Phuket has officially started to welcome back travelers from low and medium-risk countries since the start of the month (July 1st, 2021). Under Phuket’s Sandbox scheme, tourists and expats entering Phuket that have been vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine in Thailand. They do, however, have to stay in Phuket for a minimum of 14 days before being allowed to travel throughout Thailand.
Learn everything you need to know about Phuket’s Sandbox scheme in this article by our friends from Pacific Prime Thailand.
What is the Phuket Sandbox scheme?
Launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in partnership with the Phuket Tourist Association, the Phuket Sandbox scheme is a pilot program that permits vaccinated tourists to visit the popular island destination without needing to follow Thailand’s quarantine rules.
Vaccinated tourists must fly to Phuket from abroad on direct flights, without transit in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand. Additionally, they are required to stay in a SHA Plus-certified hotel or accommodation in Phuket and must also undergo three COVID-19 screening tests during their stay. Using the RT-PCR method, the three COVID-19 screening tests take place as follows:
- First screening – Before leaving Phuket International Airport
- Second screening – Day 6 or 7
- Third screening – Day 12 or 13
Once the 14 days in Phuket are up, travelers are free to travel domestically throughout Thailand. Note that travelers can stay in Phuket for less than 14 days if they’re going to fly out from Phuket International Airport on an international flight.
What airlines are flying into Phuket?
The TAT Newsroom states that the following airlines currently have direct flights to Phuket:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- El Al
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
Who can travel to Thailand under the scheme?
Those planning on travel to Phuket from overseas must:
- Be aged 18 and over (Those traveling with unvaccinated children up to aged 18 can enter if they test negative on arrival at Phuket International Airport)
- Be traveling from a low or medium-risk country
- Have been fully vaccinated from over 14 days prior to departure and carry a valid vaccination certificate
Thai and foreign residents who live in Thailand are also eligible to enter Phuket, though they must be vaccinated for a minimum of 14 days before entering the country.
It’s worth noting that vaccines received by travelers must either be approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organization (WHO). At present, these include:
- Johnson & Johnson
What do travelers have to prepare before flying to Phuket?
To make the Phuket Sandbox scheme experience as seamless as possible, travelers are advised to avoid crowded places and at-risk areas for at least 14 days before traveling. This helps reduce the chances of getting infected with a COVID-19 variant and ruining their opportunity to come to Thailand.
Before flying to Phuket, travelers must prepare the following documents:
- A Certificate of Entry (COE)
- A medical certificate with negative or undetected COVID-19 result issued no more than 72 hours before departure
- Copy of an insurance policy that covers COVID-19-related medical treatment with coverage of no less than USD $100,000
- Copy of payment confirmation for a 14-night stay and RT-PCR tests at a SHA Plus hotel in Phuket (a.k.a Phuket Sandbox hotel). If the length of stay is under 14 days, travelers must also have a confirmed flight ticket out of Thailand.
- A COVID-19 vaccination certificate with a MoPH or WHO-approved vaccine no less than 14 days prior to departure. Parents or guardians traveling with unvaccinated individuals under age 18 must present a medical certificate with a negative or undetected COVID-19 laboratory result no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
What happens once travelers arrive at Phuket International Airport?
Upon arrival at Phuket International Airport, travelers will be met by airport and health officials who will guide them through the health screening process. Once their body temperature has been checked, they’ll receive a free mobile sim card and will be asked to download an app for alerts.
After the app has been downloaded, they’ll be directed to the quarantine counter where health officials in full PPE will check their medical certificate and COVID-19 insurance plan. They can then proceed to immigration, where officials will ask for their COE, booking confirmation, and any other necessary information.
Once immigration is complete, they can collect their baggage at the indicated belt and go through customs. Before leaving the airport, those entering Thailand are required to get their first COVID-19 test at the airport’s dedicated testing area.
The TAT has created a helpful visual guide for those arriving at Phuket International Airport that travelers can easily refer to.
Traveling domestically after 14 days in Phuket
Those planning on traveling to another destination in Thailand are free to do so after 14 days in Phuket, though they must provide proof that they’ve completed a 14-night stay. During their time in Thailand, travelers are required to follow the TAT’s DMHTTA precautions:
- D – Distancing
- M – Mask wearing
- H – Handwashing
- T – Temperature check
- T- Testing for COVID-19
- A – Alert application (i.e. contact tracing application)
As Thailand welcomes travelers back into the country from around the world, we would like to wish all visitors a safe and enjoyable stay. The revitalization of nationwide tourism is something Thailand certainly looks forward to.
Need help securing Thailand travel insurance? Pacific Prime Thailand compares health insurance plans in Thailand to ensure you get the best health insurance plan for your needs and budget. Contact Pacific Prime Thailand to speak to an advisor or receive a free quote today.