Thailand is welcoming international tourists once more!
With Thailand's borders being closed for well over a year, up until June this year the only way international travellers could enter Thailand was to apply for entry and then follow a strict 14 day quarantine confined to rooms in Bangkok hotels before travelling to other Thailand provinces. The majority of these travellers however were returnees getting back to families or work commitments although we could say that there were those that were looking for long stay in a tropical climate. Please refer to our blog Longer Stay Tourists Are Now Back
We are aware that a few countries have put Thailand on their red list raising entry restrictions on return however Thailand is fighting back speeding up the vaccination programme and cases have peaked and falling so hopefully the decisions by these countries will be reversed very soon.......
Right now we are delighted to announce that there is now 3 sandbox schemes in place to encourage tourists and beach lovers back to Thailand's beaches through the gateways of Phuket and Koh Samui before the country fully opens to international visitors in the next few months.
The 'Phuket Sandbox' and the 'Samui Plus' schemes have been operating from 1st July and 15th July this year respectively and is open to fully vaccinated travellers for a 14 day stay and has been well received judging by the feedback on social media. More recently the Phuket 7+7 scheme was introduced allowing tourists arriving in Phuket to leave the island after 7 days and travel to other designated sealed and safe areas.
Under the Phuket 7+7 scheme, tourists who have arrived on a direct flight to Phuket and have stayed 7 nights in their chosen SHA+ hotel/villa are now able to travel to other designated provinces such as Surathani (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao); Khao Lak, Kho Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga; Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach and Koh Ngai in Krabi.
The programmes are open to fully vaccinated foreign travellers only and you will need a Certificate of Entry (COE) first before being approved to travel to the Sandbox schemes and a detailed guide to this process is set out at the end of this blog.
Whilst is not the ideal way to start a holiday, we feel that it is the ideal time to enjoy the amazing tropical islands with their quiet beaches and the less crowded tours and restaurants. Many who have already experienced these new schemes have expressed no regrets and it was worth all the hassle!
Allows for free movement around the island after receiving the results of the first PCR test taken at Phuket airport. The first 7 days stay has to be in the same "SHA+ hotel" however the remaining 7 days can be split into 1 or 2 hotels in different areas of Phuket. The 14 nights must be spent in the chosen hotels that need to be be booked in advance together with receipt of payment for the tests (8,000THB as this forms part of the Certificate of Entry (COE). Eithad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific all fly directly into Phuket at the present time. Flights from domestic airports in Thailand into Phuket are suspended for the time being.
Samui Plus Scheme (changing to Samui Sandbox 1st October 2021)
The programme is stricter than the Phuket Sandbox as for the first 7 days needs to be booked in a SHA+ Extra Hotel known as ALQ and arrivals have to remain in the hotel area for the first 3 days of their stay with days 4-7 only able to travel only on specified route & travel programme. The remaining 7 days stay is more relaxed and can either stay in the same hotel or move to another hotel designated as a SHA+ hotel/villa and are free to travel anywhere within Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao. It is however necessary to return to the hotel in the evening for those 7 nights.
As international flights into Koh Samui are restricted due to the size of the airport flights can transit through Bangkok on a sealed route with Thai Airways however Bangkok Airways are hoping to restarting their route from Singapore to Koh Samui on 1st September.
Please note that from 1st October 2021 the restricted stay for the first 7 days in Samui Extra plus hotels is no longer in place and arrivals are able to spend the whole 14 days in the more relaxed SHA+ certified properties with freedom to enjoy the island but still have to take the advanced purchase of 3 Covid-19 pcr tests on arrival atthe airport, day 6 & day 12.
Phuket 7+7 day Scheme
This model will start from 25th August and allows the first 7 days stay in Phuket and the remaining 7 days in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Lak, Kho Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in Phangnga, Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach, and Koh Ngai in Krabi and provides a 'relaxed' 14 day stay in two different designated provinces in Thailand with no quarantine or travel restrictions. We expect this to be the most popular of the programmes with flights now operating between Phuket and Samui and a number of road options in place for transferring to the other desinations.
On the 15th day after your stay in these models you are free to travel to other provinces in Thailand however if you decide to leave before 14 days you have to fly out of Thailand directly on an international flight or in the case of the Samui Plus scheme transit is available back through Bangkok. You cannot travel to other areas of Thailand if you decide to leave the models earlier than 14 days.
Phuket, Koh Samui and the other popular islands are safe and are looking forward to welcoming you soon!
Should the above schemes prove successful and the vaccination programme for the rest of Thailand continues to speed up we are hopeful that Thailand will ease the restrictions and open up further by the end of the year.
We are familiar with the procedure and should you need any further information in respect of hotels/villas available for this scheme please do not hesitate to contact us and we shall be pleased to help you all we can.
The current (temporary) procedure for entry unto Thailand from your country
1. Have been in approved country for at least 21 days before departure date
2. Have at least 6 months left in your passport and 2 spare pages
3. Be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Children under 18 can travel if they are not jabbed as long as they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults.
4. The information is based on entry on "Visa Exempt" travel which allows a 30 day stay and a 15 day extension. Should you wish to have a longer stay in Thailand you will find more information on other visas here
REGISTER FOR CERTIFICATE OF ENTRY
This is a 2 stage process with an initial pre-approval and a final approval for travel within 30 days of registering.
The first stage is visiting and registering with the Thai COE website as below.
UPLOADING ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTS
Clicking on "Register" will take you to the next page for completing personal information, uploading a copy of your photo passport page as well as the Certificate of Health Insurance you have purchased for your stay. You will also need to upload the part of the insurance paperwork that states that you are covered $100,000 for Covid-19.
This process will take anywhere from 1- 3 days to get pre-approval and the embassy will provide you with a 6 figure number as reference.
Once pre-approval is received from your embassy by email you have 15 days to complete the process before the registration will expire and then you will have to re-register and start again.
For the final stage you will need to enter the COE website again and using the yellow 'edit button' upload the following:
1. Confirmation of return flight with flight number and departure date. 2. Confirmation from the SHA Extra + approved hotel/villa for the first 7 nights stay in Koh Samui and the SHA+approved hotel/villa for the remaining 7 night stay (Please contact us for our villas that are SHA+ approved). 3. Your Covid-19 vaccination certificate showing dates for both jabs. 4. Proof of purchase of 3 tests required during your stay in Koh Samui or Phuket paid either through your hotel or as an add-on (approx cost THB 8,000).
Once you have received your Certificate of Entry it is valid for 3 months from issuance.
72 hours before departure you need to take a RT-PCR Test at a travel clinic or pharmacy and the reults together with your COE, Hotel confirmations, travel insurance and proof of purchase of the PCR test on arrival must be presented at checkiin and on arrival.
We suggest you take 1 or 2 copies in case some of the documents get retained or lost