Thailand Reopens Krabi, Koh Samui via Sandbox Scheme

The Phuket model is being expanded to three more provinces to help keep the local tourism industry afloat.

An aerial view of Sai Nuan Beach on Koh Tao, Thailand. (Photo: Max Böttinger/Unsplash)

While Thailand’s quarantine-free Test & Go program remains indefinitely suspended due to the spread of Omicron at home and abroad, the government is throwing a lifeline to hotels and other businesses in several areas beyond Phuket. On Tuesday (January 11), the provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga will be added back to the Sandbox program, along with three islands in neighboring Surat Thani province: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. This decision was made on Friday by Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), with the starting date confirmed over the weekend in the Royal Gazette.

The CCSA will also be lifting travel restrictions on visitors from African nations, who can once again apply for the Thailand Pass under the Sandbox program or Alternative Quarantine system. This means that fully vaccinated arrivals from all countries and territories will be free to explore the Sandbox destinations during the initial seven-day period instead of being confined to their villa or hotel room. After staying within Phuket or the aforementioned provinces and islands for a week, international visitors can then travel to other parts of the kingdom.

Travelers applying for a Sandbox Thailand Pass must have a medical certificate showing they have completed a full course of vaccination at least 14 days before the planned arrival date, a prepaid reservation for seven nights’ stay in an approved SHA+ hotel, and insurance with a minimum coverage of US$50,000. Also necessary is proof of payment for two PCR tests — one conducted upon arrival at the airport and the other on day 5 or 6 — booked via thailandpsas.com. To board a Thailand-bound flight, tourists will need a negative result from a PCR test issued no more than 72 hours before departure.

Coronavirus jabs approved by the Thai Ministry of Health include those from Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, and Sputnik V. For now, Sandbox travelers are currently required to enter the country via Phuket International Airport. No further details have been released on whether the airport at Krabi, which is served by scheduled flights from Singapore and Helsinki, will accept more visitors coming in directly from abroad.

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