After 18 months of near-total confusion, how about some easy answers? To make the next few months of travel planning as straightforward as possible, I’ve put together a total resource list for the most current Thailand/covid travel updates.
To get your copy, join the list to get email updates. As accurate Covid travel information depends on (A) where you live, (B) where in Thailand you want to travel and (C) the exact moment of inquiry, it’s better to give you the resources directly, so you’ve got the most up-to-date details for your situation. With that said, here’s a quick catch-up since the last round of updates.
Thailand Travel Covid Updates (October, 2021)
Links below may include affiliates. I use affiliate links to recommended products and services. I receive a small commission on any resulting purchases at no cost to the customer. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It keeps The Koh Samui Guide ad-free, never sponsored and 100% independent.
Hotel photos: credit Booking.com | top photo: W Koh Samui
November: The end of quarantine in Thailand?
Just announced! On November 1, Thailand will (probably?) allow fully vaccinated visitors from select countries to skip quarantine and travel freely around Thailand. (Nearly like the olden days but with masks, curfews, restricted alcohol, mandatory PCR tests … and the ever-present delta variant that’s also travelling Thailand). The final list will (probably?) include up to ten “low-risk” countries but the following five have been announced so far:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Note that the U.S. currently advises against travel to Thailand in deep, dark red so – as ever – I’ll provide the info and you make your choices. Thailand’s Prime Minister acknowledges this November no-quarantine plan has inherent risks but that people’s livelihoods in tourism must also bear consideration.
Requirements: Arrive by air. Although the quarantine requirement will be lifted, other requirements remain in place. As before, all visitors will need to provide
- Before departure for Thailand: negative PCR test #1
- On arrival in Thailand: negative PCR test #2
To be announced: (A) The other five countries on the “low-risk” list, and whether or not qualifying no-quarantine visitors will have to (B) stay in a SHA+ Plus hotel and (C) prepare a Certificate of Entry (COE). These details might be announced as early as next week.
Other qualifying low-risk countries will likely be added in December and January. Meanwhile, visitors from medium- and high-risk countries will still be required to quarantine.
Don’t book flights yet: Resident expert Richard Barrow cautions that none of the above is official until it (A) passes Thailand’s Centre for COVID‐19 Situation Administration (CCSA), (B) passes Cabinet and (C) is published in the Royal Gazette. So watch this space until (probably) Tuesday, October 19th when it (fingers crossed) should be made official.
Other countries? As a total guess (total guess), other countries that (as of August 1) were considered “low risk” include: Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Qatar, Denmark and Israel. Then again, the United States, the UK and China all sit on the “medium risk” list in the same publication – so who knows?
Case numbers in Thailand
Please don’t conflate “quarantine is winding down” with “Covid’s finished in Thailand”. Far from it. Nationwide, cases remain at about 10,000 per day.
As of October 6, roughly 48% of Thailand’s 70 million population has received the first dose and 30% has received two doses of vaccine. Note that a significant proportion of these numbers are Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines and booster jabs (Pfizer and AstraZeneca) are underway. The hope is to reach a 70% vaccination rate by the end of the year.
Ongoing restrictions and upcoming changes
Mask mandate: A nationwide mask mandate remains in place anywhere outside one’s home or hotel room (with strict fines).
What’s open: Spa services including salons, gyms and swimming pools, movie theatres and museums have re-opened. (And, yes, Major Cineplex is showing the new James Bond). Nightlife venues might reopen on December 1 (see below).
Alcohol: There’s currently a nationwide ban on alcohol sales and alcohol service in restaurants (with some exceptions on Koh Samui and Phuket, see below). This will (probably?) end on December 1, alongside the (potential?) reopening of bars and nightclubs.
Length of quarantine: As of October 1, the quarantine required for fully vaccinated visitors has been reduced from 14 days to 7 days and to 10 days for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers (arriving by air – otherwise 14 days). Again, this will (probably) change from November 1 for qualifying fully vaccinated travellers (explained above).
