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Thailand to restart quarantine-free travel from 1 February

Thailand's rebooted Test & Go (& Test again & Go again!) is the country's latest attempt to boost tourism... with its latest overcomplicated process!

After suspending new registrations for its Test & Go programme in late December, Thailand will resume applications for the quarantine-free arrival scheme for fully vaccinated travellers on 1st February 2022, with the second PCR now including an unusual second hotel isolation period on the fifth day.

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This will once again allow shorter and more flexible trips than the more restrictive Sandbox arrival programme, which has continued in a limited form but is also being expanded to more destinations and having some travel flexibility added.

Test & Go will also be expanded to everyone, rather than being limited to a list of “safe” origin countries, though for most of our readers this won’t make any difference as Singapore was previously included anyway.

Bangkok. (Photo: Shutterstock)

What’s also new, however, is the requirement to book a separate 1-night SHA Extra Plus (SHA++), AQ, OQ, or AHQ hotel reservation for the Day 5 test, and isolate in the room from the time the test is taken until a negative result is received.

Sandbox will continue to run alongside Test & Go.

Test & Go

Key Features

  • Fully vaccinated travellers from any country
  • Arrive anywhere in Thailand
  • COVID-19 insurance required
  • Pre-departure PCR test
  • On-arrival PCR test and self-isolation in hotel until negative result
  • 3 days of freedom
  • Day 5 PCR test and self-isolation in hotel until negative result
  • No subsequent quarantine

Sandbox

Key Features

  • Fully vaccinated travellers from any country
  • Arrive in a designated Sandbox location
  • COVID-19 insurance required
  • Pre-departure PCR test
  • On-arrival PCR test and self-isolation in hotel until negative result
  • Stay in the Sandbox area for 7 days, or leave Thailand immediately for shorter trips
  • Day 5 PCR test (no isolation)
  • No subsequent quarantine, travel throughout Thailand from Day 8, if desired

If you already obtained a Thailand Pass via the Sandbox entry scheme you can switch to Test & Go, however you will have to submit a new application on or after 1st February 2022 in this case.

The Test & Go programme, which had allowed fully vaccinated travelers from over 60 countries to travel to Thailand quarantine-free, generated 350,000 visitors in less than two months before it was suspended due to concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Test & Go (& Test again & Go again!)

Thailand’s third incarnation of the Test & Go programme from 1st February 2022 has a few differences compared to the original version launched in November 2021, which was then slightly amended on 23rd December 2021.

Here’s a summary highlighting the key differences.

🇹🇭 Thailand Test & Go
Testing Evolution

  Test & Go
1 Nov 21

22 Dec 21
23 Dec 21

31 Jan 22
1 Feb 22
onwards

Pre-departure test
(within 72h)
PCR
(self paid)
On-arrival test
(Day 1)
PCR
(self paid)
Arrival isolation   In hotel room
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Freedom
(3 days)
Day 5 test
None
(Freedom)
PCR
(self paid)
Day 5 test isolation   In hotel room
Day 6 test
ART
(free)
PCR
(free)
None
(Freedom)
Day 6 test isolation None
(Freedom)
Day 8 onwards
Freedom

As you can see the second test has been brought forward by a day in this latest version of the scheme, from Day 6 to Day 5, and unfortunately also involves a designated hotel self-isolation period while awaiting the results.

It is also a self-paid PCR test, while versions 1 and 2 of Test & Go featured a free second test on Day 6.

If you arrive in Thailand before 6pm local time, your arrival day is Day 1. If you arrive after 6pm local time (e.g. on SQ704 from Singapore which lands at 6.45pm), the day after your arrival day is Day 1.

(Source: Thai Consular Department)

The second test isolation period is really quite bizarre, and will be a deal-breaker for many travellers.

Even Thailand’s tourism governor seems incredulous about the process, highlighting how Thai residents will also be subject to this process, not even allowed to isolate at their home for the second test!

“There’s no exception for Thais or expatriates. Even if you have a permanent home here, people have to check in at a hotel five days after arrival to take a second RT-PCR test and wait for a negative result before checking out.”

Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor
Bangkok. (Photo: Robby McCullough)

The tests can be in different places

Importantly, you do not need to book the same hotel for your Day 1 and Day 5 tests, nor do you have to book the same hotel for the first five nights of your trip, though of course you are free to do so if you wish.

Your two tests can even be in different parts of Thailand. The only restriction is that the hotel in each case is an approved SHA Extra Plus (SHA++), AQ, OQ, or AHQ property.

Naka Island, Phuket. (Photo: Marriott International)

For a longer two-centre trip in Thailand you could move between locations on Day 5 itself and get your test and isolation done on the same day. Since you’re travelling anyway on that day and checking in to a new hotel, it probably makes sense to do so on Day 5 and ‘get it all out of the way’ at once.

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For example, fly from Singapore to Phuket on Day 1. Test then isolate in hotel for 1 night, then have 3 further nights. Fly Phuket to Bangkok on Day 5. Test then isolate in hotel for 1 night, then have 2 further nights before returning to Singapore via the VTL.

That’s a 7-night trip, including 3 days of freedom in Phuket and 2 days of freedom in Bangkok.

