Thai government reopens Thailand without quarantine for foreign tourists and travelers. According to the so-called "Phuket Sandbox" model, Phuket, the southern island province, is the first tourist destination to reopen for travelers vaccinated against COVID-19. Get familiar with Phuket Sandbox rules.
What is Phuket Sandbox?
Phuket Sandbox plan is a new model that allows travelers who are fully vaccinated to enter Thailand without quarantine. The program is starting on 1 July 2021, before Thai borders will be fully reopened. Phuket is set to become the first Thai province of this "sandbox" model and tourists visiting the island will no longer need to be quarantined.
Phuket Sandbox Rules
Phuket Sandbox has been officially confirmed and published in the Royal Gazette on 29 June 2021.
Fully vaccinated tourists need to stay no less than 5 nights on the island if they want to travel elsewhere in the country. You need to stay on the island 5 days (applicable for arrivals from 1 April 2022) and get negative COVID-19 test result before traveling to other destinations. Learn more about Phuket Sandbox entry requirements below.
Who can use Phuket Sandbox?
✔️ Vaccinated travelers aged 18 and over need to be fully vaccinated for more than 14 days before departure date and able to provide a vaccination certificate
✔️ Children aged under 18 years old, traveling with parents or guardians
For the updated policy of traveling with children check Thailand Entry Rules for Children
✔️ Thais and foreigners can join Phuket Sandbox
Phuket Sandbox Countries
Starting from 1 October 2021, Phuket Sandbox program can be used by vaccinated travelers from any country in the world.
Phuket Sandbox Entry Requirements
International travelers entering Thailand via Phuket Sandbox need to apply for Thailand Pass, just like everyone else traveling to Thailand during COVID-19 pandemic. Proper type of Thai visa or eligibility to use Thailand visa exemption is also needed.
For entering Thailand and using Phuket Sandbox model, travelers need to show COVID-19 vaccine certificate with a vaccine that has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Thai Authority. Proof of vaccination must be submitted when applying for a Thailand Pass QR Code.
Health insurance policy with coverage including COVID-19 related treatment in the amount no less than 20,000 USD for the total duration of your planned stay in Thailand is mandatory for everyone entering the country under Phuket Sandbox scheme. You can easily buy the special package of AXA Thailand insurance online to meet all these requirements.
You will also need to present a prepaid booking of SHA Extra Plus (SHA++) hotel for at least 5 nights (or less if you fly abroad from Phuket earlier).
Air ticket for an international flight to Phuket. If you are planning to stay there for less than 5 nights, air ticket for an international flight from Phuket to another country will also be needed.
To enter Phuket by using Phuket Sandbox model, travelers need to present the COVID-19 free certificate issued within 72 hours before departure to Thailand and a vaccination certificate. (not required from 1 April 2022)
Phuket Sandbox Hotels
Despite the fact that there is no quarantine requirement, arriving tourists are restricted to stay for 5 nights at accommodations that received SHA++ (SHA Extra Plus) certification, which is issued by Thai government for safety and health measures standards. In case you are staying on Phuket for less than 5 nights, you must depart via Phuket International Airport.
You can book the Phuket Sandbox Hotels via OTA such as Booking.com or Agoda.com, travel agencies or directly with hotels. According to 11 January 2022 update from Thai Embassy in Vienna, the hotel booking confirmation must be inclusive of airport pick up*. When booking your stay with Booking.com, send the special request for your hotel to arrange the airport pick up and issue the confirmation.
*Note! Despite this note on Thai Embassy website, some of our readers report that their Thailand Pass applications were successfully approved with a fully prepaid confirmation of separately booked SHA+ certified airport transfer that is cheaper than transfer arranged by the hotel.
You must upload your SHA Extra Plus hotel confirmation in the Thailand Pass system for getting an approval to enter the country. If you will be booking SHA+ certified transportation for the trip from the airport to the hotel separately, don't forget to add the confirmation of prepaid airport pick up as an additional document.
