Wat Benchamabophit with a stone walkway and a stone walkway
Image by kmarius from Pixabay

You may have heard, or read, the good news last week. Thailand dropped many of the formalities for visiting as a tourist again, which at one point required an arguably insane 31 steps before you could even set foot on a plane.

You can now enter Thailand ‘visa free’ from over 50 countries, but still need a negative covid-19 test, fit to fly certificate and a few other itmes. But even with the newfound “ease”, there’s still 14 days of quarantine in an ‘ASQ’ hotel facility, which means 14 days of prepaid hotel as part of the experience, where you’re stuck in a room.

With that huge barrier in place, many people are planning current and future trips to destinations without two weeks in expensive isolation to start things off in style. In an effort to make travel to the country more attractive in 2021, Thailand is looking into the potentially shortening quarantine from 14 to 10 days, or less, based on live studies.

Wat Benchamabophit with a stone walkway and a stone walkway
Image by kmarius from Pixabay

Thailand’s Live Testing Study

Thailand has added a third covid-19 test to its alternative state quarantine ‘ASQ’ setup, whereby all travelers will receive a test on arrival days 0-1, day 9/10 and now also day 13/14. The idea of the third test is to confirm the efficacy, or statistical probability that someone could test positive after 10 days.

With many outside visitors currently in these ASQ facilities, Thailand is able to use real world data and travels to track and monitor the results, rather than simple modeling.

Based on results from the real world study, Thailand would then potentially seek to drop quarantine from 14 down to 10 days on December 31st, 2020. It’s still a long time to give up on a trip, but significantly better than 14, and could always be reduced again.

The UK recently made similar moves going from 14 days to a 10 day quarantine, with an additional option to “test out” after five days. A UK business exemption was also created or shorter trips.

Covid-19 incubation periods are a topic of great study, and while cases have taken over 7 days to test positive, more recent studies conclude most cases test positive within 72-96 hours of incubation. Put simply, if you test negative on Day 1, and then once again on day 4, it’s unlikely, but far from impossible to be positive thereafter.

a body of water with Blue Lagoon in the background

Countries Still Figuring It Out

Countries around the world are figuring out how to deal with covid-19 regulations, particularly as many grapple with the worst outbreaks at the very same time vaccines are reaching real people. Iceland and Hungary are going with lo-fi ‘immunity passports’ which allow anyone who can prove they’ve had and recovered from covid-19 may enter.

Most of Asia-Pacific, including Singapore,New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, has required 14 days of quarantine in a monitored facility. Travel bubbles between places of equally low risk have been discussed, but so far every bubble has burst, including most recently plans between Hong Kong and Singapore.

If scientific consensus builds around 10 days of quarantine being more than enough, or that no quarantine with multiple rapid test based solutions works, it’s all a step forward in getting the world moving again. As vaccines help to increase safety for the most at risk, it only helps.

We’ll wait and see what Thailand decides after the trial ends on December 31st. Let’s hope it’s a health and happy new year for all. Ideally, one with unrestricted travel, at some point.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I am in quarantine now and it is a lot worse than people in the UK think. Quarantine in the UK means you can walk in your garden go to shops. Here I am in one room. Windows locked no fresh air. No exercise All very unhealthy. I would never do it again.

    1. Let me make an important distinction: quarantine in the UK does not mean you can go to shops. It’s only in extreme cases where you have no ability to get things in, can an exception be made. I too served the UK quarantine time, and you can’t go for runs outside your household, etc. Just don’t want anyone thinking it’s more lax than it is.

    2. No doubt….a minimum security prison sentence at this juncture. Bewildered why some people return, knowing they will be “caged” like a zoo animal for 14 days. “7” will be my threshold of pain….as I hope to return later this year. Stay tuned….

  2. Thanks for the information. I cant wait to go back to Thailand but will go when restrictions are lowered and the world is in a better place. I think Thailand has done an excellent job managing this awful virus.

  3. They might as well ban all tourists until covid-19 no longer exists on the planet never mind the people with no work the local restaurants will keep them Fed. Pure ignorance.

  4. I have Thai wife and kids there. It may be an idea If we who have family there can be picked up or travel in special taxi to our homes and isolate there and have a Doctor verify it in the Village

  5. I have also a wife and house but with the idea of quarantine in a hotel and three Tests which you have to pay for it I am afraid Thailand as to wait for me for a long time even though I miss my family

  6. Given the recent outbreak and talk of a new nationwide lockdown, what are the chances that a politician will approve a reduction in quarantine for Western tourists?
    Slim to none, IMO

  7. I booked a 8 day trip to Bangkok for March 2021 (way back in May 2020)….and I cant find any information about the validity of my itinerary. United says I’m still too far out to advise.
    Technically, the flight is still valid (and not cancelled) as they are still flying to BKK, so I’m not entitled to a refund due to flight cancellation.
    Does anyone here have any idea how that works? Am I just out of money? Thanks in advance

    1. if the flight is still going i think you will lose your money……next time pay extra for a flexible ticket

  8. I’ve been to all 4 corners of the globe and travelled 100s of thousands of miles and liven in Thailand for 11 years. I advise anyone travelling to Thailand to wait till at least May 2021 before thinking of going anywhere or even Thailand if you want to know about the holidays in Thailand and advice just drop me a comment.

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