Thailand Reopening “Within 120 Days”: Everything You Need to Know

Karsts and A Long Tail Boat at Railay Beach

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.


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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.

Beach in Phuket, Thailand
The Thailand reopening will begin with the island of Phuket on 1st July 2021.

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.

Koh Samui, Thailand.
Koh Samui is next on the list of islands to reopen in Thailand.

Travellers using the ‘Samui Plus’ program have 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, unlike Phuket, travellers to the Samui region have to stay within their hotel grounds for the first 3 nights, using only hotel facilities. Between nights 4-7, they are able to travel to other parts of Koh Samui. After that, they are able to travel between the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. Again, visitors are subject to various COVID-19 RT PCR tests before being allowed to leave the Samui area.

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!

10 thoughts on “Thailand Reopening “Within 120 Days”: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Peter Corbett

    I plan to travel to Thailand (Hua Hin) towards the end of October with a view to retiring in the Kingdom. Will it be better to quarantine in Bangkok or wait for Hua Hin to reopen. Also, if Hua Hin reopens, how will I be allowed to travel from Suvarnabhumi.

    1. Hi Peter, it is completely up to you and when you plan to go! My personal feeling would be to head to Thailand now while you can because you never know what will change… Remember you also have the option right now of the Phuket Sandbox which means that you don’t have to quarantine in your hotel room, you can just stay on the island of Phuket for 14 days (granted you are fully vaccinated). They have just added the 7+7 program so you could even stay in Phuket for one week and then spend another week at another Thai destination and have a holiday before you get to Hua Hin.
      For the Phuket Sandbox, you would fly direct to Phuket. See this post for more info: https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/phuket-sandbox/
      Regarding where you would fly for Hua Hin in October, I imagine they will have designated transport (a bus) from Suvarnabhumi Airport (so-called “sealed tourist routes”) as they are now operating with the 7+7 program, but this has yet to be decided.
      Wishing you all the best with your retirement!

  2. Frances Hayes

    If I travel to Thailand after Sept and immediately on to Chiang Mai when is is open, am I am to drive to Mae Ramat in TAk province.

    1. Hi Frances, yes, theoretically, you would be able to do that… depending on the local travel restrictions at the time of course! Things are still changing daily in the country and so nobody really knows what the situation will be like in September.

      1. Thanks Nikki, what sort of local travel restrictions exits?is it between provinces or towns within the province? Frances

        1. There are currently restrictions on travel between provinces. Each province is given a colour (yellow, orange, red, dark red) depending on the level of ‘risk’. As of today, there are currently 10 provinces in the dark red zone: Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani & Narathiwat. If you travel FROM a dark red zone to another zone, you must have a PCR swab test on arrival, even if you are vaccinated and you must quarantine for 14 days. Over the past few days due to the COVID situation in Thailand, AirAsia cancelled all of its domestic flights. Of course, the travel restrictions are changing all of the time. It depends on when you plan to travel what restrictions you will face. Keep up to date with our article here: https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/covid19-thailand-travel-restrictions/

    1. Hi Akash, the cost of your trip entirely depends on the type of hotel that you stay in and what type of restaurants you eat at. On the SHA+ Approved hotel list, there are a variety of hotels from budget to luxury. Also, if you eat at expensive restaurants you will pay more than if you stick to local Thai street food. You can find out more in our budget guide to Thailand here: https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/cost-of-travel/thailand/
      Bear in mind that Phuket is one of the more expensive islands in Thailand.

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