The list of certified hotels can be found here: SHA Extra Plus Hotels in Phuket.
We also have a list of Phuket Sandbox Hotels separated by popular tourist areas in Phuket to make finding a suitable hotel easier:
- Patong Beach Hotels
- Kata Beach Hotels
- Karon Beach Hotels
- Kamala Beach Hotels
- Bang Tao Beach Hotels
- Mai Khao Beach Hotels
- Panwa Beach Hotels
- Nai Yang Beach Hotels
- Rawai Beach Hotels
- Nai Harn Beach Hotels
- Surin Beach Hotels
- Nai Thon Beach Hotels
- Phuket Town Hotels
- Chalong Hotels
Popular Phuket Sandbox Hotels
TOP 20 most popular Phuket Sandbox hotels between our readers in 2021 were the following:
1. Andamantra Resort and Villa Phuket - Patong Beach resort with pool villas in a secluded, cliff-top area
2. Oceanfront Beach Resort - a new 5-star hotel located in quiet beachfront on the North Patong
3. Crest Resort & Pool Villas - perched on a gentle hillside, on the beautiful Tri Trang Beach, just outside Patong
4. Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket - resort in lush tropical landscapes offering breathtaking views of Patong Bay
5. Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach - resort perched on the headland in Nai Thon Beach overlooking the Andaman Sea
6. Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Resort & Villas - a serene hideaway just steps away from Patong’s nightlife
7. Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach - a 5-star luxury resort on a secluded stretch of white sandy Tri Trang Beach
8. Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket - an idyllic retreat tucked away on the stunning Bang Tao Beach
9. Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa - an affordable hotel occupying a prime location along Patong Beach
10. Diamond Cliff Resort & Spa - an authentic Thai luxury resort nestled on the gentle hills of Patong with panoramic views
11. Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach - resort located directly next to the white sands of Kamala Bay
12. ibis Patong Phuket - an affordable hotel located in a quieter part of Patong, 5 minutes from the beach
13. DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort - set in the heart of Patong, opposite the sandy beach
14. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa - an award winning luxury resort with picturesque scenery on Mai Khao Beach
15. Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa - the beachfront resort in front of the golden sands of Karon Beach
16. Island Escape by Burasari - Thailand’s first 5-star resort created specifically for modern lifestyles on Coconut Island
17. Paripas Patong Resort - an affordable Phuket Sandbox hotel less than a 5-minute walk from Patong Beach
18. Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong Beach Central - a smart hotel for savvy travelers in the heart of Patong Beach
19. Hotel Clover Patong - a 4-star hotel just a minute walk from the popular Patong beach
20. Burasari Phuket - tropical oasis in the southern part of Patong, just a few steps from the beach
COVID-19 Tests in Phuket
The number of required COVID-19 tests during the stay in Phuket at own expense as per the following requirements:
- The first RT-PCR test upon arrival and await the test results in the accommodation
- The second test is ATK self-test on Day 5
COVID-19 tests need to be pre-booked and prepaid via PSAS System and proof of payment for tests must be submitted when applying for Thailand Pass.
Follow our step-by-step guide on how to book Phuket COVID-19 swab tests online here: How to Book COVID Tests for Phuket Sandbox
Phuket Swab Centres
- Laguna (Cherngtalay) Tel. 076-325-442
- Mobile Porto De Phuket
- Patong (Jungceylon) Tel. 093-574-0683
- Patong Hospital
- Karon Swab Center
- Kata (Kata Centre) Tel. 081-693-6586
- Phuket Town (Central Floresta) Tel. 088-765-0363
- Chalong Hospital
- Dibuk Hospital
As in most cases you will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result for boarding the plane when traveling back home from Phuket, you will need to make an additional COVID-19 test before departure. Generally hospitals in Phuket provide COVID-19 testing service and the package of COVID-19 Screening can be varied depending on the type of the test and where you get tested. The cost of an RT-PCR testing ranges from 2,500-4,000 THB per person and a COVID-19 rapid Antigen test ranges from 500-1,000 THB per person.
