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Sandbox Travel Updates | November 2021

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  • Sandbox Travel Updates | November 2021

    Full details on the 3 ways to travel to Thailand from November 01. 2021

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand has released a summary of the new plans to reopen Thailand to allow international tourists to travel on November 01. 2021 Thailand will reopen without quarantine for fully vaccinated people travelling from 46 approved countries, who will only have to take a Covid-19 test on arrival and wait in an approved hotel for the results. Those who want to come to Thailand but didn’t make the list of approved countries will now be able to enter with Thailand’s new and improved Sandbox program, with a week of soft quarantine in one of 17 approved provinces.

    And even those who are not fully vaccinated will be able to travel to Thailand with a quarantine period depending on how they arrive. Those who fly in will quarantine for 10 days while those who arrive by land will require a 2-week quarantine. Those who are vaccinated but want to arrive into one of the 60 provinces that are not approved for Sandboxing will need to quarantine for one week only.

    The information was published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette last night, along with relaxed curfew rules, making it official. Below is a chart with all currently known details for the three-pronged reopening program to allow people to travel to Thailand, though the government warns that they could be changed or modified.

    For those wanting to travel to Thailand from one of the 46 approved countries, entry requirements are as follows:
    “TEST & GO”: Entry without any quarantine
    Where can I come from?
    Brunei Darussalam
    Czech Republic
    Hong Kong
    New Zealand
    Saudi Arabia
    South Korea
    • Travel to Thailand by air only.
    • Must be in the country for at least 3 weeks before travel.
    • An exception is made for people who leave Thailand and stay in an approved country less than 3 weeks before returning to Thailand.
    What do I need to have?
    • Certificate of Entry (or eventually the Thailand Pass planned to replace the CoE)
    • Medical Certificate with a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of travelling.
      • An exception is made for a Medical Certificate of Recovery showing a Covid-19 recovery within 3 months.
    • US $50,000 insurance policy that covers all Covid-19 expenses for the whole duration of travel in Thailand.
      • Returning Thai citizens eligible for national health insurance are exempt.
    • Paid hotel for minimum 1 night stay at either an SHA Plus-certified hotel or:
      • Alternative Quarantine, Organisation Quarantine, or Alternative Hospital Quarantine
      • Includes the cost of RT-PCR test and ATK.
    • Certificate of Vaccination. Either:
      • Full vaccination approved by the Thai Ministry of Public Health or WHO at least 2 weeks before travel.
      • An approved vaccine allowing one dose at least 2 weeks before travel.
      • Travellers under 12 with negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours, travelling with a vaccinated guardian.
    What do I need to do?
    • Take an exit screening Covid-19 test before travelling to Thailand.
    • Be tested immediately on arrival, either at a test centre or accommodation.
      • Travel by approved airport transfer.
      • Stay in the approved accommodation until results are received.
    • Download and use the MorChana app.
    • Once negative test results are returned, travellers can go anywhere in Thailand.
    • Travellers will receive an ATK kit that was prepaid with hotel booking.
      • If they experience any Covid-19 symptoms, they must take the ATK.
      • If not, the test should be taken on day 6-7, with results reported in the MorChana app and to hotel staff.
      • Travellers must self-monitor for 7 days and report any symptom to their hotel, who will notify local communicable disease control authorities.
    For those who want to travel to Thailand who aren’t coming from one of the 46 approved countries, Thailand’s Sandbox program is expanding to 17 provinces, welcoming fully
    vaccinated travellers:
    “Blue Zone”: The new Sandbox scheme
    Where can I travel to?
    • Bangkok
    • Krabi
    • Phang Nga
    • Phuket
    • Buri Ram – Muang district ONLY:
    • Chon Buri – ONLY:
      • Bang Lamung
      • Pattaya
      • Si Racha
      • Koh Si Chang
      • Sattahip district – ONLY:
        • tambon Na Jomtien
        • tambon Bang Sare
    • Chiang Mai – ONLY:
      • Doi Tao
      • Mae Rim
      • Mae Taeng
      • Muang
    • Loei – Chiang Khan district ONLY:
    • Nong Khai – ONLY:
      • Muang
      • Sangkhom
      • Sri Chiang Mai
      • Tha Bo
    • Phetchaburi – Cha-am municipality ONLY:
    • Prachuap Khiri Khan – ONLY:
      • tambon Hua Hin
      • tambon Nong Kae
    • Ranong – Koh Phayam ONLY:
    • Rayong – Koh Samet ONLY:
    • Samut Prakan – Suvarnabhumi airport ONLY:
    • Surat Thani – ONLY:
      • Koh Samui
      • Koh Phangan
      • Koh Tao
    • Trat – Koh Chang ONLY:
    • Udon Thani – ONLY:
      • Muang
      • Ban Dung
      • Kumphawapi
      • Na Yoong
      • Nong Han
      • Prachak Silapakhom
    What are the requirements?
    • Fully vaccinated travellers can travel to Thailand with the same rules as the Sandbox with a few simplifications:
      • Instead of 2 RT-PCR tests, the second test on day 6-7 can now be done with an ATK at a designated test centre.
      • The travel health insurance requirement is reduced from US $100,000 to $50,000.
    For those who are not fully vaccinated, or who do not want to Sandbox in one of the 17 provinces, the Alternative Quarantine System allows people to still travel to Thailand:
    Alternative Quarantine System
    How long do I have to quarantine?
    7-day quarantine
    For fully vaccinated travellers with an approved vaccine.
    10-day quarantine
    For partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers arriving by air only.
    14-day quarantine
    For travellers arriving by land who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.
    What are the requirements?
    • Fully vaccinated travellers can travel to Thailand with the same rules as the Sandbox with a few simplifications:
      • Instead of 2 RT-PCR tests, the second test on day 6-7 can now be done with an ATK at a designated test centre.
      • The travel health insurance requirement is reduced from US $100,000 to $50,000.

