Thailand has been making headlines about its opening and entry conditions during the whole pandemic.
While the government was fine at first containing the pandemic (or, perhaps, it was a bit of luck), the announcements about the country’s borders have created nothing but false hope and frustration for people planning to travel to Thailand.
However, now it seems that they are very serious about the new plan. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pushing very hard its opening plan, starting on July 1 in Phuket. It seems that only the signature of the Prime Minister is needed for the plan to go ahead. The governor of TAT, Thailand’s top tourism leader, is optimistic that the Thai Prime Minister will sign the opening of Phuket in June.
From InThailand.Travel we believe that this time they are serious and that Phuket will be open to vaccinated travelers from July 1.
In fact, yesterday 27th of May the TAT Governor sent a letter to their Tourism Industry partners confirming that the plan is going ahead.
Although, as on previous occasions, you have to take things carefully and bear in mind that during this pandemic everything can get worse quickly.
Important Notice: All the information below is based on official sources in Thailand but everything can change in the following weeks. As of today, nothing is 100% confirmed. We DO NOT recommend buying flights to Phuket until the island is already open and welcoming tourists.
How does the plan to open Phuket work?
From what I have read in local media and TAT sources tell me, next June a countdown campaign will begin to open Phuket on July 1, 2021. It will be called Phuket Sandbox.
From that date, travelers who have been vaccinated against Covid19 will be able to fly to Phuket and not do any quarantine. What they will have to do is stay 7 nights, 8 days, on the island of Phuket before being able to travel to other destinations in Thailand.
And here the questions begin:
During these days in Phuket will you be able to travel around the island?
Yes, or so TAT sources say. You will be free to go where you want insde Phuket. Phuket right now is an island paradise without tourists and with many beaches that have been practically empty for more than a year.
When the 7 nights are over, will you be able to travel freely in Thailand?
Yes, you will be free to go anywhere in Thailand for the duration of your visa.
Should I fly direct to Phuket?
Everything indicates that at first it may be mandatory to fly directly to Phuket without going through Bangkok. This will greatly limit the possibilities as there are very few direct flights to Phuket.
It seems like Thai Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and British Airways will initially offer special direct flights to Phuket. Thai Airways has already started.
In theory, shortly after opening Phuket, it will begin to allow a stopover in Bangkok and, from there, take a flight to Phuket. Perhaps it can only be done with the semi-public low-cost company Thai Smile.
Will any vaccine be valid?
In principle yes. At least any of the ones that are being used in Europe and Thailand. This includes the Chinese Sinovac vaccine. TAT expects to attract some Russian tourists so we understand that the Russian vaccine will also be accepted.
Should children be vaccinated?
Children under 12 years of age should not be vaccinated. Children ages 12 to 18 will also not need to be vaccinated but will be tested for antigens upon arrival.
In theory 70% of the population of Phuket will be vaccinated before July 1. In addition, strict public health measures will be implemented and all open hotels will be required to have the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) seal, a quality seal that guarantees that the hotel takes the anti-Covid19 measures recommended by the government.
In addition, Phuket is an island connected to land by a bridge and an airport so that the entry and exit of people is easily controllable. For a few weeks, Phuket has already been requesting PCR tests from those who, while in Thailand, want to visit the island.
Phuket’s economy has been severely punished by the closure of borders since the island lives practically on tourism. Thus, it makes sense that the country begins to open up where it is most needed at an economic level.
Will anything else be needed besides the vaccine?
- Travelers must show that they were vaccinated more than 2 weeks before flying and less than 1 year before entering Thailand. For this, a vaccination certificate or a standard passport that the EU is implementing will be requested.
- Travelers must have a negative PCR test 72h before flying.
- In addition, it seems that travelers will be forced to download an alert APP and will undergo a PCR test on the fourth or fifth day of being in Thailand.
Can you do boat tours to islands near Phuket?
In theory, tours will only be made to islands that are within the province of Phuket. This leaves out places like Koh Phi Phi, Similan or Phang Nga Bay.
And when will Bangkok and the rest of Thailand open?
According to the plan presented by TAT, as of October 1, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Krabi, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will join the plan and allow vaccinated travelers to enter without the need for quarantine.
What will happen to the long-term STV visa?
As you might know, in recent months Thailand created a long-stay visa so that those who wanted to come between 3 and 9 months could do so. This visa was called Thailand Special Visa (STV) and will be discontinued from July 2, 2021.