Bangkok Hospital Phuket, one of the leading hospitals on the island, is offering the package including COVID-19 RT-PCR Testing, Fit-To-Fly Certificate, Test reports and Consultant fees with results within just 24 hours (Next Day) for 3,500 THB. The package can be booked online with discount at 3,400 THB.
Nabon Inter Medical Clinic in the Phuket Downtown is offering RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen test from 690 THB.
If after staying in Phuket you will be traveling around the country and will be flying back home from Bangkok, you will find this list of COVID-19 testing in Bangkok useful.
What happens next if you test POSITIVE for COVID-19?
In the case that you are tested positive for COVID-19, you will be referred to specified healthcare facilities for medical treatment. You will be responsible for the medical expenses, which must be covered by the required COVID-19 insurance.
If you are travelling as a group, the rest of the group must also be transferred to Phuket Alternative Quarantine (AQ) Hotel and they will be responsible for the quarantine expenses
Any person experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms must immediately get a test done. If the person is travelling in a group, every person in the group must undergo a test.
Phuket Sandbox Flights
Many airlines are scheduling Phuket Sandbox Flights from abroad to Phuket including, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, EVA Air, Korean Air, etc. Passengers seeking to travel to Phuket should contact airlines directly for current flights and travel requirements.
Other Sandbox Destinations
When entering Thailand via Phuket International Airport, instead of using Phuket Sandbox you can choose one of other Sandbox destinations - Krabi province or Phang Nga province. For more details about Sandbox programs in these provinces please check:
If taking a flight to Samui International Airport, you can use Sandbox in 3 islands of Surat Thani province - Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. For more details about this Sandbox program please check:
Find the full list of Blue Zone Sandbox Programs.
Phuket Sandbox Update / News
Update 31 March 2022
The mandatory duration of Phuket Sandbox has been reduced from 7 nights to 5 nights starting from 1 April 2022.
Update 29 September 2021
The mandatory duration of Phuket Sandbox has been reduced from 14 nights to 7 nights starting from 1 October 2021. Fully vaccinated visitors under the Sandbox programme to Phuket are now required to stay within the destination for seven days, and afterwards will be able to continue their journey to other parts of Thailand.
Update 29 June 2021
Phuket Sandbox has been officially confirmed and published in the Royal Gazette.
Update 28 June 2021
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is provided general information on the reopening of Thailand and measures to enter Thailand for Thais and non-Thai nationals, starting from Phuket as the pilot destination from 1 July, 2021 as follows,
- Travellers are advised to avoid at-risk areas or crowded places no less than 14 days before their travel date.
- Travellers must travel from countries/regions approved by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) as proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS) and TAT, and must have been in the said countries for no less than 21 days before their travel date.
- They must register their travel via the designated system or website, and have the following documents:
- A certificate of Entry (COE).
- A medical certificate with a laboratory result by an RT-PRC method indicating that COVID-19 is not detected no more than 72 hours before their travel date.
- Copy of an insurance policy in English covering healthcare and treatment expenses for COVID-19 per applicant for the whole duration in Thailand with coverage clearly identified as no less than US$100,000.
- Copy of the payment confirmation for a 14-night stay and RT-PCR tests at hotels approved by the MoTS or TAT. In the case that the length of stay is less than 14 days, travellers must present a confirmed flight ticket out of Thailand.
- A certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by the MoPH or the World Health Organisation (WHO) no less than 14 days before their travel date.
- Travellers must undergo exit screening before departure.
- Travellers must undergo entry screening as well as Immigration and Customs procedures:
- Download and install an alert application, as well as set the application on at all times for the whole duration in Thailand.
- Proceed directly to the reserved hotel on approved airport transfer service.
- Undergo a COVID-19 test (RT-PCR method) at own expense as per the following requirements:
- Taking the first test upon arrival and await the test results in the accommodation.
