Confused about your Thailand travel options right now? I’ve spent
days weeks entire months in front of 60,000 browser tabs and will try to simplify things as much as I’m able. Below, find a massive list of answers to your current Thailand travel FAQs covering Thailand Pass, Test and Go programme and hotels, the arrivals process, Sandbox options and more.
Updated December 22, 2021
Announced today: New Thailand Pass applications and the Test and Go program will be temporarily suspended over the holidays. This is *hopefully* a temporary measure while sciencey people give Omicron a watchful side-eye. The situation will be reviewed in early January. See full details here or subscribe to updates.
Tip! Start here: For a comprehensive overview of the current rules, travel regulations and your options, Your Total Guide to ‘No Quarantine’ Thailand is the perfect place to start.
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Thailand Travel FAQs: Thailand Pass, Test and Go and More
Thailand Updates – December 2021
Are bars and nightclubs open?
No. They’ll remain closed until at least January 16, 2022. However, you can order alcohol in Bangkok restaurants. On Koh Samui, there’s a “green zone” policy for restaurants that follow a variety of covid safety measures (e.g. vaccinated staff, socially distanced tables). You won’t struggle to find a drink on the island – there are over 300 restaurants and “restaurants” with lots of tasty tipple.
Are restaurants open?
Yes, at least those that choose to be and/or have remained in business. Using Samui as an example, you’ll find that a lot of Chaweng remains closed (like, a lot a lot – even McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger King outlets) but there are dozens if not hundreds of open restaurants elsewhere around the island.
What are the rules about wearing a mask?
They’re probably more stringent than you’re used to. Masks are required anywhere outside of your house or hotel room (even outside) when not seated for dining. This includes inside a car that has passengers. You can be fined for noncompliance.
What are tourists numbers like in Thailand?
International (foreign) arrivals to Thailand:
- 2019: 39,600,000
- 2020: 6,700,000 (most of these in January and February)
- 2021: 106,117 (through October)
- 2022: Some estimate that 20% of 2019 tourist numbers could return. (You get a shrug and a clinking wine glass from me).
Want a chart?
What does SHA + Plus Extra Plus or whatever mean?
You don’t love an unexplained acronym? Let’s back up. Last year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Ministry of Public Health and some other buddies joined together to set hotel certification around covid safety measures. The result is “SHA” or “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration certification”. It’s designated with a round blue badge (you’ll see it on hotel booking sites).
Hotels, restaurants, tour operators and transport companies can all have “SHA” certification. A blue “SHA” badge will indicate that the establishment has passed a detailed inspection and follows all recommended COVID health measures such as single points of entry and exit, contact tracing, required use of face masks, enforced social distancing, hand-washing stations, etc.
As for SHA ++ Extra Plus Plus Plus More Plus? Officially it’s “SHA Extra Plus” or “SHA ++”. The difference with the “extra plus” bit is that they have a partner hospital with whom they’ll administer PCR tests. So these “pluses” are what you need to see when you look for any form of quarantine accommodation.
Should we make it more confusing?
- All Test and Go hotels must be SHA++/SHA Extra Plus
- But not all SHA++/SHA Extra Plus are Test and Go hotels (it’s up to the hotel)
- However, all SHA++/SHA Extra Plus hotels (in 26 Blue Zone provinces) can be Sandbox hotels.
- Can you handle one more? There’s another level. “SHA +” or “SHA Plus” … They’re just “extra good” but have no partner hospital, so they’re not Test and Go hotels but can be Sandbox hotels.
- Can I really recommend life as a travel writer right now.
Tip: If you want to quickly find “SHA Extra Plus” hotels or “SHA Plus” hotels on a booking site, it’s really easy.
On Booking.com, start with your destination:
Enter your dates and, on the search results page, click the top box “Properties that take health & safety measures”. Then scroll down the page to find “review score”. Click Very good: 8+ and Superb: 9+. You’ll notice that almost every hotel in the results has “SHA Plus” in its title. In Bangkok, where Test and Go is most readily available, you’ll also see “SHA Extra Plus” hotels.
For Agoda, see these steps to find a “SHA++/SHA Extra Plus” hotel.
Test and Go
How can I book my Test and Go Hotel? Is it possible to book a Test and Go hotel on a hotel booking site like Agoda?
Yes! You can definitely book your Bangkok Test and Go hotel on Agoda. Find out how to book (click for detailed post with step-by-step screenshots).