Koh Samui and Phuket updates
Domestic travel to Samui and Phuket: As of October 15, fully vaccinated domestic travellers arriving to Samui from other parts of Thailand don’t need to show a negative covid test. Just their proof of vaccine. Which could be two doses of Sinovac. Not fully vaccinated? Then please show a negative covid test … as long as it’s less than seven days old. If your brain just played a screechy-record-player-grinds-to-a-halt noise and then you tilted your head sideways like a confused dog … yup, me too.
Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus updates: These travel programmes are now open to visitors from any country. Visitors are now able to travel to Koh Phangan or Koh Tao without a week’s stay on Koh Samui (following a negative PCR test on arrival). Likewise for visiting Krabi from Phuket. The requirement to stay 14 days has been reduced to 7 days, after which visitors can travel freely around Thailand.
- Start here – Phuket: Your Total Guide to the Phuket Sandbox
- Where to stay: The 45 Best Phuket Sandbox (SHA Plus+) Hotels
Start here – Koh Samui: Your Total Guide to Samui Plus
Koh Samui’s current restrictions include a limit of up to five people per restaurant table and alcohol served only in one of the 87 “Green Zone” establishments (listed in part below). Social gatherings are limited to five people with alcohol and up to twenty people without alcohol. Public transport is operating at 50% capacity. A “please behave because we’re asking nicely” curfew exists from 11 pm to 4 am.
Green Zone alcohol policy: Where to get a drink before the alcohol restrictions are lifted on (probably) December 1? On Samui, look for a “Green Zone” restaurant. Qualifying restaurants meet criteria including fully vaccinated staff, fully vaccinated customers (or separate zones for unvaccinated customers), socially distanced tables, 50% capacity and barriers in place.
Such restaurants can serve alcohol and currently include many hotel favourites:
- Tree Tops at Anantara Lawana
- Yangna Cuisine, Sesun and Kube at Hyatt Regency Koh Samui
- Air Bar at Intercontinental Baan Taling Ngam Resort
- Woo Bar at W Koh Samui
- Lai Thai Restaurant at Belmond Napasai
- Prego and Amaya at Amari Koh Samui
- Zest, Azure and Jahn at Conrad Samui
- Antica Locanda
- Bar Baguette
- Coco Tam’s
- Krua Bophut
- Smile House Restaurant
- Stacked Burger
- The Cliff
- The Road Less Travelled
- The Shack
- Think and Retro Cafe
As mentioned above, the alcohol restrictions might finish on December 1 in time for the holiday period.
More questions about Thailand travel Covid updates?
With a year’s worth of Thailand travel updates regarding covid, quarantine of varying duration in various places, visa requirements and easily 20,394 uses of the words “probably”, “maybe” and “fingers crossed” … you know the drill: stay tuned for more updates (get them by email) and hang tight for a few more months. If you’re considering 2022 travel, this update more than any previously sounds like it might be ok to start some hazy future plans – at least the early research.
- Start planning: The Koh Samui Guide
- My favourites: Travel health essentials
- Villas: The 9 Best Samui Extra Plus Villas
Resources and Further Reading
- 9,445 new Covid cases, 84 more deaths
- Approved restaurants under Samui vaccine green zone
- Koh Samui Plus simplified: 7 days on Samui, Phangan or Tao
- Koh Samui to ease domestic entry restrictions
- Now 7-day stay for Sandbox tourists from any country in the world
- Only Vaccine certificate ‘OR’ Antigen test will be required to enter Samui from Oct 15, 2021
- PM sets Nov 1 for reopening to foreign tourists from low-risk countries
- Restaurants under “Vaccine Green Zone” program can serve alcohol in Koh Samui
- Thai authorities desire “quality tourists” as a wider reopening approaches
- Thailand to lift quarantine for vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries
- Thailand to reopen for some vaccinated tourists from November
- UK drops advice against non-urgent travel to 32 destinations, Thailand still on red list