Good news for costs on quarantine-free Thailand trips, with the government today agreeing that the requirement for travellers arriving through all channels, including the Test & Go programme that most of our readers are using to visit from Singapore, will no longer include a pre-departure PCR test from next month.
This will save travellers around S$100 each on these trips, money that can be better spent on flights, hotels and other expenses.
For families in particular, it potentially brings a Thailand trip back into the frame, with total testing costs reduced to around S$105 per person from next month, including the post-arrival tests there and Singapore’s recently simplified VTL testing regime on the way back home.
Thanks go, as always, for Richard Barrow’s tireless updates from Thailand!
This latest change to the scheme follows a relaxation of the second PCR test (and second isolation period!) on Day 5 of your Thailand trip, to a self-ART with no second isolation required for those arriving since 1st March 2022.
An on-arrival PCR test followed by hotel room isolation will unfortunately still apply for now, but that isn’t set to last for much longer either, so read on for good news in that regard too!
The new process
Here’s a summary of how the Test & Go process will look for those arriving on or before 31st March 2022, compared with those arriving from 1st April 2022.
Test & Go Changes
|Test & Go
31 Mar 22
1 Apr 22
|Arrival isolation||In hotel room|
|Day 5 test
|Day 5 test isolation||None
If you are taking a longer trip to Thailand, the ART kit for your Day 5 test will be provided by your Day 1 isolation hotel, or on arrival at the airport (e.g. in Phuket).
If you are departing Thailand on or before Day 5, no second test is required under this scheme.
Do note that the removal of the PDT requirement is not 100% official until it is included in Thailand’s Royal Gazette, a formal legal process which should be completed in the coming days.
Is it the wrong way round?
Many will see the approach as ‘the wrong way round’, instead expecting (and perhaps preferring) Thailand to drop its on-arrival PCR test, rather than the pre-departure one.
For one thing, around 6-8 hours of hotel room isolation will still be required due to the unchanged Day 1 arrival process, which is an annoyance to travellers, especially those taking short trips.
With no pre-departure PCR test required, there is also likely to be an increase in on-arrival PCR test positivity among travellers, resulting in mandatory isolation and in some cases hospital treatment.
We therefore think many readers will still want to take a voluntary self-swab ART test before departing to Thailand, to minimise the risk of testing positive and therefore having to isolate in recovery after arriving.
It’s certainly ‘better to know before you go’, and thankfully inexpensive ART kits in Singapore, while not as sensitive or accurate as a PCR test, should provide some reassurance here.
New process (Singapore – Thailand)
Here’s how the new process for quarantine-free travel from Singapore to Thailand on the Test & Go scheme will look for those arriving from 1st April 2022.
- 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.
- Apply for a Thailand Pass, allowing at least seven days notice prior to your trip to allow for processing.
Take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of your flight departure time. 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$20,000 (not required for Thai citizens).
- Book and have proof of prepayment for one night of accommodation at government-approved hotels in the SHA Extra Plus (SHA++), AQ, OQ, or AHQ categories on Day 1, and the PCR test on Day 1.
- Your prepayment for Day 1 must include accommodation, testing and a prearranged transfer from the airport to the hotel.
- If you are arriving in Phuket or Krabi, your Day 1 test will be at the airport. In that case, you can book your Day 1 test here.
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.
- If you are arriving in Phuket or Krabi, your Day 1 test will be at the airport, before taking your SHA+ approved transport to your SHA Extra+ hotel.
- 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)
- Conduct a self-administered ART test.
- ART kit will be provided by your Day 1 hotel free of charge (or at the airport in Phuket/Krabi).
- No isolation period or specific SHA Extra+ hotel room booking is required.
- Report your result on the MorChana app.
Total testing costs
Here are the estimated testing costs per fully vaccinated traveller for a Singapore – Thailand – Singapore trip, under the latest Test & Go regime effective for arrivals from 1st April 2022.
|TH Day 1 (PCR)||~S$80|
|TH Day 5 (self ART)||Free|
|TH pre-departure (clinic ART)||~S$20|
|SG on-arrival (self-ART)||~S$5|
Thanks to a recently relaxed VTL testing process in Singapore, additional costs for a Thailand trip have already fallen, and this removal of the pre-departure test should mean a total testing bill of around S$105 per traveller for a total of four tests (one of which is free).
For those making a trip to Phuket under Test & Go, our recent experience was that there are ample testing locations offering pre-departure ART testing for THB200 (~S$8), including a certificate for travel, so the S$20 rate quoted in the table above relates more to those testing in Bangkok.
This relaxation is part of Thailand’s four-step plan to ‘endemic’ COVID-19 status, meaning there should be more improvements to come.
Thailand further proposes that from 1st May 2022 the on-arrival PCR test should be changed to a cheaper, quicker ART test, and that COVID-19 insurance requirements for travellers may be reduced from US$20,000 to US$10,000.
These changes, if approved, will be announced in late April 2022, and we’ll be sure to keep you advised as they are formalised.
Ultimately travel to Thailand for fully vaccinated tourists should become test-free and quarantine-free by mid-2022, with the Thailand Pass itself also likely to be ditched, but there’s a fair bit of ‘water to go under the bridge’ between now and then, so stay tuned for the official announcements.
How to apply (Thailand Pass)
To use the Test & Go scheme, you’ll first have to apply for a Thailand Pass.
This new more relaxed testing regime will only come into force for those arriving in Thailand from 1st April 2022 onwards, however you can apply up to 60 days prior to your trip.
Applications for the Thailand Pass are free of charge. You can apply up to 60 days in advance of your trip.
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!
A 3-7 working days timescale is quoted for receiving a Thailand Pass approval. My personal experience was being approved in 17 hours, though some report waits of ~4 days, while others are approved even faster.
Once your Thailand Pass is approved, you’ll receive a QR code.
Thailand – Singapore VTL flights
Singapore recently began allowing airlines to operate Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights from airports in Thailand other than Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang.
That has opened up far more flexible options for two-way quarantine-free trips, especially now that Thailand is relaxing its testing regime for Test & Go travellers further from April.
Here’s the full list of designated VTL flights by all airlines on Thailand – Singapore routes (click to expand):
Anything that reduces costs on quarantine-free VTL trips is to be welcomed, and here we have what many readers may see as an unusual decision by Thailand to ditch its pre-departure PCR test requirement, rather than the on-arrival or Day 5 test.
Many of you will probably want to minimise the risk of testing postitive on arrival by taking a self-ART before heading to Changi Airport, since this will be your last chance to postpone the trip!
Nonetheless any simplification and cost saving is welcome, especially for families.
With Vietnam and Cambodia both dropping PCR test requirements, Thailand’s on-arrival PCR swab is beginning to look over-cautious in the region, but the country does at least plan to switch this to an ART method from 1st May 2022, which will further reduce costs and practically remove the on-arrival isolation window.
Does Thailand’s removal of pre-departure PCR testing entice you to plan a trip there? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)