- Taking additional RT-PCR tests as per the following requirements:
- Travellers with the length of stay less than 7 days are required to take another test on Day 6 or 7, or as per the MoPH’s guidelines.
- Travellers with the length of stays between 10-14 days are required to take the second test on Day 6 or 7 and the third test on Day 12 or 13, or as per the MoPH’s guidelines.
- If tested negative for COVID-19, travellers can go anywhere in Phuket.
- Travellers with an intended length of stay less than 14 days must leave Phuket (Thailand) immediately on an international flight to another country on or before their intended departure date.
- Travellers who have completed 14 nights in Phuket will be allowed to continue their journey to other Thai destinations.
International / Domestic Departure
- For travelling from Phuket to other countries, travellers are advised to follow the guidelines and measures announced by the respective country of their destination.
- For travelling from Phuket to other Thai destinations, travellers are required to show proof that they have completed a 14-night stay accommodation along with other required documentation per the guidelines and measures announced by the respective destinations.
Update 19 June 2021
The plan of Phuket Sandbox was approved by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on 18 June 2021 and it will be submitted for final approval from the Cabinet.
Draft proposal of Phuket Provincial Order (Until official announcement in the Royal gazette)
Phuket Sandbox Program is applied to;
- Travelers who travel from the low or medium risk countries (designated by the Ministry of Public Health) and TAT selected countries.
- Travelers who are not nationals of those listed countries must have been in the listed countries at least 21 days before entering Phuket.
- Thais and foreigners who reside in Thailand returning from mentioned countries
- Travelers who received FULL DOSE of vaccination with vaccines approved by the FDA or WHO at least 14 days before arriving
- Thailand and able to provide a vaccination certificate Travelers who have health insurance for COVID-19 coverage not less than USD 100,000 or equivalent
- Travelers who fully recovered from Covid-19 must also being fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving
- Travelers who have a negative result of COVID-19 (COVID Free) by RT-PCR method NO longer than 72 hours BEFORE boarding at origin
- Children under 6 years old accompanied by fully vaccinated parents
Upon arrival in Phuket
- Undergo a Covid-19 test at Phuket International Airport (at your own expense)
- Travel to your SHA Plus accommodation by a SHA Plus certified transport service
- Remain in your hotel room until you are notified of a negative Covid-19 test result. Once recieved you may move around Phuket freely
During your stay in Phuket
- You need to stay at one SHA Plus hotel for your first 7 nights and then you are able to move to another hotel(s) for the next 7 nights also in a SHA Plus hotel. In case you are staying on Phuket for less than 14 nights, you must depart via Phuket International Airport.
- Undergo RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 on your 6th and 13th days at your own expense
Before leaving Phuket
- When leaving Phuket you will be required to obtain a letter of confirmation from SHA Plus hotels that you have stayed for a minimum of 14 nights
Update 12 June 2021
Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha posted on his Facebook page on Phuket Sandbox that was initiated in line with his guidelines to slowly reopen the country to vaccinated foreign tourists to revive tourism.
The "Phuket Sandbox" project has been reviewed by Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) and was acknowledged by the Cabinet. The next step is to review by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Cabinet for final official approval which is expected to start on July 1 and will continue to serve as a model for other tourist areas.
Update 08 June 2021
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is provided the initial information on the Phuket Sandbox model to safely reopen Phuket to fully vaccinated international travellers from 1 July as follows,
In order to be eligible to enter in Thailand, vaccinated international travellers – and their children – need to have all of their advance arrangements in good order for arrival and entry. These include:
- A vaccine certificate to proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days, but no later than 1 year before the travel date with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
- A valid visa
- A Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate
- A COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of US$100,000
- A confirmation of an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) booking for 14 nights in a SHA Plus-certified accommodation establishment
- A medical certificate with an RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before departure
- The duration of stay can be less than 14 days, but travellers must leave Phuket on or before the permit to stay date.
