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  • New Sandbox Programs for Koh Samui - Krabi - Phang Nga

    Surat Thani islands, Krabi, Phang Nga approved for Sandbox scheme starting January 11

    With the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme suspended indefinitely, more areas have been approved to welcome travellers under the Sandbox programme, which allows those who are fully vaccinated to enter and stay in a designated area or province rather than undergoing quarantine at a hotel or facility.

    Starting January 11.2022 travellers can register to enter Thailand through the Sandbox schemes in Krabi, Phang Nga, or the Surat Thani islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.

    Registration to enter Thailand under the Sandbox programme, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox, was suspended last month. But following a push from tourism officials, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration approved the more destinations to welcome travellers under the Sandbox programme.

    The Sandbox programme is open to fully vaccinated travellers.

    An RT-PCR test is required upon arrival in Thailand and travellers must book a stay at a hotel or resort approved by the Safety and Health Administration.

  • #2
    Bangkok and Pattaya left out of the Sandboxes

    Goodbye Test & Go. Hello Sandboxes, but more Sandboxes. But all the Sandboxes are in Thailand’s south and Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, to name the obvious victims, have been left out in the cold the latest re-arrangement of Thailand Pass re-entry conditions.

    With the Sandbox programs, originally launched in Phuket on July 1, travellers can enter Thailand, stay and freely roam around the Sandbox area for the first 7 days, then head off to other parts of Thailand. To be clear, you are NOT locked up in your room (once you’ve tested negative with your arrival PCR test).

    Currently, with the Test & Go program suspended indefinitely, travellers can only apply for the Sandbox or AQ (quarantine) entry programs. People with existing Test & Go approvals may still enter Thailand (the CCSA will hopefully provide definitive information about a cut-off date over the weekend. January 15 was announced as a cut-off date at yesterday’s briefing, which was reported widely in Thai media, but there has been some further deliberations later in the day. The CCSA will make a decision on this matter, not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the TAT).

    For at least the immediate future, places like Bangkok and Pattaya, which are also home for many businesses and expat families, are being sidelined as entry points for travellers into the country. Patient tourism operators and business owners are appealing to the Thai government to provide some ‘Sandbox’ or other solution to maintain some sort of re-entry program for people that don’t want to arrive in Thailand through the southern tourist locations.

    Currently approved for Sandboxes, under yesterday’s raft of announcements from the CCSA, are Koh Samui (then travel on to Koh Phangan or Koh Tao), Krabi, Phang Nga, and a continuation of the program into Phuket.

    With the arrival tap turned off for Bangkok and Pattaya, as well as other popular traveller locations around the country, occupancy rates are set to plummet throughout the rest of January and into February as the current dribble of tourists complete their holidays and head home.

    It was also announced yesterday that the number of Orange Zones has been increased and that there will now be only 7 ‘Blue’ Zones which allow restaurants to continue serving alcohol, but only up to 9pm. Blue Zones include Bangkok, Chon Buri, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phang Nga, and Phuket. The new zoning goes into effect tomorrow Jan 09.2022

    Alcohol sales at restaurants in Orange Zones will be prohibited while in Blue Zones restaurants can serve alcohol until 9pm each night. To serve alcohol, those Blue Zone restaurants must abide by the government’s “Covid Free Settings” measures and be certified under SHA+ standards.

    So at least the loophole remains for the battered Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket bar businesses that ‘sort of’ allows bars to serve alcohol under the guise of being a restaurant, as long as they fulfil the necessary guidelines, including serving food. But only until 9:00 pm… legally.

    A wider roll out of Sandbox programs will be problematic in regions, other than islands where access is much easier to control. Krabi and Phang Nga, too, have limited road access so are more easily controlled.

    Meanwhile, the Phuket Sandbox received a few tweaks this week with additional PCR testing facilities and greater access to ‘hospitels’ and isolating in SHA+ hotels if you test positive during your stay. Phuket had 385 new infections in the past 24 hours, up from 256 the day before. 435 Test & Go arrivals in Phuket have tested positive since the program’s introduction on November 1, 2021. 699 arrivals have tested positive in the Sandbox program since it started on the island on July 1, 2021.

    For the few thousand people currently between approval and arrival, under the Test & Go program, you would be well advised to contact your embassy or access the Thailand Pass, through the website, email or phone, to clarify your travel plans.