How many people have tested positive for Covid under the Test and Go scheme so far?
As of Nov 25: 0.08% (Bangkok Post).
What happens if I test positive for Covid while I’m in Thailand?
Start here for The Number One Crucial Thing you need to know before making any Thailand travel plans right now.
Want to travel to the 7th ring of hell? Read “[An] experience testing positive (Reddit)”.
If you test positive, whether during Test and Go or at any point during your stay – even if you’re asymptomatic – you have to go to an ‘Alternative State Quarantine’ hotel or hospital for 14 days and you’ll be separated from your travelling party. Please understand that Thailand travel during Covid does include this risk. Richard Barrow covers the unfortunate cases of two travellers for whom this happened and their experience was far from “relaxing tropical holiday”.
Note as well that your insurance must cover you for hospitalisation in the case of symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid (find more details on travel insurance further down).
Who is eligible for Test and Go?
If you’re fully vaccinated (with an approved vaccine) and have been in one of 63 approved countries for the past 21 days. Find more details in the Total Guide to ‘No Quarantine’ Thailand.
If I arrive in Thailand on a flight that lands after midnight, which night should I book for my Test and Go hotel?
If you’re arriving in the early hours, you want to book your hotel for the night preceding (For example: your flight lands February 1 at 1am. Book your Test and Go hotel for January 31). See this post for tips on how to choose a Test and Go hotels for your needs, and learn how to book a Test and Go hotel on Agoda.
Do kids need to be vaccinated to travel in the Test and Go program?
Short answer: If they’re travelling with you (their parents) and they’re under 18 – no. The same is true for kids travelling in the Sandbox program as well. Kids aged 6-17 travelling without their parents need at least one shot of an approved vaccine. See more details here.
What’s Thailand Pass?
As of November 1, it’s all your travel paperwork (e.g. vaccine certificate, negative covid test result, hotel booking, flight booking) uploaded into a Thai government website … processed for a few days … and returned to you (if approved) in the form of a QR code. The QR code is scanned on arrival at Thai immigration as a way to speed up the handling of lots of admin.
Who has to apply for Thailand Pass?
Anyone (foreign national) who wants to enter Thailand under any of the existing travel schemes needs a Thailand Pass: Test and Go, Sandbox or “Happy Quarantine Nationwide” for unvaccinated travellers (that’s really what it’s called).
Do I need one for each member of my family or do we apply as a group?
Quick answer – all adults need their own Thailand Pass. For children, it depends on the travel scheme you’re using as the vaccination requirements are different for kids under Test and Go and Sandbox.
For Test and Go: Everyone ages 12+ needs their own Thailand Pass. You can add younger children to your own application (include them in the ‘personal information’ section).
For Sandbox: Everyone ages 18+ needs their own Thailand Pass. You can add younger children to your own application (include them in the ‘personal information’ section).
How far in advance should I apply for Thailand Pass?
User’s choice! If you can’t relax until everything’s sorted, you can apply as far in advance as you’d like. However, you’re pretty locked into your plans once you’ve applied (only your flight time can change within a 72-hour window). To keep your options open, you might want to wait until closer to your travel dates. Officially, you must apply for your Thailand Pass 7 days before your departure date.
How long does it take to get approved for Thailand Pass?
Just like anything slightly complicated, “results may vary” and, anecdotally, it can take mere minutes or up to a week. We’re used to getting instant results when we click anything so train yourself to expect a 7-day wait and not to panic. (According to Richard Barrow, about 50% of applicants are automatically approved).
Factors that affect the timing:
1. Where you live. Thirty countries (all European except Singapore) have an automatic/online system of vaccine verification (“PKI” or public key infrastructure) so your approval time might be instant if you’re applying from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK.
2. Your email address. Many applicants have reported problems when using hotmail or outlook email addresses. Also – check your spam settings!
3. The quality of your uploads. Crank the DPI on any scans you make and ensure everything is clear and easy to read. For the moment at least, the registration site wants JPGs not PDFs. (Baby Boomers … before you ask … How to Convert PDF to JPG on Mac). PDFs will hopefully be accepted soon so watch this space.
What happens if my travel plans change after I’ve received my Thailand Pass?
You have some wiggle room for changes, even after you’ve received your Thailand Pass. Your flight times can change within a 72-hour window as long as everything else remains valid. However, once you start changing hotel bookings you’ll need to reapply.