- Undergo Immigration and Customs procedures, and a COVID-19 screening, including RT-PCR tests
- Download the ThailandPlus application
- Check-in at the pre-booked SHA Plus-certified accommodation establishment and stay there for no less than 14 nights.
- Undergo a COVID-19 test using an RT-PCR or a rapid antigen method on Day 5 of your arrival per the MoPH’s guidelines
- Engage in tourism activities or enjoy services in SHA Plus-certified venues and businesses, under the DMHTTA precautions
- For emergency in case of having respiratory or other related symptoms, please alert the staff at your accommodation or contact the nearest hospital
- The operator/owner of the accommodation establishment is required to report the name list and status of all foreign guests to the provincial authority on a daily basis.
- For travelling from Phuket to other Thai destinations, vaccinated international travellers are required to show a vaccine certificate and a medical certificate that they have tested negative for COVID-19
- For travelling from Phuket to other countries, travellers are advised to follow the guidelines and measures announced by the respective country of destination.
Update 28 May 2021
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has sent an official letter to international travel partners confirming the opening of Phuket Sandbox, starting July 1, 2021.
However, keep in mind that nothing is official yet until it's published in the Royal Gazette.
Update 13 May 2021
Phuket may open to foreign tourists as early as July
While many people express their interest in Phuket Sandbox and are afraid that the Thai government will not open the country according to the roadmap set, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is still pushing ahead with the implementation of "Phuket Sandbox" to target foreign tourists to travel to Thailand in the third quarter of 2021, during July 1 - September 30. They are expecting 129,000 high spending vaccinated tourists to visit Thailand through Phuket Sandbox. It was also mentioned that there will be 7-night packages at a price of 150,000-220,000 THB per person offered.
Additionally, TAT has also discussed with many airlines to join the campaign to give away a free domestic air tickets worth 2,000 THB for foreign tourists who participated in the Phuket Sandbox and travel to other provinces from Phuket after 7 days.
Update 1 April 2021
Thailand has shortened quarantine period
Thailand announced a 3-phase plan to reopen country.
The first stage had to run from April to June, allowing vaccinated tourists to undergo quarantine at government-approved ASQ or ALQ hotels for a shorter period. According to the regulation regarding COVID-19 preventive measure when entering Thailand from April 2021, the mandatory quarantine period was reduced from 14 days to 7 days for vaccinated travelers and 10 days for all non-vaccinated visitors from countries with no mutated strain of SAR-CoV-2 virus. Those arriving in Phuket have to stay at ALQ quarantine hotel at their own expense.
Update: However, since 1 May 2021 travelers are again required to undergo quarantine for 14 days regardless of their nationality or vaccination status.
The second stage is scheduled to be implemented from July to September with a start from the island of Phuket where foreign tourists with the vaccine will not be quarantined.
The third stage is planned to take place from October to December, where Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will join Phuket and will started accepting vaccinated tourists without quarantine.
Full reopening of the country is expected to take place in January 2022.
Update 26 March 2021
Phuket Sandbox Approved
The Phuket Sandbox roadmap has been approved by the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA). Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that the meeting agreed on the roadmap for accepting vaccinated foreign tourists who must have a negative COVID-19 test to be able to travel to Phuket without quarantine, known as Phuket Sandbox.
In the third quarter of 2021, Phuket area is planned to be opened for tourists without quarantine.
Upon success of this plan, in the fourth quarter of 2021 it would be implemented in other popular tourist destinations such as Chonburi (Pattaya), Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani (Koh Samui). However, tourists must comply with the measures against COVID-19 as well as have a completed vaccination with the required number of doses and be tested for COVID-19.
Further Updates on Thailand Reopening
There are still many uncertainties regarding Phuket Sandbox and further reopening of Thailand, so we would recommend contacting your local Thai embassy before making any plans or reservations.
In the meantime, follow our Facebook page for the newest updates on traveling to Thailand.
Keep in mind that during COVID-19 pandemics the rules and regulations are often changed, sometimes even at the last moment. We advise you to contact Thai embassy or consulate in your country to make sure the information is always up to date.