Thailand is welcoming international tourists once more!
We are aware that a few countries have put Thailand on their red list raising entry restrictions on return however Thailand is fighting back speeding up the vaccination programme and cases have peaked and falling so hopefully the decisions by these countries will be reversed very soon.......
Right now we are delighted to announce that there is now 3 sandbox schemes in place to encourage tourists and beach lovers back to Thailand's beaches through the gateways of Phuket and Koh Samui before the country fully opens to international visitors in the next few months.
These schemes for fully vaccinated visitors only, a passage to stunning tropical islands including Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Lak, Kho Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in Phangnga, Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach, and Koh Ngai in Krabi
It is however a quite tight system of gradual test and release that will allow fully vaccinated visitors to arrive without bringing Covid-19 into the country or catching it from another traveller whilst en route or while they are there.
The islands are now more than 70% vaccinated and are ready to welcome you with restaurants and tours fully open. If the lure of quiet tropical beaches appeals - now is the time to visit Koh Samui.
The schemes are known as Samui Plus, Phuket - Samui 7+7 and Phuket Sandbox and we have provided a guide of how it all works providing details to enter Thailand and Koh Samui
The current (temporary) procedure for entry into Thailand
1. Have been in approved country for at least 21 days before departure date
2. Have at least 6 months left in your passport and 2 spare pages
3. Be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Children under 18 can travel if they are not jabbed as long as they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults.
4. The information is based on entry on "Visa Exempt" travel which allows a 30 day stay and a 15 day extension. Should you wish to have a longer stay in Thailand you will find more information on other visas here
REGISTER FOR CERTIFICATE OF ENTRY
This is a 2 stage process with an initial pre-approval and a final approval for travel within 30 days of registering.
The first stage is visiting and registering with the Thai COE website as below.
UPLOADING ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTS
Clicking on "Register" will take you to the next page for completing personal information, uploading a copy of your photo passport page as well as the Certificate of Health Insurance you have purchased for your stay. You will also need to upload the part of the insurance paperwork that states that you are covered $100,000 for Covid-19.
This process will take anywhere from 1- 3 days to get pre-approval and the embassy will provide you with a 6 figure number as reference.
Once pre-approval is received from your embassy by email you have 15 days to complete the process before the registration will expire and then you will have to re-register and start again.
For the final stage you will need to enter the COE website again and using the yellow 'edit button' upload the following:
1. Confirmation of return flight with flight number and departure date.
2. Confirmation from the SHA Extra + approved hotel/villa for the first 7 nights stay in Koh Samui and the SHA+approved hotel/villa for the remaining 7 night stay. (Please contact us for our villas that are SHA+ approved)
3. Your Covid-19 vaccination certificate showing dates for both jabs. 4. Proof of purchase of 3 tests required during your stay in Koh Samui or Phuket paid either through your hotel or as an add-on (approx cost THB 8,000).
Once you have received your Certificate of Entry it is valid for 3 months from issuance.
72 hours before departure you need to take a RT-PCR Test at a travel clinic or pharmacy and the reults together with your COE, Hotel confirmations, travel insurance and proof of purchase of the PCR test on arrival must be presented at check in and on arrival.
We suggest you take 1 or 2 copies in case some of the documents get retained or lost
The Samui Plus Scheme (changing to "Samui Sandbox" 1st October 2021)
This scheme has been operating since 15th July 2021 and is open to fully vaccinated travellers for a 14 day stay and involves the first 7 night stay at an approved Samui Extra + hotel/villa ( known as ALQ) and the remaining 7 nights is more relaxed in a stay at an approved SHA + hotel/villa. "SHA" stands for Safety & Health Administration and we shall be pleased to provide information on the hotels and villas that have been listed as approved with at least 70% of the staff having been vaccinated and strict cleansing procedures are followed.