Do I need specific travel insurance for getting my Thailand Pass?
Yes – it needs to offer US$50,000 coverage for “the cost of the treatment and other medical expenses associated with being infected with COVID-19, including in-patient hospitalisation for the whole duration in Thailand” (TAT). AXA offers a “Sawasdee Thailand” package for these specifications. I have zero affiliation with AXA and have never used it myself, it just ticks the boxes and looks pretty straightforward: See package details and their FAQs. Make sure that any insurance you choose covers hospitalisation if you have a positive test result but show no symptoms (more on that possibility).
If I have a 30-day visa but I’m not staying that long, what period does my travel insurance need to cover?
It just needs to cover the length of your stay, so the end day of your insurance can be the date your returning flight arrives home.
How much will my travel insurance cost?
Looking at policies that offer (A) asymptomatic coverage (crucial!) and (B) US$50,000 of coverage (mandatory!), I found quotes through AXA and Tune Protect starting at THB2,250 for 30 days. (Using an example of a 35 year old American). That’s approximately US$65, GBP50 or EUR60. Just an example, but hopefully that gives you a rough idea.
Can I get a Thailand Pass if I had covid?
If you’ve had covid within 3 months of your departure date, you need to get a medical certificate of recovery for your Thailand Pass application. Additionally, you’ll need to have been vaccinated with at least one shot of an approved vaccine.
What vaccines are considered “approved” vaccines for Thailand Pass?
Oh, all the usual gang! (Any WHO-approved vaccines).
- Covaxin (newly approved)
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
- Sinopharm (aka ‘COVILO’
- Sinovac (aka ‘CoronaVac’)
- Sputnik V
For two-dose vaccines, you must have had the second shot at least two weeks prior to departure.
Also – for all you golden oldies who got your first shot really early – your vaccine cannot be older than one year.
Ok so … how do I actually apply for my Thailand Pass?
Gather all your details and documents (again, make sure they’re JPGs that are as crystal clear as possible – this is not the time for sub-par scans). You need:
- Your passport ID page (JPG!)
- Your certificate/s of vaccination for both doses, if applicable (JPG!)
- Your hotel confirmation – this will vary depending whether you’re doing Test and Go, Sandbox or full quarantine. If it’s Test and Go it must show proof of payment for the full package including transport and covid testing. (JPG!)
- Your travel insurance confirmation (JPG!)
You don’t need to upload any flight documentation, but you will need to input your flight details into the form.
Got an email address that isn’t hotmail or outlook
Once you’ve gathered all your documents, go to the Thailand Pass registration site.
The site will then very easily guide you through the application starting with whether you’re Thai national or foreigner. Then you select your type of quarantine program (Test and Go / Sandbox / Alternative Quarantine). From there, you’re off to the races … it’s just a standard arrival questionnaire.
Any admin time will be spent in getting your hotel, flights and travel insurance sorted but the actual time on the Thailand Pass website will be minimal – perhaps just fifteen minutes a person (and quicker if you do it for a second or third family member). As long as you’ve got your details sorted at the start, it’s really no different than filling out an arrivals card on a plane.
Is there a fee to apply for Thailand Pass?
No, it’s free.
Can I pay someone to apply for my Thailand Pass for me?
If you’re horrified by the thought of this and can’t possibly handle basic admin, you can outsource the task to a full service Thailand Pass. Rates start at THB 2,750 per person (approx US$80, £60 or €70).
More Thailand travel questions?
As Porky Pig says … that’s all folks. (For now!) Things are constantly changing so my best suggestion is to subscribe to updates and that way you’ll find out when restrictions are updated or altered. Certainly (hopefully) January 2022 might mean a bright new world. (Then again … pretty sure we said that last year).
- Test and Go hotels: How to Book Your Test and Go Hotel
- My favourites: How to travel prepared
- Koh Samui: The Koh Samui Guide
Resources and more reading
- CCSA ends curfew, eases more curbs to bolster tourism
- COVID-19 vaccine guide for travellers to Thailand
- Entering Thailand may get easier next month
- Samui info by Nicha
- Thailand entry restrictions on African countries in response to Omicron
- Thailand increases “Blue Zone” destinations to 26, eases more COVID-19 curbs nationwide
- Thailand Pass FAQs
- Thailand’s nightlife venues and bars told to keep closed until January 16
- Tourists refusing to mind their Covid-19 manners will be fined, warns CCSA