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How to travel to Thailand during COVID-19

After posting on social media about traveling to Phuket, I got so many questions.

"How are you traveling right now?"

"I want to come! How do I get in?"

"What is it like there right now?"

etc. etc.

So, here we are. Here I'll tell you the exact steps you need to take to travel to Phuket, and what it's like traveling now!

The Phuket Sandbox Program

The Phuket Sandbox is the one and only way to travel to Thailand without having to quarantine. For the Phuket Sandbox, the whole island is your quarantine! You must stay on the island for 14 days, then you are free to travel to the rest of the country.

However, it's not that simple. There are quite a few documents and requirements to enter the island of Phuket.

What You Need:

  1. First things first you must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and have a vaccination certificate to be allowed to enter.

  2. You have to apply for and receive a Certificate of Entry. There are two parts to the COE, and it takes a while to get approved so make sure you start at least 2 or 3 weeks before your trip. The link to the COE application is here:

  3. You must have travel health insurance that covers COVID-19. Up to a certain amount, specified on the Thai websites. I used an insurance called Safety Wing! It's really affordable and covers exactly what you need.

  4. Receive an RT-PCR test less than 72 hours before you arrive in Phuket. You must receive the certificate of a negative result.

  5. Book a stay at a SHA+ hotel for the full 14 days. You can find all SHA+ hotels in Phuket on Agoda.

  6. Pre-book your RT-PCR COVID-19 tests in Phuket. You must receive 3 additional PCR tests while in Phuket- one at the airport, and two more throughout the trip. After you book your hotel you can fill out the forms here: to book your additional tests.

Before you leave, make sure you print out all of these forms and keep them organized throughout the whole trip. The travel time can be pretty stressful- always having to show different forms in different places- but having printed out copies organized in a folder is the best way to go.

Also, make sure to keep an eye on travel sites, and official Thai websites for more information. As requirements change so often, don't rely on this completely. This is just what I had to do and will give you an idea of what it takes to get there.

Other Important Tips:

  • Your flight cannot have a layover in Bangkok! There are only certain airlines and certain places you can do layovers and enter the country. I spend hours on phone calls trying to figure out how to get there. I always love finding the cheapest flights, but this time you really have to stick with one airline and follow the rules. I flew with Singapore Airlines and had one layover in Singapore. SO, make sure you call your airline and make sure you can fly safely all the way to Phuket.

  • You MUST stay in a SHA+ hotel! Luckily, these hotels are really nice and affordable. Just make sure it is SHA+ certified, and you receive a SHABA ID after booking your stay.

What It's Like:

Traveling to Phuket during this time is an interesting experience. Everywhere is so empty, closed, and quiet. If you've ever been to Phuket before you know how loud, busy, and exciting it is! But now, there's none of that.

Before, the roads were so busy with so much traffic, but now they are empty and no traffic at all.

Before, the streets at night were bustling with people, loud music, and dancing. Now, the nights are silent and dark, all bars and nightclubs were closed.

This trip gave me a whole new perspective on tourism, and how much it really affects the communities in these tourist destinations.

Towards the last few days of our trip, Thailand started to ease restrictions and it instantly became busier. More and more tourists were arriving by the day, and the bars and restaurants started to open again. This is nice for the people there now, and if you decide to go there will be much more to do! But, I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to visit and appreciate such a beautiful place in the time I did.

And I'm so grateful that travel is becoming possible again! However difficult and restrictive it may be. I feel like I have my life back, and I'm excited for the trips to come!

If you have any other questions about or need help planning your trip to Phuket feel free to reach out to me through email or Instagram! / @paige.newson


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