As of 1 July 2021, Thailand reopened its doors to international travelers under the first-ever Phuket Sandbox program.
Launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in partnership with the Phuket Tourist Association, this pilot program allows vaccinated tourists to enjoy the beauty and leisure of Phuket without having to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
While travelers are required to follow strict guidelines to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, you can plan your trip with confidence as the Thai government requires at least 70% of the local population to be vaccinated before each “Sandbox” zone opens.
Still in its early stages, the Phuket Sandbox is a beacon of hope for the revival of Thailand’s flourishing tourism industry and the country’s economy as a whole.
Who Can Travel To Phuket Under This Program?
In order to ensure the safety of tourists and locals, Thai authorities have released detailed information about who is eligible to travel to Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox program. It is important to note that travellers who require full vaccination before arriving in Thailand must receive vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration; these include AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.
Let’s take a look at who can travel to Phuket:
-Fully vaccinated tourists over 18 years old arriving from medium- or low-risk countries. Tourists must have been vaccinated for more than 14 days prior to departure and must show a vaccination certificate.
-Unvaccinated children between the ages of 6 to 18. These travellers must test negative on arrival for Covid-19 at the Phuket International Airport. Note: A THB 2,800 fee applies for the test.
-Unvaccinated children younger than 5 years old must be traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians. These children must also test negative on arrival.
-Thais and foreigners who live in Thailand and are returning from medium- or low-risk countries.
-Thais and foreigners who live in Thailand and have been fully vaccinated or who have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
If you do not meet one or more of the above criteria, then you will need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
What Do I Need To Prepare Beforehand?
Before arriving in Phuket, you are required to have the following items:
-A negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours of your departure
-Proof of full vaccination completed at least 14 days before departure
-Covid-19 health insurance covering at least USD 100,000
-Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Thai Embassy or Consulate
-Confirmation of your stay at a SHA+ Hotel in Phuket
-Tourist visa (if required)
What Happens When I Arrive In Phuket?
Upon arrival at Phuket International Airport, travelers will go through Customs, Immigration and Health check points. You must download and activate the Thailand Plus mobile application on our phone before receiving your first RT-PCR test. If your results come back negative, you will be taken to your hotel via a SHA Plus-approved transfer service.
A second RT-PCR test will be given on Day 6 of your stay on Phuket and again on Day 12 if you are traveling for an extended period of time. The tests will be given at your hotel’s partner hospital and you are responsible for paying between THB 2,500 – 4,000 per test.
After completing 14 days on Phuket, you are free to travel domestically to other destinations in Thailand.
What Can I Do In Phuket?
After testing negative at the airport and checking into your hotel you are free to move about the island. Spend your days exploring the picture-perfect beaches, swimming in the crystalline waters of the Andaman Sea and indulging in mouthwatering local and international fare. You can also look for SHA Certified tour operators to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime excursions, snorkeling trips and more.
It is important to note that travelers should continue to follow Covid-19 safety measures during their stay. These include social distancing, wearing a face mask, temperature checks, hand washing, and daily check-ins via the Thailand Plus mobile application. Be sure to check with your hotel for more local updates when you arrive.
What’s next for Phuket Sandbox?
With more than 1,300 tourists arriving in the first weekend of Phuket Sandbox, authorities are optimistic about this program and its potential for the reopening of tourism across Thailand. The popular Thai islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao have also been approved to open under this “Sandbox” scheme on 15 July 2021, with Chiang Mai in talks to follow.
While the number of travelers under Phuket Sandbox is a fraction of the usual average, the program is a starting point to reinvigorate the Thai economy and assure international travelers that Thailand is still one of the most desirable tourist and investment destinations in the world.
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