Thailand’s Reopening Plan


Thailand Reopening Plan

Thailand Reopening Plan

It certainly has been a long time since Thailand effectively closed its borders to tourists, and nobody could have predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would last for so long and have such a devastating effect on the international travel and tourism industry. However, it appears that things are starting to happen now, with the loosening of the current travel restrictions being discussed in various media outlets. Currently, Thailand is open to tourists, but the tedious and onerous paperwork requirements combined with a mandatory 7, 10, or 15-night quarantine on arrival are putting off the vast majority of tourists, and, as a result of the Thailand travel restrictions, the normally booming hotspots such as Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui are effectively empty.

Piecing together the various new releases would indicate that the first stage in reopening the country will be a reduction in the quarantine period for visitors who can prove that they have been vaccinated against the virus. This will halve the quarantine from 15 nights to 7, however, for many travelers, even a 7-day quarantine may be too long and will still deter them from traveling. Not only do travelers not want to spend half of their holiday stuck in a hotel room, but they also don’t want to pay the higher rates that the ASQ hotels charge for the medical requirement imposed by the government, therefore this measure is unlikely to lead to a surge in international tourism, as there are already other destinations which are opening up for quarantine-free travel. Also, there is a significant proportion of people who cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons or people who object to it for personal reasons, therefore, these people will still need to quarantine for 15 nights/16 days.

In addition to offering a reduced quarantine period, the Thai government has planned for a concept referred to as “area quarantine”, which is where travelers will be allowed in and only required to undertake a reduced quarantine period, after which they will be allowed out as long as they stay in the prescribed area. For somewhere like Samui, it’s easy to see how this will work as the area will simply be the island itself, however, this seems like an experimental venture at the moment, and it’s entirely possible it is delayed if spikes of infection are seen across the country.

Despite having very low rates of infection compared with most western countries, the Thai government retains a very cautious stance regarding tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, and quarantining at an ASQ hotel in Thailand remains a requirement for all travelers at present. The relaxing of the Thailand travel requirements will be brought in step by step to ensure that they do not encourage a new wave of infection, and if things go to plan then that will spur them into introducing the next step in their plan to relax the requirements further and encourage more tourists to visit.

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The Thai government’s plan or “roadmap” to reopening is as follows:

  • Stage 1. From April 1st until June 30th, vaccinated tourists will be allowed to undergo a reduced quarantine period of only 7 days. They will be also allowed out of their room at certain times to use designated areas of the hotel, if applicable. The unvaccinated tourists are required to quarantine for 10 days.
  • Stage 2. From July 1st until September 30th, vaccinated tourists will be allowed to visit Phuket without any quarantine period under what is called the “Phuket Sandbox” program. Visitors will be required to stay in Phuket for at least 14 days, after which they are free to travel to other parts of Thailand.
  • Stage 3. From October 1st until December 31st, five other destinations will allow vaccinated tourists to arrive without a quarantine requirement under the seven-day sandbox program, which requires them to stay within the prescribed area for 7 days. This will include Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai.
  • Stage 4. It is speculated that from 1st January 2022, vaccinated tourists will be able to enter the country and move around freely without quarantine. However, any setbacks at any of the previous stages, which seem highly likely, could cause the date to be set back significantly.

You will note that the Thai government is keen for all arriving tourists to be vaccinated, and there is no mention of it, or when unvaccinated tourists will be allowed to enter the country without undergoing a 7, 10, or 15-night quarantine requirement. It is also worth noting that the Thai government’s vaccine roll-out is proceeding at a slow pace due to many factors. What this means, in short, is that it’s very possible that another wave of infection could spread, and dramatically setback the reopening plan.

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FAQs for Thailand Travel and Quarantine Restrictions

When will I be able to travel to Thailand without having to quarantine at all?

If you’re willing to have the vaccine, then you’ll be able to visit Phuket on July 1st, 2021, as planned, however, only if the country doesn’t see an increased infection rate.

I can’t have the jab (or don’t want it), and don’t want to quarantine, when is the earliest that I can come to Thailand?

