With over 21,000 international arrivals and only 58 of them testing positive for COVID-19, I think we can all say that the Phuket Sandbox scheme has been a HUGE success! There really is no hiding it, Thailand is eager to welcome tourists back to its most popular destinations. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed that the Sandbox scheme currently restricting travellers to 14 nights in Phuket is being expanded to 9 other Thailand destinations.
What are the 9 new destinations?
The expanded list of destinations is focused solely on the south of Thailand, in particular, the island regions and the surrounding provinces. These destinations include;
- Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, and Railay which are all in the Krabi region.
- Khao Lak and Koh Yao (Phang-Nga) are the islands surrounding Phuket.
- Finally the popular islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao that are all within the Surat Thani province.
How does this actually work?
Naturally, you’ve probably already dived into your top drawer franticly looking for your passport… trust me you’re not alone, I was doing the same when I read the news. But how does this expansion actually work? Well instead of being forced to spend 14 nights in Phuket, you’ll be allowed to spend 7 nights in Phuket plus a further 7 nights in either of the above 9 destinations before you’re given the green light to travel freely throughout Thailand (local laws apply of course).
Do we have to quarantine on arrival?
Under the current Sandbox scheme, fully vaccinated people can travel to Thailand via Phuket without having to quarantine. The new rules carry the same zero quarantine approach, travellers must again stay in approved hotels for the first 7 nights before being allowed to stay in other alternative accommodation in any of the 9 destinations previously mentioned for a further 7 nights.
Do I need any specific paperwork?
To be able to visit the expanded destinations, travellers are expected to receive a transfer form from their hotel in Phuket (don’t forget this needs to be an approved property). This form should acknowledge that the initial 7 nights in Phuket was completed. Travellers are also excepted to show 2 negative COVID-19 test results (1 completed on the arrival day & the other on day 6 or 7). Once all of this has been completed, travellers are free to enter the expanded areas for a further 7 nights. Once the full 14 nights have been completed, travellers will be free to move elsewhere within the Kingdom of Thailand.
How to get around in Thailand…
The exact details are yet to be confirmed but the TAT has acknowledged that approved methods of transportation will be used to ensure travellers make their journeys as safe as possible. Direct flights will be used between Phuket and Koh Samui. SHA Plus certified boats, buses and car services will be used to ensure safe passage can take place.
Will it be the same experience?
This is a question that nobody can truly answer. But truth be told, Thailand’s coastline has had plenty of time to really re-energise itself. The last 18 months would have given coral reefs time to recover, wild animals the space to roam and of course the locals would have been given time to really appreciate the importance of tourism within their economy. Thailand will always be the ‘Land of Smiles’ and home to some of the most iconic coastal regions in the world. Your experience in Thailand will be down to you as the traveller. There will be some restrictions along the way but don’t let that dampen your experience. Adapt to the ever changing situation and enjoy Thailand for what it is 🏝