Like most of Southeast Asia, Thailand has been closed to international visitors for over a year. So we were all very excited when, on the 1st July the country announced the start of the Phuket Sandbox Scheme. Billed as the inaugural step in a gradual re-opening of Thailand's provinces, all eyes are on Phuket as the region welcomes back Thailand's first international tourists. So why not take advantage of this new scheme and check out our guide to Phuket diving.
What exactly is the Sandbox Scheme?
In a nutshell, vaccinated international visitors from 68 low- and medium-risk countries can now visit Phuket without the need for a mandatory 14-night quarantine in place across the rest of Thailand. After spending a minimum of 14 nights in Phuket, visitors are then free to travel throughout Thailand without restrictions. However, there are some strictly enforced conditions that travelers must stick to or risk hefty fines or deportation.
Key Entry Requirements
In order to take advantage of the scheme, visitors must be fully vaccinated by a WHO or Thai Ministry of Health-approved vaccine. Their vaccinations must have been completed at least two weeks prior to arrival in Phuket, but not more than one year before, and they will need to show their official vaccination card on arrival.
Travelers must also have spent at least 21 days in a low- or medium-risk county prior to travel. Visitors arriving that do not satisfy both these requirements will be subject to the standard mandatory 14-night quarantine in an 'Alternative State Quarantine Hotel'.
What Else is Required for Entry
As well as a vaccination card, visitors will need to have a number of other approvals in place to ensure entry to Phuket, as follows:
A negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no sooner than 72-hours before entry.
A Certificate of Entry, approved by the Thai Ministry of Foreign affairs. This takes three days to approve and includes hotel and flight details.
The ThailandPlus 'Track & Trace' APP dowloaded on a mobile phone.
Proof of booking with an SHA Approved Hotel in Phuket.
Proof of onwards travel, i.e. an outbound flight ticket.
T8 Health Declaration form completed on arrival.
Travel insurance which includes at least $100,000 of COVID-19 cover.
Proof of personal funds (20,000 TBH per person or 40,000 TBH per family).
Thai Visa - the rules for this haven't changed. You can apply before travel or on arrival.
SHA Approved Hotels
The Thai Health & Safety Authority has approved hotels and accommodation as SHA+ Approved, and these are the only accommodation options that visitors can stay in as part of the Sandbox Scheme.
Additional COVID Tests
All visitors to Phuket will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR test on days one, six, and twelve of their stay. The test will be carried out at the approved hotel at the guest's expense which is somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 TBH per test. Any visitor displaying a positive result will be moved to a hospital for treatment.
Have you visited Thailand as part of the Phuket Sandbox Scheme? What were your experiences?