Phuket and Samui Sandbox: How to come to Thailand ?
For almost 2 years now, was almost impossible to travel. But since July 1st to revive the local economy, Thailand has decided to reopen the borders. But not at any cost! A drastic journey awaiting you to find the Thai beaches, thanks to the Phuket and Samui Sandbox program.
Let’s see together all steps to come to Thailand with the Phuket and Samui Sandbox program.
How does it work ?
The Sandbox program is designed to encourage tourists to return to the Thai islands, which have really suffered from the Covid restrictions.
Essentially, it’s a rigorous system of gradual test-and-release that will allow fully-vaccinated visitors to holiday in places like Phuket and Koh Samui. without bringing Coronavirus into the country or catching it from another traveller while they are there. It’s also a great way for expats stuck outside Thailand to return home without going through lockdowns in big cities like Bangkok or Pattaya.
There are two versions: the Phuket Sandbox and the Samui Plus Sandbox.
The Phuket Sandbox kicked off on July 1, 2021 and allows international travelers to visit Phuket. The Samui Sandbox + covers Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
1st step: are you eligible ?
To be eligible you must:
- Have been in an approved country for 21 days or more (list below).
- Be vaccinated against Covid-19 with 2 or more doses with a vaccine approved by the MoPH or the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 14 days before departure. Impossible to come with only one dose. Children under the age of 18 can travel if they are not vaccinated as long as they are traveling with fully vaccinated adults and have passed the fit-to-fly PCR.
- A valid passport (6 months minimum before the end)
- A return flight or visa (work, accompanying person, etc.).
- Have booked and paid for a SHA + approved hotel. (SHA+ is a “no COVID certificat)
- Have booked and prepaid for the Covid tests on days 0, 7 and 13 of your stay (if you are staying less than 13 days, you do not need the last one).
- Travel insurance that covers at least $ 100,000 for Covid-19.
- A negative PCR test, less than 72 hours before your flight.
2nd step: Apply for the COE (Certificate of Entry)
First to apply for your COE, you will need to go to the Thai COE website. You must start this process at least six days before your trip. However, we recommend you to start before.
You will need to enter your personal information and upload a copy of your passport.
Under “How would you like to enter Thailand?” », Choose« Enter the Sandbox program », then choose Phuket or Samui +.
The processing time is three days.
3rd step: Book your flight and hotel
You can make your own choice regarding hotel and flight.
The only obligation for the hotel is to book a SHA + accredited establishment. These are hotels where all employees are vaccinated and tested weekly to ensure guests are not contaminated.
For Phuket we advise you to go to Rawai, much more lively than the rest of the island with many shops and restaurants open. Patong and Kata looking like ghost towns at the moment (August 2021). Old Phuket Town, meanwhile, stay busy but there are many Covid-19 cases, some Burmese who are currently fleeing their country. For Samui the city of Lamai seems to be the best option.
Secondly for the flights, several companies operate daily connections, however it is mandatory to be tested before taking the plane. No restriction on airlines company.
Please note that the only way to enter Samui is by air, either on a direct international flight or via Bangkok, in connection with the flights approved twice a day “sealed route” operated by Bangkok Airways between Bangkok and Samui.
4th step: Book your tests
In addition to flights and hotel, you will also need to book PCR tests; these must either be included in the price of the room or available as a supplement. Remember to take all the tests at 0, 7 and 13 days
You can book your tests here
Remember to book your hotel before booking your tests in order to find the testing center closest to you.
The price is 2,800 baths per test
Example for Phuket:
Step 5: Buy insurance
As part of the Phuket and Samui Sandbox program, it is also mandatory to have an insurance, travel or international. You have the choice regarding the insurance, but you must provide a certificate, in English, stating that your insurance covers against Covid-19 up to $ 100,000.
Thailand wishes, through this measure, to ensure that tourists can be treated if they are infected during their stays.
If you are an expatriate, you can check with your international health insurance contract.
If you would like to receive an offer or check if your contract is sufficient, you can contact us here
6th step: The test before departure
At least 72 hours before your flight, you must perform a PCR test, and not an antigen test. In addition, do not forget to print all the parts cited above and your test to present its during the different controls.