To explain these 2 tiers, the Samui Extra+hotels are thiose that have been approved to receive international travellers using the Samui Plus scheme for the first 7 days. The SHA+ hotels have been approved for the following more relaxed 7 day stay due to their high standards of cleanliness and safety. With the the workers in the island's tourism sector being fully vaccinated there are a large number of the SHA+ hotels/villas to choose from and are open to other local visitors too.
Access is by international arrival transitting through Bangkok and you will be funnelled to a processing area where documents will be checked and your temperature taken before continuing on a flight to Koh Samui.
Masks must be worn the whole time on the flight and in the airport (except when eating) and you will be asked to download the health app "Mor Chana".
On arrival in Koh Samui you will take the first test you have purchased and wait in your hotel/villa room until you receive the results ( approx 6-8 hours). Transport from the airport directly to the hotel needs to be arranged in advance and it is not possible to stop en route. Public transport is not allowed.
Day 1-3: Chill out at the hotel using the services and facilities provided
Day 4-6: Able to travel around Koh Samui on sealed routes and travel programmes.
Day 6/7: You need to pass the 2nd Covid-19 test taken at the hotel
Days 8-14: You can move out of the ALQ hotel and enjoy the relaxed freedom at a certified SHA+ hotel/villa where you have the freedom to travel within Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. It is however necessary to return to your SHA+ hotel at night.
Day 12: You will need to pass the 3rd test which will be taken at the hospital.
Should you wish to leave the islands before 14 nights - this is possible by a flight booked connecting to an internationall flight out of the country only. If you wish to travel to other provinces within Thailand you will need to wait until you have finished the Samui Plus programme on the 15th day when you will be given a "release form" from the hotel
Please note that from 1st October 2021 the restricted stay for the first 7 days in Samui Extra plus hotels is no longer in place and arrivals are able to spend the whole 14 days in the more relaxed SHA+ certified properties with freedom to enjoy the island but still have to take the advanced purchase of 3 Covid-19 pcr tests on arrival, day, 6 & day 12.
Phuket - Samui 7+7 Scheme
This model started on 25th August and allows a stay in a Phuket SHA+ hotel/villa for the first 7 days stay and the remaining 7 days you can travel to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and stay 7 nights there in a SHA+ hotel/villa.
The procedure on arrival is the same as the Samui Plus scheme and provides a 'relaxed' 14 day stay in two different designated provinces in Thailand with no quarantine or travel restrictions and you just need to follow the rules of the provinces in respect of wearing masks and social distancing.
The testing days are also the same and the SHA+ hotels in Phuket are better value than the SHA Extra+ hotels/villa in Koh Samui.
We expect this to be the preferred option for many visitors wishing a stay in Samui due to the restrictions Koh Samui has during the first 7 days on the Samui Plus scheme as on arrival in Phuket there is freedom to travel within a few hours after receiving a negative result of the Covid-19 test result taken on arrival at the airport.
In addition as Phuket is an international airport with a long runway there are a number of direct flights into Phuket which are unable to land in Koh Samui.
Airlines currently arriving directly into Phuket are Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Domestic flights into Phuket were suspended however recently these have been introduced slowly under strict requirements for entry
Flights are now operating between Phuket and Samui and a number of road and ferry options are also in place for travelling to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao to stay in your chosen SHA+ hotel/villa
This was the first sandbox scheme introduced on the 1st July and is continuing to be popular as there is a lot to see in Phuket being the largest island in Thailand and many are using the 14 day stay to explore the areas and take sealed boat trips to the stunning outer islands. Once the sandbox has been completed on the 15th day travelling to the other provinces in Thailand is a lot easier from Phuket.
The same procedure to enter Thailand itself for the above schemes still apply and although involves a few hoops to jump through - those who have taken the journey are known to have no regrets whatsoever and the hassle getting there soon forgotten and well worth it.
Should these programmes be successful and the vaccination programme for the rest of Thailand continues to speed up we are hopeful that Thailand will ease the restrictions and open up further at least by the end of the year if not before.
We are familiar with the procedure and should you need any further information in respect of hotels/villas available for this scheme please do not hesitate to contact us and we shall be pleased to provide you with as much information as we can.