Uncertain at present, but certainly not any time this year. Most likely some time in 2022 but could be delayed by any further waves of infection.

What happened to the golf quarantine scheme?

It is technically still going, however, with the cost of the 2-week quarantine it is a very expensive option for most.

I have heard that the food they give you in ASQ is awful, is this true?

Certainly, some hotels have better food than others, which is why it’s important to do your own research before choosing your hotel. Many now will allow you to order food from a restaurant through an app such as Grab, so check beforehand. For above-average food service we have heard excellent feedback about the following ASQ hotels in Bangkok:

I have heard that no alcohol is allowed during quarantine, is this true?

Unfortunately, yes. No ASQ hotels allow the consumption of alcohol at present.

Can my Thai partner and I quarantine in the same room?

You can only share your ASQ hotel room with your husband/wife and children, marriage certificates or proof of domestic partnership will need to be shown.

Can I order take-out food to my room, like a pizza, for example?

In general, the answer is no, but some hotels are reportedly allowing it, so check beforehand if this is something that you might want to do.

Do I have to quarantine in Bangkok, or can I go somewhere else?

Initially, ASQ hotels were only available in Bangkok. Now Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ) is available in Phuket, Koh Samui, Chon Buri/Pattaya/Jomtien, Buriram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mukdahan, Prachinburi, Tak, and Nakhon Nayok.

Can I arrive in Bangkok and quarantine somewhere else?

In general, no. The availability of your ASQ room depends on your point of entry to the country. However, there is no reason why your hotel couldn’t send a taxi to collect you from the airport in Bangkok and drive you to the hotel in Pattaya, for example. You would need to discuss this with your ASQ hotel in advance.

What happens if I test positive during quarantine?

Then you’ll be immediately taken to hospital, and you’ll be responsible for the inevitably steep medical costs. Note that many covid insurance policies will not cover you if you are asymptomatic, so check before buying your policy. Medical treatment at some hospitals in Thailand can be extremely expensive.

If I visit Phuket on 1st July, will I be free to move around the country?

Initially, you will be required to stay in Phuket for a minimum of 14 days. After that, you’ll be free to travel around Thailand, providing that you have not tested positive. However, you’ll still need to follow all of the social distancing measures.

I got tested in my home country and it came back as positive. When will I be allowed to travel to Thailand?

You will need to wait 6 months after testing positive before being allowed to enter. However, in theory, you would be able to apply for COE and be able to enter Thailand as long as you have a negative test certificate, as the immigration officials don’t have access to your medical records.

How do I get to my ASQ hotel from the airport?

All ASQ packages include hotel pick-up, you will be met at a designated place by a representative of your chosen ASQ hotel.

Can I order personal items such as a toothbrush, shampoo, medicine, or a sim card when in quarantine?

Yes, you can communicate with the hotel staff through the Line or WhatsApp app, and they will go and buy what you need, within reason.

Will I be able to post items or documents when in quarantine?

A: No, you would need to wait until you have finished your quarantine period.

Will I be allowed to walk around the hotel, and to use the gym or swimming pool?

Initially no, but after a certain number of days, providing that your tests have all been negative, then you would be allowed out at an allotted time for a prescribed period. Ask your ASQ hotel beforehand.

What happens when I finish quarantine?

You will be allowed out and will be free to travel the country. However, you will still be required to download the “Mor Chana” app, sign in whenever you go anywhere, wear a facemask and follow social distancing guidelines. There are some provinces that would require you to have a COVID 19 test before you can enter the province.

Can my friend visit me at my ASQ hotel when I am in quarantine?

Visitors are not allowed to interact with a person undergoing a quarantine.

I am in a wheelchair (or otherwise disabled), can I book an ASQ hotel?

Certainly, but you MUST inform the hotel beforehand of your special needs and requests.

Will I be allowed to open the windows, or use the balcony during my quarantine period?

If the hotel has windows that open or a balcony, you should be able to do so, no problem. However, some hotels will lock the door to the balcony, do your own research beforehand.

I am a smoker, will I be allowed to smoke in the room?

You have two options here. Either book a smoking room, or book a room with an accessible balcony. You should inform the hotel that you intend to smoke when making the booking.

