How to Travel to Thailand in 2022: Step by Step Guide (Blue Zone Sandbox)

As I was a little bit late with my last post, I think it’s only right that I publish two posts this week. I am very excited to say that I am currently writing this from a cosy balcony nestled in Phuket, Thailand. With the pandemic, travelling anywhere has been a little bit crazy. If you’re the type of person that likes to be super organised, I realise that there is a lot of preparation to come to Thailand. The rules differ depending on what scheme you are entering the country with and the area that you are visiting. I will be talking specifically about my experience with the Blue Zone Sandbox Program for Phuket. The rules are rapidly changing, so my advice is to always check up on the travel rules before your stay. Give yourself enough time to be organised too, as some of these processes can take time.

What do you need to know about the Blue Zone Sandbox Scheme?

Well this is a system put in place, where travellers can still come and visit Thailand during the pandemic and in particular, the Omicron variant. The areas which this program covers, I believe keeps extending. The Blue Zone Sandbox, is essentially a program with a list of requirements for travelling to the area in Thailand. To find out more you should check out the Thailand Embassy Page, which is updated often.

So what are the requirements?

1. EVERY Tourist needs to apply for a Thailand Pass- this is essentially a QR code, that shows all your documents have been approved and you are able to enter into the sandbox zone. Make sure you have printed copies of your paperwork, for each of the requirements of the program. You can apply for this online.

As a word of advise, apply for this recommended minimum of 7-10 Days before travel as it can take a few days for your pass to be approved. Also, you should inform that all of your documents are in the right picture format and do not exceed the file size.

Bonus Tip: Add your QR Codes for your vaccination certificates as this will most likely help speed up the process of verification.

2. You must have pre-booked SHA+ Accommodation for the first 7 days of your stay. You should also arrange with the hotel for a taxi from the airport to collect you when you arrive. I booked with Booking.com, but be aware that some hotels you have to pay in destination. I have also heard that Agoda offers a good range of accommodation and the price is pretty great for young travellers.

3. Testing is a thorough process. The rules will differ depending on which country you are travelling from, but I required three tests in total outlined below:

  • A RT-PCR test taking before departure, showing a negative result. Most airports offer these tests and you can pay an additional cost for same day results, if you need to travel within a tight timescale.
  • A Pre-paid PCR Test on Arrival at the Airport. After this test you will go to your accommodation and quarantine for a few hours before you get the result. After the Negative result, you are free to travel within the specific sandbox zone area. For example, mine was for Phuket. So I could only travel within the area of Phuket for the first 7 Days. After those 7 days you can explore other parts of Thailand.
  • A further prepaid test at a local swab center on Day 5. Unlike the other Test in destination, your results come within the 24 hour timescale.
  • (YOU MAY NEED TESTS TO TRAVEL BACK INTO YOUR COUNTRY DEPENDING ON YOUR NATIONS RULES)

4. Medical Insurance- make sure you take out medical insurance that covers a minimum of $50,000 in medical expenses and has covid cover also. You can usually go through your Airline. I have heard that Aixa Thailand also offers some medical coverage, depending on the package you choose.

5. VALID Vaccination Status: To travel to Thailand you must show proof of vaccinations from Covid and can also upload your recovery certificate if you have previously recovered from Covid. I believe this is within a 3 month recovery time, but again you should check the specific requirements when applying for your Thailand Pass.

Do you need any other paperwork?

When you arrive to Thailand, your airline will most likely give you a couple of other forms to fill in. These will be a health declaration form, to prove you are in good health and do not have covid symptoms (A T8 Form) . You can print this form off before you come to Thailand and fill it in before you arrive, if you want to save time.

The other form is a small slip which details where your address will be during your stay, your contact details and any additional information needed. This will be stamped at the immigration control.

Depending on the country you are travelling from and the amount of days you are staying, you may also need a Visa for tourism purposes. This can take some time, so if you need to apply for a visa, bare this in mind.

Are you ready to visit Thailand?

I know that the amount of paperwork can seem a little bit daunting to travel to Thailand. But once you have all the required paperwork, in my experience, everything runs pretty smoothly after that. The airline I travelled with checked paperwork before boarding the airplane. Then once I landed in Phuket, it was really efficiently organised. The rules may change, however, I believe at the moment you are only permitted to fly into Phuket Sandbox Zone Directly- not through another place in Thailand such as Bangkok.

At the airport, your documents are checked, QR code scanned and then you are directed to the immigration control where your passport and identity checks take place. After you pick up your luggage from baggage reclaim, you are directed to the testing zone. Then you are escorted to your SHA+Taxi. I would say the whole process took less than an hour and was a whole less daunting than I thought it would be. As long as you are organised, you should be good to go!

Now I am finally here in Thailand, getting to spend some quality time. And I must say it is a very beautiful destination. There is a really nice atmosphere here. The local people are really accommodating and friendly. And also, there are some amazing temples, buildings and experiences to do. So definitely come to Thailand if you are thinking to do so. Sometimes, it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity so I would definitely say to take the Plunge.

I really hope this was a helpful post for you all and helps to clarify things a little bit more. I will be posting more about my experiences in Thailand soon, so keep an eye out for that!

Wherever you are in the world, take care- Katie

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