Thailand is preparing to open more of the country to fully vaccinated international tourists in November ©Shutterstock
Thailand is preparing to open more of the country to fully vaccinated international tourists in November ©Shutterstock

Thailand postpones reopening of Chiang Mai, Bangkok and more destinations to November

TripFalcon September 26, 2021

Last Update: 2021-09-25 22:03:00

Thailand has postponed the reopening date of BangkokChiang Mai and other popular destinations to tourists until November to allow more people to be vaccinated. However, Phuket and Ko Samui will continue to welcome visitors under special tourism programs.

Thailand had launched the Phuket Sandbox program, where fully vaccinated tourists are permitted to travel to Thailand without quarantining provided they stay in Phuket (and Phang-NgaSurat Thani or Krabi) for at least 14 days before traveling to other parts of the country. The program was due to be extended to five more places in October: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

But Reuters reports that it will now launch on November 1, to give the cities more time to meet vaccination targets necessary for a safe reopening. "Cities we’ve targeted have not reached 70% vaccination rates and so we have to push out the date to November," Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn told the news agency.

Sandbox programs

Under the extension, tourists will have to stay within designated areas in their destination for seven days after arrival but they will be able to travel freely within that area—they won't be confined to their hotels. As part of the program they will need to download the MorChana contact tracing app and take regular COVID-19 tests to monitor their health. If the program is successful, the AFP reports that it will be extended to more regions including Chiang Rai, Rayong and the ancient province of Sukhothai.

To facilitate the extension of the sandbox program, officials are seeking ways to make regular COVID-19 testing more affordable for tourists, with the possibility of introducing antigen tests by November.

"We will try to halve the RT-PCR price and allow tourists to use antigen test kits for their second and third tests," Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of TAT, told the Bangkok Post. "The package price should be universally applied to every province... including the Phuket Sandbox."

Details on the sandbox extension are still scant, particularly on the itinerary available to tourists within the designated areas and the documentation required to take part, but we will update this article when more information is available.

Ko Samui is open under the Samui Plus program ©MaRabelo/Getty Images

Samui Plus

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated tourists can also visit Thailand under the Samui Plus sandbox scheme which covers the islands of Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao. Tourists participating in the program just need to isolate for about a day or so in one of the program's certified hotels while waiting for their RT-PCR test result. According to the TAT, they can then roam the islands freely without sticking to a designated route.

Visitors from overseas staying 14 nights must stay at a certified hotel on Ko Samui only for the first seven nights, after which they can move to another certified hotel on Ko Samui, Ko Phangan or Ko Tao for the remaining seven nights of their trip. Once they've completed 14 days on the islands, only then are they permitted to travel to another destination in Thailand; if they plan on staying for a shorter period of time, they will not be able to travel from the islands.

Tourists are also required to purchase medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least US$100,000, and all relevant health documentation must be completed in English before traveling to Thailand.

Travelers from 70 countries are permitted to take part in the program, including those from the US, UK, and most European countries. Children under 18 are not required to be vaccinated if traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians, but must have tested negative for COVID-19 no later than 72 hours before travel.

Source: lonelyplanet