I take a lot of medication, what will happen if I run out during quarantine?

It would be wise to bring enough medication with you to cover your quarantine period. However, if you do run out, most western medications or their equivalent are generally available in Thailand, and the hotel staff will be able to go to a pharmacy to get them for you.

What happens if my room is too small or dirty?

You will be able to ask the hotel for a different room or an upgrade, which you will most likely have to pay for. There are more than 100 ASQ hotels in Bangkok so you can check the photos and dimensions of the hotel rooms before making a booking.

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What happens if I don’t like the hotel and don’t want to stay there?

There’s nothing that you can do, you must stay at the hotel you booked. There are instances that you are able to change your hotel and it can be arranged by your current ASQ and new ASQ hotel. However, even if you were able to change to a different hotel, your payment wouldn’t be refunded.

I need a fast internet connection during my quarantine period for work/Netflix/gaming. How can I make sure that I choose a hotel with a good internet connection?

Unfortunately, there are still many hotels in Bangkok that offer poor Wi-Fi coverage, so do your own research. If your room doesn’t have good internet speeds, you can buy a sim card very cheaply and top it up to create a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Will my room be cleaned during quarantine? And how do I do my laundry?

Yes, your room will be cleaned during quarantine. The hotel will do your laundry but be advised that most hotels will charge an extra amount for the service. Look for a hotel that offers free or discounted laundry services as part of their ASQ package.

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20 Comments

  1. Pierre
    June 15, 2021
    Reply

    Someone can help me. I live in Thailand and my brother plan to come to see me in august
    My question is : does he have to stay in a hotel or he can come to stay with me in a private house
    I try to find an answer but nobody is very clear about this
    Thank you

    • June 15, 2021

      Dear Pierre,
      Good day.
      The general rule is this: all foreigners and Thais entering Thailand must under quarantine for 14 days in a designated ASQ Hotel With an exception for vaccinated passengers who are arriving in Phuket. They can stay in a normal room of an accredited SHA+ hotels. At the moment, quarantine at home is not allowed.
      Thank you.

  2. Peter
    May 31, 2021
    Reply

    We are fully vaccinated and we would like to go to Phuket in the first days of July via Bangkok.
    We can not check our luggage directly to Phuket due to Airline regulations.
    So in Bangkok we will have to pick up our luggage after having passed immigration, and we have to go to national Bangkokair counter to check in including national luggage check in.

    Is this way to Phuket possible without need of quarantaine in Bangkok ?

    • June 1, 2021

      Dear Peter,
      Good day.
      To avoid quarantine in Bangkok, please book a flight direct to Phuket. You can book a flight to Phuket with transit in Dubai, Doha or Singapore. You must not arrive through Bangkok. Some airlines now are doing the triangle route which means, they fly from Europe to Phuket first and then to Bangkok.
      Thank you.

    • Peter
      June 2, 2021

      I was sure, when the country starts the Sandbox Plan in Phuket, they will make it work.
      So fact is, the international flight to Bangkok and the connection flights with Bangkokair are already booked. There is the option to cancel the trip or to find a solution using the booked flights.

      What about travelling with hand luggage only ? My flight allows 2 peaces of handluggage, so I could get along with it. Could this be an option ?

    • June 4, 2021

      Dear Peter,
      Good day.
      Starting July 1, those international travelers arriving in Phuket (through Dubai, Doha and Singapore) will be allowed to stay without quarantine. They must book a tour or they must stay in an SHA+ accredited hotel.
      Please check this page fore your reference:
      https://www.thaiembassy.com/travel-to-thailand/no-quarantine-phuket-sandbox-plan
      Thank you.

  3. Abdulla
    May 29, 2021
    Reply

    I read this somewhere Certificate of vaccination completed at least 14 days and no more than three months before arrival in Thailand.

    I took my second dose of vaccine at February does this mean
    that I will have to quarantine as if not vaccinated.

    • May 29, 2021

      Dear Abdulla,
      Good day.
      Right now, the requirement is having vaccinated at least 14 days before you travel and not more than 12 months. So if you had the vaccine in February, you are definitely qualified to arrive in Phuket and stay there without quarantine starting July 1.
      Thank you.

