For Indians, Thailand is among the top three travel destinations, according to a survey by the UK-based travel agency Thomas Cook, published last month. As per Thailand's local daily Bangkok Post, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says that India is the third largest market for Thai tourism.
But Indians can't simply travel to Thailand, even if they are fully vaccinated. Not all vaccines are accepted and one needs to compulsorily spend a week in Phuket. There are other guidelines too.
What is the Sandbox scheme?
Tourism makes up for a fifth of the country's revenue and despite a recent spike in cases, it has been open to tourists from select nations under the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
With devastating second wave of Covid-19 in India in April this year, flights to Thailand were cancelled. However, last week, Thailand announced the proposed opening of Bangkok to fully vaccinated tourists under a similar scheme as the one implemented in Phuket. Tourism to Bangkok and four other provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, will begin on October 1, as per the TAT.
This time, fully vaccinated Indian tourists will be allowed to travel too.
Are you fully free to travel in Thailand?
The scheme instituted in July 2021, enables international tourists to travel to Thailand "without a mandatory quarantine requirement". But, not really. It comes with rules.
Fully vaccinated tourists who arrive in the island nation are required to spend 14 days in Phuket, before travelling to other tourist locales. During this time, travellers will need to choose from a specified list of hotels that are in compliance with the programme.
The TAT has now introduced a Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension scheme including three new destinations; Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani, in the extension areas. This enables tourists to spend the first seven days in Phuket and the following seven in any of the extension areas. Within the sandbox areas, tourists are free to travel, visit tourist spots, restaurants, bars, and shopping areas.
As per the TAT, Bangkok will reopen as part of a similar scheme and 21 other destinations are likely to be added during the month of October.
Notably, Thailand, a country that recovered well from a comparatively milder first wave of Covid-19, has recently witnessed a surge in Delta-variant cases. On September 4th, the country reported 15,942 new cases. A day earlier, Thailand's Ministry of Health announced a new vaccine programme with AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs, due to be launched in October, to combat the surge.
Who can travel to Thailand?
Those who have received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand's Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) no less than 14 days before departure can travel to Thailand.
For Indians, this means the AstraZeneca Covishield.
There is no quarantine requirement, but tourists will be restricted to five major centres – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces. The first seven days of their travel will restrict them to Phuket under the current sandbox scheme.
What do you need to travel?
- Your vaccination certificate issued no less than 14 days before travel for all adult travellers.
- Bookings for paid accommodation at an SHA (Safety and Health Administration)-approved hotel, for no less than 14 days with no less than seven days in Phuket.
- A Certificate of Entry (COE) through https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/.
- Paid and booked RT-PCR tests via www.thailandpsas.com.
- Covid travel insurance.
- RT-PCR test on arrival (applicable for all travellers of age six and above). The travellers will have to stay in their hotel rooms until the results are out.
- ThailandPlus alert application to be installed during stay in the country.
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