sandbox Scheme which launched on 1st July 2021. Step by step, vaccinated travellers, from all over the world are able to land on Thailand’s shores without having to quarantine. In this article, we’ll look at the Thailand reopening timeline as it stands, and what we know so far about the entry requirements for travellers.
Also read (opens in new tab):
- Current COVID-19 Thailand travel restrictions.
- Best face mask for flying.
- COVID-19 travel restrictions across Southeast Asia.
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 fully reopen within 120 days”
On 16th June 2021, in a televised interview to the nation, Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced that the country would ‘fully reopen’ within 120 days. (Source.)
“The time has now come for us to look ahead and set a date for when we can fully open our country and start receiving visitors because re-opening the country is one of the important ways to start reducing the enormous suffering of people who have lost their ability to earn an income. I am, therefore, setting a goal for us to be able to declare Thailand fully open within 120 days from today, and for tourism centres that are ready, to do so even faster. The only exception to these guidelines will be if a truly serious situation develops or seems likely to develop, and we will look at those situations on a case-by-case basis.” – Prayut Chan-o-cha, PM of Thailand
The Big Thailand Reopening – Timeline 2021
1st July 2021 – Phuket Sandbox
The first stage in Thailand’s grand reopening plan began with the island of Phuket on Thailand’s Andaman Coast. On 1st July, in a pioneering scheme, Thailand’s largest island welcomed vaccinated tourists from ‘low-medium risk’ countries from around the world.
Now, all visitors to Phuket do not have to quarantine upon arrival. However, if they want to travel to other parts of Thailand, they will need to have completed 14 nights in an SHA approved hotel (a hotel that has been certified by the Thai Health and Safety Association) before leaving the island. They will also have to have completed several COVID-19 RT-PCR tests. You can read more about the rollout and requirements for the Phuket Sandbox scheme here.
15th July 2021 – Samui Plus Program (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao)
Following the reopening of Phuket, the next destination to reopen was the trio of previously popular islands in the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The ‘Samui Sealed Route‘ program was first proposed by the Thailand Authority of Tourism on 18th June 2021 via the TAT News website.
When the scheme was first unveiled, travellers using the ‘Samui Plus‘ program had to spend their first 14 nights in an SHA approved hotel on the island of Koh Samui (which has an International Airport) before being allowed to travel elsewhere in Thailand. However, this scheme has since been shortened to seven days. Under the new approach, visitors must spend their first night in a SHA+ hotel on Samui. The following morning, they’ll receive their PCR test result. If it is negative, they are free to move between Koh Samui, Phangnan and Tao on pre-approved sealed routes. During this week, they must stay at SHA+ hotels. On the penultimate day, travellers will be tested for COVID-19 again. If this result is negative, they will be granted a release certificate that enables them to visit other parts of the country.
August 2021 – The Island Approach Continues (Proposed Destinations – Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, Railay, Khao Lak, Koh Yao)
Following the (successful) reopening of Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, the so-called ‘Island Approach’ will continue in August 2021. This will be an ‘extension’ of the Phuket Sandbox Scheme, and it will be called the ‘Krabi Even More Amazing’ program!
The reopening will include the islands of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Ngai as well as the popular beach destination of Railay. This will continue with the ‘Phang Nga Prompt’ program which will include Khao Lak and Koh Yao. (Full details of how this scheme will work have not yet been announced.)
September 2021 – The Sealed Approach (Proposed Destinations – Chiang Mai, Chonburi (Pattaya), Buriram)
UPDATE: The reopening of Chiang Mai has been pushed back to October or even later due to increasing COVID-19 numbers across the country. Source.
Moving away from the islands in the South of Thailand, the ‘Sealed Approach’ aims to tackle the reopening of several other of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations in Central and Northern Thailand. The main destinations set for reopening in September are: Chiang Mai (which includes Mae Rim, Mae Tang and Doi Tao), Chonburi (which includes Pattaya, Banglamung and Sattahip) and Buriram (Mueang and Chang Arena).
October 2021 (Proposed Destinations – Bangkok, Cha-Am, Hua Hin)
In the latter part of the year (all being well), the reopening of Bangkok, Cha-Am and Hua Hin is on the cards, as well as other destinations that are deemed ‘ready’ by the Thai Ministry of Health.
Important: In order for the reopening plans to go ahead, it is suggested that each destination will have to have at least 70% of the local population fully vaccinated. Vaccination rollout is currently underway across the country to ensure that this happens.
Requirements for travellers to enter Thailand
- All travellers entering the country will have to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine that is approved by either the WHO (World Health Organisation) or the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand (MoPH).
- All visitors will need a COVID RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to travel before boarding the flight to Thailand.
- All visitors to Thailand will be required to take further RT-PCT COVID-19 tests when in the country and before travelling to other parts of Thailand. Testing days differ depending on the location.
- All visitors will need to have health insurance covering COVID-19 hospitalisation for at least $100,000 USD.
- All visitors arriving in Thailand must adhere to the DMHTTA guidelines throughout the duration of their trip. Distancing, Masks, Handwashing, Temperature checks, Testing, Alert application.
- All visitors will be made to download the Thailand Plus Application on their smartphone which will allow the authorities to track and trace their stay in Thailand.
- All visitors will need to apply for a Certificate of Entry before they travel as well as a TB Health Declaration Form.
- All visitors will have to show proof of payment for the designated number of nights at an SHA Approved hotel before they are allowed to enter the country.
- All visitors will need to show proof of personal funds of 20,000 THB per person or 40,000 THB per family.
- All visitors will need to show proof of onward travel from Thailand before the date of expiry of their visa.
Visas to Thailand
Visitors can enter on the visa-exempt entry pass (Por30) which now allows travellers 45 days in the country OR the 60-day Tourist Visa (TR60) that grants travellers 60 days in the country. Both these types of visa can be extended at a Thai Immigration Centre for a further 30 days. The Special Tourist Visa will be scrapped as of 1st July. Read more about visas to Thailand here.
If you have any questions about the reopening of Thailand, please comment below and we will try our best to answer you! Please remember that information is changing all of the time and while we try our best to update this article regularly, we cannot guarantee that the information is 100% correct!
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