  4. Iain
    May 26, 2021
    Reply

    If I go to the Phuket sandbox, can I fly to BKK before HKT? Or does it have to be a direct flight?

    I’ve heard conflicting information on these two things.

    Flights to HKT that stop in BKK are much cheaper and easier to find. There just aren’t very many direct flights to HKT from outside of Thailand.

    • May 26, 2021

      Dear Iain,
      Good day.
      As we posted, there is no official guideline just yet. What we can assume now is that arrival in Phuket should be an international flight and not domestic flight. If you land in Bangkok then to Phuket, that is already a domestic flight. Unless you can fly to Phuket through Bangkok without disembarking the aircraft.
      Thank you.

  5. Ulli
    May 25, 2021
    Reply

    I have booked ASQ in Phuket for arrival on 18th July — when Phuket Sandbox is already in function.
    I will have the second shot of Covid vaccine one week before. Can I leave my ASQ after one week there since I will be then considered fully vaccinated and stay in another Phuket hotel for 7 days ?

    • May 27, 2021

      Dear Ulli,
      If you are not fully vaccinated, you need to quarantine for 14 days. If you are vaccinated for more than 14 days before arrival, you can qualify for the “no quarantine” program. You cannot have it 50% vaccinated. I suggest for you to travel to Phuket 2 to 3 weeks after your second shot.
      Thank you.

  6. Ben
    May 13, 2021
    Reply

    Hi Rex,
    With the current spike of infection in Thailand and Bangkok in particular is the vaccination of Phuket residents still taking place and on course? Very anxious as we have a family holiday booked to Phuket in December from the UK with direct flights, all travelling adults have been fully vaccinated but we will have a 5 and 4 year old with us has anything been said about children flying in as regards vaccination? We would be meeting family in Phuket that live in Bangkok.
    Many thanks

    • May 13, 2021

      Dear Ben,
      Good day.
      As of today, there is no official guideline about the Phuket Sandbox that is supposed to start on July 1. Please check with us in June for any development about this program.
      Thank you.

  7. Max
    May 6, 2021
    Reply

    Hi Rex,
    hope you are going well.
    Few questions about the Phuket sandbox.
    1. Is it still confirmed?
    2. Has the entry procedure been established yet? (visa, COE, PCR Test, vaccine completed 14 days prior to arrival (and which ones are accepted) )
    3. During the same period, can Thai citizens travel from other Thai cities to Phuket without restrictions?

    • May 6, 2021

      Dear Max,
      Good day.
      There has been no reports that the July 1 reopening of Phuket is cancelled, which is a good news. However, there is no more information on what will be the entry requirements or the standard procedure for that plan as well. So I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. The best thing to right now is to way for the end of May for the update.
      At the moment, yes, inter-province trip are allowed as long as the passenger has a COVID test with negative result. As for July 1, there is really no update about it. I will not be surprised if this will cancelled due to the current COVID situation and the vaccine roll-out is slow.
      Thank you.

  8. Andrew
    May 5, 2021
    Reply

    For the Phuket sandbox, do you have to fly directly into Phuket airport, or can you transit via Bangkok?

    • May 5, 2021

      Dear Andrew,
      Good day.
      Yes, your international flight must land in Phuket. You can book flights with transit in Singapore and from Singapore to Phuket.
      Thank you.

    • Santiago
      May 11, 2021

      Rex is wrong. If you land in Bangkok you can continue to travel to a Sandbox location, but you are not allowed to go out of the airport of Bangkok. You just have to get a flight from the same airport.

    • May 12, 2021

      Dear Santiago,
      How can you take a domestic flight without having in contact with other domestic passengers? I assume the person will have his/her own flight to Phuket? Also, there is no official announcement or guideline on the Phuket Sandbox at this time. If the flight is Doha-Bangkok-Phuket with the same aircraft, that is possible. If the flight is Tokyo-Bangkok with ANA airline and BKK-Phuket is Bangkok Airways, then this is not possible.
      Thank you.