Vaccinated Tourists Can Soon Travel to Some of Thailand’s Best Islands. Here’s How to Get In.

Following the success of the Phuket Sandbox program that began allowing tourists into the country on July 1, Thailand is expanding its reopening with an additional program called “Samui Plus.”

As the name implies, the islands of Koh Samui, plus the neighboring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, are slated to reopen on July 15 for vaccinated foreign tourists.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), this program only needs one further approval to get the official green light. Once launched, Samui Plus will allow vaccinated tourists, including those from the US, to enter Thailand through Koh Samui. The program includes a 14-day quarantine with the first seven nights on Koh Samui and the remaining seven on either Koh Samui, Koh Tao, or Koh Phangan. 

How the Samui Plus program will work

The general setup is quite similar to the already-launched Phuket Sandbox.

Once you’ve applied for the necessary documents, you present proof of complete vaccination upon arrival. You then immediately begin the first of three PCR tests required during your stay.

After testing, head to your chosen approved Alternative Quarantine (AQ) location to await test results. The Samui Plus program currently has nine AQ-certified properties to choose from and book before entry. 

You’ll spend the first three days of quarantine at your accommodations. 

Beginning day four, you’re allowed to attend any tours you choose to book on Koh Samui but must remain quarantined otherwise. 

On day six or seven, you’ll take the second of your three PCR tests.

Beginning day eight, you may attend tours on any of the three islands in the program, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan.

Following one final negative PCR test at the end of your 14-day stay, you are free to travel around Thailand (starting on day 15) for the remainder of your visa length. Just like the Phuket Sandbox, all flights that land later than 18:00 will be classified as day zero and begin day one of quarantine on the following calendar day.

Here’s what the timeline looks like day by day:

  • Days 1-3: Arrive at AQ accommodations. While waiting for the first PCR test results, you must stay in your room. After they come back negative, you can leave the hotel room for designated areas in the hotel only.
  • Days 4-7: Allowed to travel within designated routes and tours on only Koh Samui.
  • Days 8-14: Travel allowed within Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
  • Day 15: If the last PCR test on Day 12-13 is negative, you’re now allowed to go anywhere in Thailand.

What other specifics and details do travelers need to know?

The current list of approved countries for the Phuket Sandbox program will also be applying to the Samui Plus program as of the time of writing. 

You must have proof of complete vaccination with a WHO-approved vaccine

You’ll also need to show proof of medical insurance of a minimum of $100,000 coverage and covid treatment coverage.

You must show proof of a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before travel. 

Additionally, you’ll need to show proof of return trip, prepaid approved accommodation booking for the entire trip, and three prepaid PCR tests.

All approval paperwork must be in English.

To begin the application process, fill out the Certificate of Entry registration system

With five days until the program launches, the island chain of Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan have reported zero new covid infections. The whole of Thailand reported 9,326 new covid cases on July 10.

For up-to-date information, check the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai News Reports on Twitter.

Lauren Allain
Lauren is a freelance journalist from Seattle. She travels the globe in search of the best grocery stores, bouldering gyms, and snorkeling locations. Her mission at Freedom Is Everything is to help others make the transition into location-independent lifestyles.