7th step: Complete your COE
Once your Certificate of Entry (COE) registration has been pre-approved (it takes up to three days), return to the Thai COE website.
Now you need to upload your flight booking details and your Covid-19 vaccination certificate. You will also need to upload proof that you have booked your SHA+ hotel and the three local PCR tests. As well as the insurance.
You must do this within 15 days after receiving the pre-approval or you will have to do it again. It takes three more business days for the COE to be approved. You should receive an email notifying you.
8th step: Go to the airport
Documents to present on boarding:
- Your passport
- Your COE
- Covid test result (PCR method (preferably in English, or annotation of the result), less than 72 hours before your departure.
- A non-covid medical certificate in English by a general practitioner, less than 72 hours before your departure.
- The Fit-to-Fly, less than 72 hours before your departure, by a doctor.
- European vaccination certificate
Documents to print:
- SHA + Hotel Reservation
- Insurance certificate in English
- Fit-to-Fly (by the doctor)
- Example of an English covid medical certificate
- Covid Test Invoice (Phuket / Samui…)
9th step: Your arrival in Thailand
When you arrive, you will be placed in a queue with all the passengers of your plane. The authorities will check all your documents once again and give you a pass synonymous with compliance with the sandbox rules.
You will also need to download a health tracking application specific to Koh Samui and Phuket to your phone. The name of this app is Morchana.
Subsequently, and after having collected your luggage, you will have the first of your three PCR tests.
You’ll also need to have booked a SHA + certified direct transfer to take you directly to your hotel without stopping anywhere along the way. You can’t take public transport. There will also be certified taxis on site, but the prices will be higher.
10th step: Your arrival at the hotel
Once you arrive at your hotel, you will adhere to a strict quarantine until the result of your first test has arrived. The hotel will be informed of the result and will be able to tell you.
- Test in the morning: result during the day
- Test in the afternoon: result the next morning
The Graab and Foodpanda apps will allow you to order your first meal if needed.
11th step: Enjoy!
You succeeded ! After this long journey you can finally enjoy Thailand. Please note, the Samui Sandbox is stricter than Phuket, and will only let you visit defined routes for the 1st week.
Also pay attention to go to the imposed PCR tests, which you will have previously paid for, on the 6th and 13th days of your stay.
The other obligation, lighter this time, is to have the Morchana app QR code scanned once a day by your hotel.
Last thing, don’t forget to enjoy it !
The 7 + 7 Program
From August 16, 2021, the “Phuket Sandbox 7 + 7 Extension” program allows eligible international travelers to reduce the mandatory stay in Phuket from 14 to 7 days, after which an additional 7 nights can be spent in Krabi (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Koh Yao) or Surat Thani (Samui Plus – Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan or Koh Tao). However, the journey to arrive in Thailand remains the same.
More information on Sandboxes
- The Samui + program on Tourism Authority of Thailand website.
- For the Phuket Sandbox.
- Even more information on tatnews.org
- 7 + 7 program here
How to cover hospital costs when you are an expat?
For ideal coverage, it is best to seek international health insurance. This insurance can fully cover you in private hospitals, as well as internationally when traveling or if you wish to seek treatment in your country of origin.
Private hospitals have the advantage of offering shorter turnaround times and better service. This option is more comfortable but also more expensive. International insurance can therefore cover this expense. International health insurance is generally a 1st euro / dollar insurance, different from a mutual. If you or your spouse is French, you can also subscribe to the CFE and a complementary, more information here.
How to find this insurance?
The easiest way is to compare all the offers one by one. But the waste of time will be considerable.
To help you in this process, getting help from a broker is often the most advantageous solution, because he can advise you and direct you to the right insurance.
Our team of experts can help you through this process and help you find the perfect insurance for your needs. In addition, our perfect knowledge of Hong Kong, thanks to our representative office on site, allows us to stay as informed as possible and to be as close as possible to help you. Contact us!
You can also read our article which lists the qualities of good insurance here.