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The Phuket Sandbox has officially opened as of July 1. For digital nomads waiting to return to Thailand, this is likely the ticket you’ve been waiting for.
Now that the program is live, the country has finally announced all the details you need to prepare to get into Thailand. It’s a straightforward process, but it does entail several steps and requirements to be welcomed back into Thailand.
Currently, 67 countries are being accepted into the Phuket Sandbox from countries that are classified as low-risk. Check out the complete list here. The USA and UK are both on this list at the time of publishing. Here are the latest details to help you prepare.
🇹🇭 Phuket is now reopening to fully vaccinated local and international visitors without quarantine requirements. For the official news about the #PhuketSandbox, please visit the TAT Newsroom: https://t.co/lIju2Nb3PN #ThaiTravelNews #Thailand #AmazingThailand #Thailand pic.twitter.com/1bE5LTfyeX
— TAT Newsroom (@Tatnews_Org) June 30, 2021
Before you go
- Among the most important details outlined by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), tourists and visitors who wish to travel to Thailand must spend the first 14 days of their trip in Phuket, with the program called the “Phuket Sandbox.”
- If your flight arrives after 6 p.m., the following calendar day is considered day 1.
- Before your arrival, you’ll need a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before takeoff, then another immediately upon landing. Two further covid tests are required during the 14 days in Phuket. You’ll need to pay for the three tests taken in Thailand upfront, totaling approximately $250 (2,800 Thai baht per test).
- You need an approved Certificate of Entry (COE) letter, which you can apply for here.
- You’ll need to present proof of a completed vaccination regimen no less than 14 days before arrival.
- You’ll need proof (in English) of medical insurance covering covid treatment of $100,000 minimum.
- Proof of paid lodging in a TAT-approved hotel for a minimum of 14 days for the initial Phuket Sandbox period if you’re staying in Thailand for 14 days or longer.
- If your stay is shorter than 14 days, you’ll need to show proof of lodging for your entire stay in Phuket, pay for all covid tests in advance, and show proof of an onward flight leaving Phuket.
Once you’re in Phuket
- Upon landing, you’ll go through a 7-step process at the airport that includes heath screenings and a covid test.
- You’ll be given a free SIM card so you can download, activate, and keep active an alert app for the entirety of your stay in Thailand.
- You must take an approved hotel shuttle to your hotel (generally included in your hotel package).
- You’ll have to remain in your hotel until your first covid test taken in Thailand upon landing comes back negative.
These are the Phuket Swab Centers for doing RT-PCR testing. Cost is 2,800 baht per test. Hospitals are a little more expensive. Travellers coming in on #PhuketSandbox must pre-book these tests with their hotel. Cost is 8,000 baht for three tests #Thailand pic.twitter.com/ppvkosEnDO
— Thai News Reports (@ThaiNewsReports) July 2, 2021
- After that, you’re free to roam Phuket and enjoy your stay however you please.
- The second covid test will occur on day 6 or 7 of your stay and the final test on day 12 or 13.
- Masks are required when outside of your hotel room, with exceptions for swimming and eating. Not wearing a mask could come with a maximum fine of 20,000 baht ($621).
- You’re required to sleep at your approved hotel.
- Once the 14 days are completed, and the final test is negative, you’re free to travel throughout Thailand for the remainder of your trip.
Resources to check on current details
If you’re planning on entering Thailand through the Phuket Sandbox, here are some resources to help you get the most up-to-date information. Thailand plans to open other locations in the country to tourism by October 1.
June 22: Everything You Need to Know About the Phuket Sandbox Opening on July 1
Starting on July 1, Thailand will welcome covid-vaccinated tourists into Phuket, the popular island in the Andaman Sea.
The “Phuket Sandbox” will be offered as a safe play area for any fully vaccinated visitors who wish to visit the country without the currently required 14-day quarantine in an approved hotel and test strategy.
Visitors will need to be fully vaccinated for covid-19 with one of the World Health Organization-approved vaccines to be eligible for entrance.
What to expect once you’re in Phuket
While this isn’t a ticket into all of Thailand, the Phuket Sandbox means the entire island effectively acts as your quarantine location. Individuals must stay in Phuket for 14 days, doing as they please throughout the island. After a few tests to verify absence of covid, individuals are then allowed to leave Phuket and travel the rest of Thailand as they wish for the remainder of their visa length.
Are you ready? 🏝
Phuket will be reopening to international tourists this July 1 onwards. No quarantines will be required but visitors will need to show valid proofs of their vaccinations and comply with Phuket Sandbox’s pandemic preventives.
— AmazingThailand (@AmazingThailand) June 21, 2021
You’ll need to stay in a SHA+ approved hotel in Phuket, which means the hotel has registered as certified for taking proper safety precautions. It also indicates that at least 70% of the hotel’s staff are vaccinated. Currently, 230 hotels in Phuket are certified. Stays for two people in an SHA+ approved hotel start as low as $300 USD for the 14-day stay.
After the 14-day stay in Phuket, you’re free to travel to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, or anywhere else in Thailand.
Thailand says they will continue to review this program and may need to suspend it if covid cases rise in the near future. On Wednesday, June 23, Thailand reported 3,174 new covid cases and 51 deaths.
As this is an evolving situation, it’s best to check local media sources before making any non-refundable bookings. The Tourism Authority of Thailand posts frequent updates on their Twitter account, as does trusted expat Richard Barrow.