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Can You Travel To Thailand Right Now?: Traveling to Thailand During the Outbreak

Traveling to Thailand During the Outbreak
Khao San Road, the most popular area among foreigners, has become a ghost town during the pandemic since 2020.
Last year, 2020, Thailand is one of the best countries that managed to keep the lid on Covid. This year, at the beginning of April 2021, the third wave has begun and it becomes stronger than ever. The UK variant fueling the spread this time. The spread is faster than ever before, and for the first time that we are facing a shortage in available hospital beds. So with the rising infection cases in Thailand, can you and should you still come to Thailand? Let me share with you both the requirements that you need to know before planning the trip and how life will be like once you enter the Kingdom of Thailand.

Remark: The rules and regulations mentioned in this post are mostly applicable for those non-Thais who are not holding any special types of visas.

So, can you enter Thailand during the Covid crisis?

The short answer is yes, but with some measures and required documents. If you are a non-Thai, you will need to prepare for
  1. RT-PCR result indicating that Covid-19 is not detected
  2. Minimum coverage of 100,000 USD medical insurance (which covers Covid-19 treatment in Thailand)
  3. Certificate of Entry (COE)
  4. A quarantine period of at least 14 days – the type of quarantine will be varied based on your purpose of entering the Kingdom. For more info – click.

And according to the latest news on May 7, 2021. Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry still continues to move ahead with the reopening plans to welcome back tourists to the Kingdom.

1  Phase 1: Pilot during April 1st – Jun 30th, 2021, welcoming vaccinated tourists with quarantines

2 Phase 2: Phuket Sandbox during July 1st – September 30th, 2021, welcoming vaccinated tourists to Phuket without having to quarantine

3  Phase 3: Expanding phase 2 to more areas from October 1st, 2021 onwards. The current list of provinces is Krabi, Phang-nga, Surathani, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Buriram, Petchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Bangkok.

4  Phase 4: Expanding the above to all provinces in Thailand.

The plan is to have citizens in phase 2 and phase 3 areas vaccinated as soon as possible, especially those frontline essential workers like medical and tourism staff.

For the trusting source of the daily pandemic situation in Thailand, always go to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, click here.

Traveling to Thailand During the Outbreak

Once you enter Thailand, can you travel freely across city then?

This is where it starts to get tricky. Each province can have different policy and restriction. While some regulations are common in entire Kingdom like wearing masks, some are not. Especially the territorial restriction, 51 provinces so far in Thailand require people from other provinces to do a 14-days quarantine if they come from the deep red zone (Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai).

That means even if you can come to Thailand and did a 14-days quarantine in Bangkok, you might not be able to travel to other provinces without another round of quarantine.

For the credible source of the latest update on entry restriction by province, click here.

***The site offers no English translation though. If you need help, please feel free to leave a comment below. I can help you check based on your destination.***

How is life in Thailand amid the pandemic?

So, if you decide to come, after quarantine and everything, how life will look like on a day to day.

  • Less traffic: I’m talking about the deep red and red zones here. Bangkok during the rush hour will be less like what you’ve seen in the pictures. It will be a lot fewer cars even during the rush hours. Because for those whose occupation allows them to work from home, most likely that their employers will ask them to not come to the office. The UK variant spreads a lot easier than what we have experienced last year. The number one cause of this third surge in Thailand came from the cluster in the pub, and followed by offices. Hence, most offices send their employees home for at least 2 weeks and keep extending it until further notice.
  • Limited dine-in: For the deep red zone provinces, the only takeaway is allowed at the restaurants (latest update in June 2021: all restaurants can now reopen for dine-in customers but at only 25% of their capacity. You will be browsing through a few food delivery options throughout the day because they are up to their game during this time in providing new promotions every day!
  • Some types of business close: 31 higher-risk businesses are under lockdown, includes a cinema, boxing stadiums, massage and spa, and gyms.
  • Prepare to be masked up!: Masks are mandatory to wear outside of your accommodation in all provinces in Thailand.
  • Fewer people at the mall: If you have been to the mall in Bangkok, you probably know that the malls here are always packed with people, especially on the weekend. But with the worst spread during April-May of 2021, people do not even attempt to step inside the mall. I for one started ordered groceries online since the beginning of the new wave in early April. The delivery staffs (from different stores) often reasoned their delivery delay to the fact that demand for delivery is unusually high.
  • Empty resorts and hotels: The majority of the hotel guests are either foreigners or people from Bangkok. With significantly fewer foreigners, most hotels have relied on visitors from Bangkok. However, during this new surge, the government has asked for cooperation from the citizens in the red zone to keep traveling across the city at the minimum. That and also the hospital bed shortage, are enough to make people stop traveling during this time. Therefore, you can expect to have a hotel to yourself if you travel during this time. Do check with the hotel prior to your trip. Many small hotels stop operating during this time because they can no longer bear the operation cost with hardly any income.

Can you travel to Thailand for a business trip?

If you are a business traveller, please ensure to check with your business counterparts first whether they are comfortable with meeting with you during this time. Their business may be running as usual. But there’s a chance that A) if they are in the deep red zone area, they will be working from home. Or, B) even if they are not in the red zone, they might not be comfortable to inviting you to their office or factory. Let me share you my direct experience. During the second surge around early of 2021, I needed to fly to a small province in the North of Thailand for a factory visit trip. My supplier requested to do so virtually through video conference instead of having me physically there at their factory because I came from Bangkok (where it is always the red zone for every surges!). If you are more concerned about whether you can enter the Kingdom for business, please check out the ‘So, can you enter Thailand during the Covid crisis?’ topic written above.

Last but not Least (My Personal Opinion)

Yes, you can still travel to Thailand safely with either 14 days quarantine or complete dose of vaccine. And though some places are closed, some businesses are still opened as usual.

Having said that, if you have a business to tend to that requires a meeting with your business partners in Thailand in person, you’d better utilize virtual meeting tools. This is because your business partners probably will not want to be close proximity with you at this time. However, if you wish to just travel and enjoy your time here in Thailand, as of May 2021, you should closely monitor the daily outbreak situation in Thailand. Personally, I would avoid traveling in epicenters like Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Restaurants, massage shops, and gyms won’t be opening for you anyhow. You can enjoy the Thai food by ordering from your accommodation. Other shopping places might be opened if they are locating in the department stores, but the small ones on the street or standalone market might not. However, for other provinces that has low new cases, you can still enjoy traveling, eating, and all that jazz. But, and this is a big but here, you must check the entry restriction by province. This is because some provinces with zero to low new infection case, might still impose a stricter entry restriction, especially provinces in the North.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment below. I will be more than happy to help out if I can.

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