Thailand has long been effectively closed to foreigners as the country looks to protect itself from the pandemic. The pandemic has hit many parts of Thailand particularly hard because some local economies are heavily dependent on tourism. This is especially the case in tourist centres like Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, where the economy revolves around hotels, bars, restaurants, etc.
However, the Thai government is gradually opening things up again as the world adapts to a post-pandemic world. As such, the rules of entry for foreigners will become less stringent, encouraging more people to visit the country. The Thai Prime Minister, General Prayut, has stated the government is relaxing the rules to help support the Thai economy.
One example of the rules being relaxed is the test and go policy that has been disbanded for vaccinated visitors from May 1st 2022.
No Quarantine for Vaccinated Arrivals
Under previous rules, all visitors had to take a RT-PCRT test in an SHA+ hotel on the day they arrived. They would also need to undergo mandatory quarantine on their first evening in the country. Vaccinated visitors were then free to leave the hotel to explore Thailand, provided they tested negative. However, they would then be expected to take another test after five days.
If somebody arrives in Thailand and is found to be positive, then they risk spending their entire stay in a designated hotel. Such a rule has understandably perturbed many people from making the journey. Obviously, nobody wants to go through the rigmarole of testing and quarantine when on holiday, meaning many people would rather go somewhere else instead.
However, the recent changes should hopefully help make Thailand more appealing to tourists again.
The New Rules
Under the relaxed rules, vaccinated arrivals will no longer be tested on arrival. Instead, they are now free to start travelling throughout Thailand from the moment they arrive. However, they are encouraged to self-test with antigen kits during their stay.
Of course, to enter the country under the new rules, it is necessary to be fully vaccinated and you will need vaccine certificates for proof. Vaccines also need to be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). Vaccines also need to have been taken no less than 14 days before arrival, although those under 18 will not need to be vaccinated provided they’re travelling with adults who are vaccinated.
The new rules are also only applicable to people arriving by air, so you will likely still need to quarantine if you are entering via land or sea routes. If arriving by land, you will need to pass antigen tests and be fully vaccinated; otherwise you will not be granted entry into the country.
In addition to arriving by air and having a vaccine certificate, visitors to Thailand will also still need to meet other criteria. These include having a Thailand Pass, which will give you a QR code once you’re approved. The pass can be applied for online, and the QR code will then be scanned on arrival at Thai immigration.
To qualify for the no quarantine Thailand Pass, you will need the following:
- Be fully vaccinated no fewer than 14 days before you travel
- Have had a negative RT-PCR test no more than three days before departure
- A Vaccination Certificate
- A Valid Passport
- A Valid Thai Visa
- A minimum of $10,000 USD insurance for those without Thai Social Security or insurance from a Thai employer. This figure is reduced from $20,000 under the previous rules.
Note that those who are not fully vaccinated can also travel to Thailand, although they will need to quarantine at a designated hotel. Unvaccinated arrivals will need to quarantine for five days, after which they are free to travel the country provided they pass an RT-PCR test on the fourth or fifth day.
It’s important to know that the rules are subject to change at any moment, so you should always double-check what’s expected of you before you leave. It might be that the rules are relaxed as the Thai government is under pressure to get the economy flowing again. On the other hand, the rules could easily become stricter again if there’s another outbreak of the virus.
Something else to be mindful of is the local rules regarding alcohol and closing times. Restrictions are in place, but some local bar owners open regardless in spite of the law. Establishments are occasionally checked by the police, and you don’t want to be facing arrest for breaking the law while you’re on vacation. Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself paying an unwelcome fine.
Speak With an Expert
Immigration rules can be confusing, and communications from the Thai government are often unclear, with contradictory messages commonplace. With this in mind, it makes sense to speak with an expert here at Thai Visa Expert, to help ensure that you know what’s needed to gain quarantine-free entry. Otherwise, you run the risk of having to quarantine or not being granted entry into the country at all. An expert will also help ensure you’re up to date with any unexpected changes in the rules.
Thailand has for decades been one of the planet’s premier vacation destinations. Visitors have arrived in their droves to visit the stunning tropical beaches, the legendary nightlife, and the warm Thai welcome. Many others have also arrived for business, with Bangkok in particular one of the region’s main commercial and industrial hubs.
The country has had to tighten up regulations since the pandemic, with overseas tourism all but wiped out to help prevent the spread of the disease. However, with the pandemic appearing to be relatively under control, Thailand is relaxing the rules and making the country appealing again as a holiday destination.
Remember that the rules are subject to change, so it makes sense to check again before you leave. It’s also wise to know what the local COVID related rules are, and it’s also advisable to speak with an expert to help ensure you have a pleasant stay in the country.