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.
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.
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.
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.