PHUKET, Thailand -- Starting Thursday, Thailand will welcome back international visitors — as long as they are vaccinated — to its famous southern resort island of Phuket without having to be cooped up in a hotel room for a 14-day quarantine.
Those planning to see the rest of Thailand must stay a minimum of two weeks during which they will be free to roam the island, where preparations include having a major proportion of the local population inoculated for COVID-19. Those passing through en route to other countries can book shorter stays.
After a stay of 14 days or more, visitors will be able to travel relatively freely elsewhere in Thailand — subject to the same health restrictions as Thai travelers.
The “Phuket sandbox” program is open to visitors from 63 countries and three territories rated by Thailand as low or medium risk for COVID-19. Requirements beyond nationality are more complicated and involve a fair amount of paperwork, in addition to being subject to changes.
The most up-to-date and detailed information will generally be available from the website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, at www.tatnews.org, or from the nearest Thai Embassy.
Visas for stays of up to 30 days are not necessary for many nationalities. Airlines with direct flights to Phuket include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, El Al and Singapore Airlines.
The basic requirements before departure for Phuket include:
— Must have been staying in approved home country for at least 21 days before departure.
— Must obtain a Certificate of Entry from a Thai embassy or consulate.
— Must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before departure. (Travelers under 18 years old accompanied by a parent or guardian are exempted from the need to be vaccinated.)
— Must have a negative RT-PCR test for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. (Also required for travelers under 18 years old)
— Must have a minimum $100,000 medical insurance policy covering COVID-19 treatment.
— Must have an RT-PCR test for COVID-19 at their own expense on the day of arrival, the sixth or seventh day of stay and the 12th or 13th day.
— Must stay for 14 days at approved “SHA+” hotels in order to travel onwards in Thailand. The booking must be confirmed before arrival. SHA+ certifies safety and health standards including having at least 70% of staff vaccinated for COVID-19.
— Must install Thailand Plus and Morchana apps, to track health and location, respectively.
— Must have evidence of negative COVID-19 test results over the 14-day stay for onward travel to other parts of Thailand.