Updated: Dec 1, 2021
November 1st.. FINALLY... Thailand removed some barriers to entry for vaccinated tourists but is it worth coming for vacation now?
After a year and a half, I have finally returned to my beloved second home, Bangkok. The minute I landed I knew I had made the right choice to return despite the quarantine still being in place. The announcement for the reduction of quarantine for vaccinated tourists to one night came just a week after I made my plans to do the required 7 day quarantine for vaccinated tourists and I decided not to postpone my trip. I made that decision because I plan on staying long term but what about a short vacation ; is it worth the hoop jumping for this coming 2021/2022 high season?
First let's examine the rules
If you have been in the following countries for at least 21 days and you have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days, you can come to Thailand, take a Covid-19 test, wait for the results in approved hotel and leave when your test comes back negative.
You must meet the following requirements before entry and register for the Thailand Pass
Is it worth it?
While I am enjoying my time here, I believe it is best to wait at least until January 2022 to plan a vacation in Thailand and here's why:
Reopening plans are still constantly changing. First it was August 1st, then October 1st, then November 1st. One week ago there were 43 countries on the list , then 63. Without a concrete, unchanging reopening plan it's very hard to make plans, purchase tickets and spend time worrying if you have the correct documentation.
Not even employees at Thai embassies around the world are sure of the requirements. Because of all of the constant tweaks to requirements, one can be left missing a requirement or taking the time to get a document that isn't needed. For example, the rules say visa exempt US citizens can stay 30 days in the country. If you plan to renew your tourist visa and stay 60 days and purchase a ticket accordingly, you could be denied your Thailand Pass because your ticket needs to show a return before 30 days. I booked a ticket for thirty days and promptly changed it after receiving my COE since I plan on renewing my visa but I have heard of others that were not aware and had to rebook a ticket.
Not everything is open. Curfew was lifted but bars and nightlife venues are still closed, events are scarce and there is an overall eerie silence in what used to be a thriving 24 hour city. I haven't been outside of Bangkok yet but if you come for the beaches or some quiet time on an island in the Andaman Sea, this probably won't be a problem.
You still have to spend one night in an ASQ hotel and while it's not 14 days or even 7 which was no fun, it's still seems annoying not to be able to start your vacation after a long flight. *I used the very helpful website https://asq.in.th/ to book my 7 day ASQ hotel.
Thailand has been one of the strictest countries during the pandemic and it's nice to see life coming back to the city but for leisure travel, I think it's best to wait for the reopening to be tested and rules solidified. December 1st was another milestone with more countries to be added to the list and nightlife allowed to reopen but yet again, it seem to have been postponed.
I am currently in Phuket for the 7 sandbox after a trip to Turkey (not on the list). There are tourists, the island seems nice but you can see that many things are closed and there is not as much to do. On the bright side, even Patong Beach is empty so plenty of space to enjoy the golden sands and clear waters in Phuket.
Here's to hoping everything goes smoothly and you can come and experience all of the wonders of one of my favorite places, Thailand!