    • #3
      New Sandboxes announced, but are they redundant after February 01. 2022 ?

      All the information in this article is based on CCSA announcements last Thursday and published articles on the Tourism of Thailand website and other government media.

      Businesses in the entertainment, nightlife, bar and sex industry in Pattaya are breathing a sigh of relief as international tourists will, again, be able to visit the seaside party town as part of the government’s Thailand Pass updates.

      Not all of the Chon Buri province are being included in the reboot. From February 1, the CCSA announced they are reopening the districts of Bang Lamung, Pattaya, Si Racha, Si Chang, and Sattahip (but only Na Jomtien and Bang Saray sub-districts). Further down the east coast, Koh Chang in Trat is also been opened under the revised Sandbox options.

      Probably even better news for the hard-hit region is that the Test & Go program is being re-introduced, allowing fully vaccinated travellers from anywhere in the world, not just 67 countries as in the past, to travel to, well, anywhere in Thailand.

      Under the revised Test & Go option of the Thailand Pass, Test & Go-approved travellers will need to book an SHA+ hotel for the first night AND the fifth night of their stay. They will undergo PCR tests on the 1st and 5th day and have to wait for a negative result before they can leave. The two nights of accommodation and the PCR tests need to be pre-paid as part of your application process. From the TAT website…

      “From 1 February, 2022, 09.00 Hrs. Thailand time, fully vaccinated travellers from any country around the world can apply for a Test & Go Thailand Pass up to 60 days in advance.”
      The Sandbox program, also available to fully vaccinated travellers from anywhere in the world, restricts the arrivees to stay in an SHA+ hotel for 7 nights, and be restricted to travel just around the Sandbox province or district. They have a PCR test on arrival and on Day 7 before they can then travel anywhere in Thailand.

      Which begs the question, why announce all these new Sandboxes programs if people can enter anywhere in Thailand with Test & Go with less cost and restrictions, from February 01.2022?

      In the original Test & Go, travellers were only able to apply if they were from one of 67 “low risk” countries. The Sandbox program was different because it allowed people from anywhere in the world to apply. Now that restriction has been lifted for the rebooted Test & Go program, why bother with applying for a Sandbox program?

      If the announcements from the CCSA have been accurate, and the latest updates on the TAT website ( are accurate, then, indeed, the Sandbox program will be redundant from February 1. Of course the Sandbox programs may again be needed as a fall back position if the Test & Go program is again shelved due to a significant rise in new Covid infections.

      But, none of these changes to the Thailand Pass, despite being confidently published on Government websites and the Tourism of Thailand’s website, have been published in the Royal Gazette. So the exact mechanism and details of the post-February 1 arrivals are yet to be ‘officially’ announced.

      Apart from the question “if the Sandbox is necessary anymore?”, there is also the strong online pushback of the additional Day 5 PCR test announced for Test & Go arrivals in the CCSA update last Thursday. Adding to the current confusion is where alcohol can and cannot be served, where the ‘Blue Zones’ are and the latest colour-coding of Provinces around the country.

      But, one way or the other, Pattaya businesses, in fact ALL Thai business, will be happy to welcome back international tourists under ANY program after February 01.2022

      We look forward to further clarification and details when the changes are announced in the Royal Gazette.


      • #4
        Central Festival Samui opens Covid test centre for Test & Go, Sandbox Tourists

        A Covid-19 testing centre has opened on Koh Samui to travellers entering under either the Sandbox or Test & Go travel schemes. Koh Samui Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Samui have teamed up with Central Festival Samui to open the “Samui Swab Centre” to offer convenient Covid-19 RT-PCT tests for tourists who are required to take two tests after entering Thailand.

        The centre at the island’s major shopping mall is intended to be a more convenient location for tourists than going to Koh Samui Hospital. Samui District Chief shared that tourists were pleased with the service.

        Samui District Chief Teerapong Chuaychoo told Thai media that local officials wanted to offer the most convenient service for the tourists. Aside from saving time and transportation costs, the authorities also say the swab centre would also decrease the risk of infection as travellers would be avoiding crowds at Koh Samui Hospital. The swab centre can accommodate 100 people per day and is open from 9am to 4pm every day.