Thailand today has decided to extend, or in reality reintroduce, the Sandbox program to three more provinces from January 11, 2022, in addition to Phuket. The program was scrapped in December when the new applications to the Test & Go scheme were also ended. In addition, the country is lifting entry restrictions from African countries.
It is still unclear if Thailand Pass holders under the Test & Go can enter past January 15, 2022. Thailand has not officially communicated that they would invalidate existing passes, but some slides shown during a press conference indicate that this would be the case.
You can access the Tourism Authority of Thailand website here.
The Sandbox scheme is extending to Krabi, Phang-Na, and Surat Thani (only Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao) on January 11, 2022. However, it is unclear how eligible visitors can reach these destinations.
Phuket requires international visitors coming under the Sandbox program to fly directly. Koh Samui, at least previously, allowed transfers in Bangkok on specific flights. It is unclear how this is handled next week.
Update from the TAT:
Sandbox entry programme available at 4 destinations
From 11 January, 2022, international travellers will be able to travel to Thailand under the Sandbox programme, and can choose to undergo their mandatory 7-day stay in either Krabi, Phang-Na, Phuket, or Surat Thani (only Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao).
However, all travellers must make sure that they arrange everything in order before applying for the Sandbox Thailand Pass. This can include, but not limited to, a vaccination certificate, a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test result, prepaid 7-night’s accommodation in an approved hotel, prepaid RT-PCR tests for when in Thailand, and an insurance policy with coverage no less than US$50,000.
Travellers must stay at least the first 7 nights within a Sandbox destination if planning to continue the journey to other destinations in Thailand. If staying less than 7 nights, the traveller must leave Thailand to another country immediately.
Test & Go
Thailand expects roughly 10,000 visitors to enter under the Test & Go between January 7 -15, although 35,000 have been approved. This is because there are cancellations due to flight changes, and not everyone who is approved would have come in the first place.
Roughly 16K Test & Go passes have been approved for the rest of January (one third expected to arrive if allowed – I am part of this group), and a few thousand for February and March.
There is conflicting information on whether arrivals past January 15 are allowed or not.
Bangkok Post reports that they are not:
Dr Taweesilp said the CCSA agreed to prolong the suspension of the Test & Go one-quarantine-night-only entry programme until further notice, with Jan 15 the last date for all pre-approved arrivals.
About 10,000 people registered with the programme have not yet entered the country, he said.
The government had said earlier that all successful applicants must arrive in Thailand by Monday.
“Test & Go is a loophole for the virus to enter the country,” the spokesman said.
Most new infections of the Omicron variant have been linked to people who entered under the Test & Go scheme, according Public Health Ministry officials.
There have been 26,402 tourist arrivals since Jan 1, most of them through the Test & Go programme, according to CCSA figures up to Wednesday. Last year there were 416,160 foreign arrivals, most of them since Test & Go started on Nov 1 and before it was suspended on Dec 22.
And Thaiger that unclear:
Registration for Thailand’s Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme will be closed indefinitely. And travellers, who are already approved to enter Thailand under the Test & Go quarantine exemption program, have until January 15 to arrive. The CCSA say they might consider extending the cut off date in the future.
At its general meeting today, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration decided to continue with the suspension of the entry scheme until further notice.
TAT says that new Applications are suspended, and existing ones are under “review”:
New TEST & GO Thailand Pass applications remain suspended until further notice
The CCSA also approved the measure to maintain temporary suspension of the Thailand Pass system for new registrations under the Exemption from Quarantine (TEST & GO).
Entry measures for travellers who have obtained their Thailand Pass QR code before 22 December, 2021, with scheduled arrival dates in Thailand from 24 December, 2021, onwards, are currently under review by the CCSA. The TAT Newsroom will be providing an update via www.tatnews.org as soon as the official information becomes available.
Alternatively, travellers who are currently planning to enter Thailand can apply for the Thailand Pass under either the Sandbox programme or the Alternative Quarantine system.
Should You Travel To Thailand?
Suspensions of the Test & Go:
- Thailand May Scrap Test & Go Program
- Official: Thailand Test&Go Quarantine Free Entry Program Cancelled, Existing Passes To Remain Valid
- Thailand May Extend Test & Go Suspension And Require Approved Visitors To Enter By January 10, 2022
- Newly Proposed Entry Deadline For Thailand Test&Go Pass Holders Said To Be January 15, 2022
My Application Process
My Sandbox Experience:
- Thailand Phuket Sandbox Experience – Worth It?
- Phuket Sandbox Arrival Experience
- Phuket Sandbox “Your registration/application for COE has been confirmed”
- Thailand Phuket Sandbox Application Completed
- Thailand Phuket Sandbox COE Amendment
- Singapore Transit Experience
Sending confusing and flip flopping messages ensures that there will be fewer arrivals under the Test & Go than otherwise would for those with approved Thailand Passes.
When I utilized it in September, the Sandbox program was mainly used by Thai nationals and expats that used it to enter Thailand rather than spending a week or longer quarantined in Bangkok.
If you look at the numbers who have come and who would under the Test & Go, these are abysmal in the grand scheme of things and level what Thailand welcomed before Covid-19. The Omicron variant is already in Thailand, and allowing a few thousand international arrivals wouldn’t affect the situation.
There have been news coming out from Phuket that some international visitors have refused to move to a hospitel after testing positive for Covid-19 when asymptomatic and hotels have quite frankly not known what to do with them. You should not travel to Thailand or any other destination unless you have financial resources to pay for an extended quarantine.