No second test for shorter trips

The second test is not required if you are travelling to Thailand for less than five days, or your departure day is Day 5, provided you immediately leave Thailand for another country (e.g. fly from Thailand to Singapore, or to London).

You will of course still be subject to any pre-departure test requirements imposed by your destination country.

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If your stay will be less than five days, you will be able to produce your international departure air ticket from Thailand instead of your hotel booking and Day 5 PCR test confirmation when applying for your Thailand Pass.

For example, you could fly from Singapore and stay for four nights in Bangkok with only one test (leave on Day 5, test-free), or four nights in Phuket with only one test, flying back to Singapore via Bangkok to connect to a VTL flight on Day 5.

How to apply (Thailand Pass)

To use the Test & Go scheme, you’ll first have to apply for a Thailand Pass.

Applications reopen 9.00am (10.00am SGT) on 1st February 2022.

The Test & Go application link is still greyed out; it will become available again at 10am Singapore Time on 1st February

Applications for the Thailand Pass are free of charge. You can apply up to 60 days in advance of your trip.

   Apply for the Thailand Pass

The process is a little quirky, forcing you to upload everything as a JPG image file, while almost every document you need to show is probably a PDF, but you’ll get there in the end!

Note that Thailand Pass approvals can be instant, but can also take up to seven days, so our advice would be not to plan a trip using Test & Go until 8th February 2022 onwards.

Once your Thailand Pass is approved, you’ll receive a QR code.

Full Test & Go process (Singapore – Thailand)

Here’s a summary of the process for Singapore residents to travel quarantine-free to Thailand, based on the latest information shared by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Eligibility

  • Thai citizens and foreign travellers arriving from all countries.
  • Fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine at least 14 days before departure, if aged 18 or over.
  • Children aged under 18 can travel with fully vaccinated parents even if they are not fully vaccinated.
  • Children aged 12-17 travelling to Thailand unaccompanied (without parents) must have received at least 1 dose of an approved vaccine.

Pre-departure

  • Apply for a Thailand Pass, allowing at least seven days notice prior to your trip to allow for processing (applications reopen 10am Singapore Time on 1st February 2022).
  • Take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of your flight departure time (find the cheapest in Singapore here).
  • No pre-departure PCR test is required for those aged 5 or below.
  • Have an insurance policy with a coverage of no less than US$50,000 (not required for Thai citizens).
  • Book and have proof of prepayment for two separate nights of accommodation at government-approved hotels in the SHA Extra Plus (SHA++), AQ, OQ, or AHQ categories on Day 1 and Day 5, and the two PCR tests on Day 1 and Day 5.
  • Your prepayment for Day 1 must include accommodation, testing and a prearranged transfer from the airport to the hotel.
  • Your prepayment for Day 5 can be at a different hotel, and does not have to include an airport transfer, even if you are arriving by air from elsewhere in Thailand that day.
  • The Day 5 test and hotel booking is not required if the you are staying for less than five nights, which means your scheduled international departure from Thailand must be on Day 5 or earlier.

Arrival (Day 1)

  • Proceed to Immigration and Health Control for a body temperature check and document check.
  • Download and install the MorChana app (Google / Apple), for use in accordance with Thailand’s COVID-19 precautionary measures during your trip.
  • Collect your luggage then proceed to your booked accommodation or medical facility to undergo your Day 1 PCR test. The trip must be by a prearranged vehicle on a sealed route. Children aged 5 or under will have a non-invasive saliva PCR test.
  • Wait for your test result within your booked hotel room.
  • Once a negative result is received, you are free to travel anywhere in Thailand.

Second Test (Day 5)

  • Proceed to and remain at your second prepaid accommodation on Day 5 and undergo your second PCR test.
  • Wait for your test result within your booked hotel room.
  • Once a negative result is received, record the result in the MorChana app.
  • You are then free to leave your hotel with no further restrictions or testing.

What if you already have a Test & Go approval?

If you applied for or obtained your Thailand Pass QR code before 22nd December 2021 but have yet to arrive in the country, you will be required to undergo the second (Day 5) PCR test at a government designated facility, however this will be free of charge and no self-isolation period will apply.

Return to Singapore (VTL)

Unfortunately there are no designated VTL flights to Singapore from the likes of Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai, even though direct flights are operating on these routes and some VTL options were originally advertised by Singapore Airlines and Scoot.

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That leaves Bangkok – Singapore as the sole VTL option for our Singapore-based readers to return home without quarantine, though you can of course travel into Thailand via other airports then return from Bangkok (e.g. Singapore to Phuket at the start, followed by Bangkok – Singapore at the end of your trip).

Here are the confirmed designated VTL flights from Bangkok to Singapore between now and late October 2022 (click to expand):

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= TG403
A350 Long Haul
BKK
08:00
SIN

11:15
 bgcolor= 3K512
A320
BKK
09:25
SIN

12:50
 bgcolor= SQ705
A350 Regional
BKK
09:50
SIN

13:15
 bgcolor= TR625
787-8
BKK
10:50
SIN

14:15
 bgcolor= SQ707
A350 Long Haul
BKK
12:15
SIN

15:45
 bgcolor= 3K516
A320
BKK
12:50
SIN

16:15
 bgcolor= TR753
787-8
BKK
14:35
SIN

17:50
 bgcolor= SQ709