Updated as of 18 May 2021
THAILAND — For those looking to navigate the Thailand Covid 19 landscape, we’ve got some great news — its reopening road map is pushing through for 2021.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced its plan to open at least 6 tourist regions as vaccinations continue to roll out. Phuket is looking to open in July, while Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Ko Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Chiang Mai are setting their sights to open in October.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enter the country now, either. Tourists from visa-exempt countries and vaccinated travelers are able to enter the country as early as now — after a 14-day quarantine, of course.
To help you prepare for potential travel plans — either now or later this year — check out our guide on what you need to know before going to Thailand below!
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How To Get to Thailand: Covid 19 Entry Requirements
Visa Exemption Scheme
Currently, Thailand has a Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme that allows guests from certain territories to enter Thailand without a visa for a stay of up to 45 days. This is in effect until 30 September 2021 and is valid for countries like the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, and Russia. Meanwhile, Korea and Peru established a bilateral agreement with Thailand to allow a stay of up to 90 days. For a full list of countries, please see the details here.
We are happy to note that aside from the visa, a Fit to Fly certificate is no longer required prior to entry. However, all tourists must prepare the following documents:
- Covid-19 Health Certificate and a negative RT-PCR test issued within 72 hours before departure from their port of origin
- Completed Certificate of Entry (apply online here) — kindly note that processing time varies from a few days to up to 2 weeks.
- Covid 19 Insurance information (minimum coverage of USD 100,000) and
- ASQ/ALQ or other quarantine facility confirmation. Please see a list of sanctioned hotels here.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, the Thai Government has released a step-by-step guide of this process for easy reference here.
Special Tourist Visa (STV)
If your country is not on the list for visa exemption, you can instead apply for a Special Tourist Visa. Ideal for long stays, the STV is valid for 90 days, can be renewed twice, and is also effective until 30 September 2021.
Released in October 2020, the STV is now available worldwide and has been a great option for those exploring to make a temporary home of Thailand’s tropical islands. If you’re a tourist who needs one, here are the steps to apply for it below:
- Apply for an STV at your local Thai Consulate, Tourism Authority of Thailand office, or accredited travel/visa specialist agency. This initial application is completed after a background check from the Bureau of Immigration.
- Submit the visa application form and pay a visa fee to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this step, the applicant must also provide the following documents:
- Proof of ASQ accommodation
- Flight information
- Health Insurance information (minimum coverage of USD 100,000)
- If approved, the applicant shall be issued their STV visa and Certificate of Entry (COE).
*Photo sourced from Tourism Authority of Thailand
Take note that whether you’re visa-exempt or arriving on an STV, the government recommends that all tourists download the Thailand Plus application. This is an essential part of their measures to mitigate the spread of Covid 19 through contact tracking using dedicated QR codes.
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Arriving in Thailand: What to expect when you get there
So you’ve made it through the visa process, survived flights in the new normal, and are ready to hit the beach. We feel you. However, there are a few more things that you need to know. What should you expect immediately after you step foot on Thai shores?
If you’re an STV holder, your arrival process differs slightly from those who are visa-exempt. As there is no longer a Fit to Fly Medical Certificate required, all STV holders must undergo health screening from the Ministry of Public Health upon arrival. STV holders must pass all screening measures in order to enter Thailand.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine is also in effect for all tourists with COEs, regardless of vaccination status. Those who are allowed entry into the country are taken to their pre-booked ASQ facility immediately after clearing the airport.
An additional RT-PCR test is required for STV holders at the end of the 14-day mandatory quarantine. Entry to Thailand is only permitted once the test shows negative results.
After that, you are free to travel around Thailand like a local. Just don’t forget to contact trace and check in using your pre-downloaded Thailand Plus app.
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Traveling in the Thailand Covid 19 New Normal
Okay, Luxe Nomad, you’re free and clear. It’s time to see some sights! Right?
Well, yes and no. At this time, Thailand is currently experiencing a wave of infections from outbreak clusters. Despite its success in minimizing transmissions early in the Thailand Covid 19 crisis, the local government has reintroduced stricter protocols to manage this latest rise in numbers. Masks, sanitizers, and temperature checks are a must for all public spaces, pubs, restaurants. Other business establishments like malls may be closed or operating on shorter hours. The government also discourages public gatherings or limits them to a set amount of people if they occur.
Still, it is important to note that some areas may also have varying levels of restrictions. The country has classified its provinces into designated zones to dictate the level of Covid-19 mitigation practices. There are 3 main classifications: dark red, red, and orange zones. As of 17 May 2021, these classifications comprise 4, 17, and 56 provinces respectively. Gatherings may be limited in dark red zones, and inter-provincial travel from a red zone may be discouraged. For a full list of which provinces are classified the Tourism Authority of Thailand has a full list here.
In the meantime, here’s a quick reference sheet on what’s not allowed where below:
*Photo sourced from Tourism Authority of Thailand News Room
Where to Go and What to Expect
We recommend flying out from Bangkok and choosing a spot in the red or orange zones — like Phuket or Samui. Here, restrictions are not as constraining. There is also less risk to catch or transmit the virus somewhere more isolated and surrounded by nature.
Additionally, part of Thailand’s economy was heavily reliant on the tourism industry. Thus, this part of its economic sector has been hit hard by the pandemic.
We can’t say that incoming tourists should expect a bustling nightlife. Instead, we recommend thinking of long stays for introspection, work, and isolation to wait out the pandemic. There has been an uptick in interest for digital nomads (who doesn’t want to work from a beach?) and bookings for more family-oriented vacations. This has sparked a rise for long stays, from groups looking to work and school from a villa.
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Thailand’s Reopening Plan
Due to this standstill and the significant effects of the pandemic on popular tourist hubs, the Thai Government still has high hopes and they’re pushing through with their reopening plan introduced earlier this year.
In order to see this goal through, a rigorous vaccination roll-out is currently in place. High-risk areas and destinations looking to open later in the year are being prioritized for the first vaccine doses. This is especially true for Phuket, where authorities are looking to achieve herd immunity for at least 70% of the island’s population.
Thailand Covid 19 Vaccinations
The Thai government continues its efforts to acquire vaccines. They are being made available for all people, accessible through the Mor Prom (“Doctors Ready”) Line official account. The vaccine is expected to be rolled out nationwide by September 2021.
Needless to say, this has us all in high hopes to see our fellow Luxe Nomads in Thailand soon (we can’t wait either). In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for any updates to Thailand’s entry restrictions and keep you updated here.