What You Need to Know About Phuket’s Reopening

Quarantine-free entry to the Andaman Sea island begins in July, but vaccinated travelers can visit other parts of Thailand only after spending two weeks in Phuket.

The view from Promthep Cape in southern Phuket. (Photo: Sumit Chinchane/Unsplash)

Thailand’s most popular beach destination is preparing to reopen for tourists worldwide on July 1, with the Phuket Sandbox pilot program given final approval by the country’s Prime Minister a few days ago. This will allow fully vaccinated international visitors to enjoy a quarantine-free stay in the island province under several conditions, including multiple Covid-19 PCR tests and mandatory GPS tracking.

All travelers aged above 18 will need to have received all necessary doses of a Covid-19 vaccine at least two weeks before the date of travel; accepted jabs are those by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm, or Sinovac. They must also have health insurance — for Covid-19-related medical expenses and with a minimum coverage of US$100,000 — valid for the duration of their trip. Visitors will need to book accommodation at any hotel with the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certification, which indicates that at least 70 percent of staff members have been vaccinated.

To board a plane to Phuket, foreign nationals from countries or regions with a low to medium risk of Covid-19 transmission must bring a Certificate of Entry issued by their nearest Thai embassy or consulate. (Registrations are via coethailand.mfa.go.th, and the full list of eligible countries will be released soon by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.) A negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure will also be required.

All travelers, except children aged six and under, must pay for and take another PCR test upon arrival at Phuket International Airport. Only after receiving a negative result will they be able to proceed to their pre-booked hotel. Visitors will need to show proof of their Covid-19 health insurance policy, along with hotel booking documents and the pre-arrival test result, to enter their chosen hotel.

Visitors are also required to download the English version of Thailand’s Mor Chana, a contact-tracing app with a GPS feature that will track guests’ locations throughout their 14-day stay in Phuket. Additionally, travelers must wear a wristband that will give authorities their precise whereabouts throughout the entire trip.

Tourists will need to take a second PCR test on the sixth day of their trip, and facial recognition security cameras will be deployed to identify anyone who tries to leave Phuket before the mandatory 14-day period ends. Only when visitors test negative for their third required PCR test on day 13 can they travel onward to other destinations in Thailand.

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