Prior to the pandemic, Bangkok was the world’s most visited city in the world. Each year, almost 23 million visited the city before traveling the length and breadth of Thailand, taking in the stunning mountains, gorgeous beaches and paradisal islands that helped put it on the map. This year, however, the situation couldn’t be more different.
With access to the country proving difficult and expensive, the country has decided to put on several “sandbox” schemes to entice travelers to visit once more. First came the Phuket sandbox at the start of July, before the popular island of Koh Samui launched its own sandbox scheme today. Here’s a look at how it’s going so far, plus all you need to know about the restrictions and how to get there.
Covid-19 In Thailand – What Travelers Should Know
This time last year, Thailand was receiving plaudits for how they managed to keep the virus in check. Thailand managed to keep the case level below 1000 for all of 2020 – but the country has fared much worse in 2021. Whilst other countries are wrestling back control from the virus, Thailand is in its worst spell of the pandemic so far, with the country yesterday recording its deadliest day with 98 people dying as a result of the virus.
In order to try and prevent the situation from getting worse, Thailand has reverted back to the policies that helped keep the virus at bay, such as lockdowns, curfews and cracking down on inter-provincial domestic travel. However, whilst the country is coming down hard on domestic travel, it is keen to resume international travel as quickly and as safely as possible, with the new Samui Plus scheme being their latest development to try and reignite the ailing tourism industry.
Samui Plus Launches – Information For Travelers
Samui Plus – stylized as “Samui +” – launched today in a bid to attract foreign tourists to Thailand once more. The program – which will include the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – expects just 1000 tourists to arrive in its first month, and expects at least 100 million baht to be generated as a result of this.
The program is expected to get off to a slow start due to the rise in cases and a delay in processing the Certificates of Entry needed to take part. Only a handful of foreign travelers entered the island on its launch day today, consisting of a group of content creators invited to try and spread the word about the island’s reopening. Around 177 hotels and 8,629 rooms have reopened in Koh Samui, around a third of all available facilities on the island. A direct flight from Singapore, set to be operational from August, is hoped to bring in greater numbers to the island.
In order to be able to enter Koh Samui under the Samui Plus program, travelers must:
- Have a passport with at least 6 months validity
- Have been in a Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) approved country for 21 days or more
- Receive a Certificate of Entry
- Been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Have booked and purchased return air travel
- Have booked and paid for accommodation, and required RT-PCR tests at a Samui Extra Plus or SHA Plus hotel
- Have purchased medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least US$100,000
- Have tested negative for COVID-19 no longer than 72 hours before travel
Travelers may enter Koh Samui on a direct international flight, or can arrive on one of the three daily flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Travelers may only stay in specific Samui Extra Plus hotels for the first 7 nights, details of which can be found here. Those entering as part of Samui Plus will have to remain in their hotel for the first three days. Days 4-7 will see them able to take part in approved, sealed tour routes, whilst on days 8-14 they will be permitted to travel between Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. After 14 days, they will be free to travel as they wish throughout the country.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories