Thailand ploughs ahead with plans for re-opening tourist areas

The Thai government says they’re pressing ahead with plans to waive the current mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors to Bangkok and and 5 other major tourist destinations from October this year as an effort to reboot the country’s battered tourism industry.

Dr. Traisulee Traisoranakul from the CCSA says the new measures will provide easier access to the main tourist locations like Pattaya, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Krabi and Bangkok from October 1.

Phuket tourism and government officials also maintain that they are preparing to open up to vaccinated travellers in 7 weeks, in a pilot ‘sandbox’ scheme. The positive moves forward come at the same time local officials announced a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days for visitors from outside the province, starting May 14, to replace the rapid antigen test. The quarantine period would be for all arrivals who hadn’t been fully vaccinated or could provide a negative PCR Covid test within the past 72 hours.

The ‘quarantine-free’ is the key change to Thailand’s new re-opening policy but it remains to be seen what paperwork or current restrictions may stay in place – nothing has been announced. The questions of who will visit or what is left open for them to enjoy when they arrive, is still all up in the air.

Meanwhile the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, reiterated this week that the island would have to register zero new infections before any quarantine-free re-opening would be able to occur, adding to the earlier provision that 70% of the island’s population will need to be vaccinated as well. As of today, only 22% of Phuket’s population have been vaccinated but a new round of registrations is happening in the next week. Phuket is way ahead of the rest of Thailand with vaccinations at this stage.


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Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.


  1. I am certainly hoping that Phuket can get their vaccine rollout on full speed. That 22% have been vaccinated is a positive sign. The sooner that over 70% is reached, the sooner international tourists from low risk countries will be back to spend money the people so desperately need. I also hope that national governments will start to “broker” travel bubbles to make this happen. Making broad pronouncements from Bangkok won’t bring tourists back. Only brokered agreements with low risk countries will.

    1. Spot on comments. People in places like the U.K. are making holiday plans right now. Although Thailand is currently on the U.K. “Amber” list. This means people having to test before they return home and isolate for 10 days with two further tests on day 2 and 8 (think I’ve got that right). Phuket needs to establish travel bubbles with a country like the U.K. the U.K. now has low Covid cases and by July will have vaccinated everyone over the age of 18. If done properly, Phuket and the U.K. could establish a travel bubble.

  2. “the island would have to register zero new infections before any quarantine-free re-opening would be able to occur,”

    When are they going to admit they’re pissing into the wind and it’s not being hopeful but plain stupid?

  3. ‘The Thai government says they’re pressing ahead with plans to waive the current mandatory quarantine . . .’

    Waiving the wave, you might say – or the 3rd one at least. Whatever next from the Tower Circus? . . . apart from instructions to prepare for the invading hordes, come October.

  4. As tourists return, then presumably Thais will also return in order to fill the many jobs and reopen businesses. People who are not seen as “residents” of Phuket. How will those returning to do such work be tested and will they have to be vaccinated. If the answer is yes, where and when will they receive their vaccinations? Does the seemingly good news figure of 20% vaccinated take in to consideration the tens of thousands of Thais who will have left Phuket and returned home?

  5. Till now only 22% is vaccinated. Meaning the other 50% need to get their first shot within the next 14 days. Why? After the 1st shot it takes 3 to 4 weeks before a 2th shot can be given. To be effective it takes another 2 weeks. So it takes 5 to 6 weeks to finish this proces. If… they can vaccinate the 50% in just 2 weeks.

  6. The Thai government is panicking, they have understood that the economic catastrophe is upon us, there will be few Western tourists who will risk traveling so far with the danger of being stranded or forced to quarantine, Chinese tourists cannot travel , welcoming Indians to the state is very dangerous, the vaccination campaign is too slow to reach the necessary objectives in time.
    The numbers of daily infections have been around 2000 for some weeks, they are underestimated, probably the real numbers are 6 to 10 times higher, a very gloomy near future for Thais

  7. The government have got this all wrong FACT!!! They think Covid is just going to go away. WRONG!!! They need to spend some money and buy vaccines for their people,then it will go away. Or else this is going to go round in circles yet again. Thai government use you’re half whit brains and get something done!! Look at India prime example.

  8. @Nigel –

    You beat me to it, I was about to say the same thing.

    70% of Phuket might be vaccinated by July but when hundreds of thousands of workers return how will they be vaccinated?

    Plus a lot of workers in Phuket are migratory as they come and go on a regular basis.

  9. The problem with all of these plans, initiatives, hair-brain ideas, is they are always lacking on even a second level of detail. In the past week alone there has been total confusion over even the Phuket sandbox plan. One report in the Bangkok Post said the following : vaccinated tourists can enter Phuket in July and turn in October those people can then go to other parts of the country! Now common sense says it was a mistake, but who knows? Everyone is assuming that after a period of time in Phuket (7days? 10days? Or 21 days? You will be able to travel to other parts of Thailand. But who knows? Maybe they are expecting you to go for 14 days and fly straight back home. I don’t want to do that. I want to go to Phuket without quarantine. Stay 7,13,21 days and then be free to travel around as I please. Will this plan allow me? Who knows. It just a total cock up and no way could you sensibly look to make plans to travel to Thailand at this stage. By the end of May, the government need to be absolutely clear what is needed in terms of testing and documentation and what you can do while in Phuket and when you can travel freely. If not, then who will book flights and hotels costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. It’s like they are new to tourism and remain clueless.

  10. You are not going to rid Thailand of Covid by lockdowns, so you might as well allow very low risk vaccinated tourists to spend their money. You have 2 choices: Covid and tourist money, or Covid and no tourist money. Choose fast because people are making their summer plans now.

  11. RE: Phuket Sandbox: I agree that we need details NOW (not in June) on documentation & testing requirements PRIOR to making air/hotel reservations. What hotels apply? How many nights do we stay in Phuket? Any tests required, and if so, when?
    What is the probability of meeting the 70% target?
    I can not intelligently make any visitation plans without such data. Gracias/ Thanks.

  12. It would be very risky making any reservations at hotels in Phuket.
    A street fruit seller could sneeze in July and they might lockdown for a month.
    Their restrictions on entry are subject to unpredictable change.
    The Thai authorities sit around like Macbeths witches plotting new fees and visas for ferangs.
    Better, to book a flight at the last minute, fly in and walk in the hotels insisting paying by cash, and refusing to pay any deposits.
    They will be desperate for guests, and they might even rent you a room cheaper than the an online booking.
    Do not use cards and deny then the opportunity of dipping into it for a unflushed toilet.
    If one will not let you walk in and pay cash, there are a hundred more that will.
    If you pay up front, deposit and room, if there is another lock down, there will be no refunds, as in 2020.
    You know it makes sense . . .

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