Tomorrow on November 1st Thailand will officially start to admit visitors from select foreign countries without quarantine and the list of eligible nations has just been expanded again to now 63 in total.
At the same time the Thai government has lifted the alcohol ban in most major tourist areas including Bangkok and the Thailand Pass system that provides the QR code for entry will go live on Monday too.
A week ago Thailand surprisingly announced that they will open up to a total of [then] forty six countries from Nov 1 under the countries reopening plan after first saying that only twenty countries would be considered.
The list has now been expanded once more to include 17 additional countries including India, Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines and Taiwan (plus many more):
Travelers must reside in the eligible countries for at least 21 consecutive days which means it’s not about the nationality of the individual entering but rather that they have spent time in an eligible country for three weeks prior.
Travelers under the Quarantine Exempt model are required to:
- Get an approval QR Code through the Thailand Pass Application
- Be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to traveling
- Have a confirmed (prepaid) hotel reservation
- Carry a health insurance including Covid treatment with at least US$50,000 coverage – it has been clarified that Expats and foreign residents in Thailand can use their local health insurance or Social Security for the insurance requirement (see graphic below)
- Have a negative RT-PCR Test Result taken max 72h prior to travel
- Take a Covid test on the day of arrival which apparently the hotel has to charge in advance
Noteworthy are that the insurance policy minimum went down from $100,000 to $50,000 although this won’t have much if any impact on the cost of insurance. Not sure what the point of that is unless it’s just for cosmetics as $50,000 sounds less punitive.
Hotels will still have to issue prepaid certificates and also charge for the arrival RT PCR test. Who knows where this will be administered, if on site at the hotel then fine. Otherwise I found the way Phuket handled it with the traveler prepaying and taking the test at the airport much more efficient.
Here is a comprehensive, up to date list of Thailand Pass FAQs that I found very useful:
Now it says travelers should submit their Thailand Pass application at least 7 days prior to travel so as I assumed earlier it’ll be pretty much impossible to arrive through this model within the first week or so of Thailand Pass being up and running even if everything goes smooth on Monday.
Here is once again the process concerning the Thailand Pass App:
The Thailand Pass application is still not published on any of the app stores or the official website.
Thailand Pass will open for registration on 1 November 2021 at 09.00 hrs. We recommend you to register for Thailand’s new electronic entry document (Thailand Pass QR code) at least 7 days prior to your travel date. For travellers who have been granted COE (Certificate of Entry) and will arrive in Thailand from 1 November 2021 onwards, the COE remains valid for entering Thailand. Travellers can update the approved COE with the revised terms and condition of stay complying with new entry regulations by downloading the new COE at the registration website (coethailand.mfa.go.th) or the link from your COE approval notification email.
According to their own timeline there are now 24 hours left to make it available and hotels being ready to provide required documents.
There are plenty of hotels now listed as SHA+ for the purposes of this program and a lot of them such as the Marriott Marquis Queens Park are offering a comprehensive package including transfer, 1 night stay and the PCR test. The price in MMQP’s case is 5,800 Baht including tax. Not too unreasonable I think and I’d expect other properties to be in line with this rate.
A pleasant surprise is the ease on the alcohol ban in many provinces as reported by the Bangkok Post yesterday:
Alcoholic drinks will be allowed to be served in restaurants and eateries in Bangkok, Krabi, Phangnga, and Phuket when the country reopens on Monday.
However, more than 300 restaurant operators want the government to lift the alcohol ban in 17 tourism provinces.
They also asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to allow night entertainment venues such as pubs, bars and karaokes nationwide to resume their businesses on Dec 1. …
Bangkok, Krabi, Phangnga and Phuket have been designated as “blue zones”, new tourist-oriented areas with no restrictions on alcohol consumption, starting Monday.
Lifting of alcohol bans is subject to the approval of local governors. There has been quite an uproar from what the Bangkok Post called “Tourism Operators” in Pattaya that their area wasn’t included in the lifting of the alcohol ban.
Keeping nightclubs, bars and karaoke under restrictions is probably a prudent mechanism as that’s where Covid really took off back in April. One can only wait and see what this new development brings.
Of course one can always find something to criticize but I’ve been following the discussion about this whole reopening process in the media and it seems that especially on social media platforms there’s always the same types complaining about something not being good enough. Now these same people are coming out again saying that one night at a hotel is excessive since they have a condo in Bangkok or want to stay with their partner. Some folks will never be satisfied and it’s probably best to just ignore such individuals beyond a certain point. Nobody is forced to travel to a certain country for either business or leisure purposes, the alternative to stay home is always there.
It appears that Thailand attracts a lot of inexperienced travelers who are overwhelmed with the clearance process and have become too used to just slapping their passport on the counter rather than ever applying for a visa or entry permit. Unfortunately we’ll have to live with these new mechanisms for some time to come and those of us who want to continue to travel should better realize this. Do I like it? No, absolutely not. But it certainly beats staying at home in one location for another two years.
Bottom line is that Thailand is still the only country in South East Asia/Far East being open to visitors in a rather broad way (not counting Singapore with their very specific VTL flights). I have used the COE process before and it wasn’t a problem at all, just like utilizing the Phuket Sandbox.
Thailand has finally come out with a full list of eligible countries and entry conditions and even expanded it to now 63 countries, three times as many as originally expected.
The list is expansive and the conditions for traveling are easy to comprehend. The clarification and fact that the list of countries represents the actually location where travelers have stayed prior to arriving in Thailand also makes much more sense than simply attaching it all to the nationality of the traveler.
All enthusiasm aside remember there is still a risk of ending up in costly quarantine should you test positive after your arrival in Thailand or if you’re sitting anywhere near a person on the plane who does. Related to that, Thai citizens are not required to be Covid tested if they undergo regular 7 day ASQ so you might find yourself sitting next to an unvaccinated, untested Thai national who later tests positive and then you’re SOL. You could circumvent that risk by flying an airline that mandates PCR tests such as Emirates. But there’s really no 100% guarantee with Covid and everything in life has a certain risk attached.