  • #2
    Thailand is open for tourism again, sort of.....

    Quarantine-free arrival, except that you’ll still need to book at least 1 night of stay in an approved hotel or AQ (alternative quarantine). No bars are open (officially) and, in most parts of the country, most shops remain closed. In tourist-dependent places like Phuket, more than 90% of the formerly open shops remain closed.

    So how ‘open’ is Thailand as it approaches the magic November 01. 2021 deadline? It’s certainly more open than most other Asian countries at this time. At least there’s now a determination by the Thai government , rightly or wrongly, to ‘live with Covid’ and get the rusty tourist machinery churning again. But, for the tourists who used to be able to simply land in Thailand, visa free, or with a simple visa on arrival, those days are now in the rear view mirror.

    But those who are happy to jump through the much-reduced set of hoops, you’ll be visiting a new Thailand – the beaches and temples much to yourself, the waters clear, few queues and a population eager to welcome you back. In many ways, there’s never been a better time to visit Thailand.

    But there’s still a list of somewhat confusing restrictions and regulations if you want to travel back to the land of smiles at this time. If you want to re-enter Thailand, from November 1, mostly quarantine-free, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine. You’ll also need Covid insurance to the value of US$50,000 (it used to be US$100,000). There will initially be 17 provinces you will be able to travel to, although getting to those provinces, passing through higher-risk provinces, hasn’t been explained.

    Even blogger Richard Barrow is warning people from travelling to Thailand right now…

    “I would strongly advise people not to rush to come to Thailand. Transition periods are always messy.”
    But at least the curfews, currently running from 11:00 am – 3:00 am in dark red provinces, are set to be lifted on October 31. 2021 according to the Thai PM this week.

    And you’ll still need to wear a mask whilst in public at all times.

    One of the sticking points, for some tourists anyway, is the ban on serving alcohol and the lack of nightlife. Whilst some vanguards have been opening up anyway, running the gauntlet with the local constabulary, the official line has been to keep Thailand’s nightlife, including its more lurid red-light offerings, closed. But, even there, there’s a ray of hope with speculation that this ban will too be lifted on December 01. 2021

    The recent flurry of whittling away at Thailand’s Covid restrictions, and the almost daily announcements of new re-entry procedures, is a clear narrative that Thailand’s tourist industry can’t let another high season slip by with draconian border closures. The government’s trajectory is clear on this matter.

    Even so, there is a long, long journey back for 10s of thousands of businesses that have been shuttered, some for more than 18 months. Most of these businesses will never open again. But, in time, new operators will come forward and pry open the doors as the travellers start heading back to Thailand. None of this will happen immediately, maybe not for many years.

    And there’s an elephant in the room awaiting travellers. If you happen to test positive from your test upon arrival, it will be off to a Thai hospital or fired hospital, at your cost. That’s a lottery no visitors will want to win. So, will it be a dribble or a flood of new arrivals?

    Whilst many of the tourist tzars in Thailand have been enthusiastically talking up business, almost since the day the country closed the borders back in April 2020, many of the more realistic pundits are saying Thailand’s tourism recovery could take up to a decade, assuming there are no new black swan moments.
    • Thailand’s department of optimism, rainbows and unicorns, aka. TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand, have over-estimated and underdelivered on every single prediction they’ve made in the last 18 months.
    Seemingly indifferent to the world public health emergency presented by the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve been locking horns with health officials for the past year to try and get travellers back into the country. More tourists to Thailand means they get to keep their jobs.

    Eventually a compromise was met in the country’s most tourist-dependent economy, Phuket, and the Sandbox was born. It was launched on July 1, against the odds. Some 40,000 travellers took advantage of the Phuket Sandbox in its first 3 months, around half of those arrivals actual tourists.
    • Hailed a ‘success’ by the TAT and Thai government, the Phuket Sandbox has been of limited economic advantage to the southern island, outside of a few, select hotels and well-connected tour operators. Other sandboxes have appeared, including Samui and Phang Nga. They’ve also had limited success and performed way below the predicted numbers from the TAT.

    But, and this is an important ‘but’, the Sandbox experiment was the precursor to this November 1 phase of Thailand’s re-opening its borders to international travellers. It set standards and procedures which are now being rolled out for many more provinces, setting the stage for greater success as Thailand lurches towards the high season.

    For people wanting to get their Thai ‘fix’, the Land of Smiles is spearheading a reopening to tourism compared to Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of Indonesia still in the early stages of their plans.

    From November 1, in Thailand, the paperwork trail has been drastically reduced, the cumbersome Certificate of Entry is bering replaced by a Digital Thailand Pass, airlines are announcing more flights direct into Phuket and Bangkok, and even unvaccinated tourists will be able to return, albeit with a 10 day quarantine. But the whole process is a huge advance on where Thailand was a year ago when everyone had to do a full 14-15 day quarantine on arrival.

    So how ‘open’ is Thailand? Not fully open but the door is opening wide, quickly.