Koh Samui Opening To International Tourists Under “Samui Plus” Program From July 15, 2021

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Based on the blue print of the Phuket Sandbox, another set of Thai Islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao will open their doors to vaccinated overseas tourists from July 15, 2021.

The basic conditions to travel to Koh Samui are are similar to Phuket which means vaccinations, health insurance, PCR Test results, prepaid local tests, however the first seven days have to be spent at an ALQ (Quarantine) hotel and the following seven days at a SHA+ certified hotel.

A slight difference is that due to Samui not being accessible directly from most countries the model allows connection flights on Bangkok Airways from/to BKK but only on three flights per day and the booking for these flights must be on the same reservation as the long haul flight.

This could prove challenging as you’ll likely need to use a travel agent or at least an OTA to accomplish this, alternatively an airline (such as THAI) that allows to book PG connections on their own website.

You can find more details about Samui Plus on the TAT website (access here).

Starting from 15 July, 2021, the ‘Samui Plus’ programme covers specific areas and routes in Surat Thani province’s 3 islands of Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao.

After waiting for the test result in your hotel room on first arrival (Day 0) and the result is negative, you can travel around as follows:

• Day 1-3: Can leave the hotel room for designated areas in the hotel only;
• Day 4-7: Can travel within designated routes and on tour programmes on Ko Samui only;
• Day 8-14: Can travel within Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao;
• Day 15: If the last test on Day 12-13 is negative, you can go anywhere in Thailand incl Mainland

You can fly to Samui on a direct international flight or international flight via Bangkok and being connected with approved sealed flights as details below. For the flight via Bangkok, the ticket must be issued on the same booking with international flight in conjunction with such approved Bangkok-Samui-Bangkok flights. Any flight reservations booked separately will not be allowed.

These are the approved flights to connect to Samui (USM):

Thai Airways now sells connections with Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui when booking as a revenue ticket. Unfortunately it’ll be very difficult to book an award ticket this way:

You can’t use Thai Airways (or Star Alliance) miles for this itinerary due to the PG flight so there goes that option.

However if you have a lot of points with Bangkok Airways Flyer Bonus (or their partners that allow awards on PG) you might be able to issue an award ticket that way:

Here is a recap of the most important FAQs from the TAT website (make you you check it regularly for current updates):

All the necessary requirements and have all the required documentation:

  • A passport with at least 6 months validity;
  • Have been in a Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) approved country for 21 days or more;
  • Been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO);
  • Have booked and purchased return air travel;
  • Have booked and paid for accommodation, and required RT-PCR test/s at an ALQ or SHA Plus hotel;
  • Have purchased medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least US$100,000;
  • Have tested negative for COVID-19 no longer than 72 hours before travel.

The list of countries/territories am I allowed to travel to Thailand from can be viewed here.

So far this list only mentions the Phuket Sandbox. not Samui Plus.

Providing you meet all the above points, you can go to https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/ to apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE). As long as you meet all the requirements, it takes 3 working days for the Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate-General processing of the application.

Likewise here, Samui Plus is not mentioned on the COE application, only Phuket shows up:

My assumption is that you have to wait until this has changed before even considering the Samui Plus program so hold off before booking anything until this is fixed.

Here is the real bummer of this Samui Plus option:

Visitors from overseas staying 14 nights must stay at an ALQ hotel on Ko Samui only for the first 7 nights, after which they can move to a SHA Plus hotel on Ko Samui, Ko Phangan or Ko Tao for the other 7 nights.

The ALQ Hotel is basically a quarantine hotel and those are expensive!

ALQ properties can be viewed http://www.hsscovid.com & SHA Plus properties can be viewed here. Again, Samui isn’t listed anywhere yet which shows severe lack of coordination.

This solution seems extremely counterproductive for tourism purposes. While the Phuket Sandbox makes at least some sense in principle as the program allows people to go outside, forcing a 7 day quarantine onto tourists doesn’t make any sense. Especially at Samui prices.

Needless to say right now isn’t exactly the best time to travel to Thailand for holiday. The country will enter into a new phase of severe lockdowns on Monday that will include a 9pm curfew in Bangkok. The number of daily Covid cases has reached 10,000 and medical professionals assume it to really be 3x as high.

In how far this is going to impede the implementation of the Samui Plus program and the continuation of the Phuket Sandbox is anyone’s guess.

The bad publicity Phuket gets for treating people who even sat next to a CoV+ traveler on the plane like dangerous criminals isn’t going to make it much better. Yesterday two children were tested positive as well and separated from their parents.

Conclusion

According to the TAT and publications here in Thailand the Samui Plus program is ready to go starting from July 15, 2021 but so far neither the COE website nor the ALQ register has been updated to reflect participating Samui properties.

When is this going to happen? Will there be any further update on the TAT website in the coming days? Thailand is facing plenty of Covid related challenges right now and will enter new lockdown as well as curfew measures tomorrow.

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