Having earned its reputation as one of the strictest destinations in Southeast Asia after enacting some of the harshest border regimes during Covid, Thailand is finally easing travel rules once again.
Having already reopened to tourism, the country is now planning to allow vaccinated tourists to enter requirement-free as soon as May 1, 2022.
Currently, Thailand has a trio of entry programs in place. While unvaccinated tourists must apply for an exemption to the entry ban and undergo state-observed quarantine upon arriving, those who are vaccinated can apply for the facilitated Test & Go or Sandbox schemes, which we have detailed here.
While the country has already released a timeline for the easing of entry restrictions, and vaccinated foreigners have usually been granted entry, they must still apply for a Thailand Pass under one of the schemes above, while satisfying a number of other border requirements.
Come May, these may be removed altogether.
Thailand Looking To Catch Up With Other Freer Destinations
As the world reopens fully for travel, vacationers are becoming increasingly wary of overly strict entry requirements, especially once they are vaccinated.
Even in Asia, a continent that has traditionally opted for a more conservative pandemic approach, there have been examples of countries fully lifting tourist bans, such as Singapore and Malaysia.
While Thailand has also reopened, its entry schemes are yet to be scrapped, meaning the nation is lagging behind others that have made entry much easier in recent weeks.
Vaccinated travelers do not want to have to jump through endless hoops and face excessive bureaucracy in order to travel, and Thailand seems to be more aware of that now.
As revealed by the country’s Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the country may fully remove the Thailand Pass much sooner than initially predicted. At present, those entering Thailand must apply for a Pass before flying, which is conceded upon successfully submitting an application for either the Test & Go or Sandbox alternatives.
Although applications are seldom denied, this can be an anxiety-inducing process for some, as applicants are required to submit personal and health information and wait up to 5 days until they get the confirmation they will be allowed to board. Once landing in Thailand, tourists are again subject to further checks even when holding an active Thailand Pass.
Thailand Pass Could Be Scrapped As Soon As May
According to Mr. Ratchakitprakarn, he will propose an end to all these extra requirements vaccinated visitors must meet once Thailand’s Covid management team meets again on April 22.
Should the Minister manage to convince the others, the change could be enacted as soon as May 1, allowing fully immunized tourists to enter Thailand freely for the first time since the crisis started.
In order to bypass restrictions, all foreigners would need to present is a valid vaccination certificate. As of April 2022, Thailand considers travelers to be fully vaccinated once 14 days have passed since completion of a primary vaccination course, and no more than 12 months before the date of arrival.
Having proof of a booster shot will extend the certificate’s validity. In general, the following documents are needed when applying for entry under the Test & Go program:
- A valid vaccination certificate
- Travel insurance with a minimum coverage of U$20,000
- The Thailand Pass
- Confirmation of at least 1 night of paid accomodation in an approved hotel
- Confirmation of a prepaid RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen tests to be taken post-arrival
Vaccinated arrivals no longer face a pre-departure testing requirement.
More Restrictions Could Be Dropped As Covid Situation Improves
Estimating ‘at least 10 million tourist arrivals’ for the ongoing season, the Tourism Minister reiterated income from tourism-related activities, which is markedly important for Thailand, depends on the policies in place.
He concluded by saying ‘Thailand is ready to welcome back foreign visitors as our public health system is adequately equipped’.
As Covid cases dwindle across Thailand, with cases falling by more than 4,000 over the course of the previous 3 weeks and accounting for only 16% of the peak, we expect this surprising destination to relax its curbs even further.
For more information on travel to Thailand, visitors are advised to check for updates on the websites of Thai Embassies in their respective countries.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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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