Before you travel to Thailand during Covid-19, here’s what you should know
Table of Contents
Hey looking at holidays in Thailand, or backpacking trips in Thailand in 22?
If you’re considering a trip to Thailand during the Covid-19 pandemic, here’s what you’ll need to know and what to expect.
The fundamentals of travelling in Thailand
As of August 27, Thailand had recorded over 10,000 deaths and over 1.1 million cases of Covid-19. The country is currently seeing its worst wave since the outbreak began.
International tourists arriving in Bangkok must stay in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility for 14 days. On July 1, however, the island of Phuket reopened to vaccinated foreign guests without the need for quarantine.
On July 15, the country started a similar scheme called “Samui Plus” on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao.
What is the status of Covid?
Due to tight quarantine on arrival restrictions, Thailand has recorded few locally transmitted Covid-19 infections for months. However, the country is still fighting its third and most serious wave of illnesses, which began in early April with outbreak clusters in major Bangkok nightclubs. The country is currently reporting roughly 18,000 new cases each day on average, with the majority of cases occurring in Bangkok and the neighbouring provinces.
On June 7, a countrywide vaccination programme was officially launched. By the end of the year, Thailand hopes to have vaccinated 70% of its people.
What are the Covid limits in Thailand?
All tourists must show documentation of an insurance policy that covers Covid-19 therapy up to $100,000 in costs, as well as a negative PCR test is done within 72 hours of departure.
On arrival, all tourists (excluding fully vaccinated travellers going to Phuket or Koh Samui) must take another PCR test, following which they must quarantine at government-approved quarantine facilities or Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facilities. This can include high-end hotels, some of which offer quarantine services. You can see a complete list of participating hotels and resorts, as well as package rates, here:
As previously stated, Phuket reopened to vaccinated passengers from low- and medium-risk areas on July 1st, with no quarantine requirements. Visitors must remain for 14 days in a SHA+ registered hotel on the island before being authorised to travel elsewhere in the country. Visitors to Phuket must apply for a Certificate of Entry.
They must also show documentation of insurance coverage that covers Covid-19 treatment up to $100,000, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine given at least 14 days before their departure date.
At this time, all visitors must arrive in Phuket via direct international flights. It is not possible to transit through Bangkok.
In Thailand, where can I go?
Passport holders from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia are exempt from obtaining a visa when visiting Thailand for tourism purposes and are allowed to stay in Thailand for up to 45 days per visit. They are, nevertheless, needed to get a Certificate of Entry.
Tourists from non-visa-exempt countries can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV), which is valid for 90 days and can be renewed twice. An STV must be obtained from a Thai consulate or embassy in your home country.
All passengers who have received a Certificate of Entry must download and register for the ThailandPlus App. They will be required to display a QR code upon arrival in Thailand, which will be scanned by Thai authorities.
Thailand has published an online step-by-step guide outlining the admission processes in full.
What can travellers look forward to?
13 high-risk provinces have been placed under restrictions that will last until the end of August. Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Ayutthaya, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala are among the cities that have been affected. Only essential shops and services are allowed to open in certain neighbourhoods, and restaurants are restricted to take-out only.
Interprovincial travel is currently discouraged. Domestic flights to and from high-risk zones have been cancelled, with a few exceptions. Travel by bus and train has also been hampered, with carriers stopping or reducing journeys. In an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19, officials have banned domestic passengers from entering Phuket until the end of August, with the exception of those who have a scheduled international trip.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website has all the latest information. The majority of the country’s entertainment venues, including bars and nightclubs, have been ordered to close. In public, masks are worn at all times, both indoors and out, and temperature checks are commonplace. Fines will be imposed on those who do not wear masks.
Prior to the recent limitations, areas within driving distance of Bangkok were able to benefit from domestic tourists, but other generally popular locations such as Phuket and Koh Samui were not so fortunate. Visitors will find vacant beaches and highly cheap lodging alternatives at these locations.
Due to a dearth of tourists, several stores, restaurants, and hotels on Phuket’s southern beaches of Patong, Kata, and Karon have closed.
When will the remainder of Thailand be open to foreign visitors again?
Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, and Buriram Phang Nga are the next Thai locations to return to travellers, with reopening dates slated for September 1.
Bangkok and Hua Hin are due to reopen on Friday, October 1, with the rest of the country following suit over the rest of the month.
Which Thai islands are accessible to visitors?
In addition to the Sandbox programme in Phuket, three islands in Surat Thani Province are now open to visitors, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand anticipating roughly 1,000 international tourists to visit the region between July 15 and August 15.
Koh Tao, the smallest and quietest of the newly reopened islands, has long been a favourite among scuba divers, thanks to low-cost tuition and equipment rental, as well as amazing marine life.
Above the ocean, the island has a lot to offer. Its volcanic rock surface is home to multiple climbing routes, as well as stunning beaches and lush green jungles, and hikes with abseiling, bouldering, and amazing overlooks.
The original Full Moon Party, an all-night beach bash that has been going on for nearly four decades, is held on Koh Phanghan, Thailand’s fifth-largest island, which is only 12 kilometres from Koh Samui.
Beautiful bays, mountainous rainforest with waterfalls and mountain lakes, and plenty of yoga and nature retreats for those looking to get away from it all can all be found here.
Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most well-known islands, with palm-tree lined beaches, clean waters, and a thriving nightlife. In any other year, this time of year, the island would be swarming with visitors. With everything from luxury five-star resorts to inexpensive backpacker hostels, a visit now may be one of the last opportunities to explore the island without the throngs that have grown synonymous with it.
Beaches, waterfalls, and Buddha statues abound in Koh Samui, the most famous of which is the island’s, Big Buddha.
Is Thailand welcoming to American visitors?
All American business visa holders are welcome in Thailand. Visitors should consult the Royal Thai Embassy’s website or visit the Thai embassy in Washington, D.C. for more information on entry requirements for U.S. citizens.