How to Visit Thailand During COVID STEP-BY-STEP
JULY 2021. How to Visit Thailand During COVID. I’ve lived in Thailand for well over a decade now, both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I had to leave Thailand during the recent lockdowns so I could row across the Atlantic, as soon as that was done, I flew back to Thailand and COVID was still in full flow.
Despite what people think though, Thailand is open during COVID. Any and everyone can come here right now, regardless of vaccinations. And no, you don’t have to be vaccinated.
HERE IS HOW I CAME BACK TO THAILAND DURING COVID LAST MONTH. STEP BY STEP.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO THAILAND DURING COVID; 2 OPTIONS.
There are 2 options ASQ in Bangkok, or Phuket/Samui Sandbox. Both options are 100% at the expense of the traveler. And the documents and process to enter Thailand on either ASQ or Sandbox are the same. If you have everything organised in advance, you can expect the paperwork process to take about 5 working days to get it all sorted, but allocate yourself 2 weeks to be sure. See below.
1) ASQ – Alternative State Quarantine (my choice)
ASQ, or alternative state quarantine, is the system that Thailand has been using since opening up the county back in 2020. It hasn’t changed much, and it’s basically a system where you organise all your paperwork in advance (insurance, visa, flights, quarantine selection etc), then fly to Thailand, where a hotel will transfer you from the airport to the ‘quarantine hotel’ for a 14/15 night mandatory stay inside the hotel room.
- You can choose the level of luxury/comfort you want with your ASQ hotel. It’s up to you. Prices start at 29,000THB (620GBP/$860) all the way up to 300,000THB ($10k!) at the Conrad, Bangkok. All the prices included EVERYTHING. 3 meals a day, all your COVID tests, transfers, etc. Everything.
- Personally, I choose an AMAZING 56 square metre 2 bedroom suite, with 1 room converted to a fitness suite with treadmill, bike, weights, smart TV, desk etc. Now reduced from 78,000 to 51,000 ($1500) at Ibis styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai.
2) Phuket Sandbox scheme.
Only for people who are double vaccinated. The Phuket Sandbox scheme just began in July 2021. It’s a slightly different option to the ASQ in that you have to fly to Phuket (only Phuket). Again you must stay in your chosen Phuket Sandbox Hotel each and every night for the 14 days, but you can travel around Phuket during the days. You CANNOT leave Phuket island though.
STEP-BY-STEP HOW TO ENTER THAILAND DURING COVID
Here is everything you’re going to need:
- Certificate of Entry (this is a 2 step process, see below in Step 1)
- A Thai Visa* (*most countries can get a 45 day visa-exemption when they land, meaning you don’t have to get a visa in advance, simply show up). Check your country HERE.
- Travel Insurance covering $100k+ for COVID. These guys are the cheapest at $10 a week and cancellable as soon as you’re out of quarantine.
- Flights booked (one-way is ok for a long-term visa holder, a return is needed if on a tourist vist)
- A filled-out T8 Form. You can find that HERE. It takes 2 seconds, you can do this the day before you fly.
- A filled-out Declaration Form. You can find that HERE. It also takes 2 seconds, you can do this the day before you fly.
- A (negative) PCR test within 72 hours of your flight leaving
- Your ASQ or Sandbox booking confirmation.
First, you need to get pre-approved for your Certificate of Entry.
You go to the website HERE (https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/), click Non-Thai, upload your passport and apply for Pre-Approval. It takes up to 3 working days, I got mine back in about 4 or 5 hours.
- Now, wait until you get an email saying your pre-approval is approved. You can now proceed.
- You now have 15 days to get all the next sets of documents uploaded to the system before your pre-approval expires.
- DON’T BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS OR ASQ/SANDBOX YET. WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE PRE-APPROVED.
You’ve received your pre-approval. At this point, you need to book and organise the following:
- Travel Insurance (The cheapest option is Safety Wing, $10 a week, and you can cancel with one click once you arrive in Thailand. This is what I used.) It takes 5 minutes to organise.
- Book your Flights. I flew London to Bangkok with Gulf Air. Best value, and you can do a minimum bid for super cheap business class flights.
- Book your ASQ/Sandbox accommodation/quarantine. You can deal with the hotels directly. Here is a list of all ASQs. You need to go ahead, book and pay for this at this point. They’ll then email you confirmation with a receipt number. You need that number for Step 3.
Upload your travel insurance documents, your flight confirmation, and your ASQ/Sandbox confirmation on the https://coethailand.mfa.go.th website. Click ‘proceed’.
Now you have to wait up to 3 working days for your Certificate of Entry to be confirmed. They will email you. I got mine 1 hour after uploading all the documents.
