Thai government plans to reopen 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 who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
What is Phuket Sandbox?
Phuket Sandbox model is a new plan that should allow foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated to enter Thailand without quarantine. The program is scheduled to start 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.
Important note! While the plan of Phuket Sandbox is well advertised, all the regulations are yet to be officially confirmed so there might be various changes and extra rules that might impact your ability to use it.
Phuket Sandbox Rules
While previously it was mentioned that tourists will need to stay in Phuket for 7 days before being allowed to travel to other destinations in Thailand, latest reports suggest that vaccinated tourists will need to stay no less than 14 nights on the island if they want to travel elsewhere in the country.
In addition, on the 5th day after the entry, tourists will have to undergo a RT-PCR test and report the health status via the application. On day 6 and day 7, you could do a day trip such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Yaonoi, Phang-Na Bay. Another negative RT-PCR test might be required for the ones who will want to depart to the next destination in Thailand after 7 days in Phuket.
If Phuket Sandbox plan will be confirmed under such conditions, you will need to stay on the island 14 days and get negative COVID-19 test results before traveling even to the popular tourist destinations nearby such as Koh Phi Phi islands (Krabi province) or James Bond Island (Phang Nga province).
Who can use Phuket Sandbox?
✔️ Vaccinated travelers aged 18 and over, traveling from medium/low risk countries of SAR-CoV-2 virus, need to be fully vaccinated for more than 14 days but not longer than 1 years before departure date.
✔️ Children aged 12–17 6-18 years old* can travel without quarantine if they arrive in Phuket and get tested for COVID-19 at the airport at their own expense.
✔️ Children under 12 6 years old*, traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians.
*The age of children who will need to be tested on arrival might change again
Be noted that in the case the parents or guardians are found to have COVID-19, the children are to be placed in isolation for 14 days.
Important! The latest reports suggest that Phuket Sandbox might be limited to international tourists only, meaning that Thai passport holders and diplomats wouldn't be able to use Phuket Sandbox model and will need to use ASQ/ALQ instead. It wasn't clarified but this exclusion might also be applied to expatriates with long stay visas.
If you are not planning to use a tourist visa or visa exemption for entering Phuket under Phuket Sandbox program, we would strongly recommend waiting for the official confirmation before making any related plans and bookings,
Phuket Sandbox Hotels: SHA Plus Hotels
Despite the fact that there will be no quarantine requirements, it seems that arriving tourists will continue to be restricted to stay at some accommodations that received SHA+ certification, which is issued by Thai government for safety and health measures standards.
It is mentioned that visitors will be able to book via OTA (such as Booking.com, Agoda.com), travel agencies or direct booking to the SHA Plus hotels. Hotel Reservation teams will be required to enter their guests' bookings into the SHA Plus Booking Authentication System (SHABA) which will generate an official confirmation number and QR code.
The list of certified hotels can be found here: SHA 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
- Phuket Town Hotels
Eligible Countries for Phuket Sandbox
Phuket Sandbox plan will be available for travelers flying to Thailand from countries that will be regarded low risk or medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus but such countries were not named yet. The list of eligible countries should be released by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) soon and later updated every few weeks.
Documents Required for Phuket Sandbox
International travellers need to apply for Certificate of Entry (COE), just like everyone else traveling to Thailand during COVID-19 pandemic. Proper type of Thai visa or eligibility to use Thailand visa exemption will also be needed.
For entering Thailand and using Phuket Sandbox model, travelers will 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 COE.
The requirement to have a health insurance policy with coverage including COVID-19 related treatment in the amount no less than 100,000 USD for the total duration of your planned stay in Thailand should also stay in place as it's currently mandatory for everyone entering the country. You can easily buy the special package of AXA Thailand insurance online to meet all these requirements.
To enter Phuket by using Phuket Sandbox model, tourists will have to present the COVID-19 free certificate issued within 72 hours before departure to Thailand and a vaccination certificate, as well as undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport (if necessary)
Travelers are also required to download the Thailand Plus mobile application.
COVID-19 Test in Phuket
The number of required COVID-19 tests during the stay in Phuket and the process of managing them should be clarified in the near future. However, travelers are subject to take COVID-19 tests at their own expenses.
Generally hospitals provide coronavirus 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.
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.
Flights to Phuket
Many airlines are scheduling direct flights to Phuket including, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, EVA Air, Korean Air. Passengers seeking to travel to Phuket should contact airlines directly for current flights and travel requirements .
We will update once there will be further information…
Vaccination in Phuket
The success of Phuket Sandbox program also depends on the results of vaccination on the island. The government has stated that by early July, 70% of the island’s residents must be vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to achieve herd immunity before reopening and starting Phuket Sandbox campaign. In other words, at least 466,000 residents living on the island of Phuket should be vaccinated with about 933,000 doses of vaccine in Phuket area by June.
Let’s hope that Thailand will be able to welcome tourists without quarantine soon!
Phuket Sandbox Timeline/News
Updated 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.
Updated 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.
Updated 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.
Updated 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.
Updated 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.
Updated 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.