Thailand’s government cabinet for Covid-19 matters has officially approved proposals from tourism ministers to get international travelers flowing into the country again. It’s brilliant news, but even “official” government statements don’t always go to plan in this joyous Southeast Asian country.
The news sees promising options for travelers from all the far reaches of the globe being able to skip quarantine on arrival into the country, but not everywhere, and not immediately.
If Thailand is a “yes, please” for you, here’s how this lengthy proposal shakes out, and how it may change once again. If your time is limited: the good news starts in July.
Thailand Travel Reopening Plans
In a nutshell, Thailand is reopening international travel in phases and by region. The first “big” date to lookout for is July 1st, from which point vaccinated travelers coming to certain regions will be able to enter Thailand without quarantine and enjoy beach destinations right away.
For non vaccinated travelers, it’s going to be a long time coming, or a long quarantine in the interim. Thailand may not lift all restrictions for non-vaccinated travelers until the likes of 2022 and currently requires 10 days of supervised quarantine.
Thai Travel Quarantine Before July
On April 1st, 2021, Thailand cut the quarantine period for all travelers from 14 days down to 10 days. For vaccinated travelers, the period has been shortened further to 7 days in Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Pattaya or Chiang Mai. This has since been reversed and will remain 14 days until the July reopening.
This hinges on a vague “catch all” stating that to benefit from the shortened period, the traveler must not be coming from a country with ‘mutant strains’. That’s going to be an area to watch, however (un)enforceable it may prove.
Travel To Thailand From July 1st
For travel before July 1st, 2021 a quarantine period of either 7-10 days will still apply to all travelers. But from July 1st, fully vaccinated travelers will face no quarantine when coming directly into Thailand via Phuket. Yes, only Phuket.
Critically, it’s believed flights and passengers will need to enter these areas of Thailand immediately, rather than transit in Bangkok first. You must also stay in Phuket only for the first 14 days, before being able to transit to other parts of Thailand. It’s ok to have a shorter trip, like a 5 day trip, but you can’t visit other areas.
Thai Airways has arranged a variety of direct flights from Europe to Phuket in anticipation. Airlines such as Qatar Airways have ramped up service to regional cities such as Chiang Mai and Phuket in recent years, which could prove to be a huge win if Bangkok transit isn’t allowed in the interim.
Travel To Thailand From October 1st, 2021
It’s abundantly clear that Thailand plans to use Phuket as a test market. If things go well from July to October, the rest of this section should hold true. If it doesn’t, you can expect to tear up the playbook.
Much like quarantine restrictions will be dropped for fully vaccinated travelers entering Phuket from July 1st, Thailand plans to open quarantine free travel to other regions on October 1st, 2021. This brings so much more of the country into play.
In the October expanse, Krabi, Phang Nga, Pattaya and lovely Chiang Mai would also be included for arrival without quarantine. Thailand recently reaffirmed these plans. Bangkok remains noticeably absent from the quarantine free plans, but remains an option for those willing to endure some length of quarantine.
Restriction Free Travel To Thailand?
Maybe next year? Anucha Burapachaisri, a Thai Government spokesperson confirmed plans to drop all entry restrictions eventually, but gave early 2022 as a date with the earliest likelihood. Until then, you’ll need to be vaccinated.
Thailand, after a slow start, is in the midst of a fervent vaccination drive for areas which hope to welcome tourists. It’s believed that a goal for ‘herd immunity’ is in place for Phuket by July, which is central to the timing of quarantine free entry for vaccinated travelers. If things get delayed, it could push back, but it seems on trakc.
All things in wonderful and quirky Thailand can change, and we’ve seen that a handful of times already. Thailand started with 31 wacky steps for visitors to enter, then a pivot to Tinder dating to stoke tourism; and now seems to be finding its “center”. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find yours in Thailand later this year, without the hassles of holing up first.