You receive an email to confirm your CofE is approved. Log on again and download your certificate of entry. Organize your PCR test to receive the results within 72 hours of flying.
Now print out all these documents and bring them to the airport for your flight:
- Certificate of Entry
- T8 form
- Declaration Form
- Travel Insurance documents
- Negative PCR test.
Fly to Thailand! Either Phuket for Sandbox or Bangkok for ASQ. They check your documents thoroughly at the airport, at your point of departure. And they check it even more thoroughly when you land in Thailand, and you’re greeted by an army of nurses, doctors, and military in hazmat suits and smiles!
NOTE: I was pretty stressed about all the paperwork, but honestly it’s much more simple than you think. And everything is done online.
Why I Choose ASQ in Bangkok and not the Phuket Sandbox
There are a few reasons why I chose ASQ. I’m not coming to Thailand as a tourist, so for me I need to work, and need to get back to the routine of normal life. COVID has been a tough time for all of us, me included and my work and health have suffered. I treated ASQ as an opportunity to get everything back on track. And it’s been amazing for that. No alcohol for 2 weeks, healthy food brought to my door, but still the home comforts of a Smart TV, netflix, my Playstation and, most importantly, a 2 bed apartment complete with private gym, along with 2 desks to work.
This is everything I needed. No distractions, no opportunity to fall off the wagon with diet or booze, and nothing to do but work, work-out, and then chill with Netflix. It’s been perfect. Stress-free. Productive and amazing. I can’t believe how quickly it flew by to be honest.
And why not the Sandbox? For a start I hate Phuket. It’s a tourist trap. Furthermore, everything is still pretty much closed apart from hotel restaurants and 7/11. No day trips to the beautiful islands that made Phuket what it is. Most importantly though, I wanted a stress-free environment. With Phuket, I would have been drinking beers, watching the European Championships, ordering pizza. Suddenly by ‘hard reset’ plans would be gone. So yeah, it’s not what I needed.
My advice? If you’ve got work to do, or/and weight to lose, time to decompress. And you need some time to focus on yourself, ASQ is amazing for all that. If you’re a tourist coming to Thailand though, then the Sandbox could be a better option for you.
My Personal ASQ experience
I’m writing a blog post about my whole experience at the Ibis Styles Khaosan for ASQ. It’s just been such a positive, upbeat, productive, healthy time. I’m so grateful for the whole experience. It’s rare to get the chance where only good life choices are presented to you, without any potential vices, so it’s been great!
If you’re worried about budget, while there are options available for about $900, Ibis is a much higher standard. Their cheapest rooms are only an extra $50 or so, and the food and quality of beds etc is considerably higher. However, I’d strongly urge you push another $500 and pay the $1500 for the ‘Fitness Suite’. It’s a 2 bed, 56sqm apartment. Spacious, comfy and everything you need. I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all.
Furthermore, because I’m a veggie and because I choose the Fitness Suite option, you get an upgraded, healthy food menu. So 3 meals a day, all included, you’re fed endless fruit, veg, amazing Thai (& western) food, but also things like avocado and poached eggs on toast. It’s just goodness into your body, for 2 weeks. Everyone needs a detox like this.
FAQS about travel to Thailand now
Can I Travel to Thailand now, during COVID
Yes, anyone and everyone can come and visit Thailand during COVID right now. It just takes a week or so to sort out the paperwork and book your ASQ or Sandbox hotel.
Can I share my quarantine with my girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/kid?
Thailand is still a bit stuck in the dark ages with this stuff. Husband/wife/kid? No problem. I think it’s normally an extra 50% to the price to dd them to your room. Girlfriend or boyfriend, only some allow this. You can bypass it with not-so-official wedding ‘proof’ though.
Do I need to be vaccinated to enter Thailand?
No. And in fact, it doesn’t even help you if you are.
Can I bring Alcohol into ASQ?
Officially, no. But many people have packed a bottle of whiskey or wine in their checked luggae. Your hotel won’t check, but you will be breaking the rules.
Can I quarantine in my own home in Thailand instead?
No. 100% everyone has to stay in their Sandbox hotel or ASQ hotel for 14 nights minimum. No exceptions.
If I am vaccinated, can I skip quarantine when I visit Thailand during COVID?
Do I need insurance to travel to Thailand?
Yes, and it MUST cover COVID. Use these guys, they’re cheap and amazing.
Can I enter Thailand by land during these times?
No. You can only enter by land.
When Will Quarantine/ASQ/Sandbox end or change?
There are rumours of Koh Samui sandbox, and then Chian Mai sandbox between now and October 2021. But to be honest, who knows. No quarantine at all? Maybe by the end of 2021.
Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!
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