The Thailand Government is looking to revive the tourism industry by making it easier for tourists from overseas who are vaccinated to visit their country. The Government enacted a new program in which travellers are now able to enter Thailand without the mandatory COVID-19 restrictions. The new model is the first of its kind and is running in Phuket since July 1st. It is named Phuket Sandbox.
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On June 22nd 2021, the Thai Government approved an experimental “Sandbox” Program that would allow foreigners and Thai nationals to enter Phuket! Beginning on July 1st, when this Sandbox Pilot Project started up, International tourists can stay on Phuket Island for at least 14 nights provided they are properly inoculated with a certificate as proof of vaccination.
Here is a step by step explanation of how you can get into Phuket Sandbox.
- The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) constantly updates which countries/regions are at low to medium risk for contracting COVID-19. Foreign travellers must stay in the country or region recognized for at least 21 days before travelling to Phuket.
- Thai nationals and ex-pats must travel from a low or medium risk region no less than 21 days before their scheduled departure date. These regions are announced and updated by MoPH every day.
- All Foreign and Thai nationals must ensure that their immunization status meets the requirements. One, having been fully vaccinated with a vaccine registered by the Ministry Health Public (MoPH) no less than 14 days prior to travel; second, the requirement includes carrying proof that confirms immunity, such as documentation confirming vaccination card or certificate.
- Children who are travelling with their parents and are under 6 years old will not need to present a vaccine certificate upon arrival.
- A COVID-19 test is required for unvaccinated children between the ages 6-18 who are travelling with their vaccinated parents or guardians. Upon arrival, they will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test at the Phuket International Airport.
Thai Visa – Yes or No
You might not need a visa at all, depending on where you’re from or you have to apply for an appropriate visa type depending on what country you come from. Some of the most common types of visas you can seek are as under:
- STV (Special Tourist Visa)
- Tourist Visa (to explore Thailand no longer than 60 days)
- Visa exemption (to explore Thailand as a tourist no longer than 45 days)
- Non-immigrant Visa (to visit Thailand for more than one purpose no longer than 90 days. This type of Visa can be extended for a maximum of one year)
- Thai Visa with re-entry permission
- Thailand Elite Visa
All travellers are exempted from quarantine. However, they cannot stay at any accommodation that has not received SHA+ certification from the Thai Government. With these, the Government wants to ensure that everyone stays at places with the highest safety and health standards.
- Tourists looking to visit Phuket only must leave the country on or before their intended departure date. No minimum stay is needed.
- The traveller needs to spend 14 nights in Phuket if they want to explore other places in Thailand. They must stay at a SHA+ hotel for seven nights, and after that, you can move to another hotel for the next seven nights. This too, should be a SHA+ hotel.
- The SHA+ hotel will issue your hotel booking receipt and the Certificate of Authenticity for all prepaid RT PCR COVID tests in Phuket.
So if you are planning on heading down to Thailand, make sure and apply for your COE at least 5-15 days in advance from the local Thai Embassy or consulate.
- The application process is simple, and you can submit your documents online. You will be required to provide personal details as well as upload supporting documents – a copy of the valid visa, passport, COVID-19 insurance policy and copies of previous visas if they’re relevant. The embassy will then pre-approve the applicants who meet the requirements to screen them for Phuket travel. After submitting your documentation, check the application status after 1-3 days.
- The applicants are eligible to check their status online. If they are pre-approved, the applicant will upload a copy of the flight ticket and hotel booking confirmation number (SHA+ hotel) in order for them to be approved quicker than others. The application process usually takes 1–3 working days.
After receiving your COE, make sure you get all of the following:
- Medical Certificate of a laboratory result that indicates non-detection of COVID-19 virus. It must be done by RT-PCR and within 72 hours of departure. A few airlines do not recognize home kits. Therefore, it is suggested to check the airline’s requirements before travelling.
There are a few documents you should print and keep handy before departure.
- Valid Visa in the passport
- COE (Certificate of Entry)
- Vaccination card/certificate/record
- Medical Certificate of a laboratory result indicating “no COVID -19 antigen detected”. The COVID-19 should be RT-PCR method and of 72 hours before departing.
- Travel insurance certificate of COVID-19
- SHA+ hotel booking confirmation letter (SHABA Letter with QR Code from the said hotel)
- T8 Health Form
About COVID-19 insurance
Remember, the COVID-19 Insurance should meet the requirements of Thai authorities:
- Insurance that covers up to THB 3.5 million (equivalent to at least USD $100,000) for medical expenses as a result of sickness or injury, including COVID-19
- Make sure the Thailand travel insurance policy covers the entire stay, whether it’s for 60 days or 12 months.
Here is a step-by-step detail of what will happen when you arrive at the AOT (Airports of Thailand)
- First, wear your PPE (Personal Protective Kit). This includes a PPE suit, surgical mask, surgical gloves and face shield.
- Temperature check. Your body temperature should not exceed 37.3 degrees celsius.
- You will then be asked to take a seat.
- An official will come to verify the documents.
- You are then be asked to download and install an alert application Thailand Plus Mobile Application.
- After some time, you will be asked to proceed to the Health Control section.
- An official will check the documents.
- You will then move to the immigration department.
- An immigration official will check your documents.
- Then claim your baggage and move to the Arrivals Hall.
- Arrivals testing. You will be tested at the airport testing facility. After that, you can move out from the exit gate.
You can now head to the SHA+ hotel.
Guests will be tested for the COVID-19 virus during their stay. The first (as told already)
is conducted at the airport on arrival. On day six, another test is performed at a specified location near th hotel or the hotel room if the guest stays longer than six days. The last test is conducted on day 12, when guests depart after concluding their vacation.
All the guests are permitted sightseeing and activities but only with a SHA+ certified tour operator. However, all the activities should be within Phuket province only. One of the things a tourist should do is to behave with DMHTT standards when travelling within Phuket. (DMHTT stands for Distancing, Mask wearing, Hand Washing, Testing and Thailand Plus). An added bonus is that Phuket has just unlocked ten new activities for tourists to enjoy. When here, it’s important not only to adhere to certain rules but also to have fun while going about your day!
Tourists should make sure they report on the Thailand Plus app daily.
The hotel owner needs to report the guests’ names during their stay to the immigration.
Can travellers explore other parts of Thailand after visiting Phuket
Guests need to spend at least 14 nights in Phuket and do an RT PCR test 72 hours prior to departure from the country. They also must present their COVID 19 vaccination certificate when checking in with airport officials on arrival day.
How to apply for Phuket Sandbox Programme?
Visit https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/ and apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE). Make sure you fulfil the requirements of the program.
Can I halt anywhere on the way to the SHA+ hotel?
No, you are not permitted to stop anywhere on the go.
Can I consider public transportation for commuting from the airport to the hotel?
No. The commute is arranged previously.
How long does it take to receive the test results?
You will get your test results on the first day of your arrival.
What happens if I test COVID-19 positive during my stay?
Anyone testing positive is sent to the hospital immediately. The infected person will have to bear the expenses for the treatment.
Can a friend or family member already in Phuket join me in the hotel?
Yes, but the guest should follow all the rules and regulations as laid for the Thailand nationals and ex-pats.