Hey Everyone! I’m heading off to Thailand this week. I reserved my flights and hotel in early December, and applied for the Test & Go program. This program is awesome. You quarantine at the hotel for one day while you wait for the PCR test result. This was way better than the 14-day mandatory quarantine I endured in 2021. I was approved for the Test & Go program pretty quickly. That was really lucky because Thailand suddenly stop accepting applications for the program on December 22nd. This was due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Some tourists tested negative when they landed, went out, then tested positive with the 2nd test. Now, the number of new cases is spiking and the Thai government wants to minimize the number of new cases.
- December 16th – I got approved for the Test & Go program and got my Thailand Pass.
- December 22nd – Thailand stopped accepting applications for the Test & Go program until January 31st, 2022. Anyone who was already approved can still go.
- January 7th – The Test & Go program is indefinitely suspended. Approved travelers must enter Thailand by January 15th. If the arrival date is later, who knows? (The latest is that all approved travelers can go. No cut off date, but this might change.)
- January 13th – My flight lands in Bangkok.
Whew! I just made it under the cutoff. I was really nervous for a while because the first proposed cutoff travel date was January 10th. Fortunately, they extended it just enough for my flight to get through.
The Test & Go program was the best program for travelers because the quarantine period was just 1 day. That’s not the only program, though. You could go to Thailand under 2 more programs.
- Sandbox – This is a pretty good program. You have to fly directly to the Sandbox area and stay in that area for 7 days. The good thing is you aren’t stuck in the hotel. You can roam around and see the sights. This Sandbox area was recently expanded to include Phuket, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi province, and Phangnga province. After 7 days, you can leave the Sandbox area. This probably is the best program for tourists.
- Alternative Quarantine (AQ) – If you don’t want to go to the Sandbox area, then you can enter and quarantine in an approved AQ hotel. The quarantine is 7 days for fully vaccinated travelers. I would have to do this if I didn’t make the cutoff for Test & Go.
The issue for me was my flights and hotels were already booked in Bangkok. That automatically disqualified me for the Sandbox program. For that program, you have to fly direct to Phuket from outside of Thailand. It’s a lot of hassle to change flights and hotels. I don’t think my bookings were even refundable. Also, you couldn’t change the travel date once you have the Thailand Pass. You have to reapply if the travel dates change.
Many businesses in Thailand closed down for a week during New Year. Lots of people traveled and got together with families and friends. All these internal gatherings helped boost the Covid new case count. On January 7th, the government raised the Covid Alert to level 4 and tightened restrictions for everyone. Bars and many other entertainment venues are closed until further notice. Alcohol consumption in restaurants is banned in most provinces. (See graphic at the end of the post.) Travel within Thailand will be more difficult as well. I heard people got tested at the airport after their domestic flight. Not sure about buses and trains.
Ok, so travelers need to take a PCR test before their flight. That’s the first test.
The second test will be administered after you landed in Thailand, on the way to your hotel.
The 3rd test will be administered 5-7 days after you landed.
*About 5% of travelers from the US tested positive with the 2nd or 3rd test. That’s very high considering they passed the first test.
Lastly, you’ll take another test before flying out of Thailand.
Oh, when you fly domestically, you might be tested. My cousin said he got tested when he flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai last week.
There are Covid test checkpoints around some touristy areas like Khaosan road. If you want to visit, you’ll be tested.
In Thailand, if you test positive, foreigners will be sent to the hospital to get an evaluation. If you have no symptoms, they will send you to a hospitel (yes, this is the correct spelling) to quarantine for 10 days. Hospitels are basically hotels with extra healthcare staff, I think. I heard many insurance companies refuse to pay for the quarantine at the hospitels because the travelers have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you’ll stay at the hospital and they’ll bill your insurance.
If you are traveling with someone who tested positive and you tested negative, then you’ll be sent to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days. They’ll say you got exposed to the virus. Insurance won’t pay for this.
I think Thai people can quarantine at home if they have no symptoms. I’m not 100% sure about this.
It really isn’t a good time to travel to Thailand right now. Omicron is surging and if you test positive or sit next to someone who does, you’ll be quarantined. There goes your vacation. It’s only worth it if you’ll be there longer than a few weeks.
Why I’m going to Thailand
I’m going to Thailand for about 3 months this time. My mom has dementia and she’s getting a lot worse. She can’t do anything by herself at all. My dad takes care of her and it’s been difficult for him. I need to convince him to set her up at a nursing home. We’ll visit some and see.
I’ll spend a few days in Bangkok and then fly up to Chiang Mai. I’ll probably spend the rest of my time there. My dad needs to go run some errands around the country. He hadn’t been able to go anywhere for over a year. Hopefully, I can set my mom up in a nursing home and go visit every day. While I’m there I’ll try various restaurants and food stands in Chiang Mai. I’ll have to wait and see how things are on the ground. I think most eateries are still open. They just can’t serve alcohol after 9 pm. Stay tuned and check out my new clips… If you’d like me to go visit some places around Chiang Mai, let me know and I’ll do my best to report back.
News and updates
Here are the best sources of updates I’ve found.
- Bangkok Post – English newspaper with a good website.
- Thaiger – Newer media company with videos and quick updates.
- Thai PBS – Thai public television station with a nice YouTube present.
- Facebook group Thailand AQ/SHA+ Hotels & Entry Requirements – A good place to ask questions.
- Reddit ThailandTourism – You can read tourists complaining about getting quarantined here.
Have a great trip?
All right, wish me luck! Hopefully, I won’t test positive on any of the first three tests. After that, I’m not too worried. I could quarantine at home, assuming mild symptoms. I got my booster shot last month so I shouldn’t get too sick even if I catch the bug.
How about you? Going anywhere oversea this year? Get ready to jump through the hoops if you do.
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Source: Retire By 40