As of November 1, 2021, Thailand has reopened to international tourists. Koh Lanta is also open – here’s how you can get to Koh Lanta from outside Thailand.
Thailand has officially reopened to tourists from over 60 countries as of November 1, 2021.
Koh Lanta is open and ready to receive international visitors – most hotels on Koh Lanta are open and many businesses are reopening to welcome both local and international tourists.
Update 28 November: The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has begun to cause trouble for travellers. Thailand has banned visitors from 8 African countries. The situation is fast moving and travel to Thailand from other countries could be restricted in the coming weeks. Be aware of re-entry procedures into your home country too – for example, the UK has now made it compulsory to have a PCR test on arrival in the country.
Also be aware that the Thailand Pass website detailed below is not taking applications for travel after 15 December until 1st December.
Here’s a quick summary of how the new entry procedure into Thailand works, along with links on where to get detailed information:
- Before you fly to Thailand, you need to be double vaccinated at least 14 days before departure. You can then apply online for the Thailand Pass. This is where you upload your vaccination proof, passport information, and details about your trip. You will need to have pre-booked a hotel. You will need travel insurance that covers you for Covid 19. You will also need a negative PCR test proving you don’t have Covid 19. This info is checked at the airport when you check in.
- When you arrive in Thailand, your Thailand Pass will be checked and you are required to take another PCR test at the airport.
Be aware that even though the Thailand Pass process is marketed as “no quarantine”, you will in fact need to be in quarantine for one night on arrival in Thailand while you wait for your Covid test results.
- International travellers can arrive at either of Bangkok’s airports (Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang), or the airports at Chiang Mai, Krabi, Ko Samui, Phuket or U-Tapao. Arrivals are only allowed via airports – no border crossings are currently permitted.If you can get a direct international flight to Krabi airport, that will be the most convenient for travelling on to Koh Lanta. If you fly into Bangkok you will need to do your Covid test first and will not be able to fly on until your results come back, so you’ll be staying one night in Bangkok and flying the next day if the result comes back negative.
- As well as the hotel room, you need to book the transfer from airport to hotel in advance. You then have to go to your pre-booked SHA+ hotel and stay there until you get your negative test result. This is typically 24 hours but might be shorter if you arrive very early in the morning. SHA+ is the certificate issued to hotels by the Safety and Health Authority to verify they follow Covid sanitation and safety measures. You’ll find plenty of SHA+ hotels all over Thailand listed on Booking.com. You might want to contact the hotel directly to ask if they can organise the airport transfer for you.
- You also need to download the Mor Chana app on your phone which shows all your vaccination and test details. It’s wise to keep paper copies of your vaccination proof and negative test results too, as there are reports that the app only works intermittently.
- Once your negative result comes back, you can leave the hotel and travel onto Koh Lanta or any other destination in Thailand.
Things To Be Aware Of (aka What Could Possibly Go Wrong?)
The process as outlined above is straightforward enough, but you should be aware of the following which may impact your visit to Thailand:
- There have been glitches with the Thailand Pass website and the application process has been difficult for many people. This should get sorted out over the coming months but leave plenty of time to make your application.
- Check-in staff at the airport in your home country can be confused about what is required to enter Thailand, especially with a new system like Thailand Pass that has only just launched. You might want to check with your airline that they are familiar with the new rules for entering Thailand.
- Queues at Bangkok airport to have your documents and PCR test processed have been reported to be up to 2 to 3 hours long on occasion. But there have been other reports of passing through Immigration and PCR testing in 20 minutes after disembarking. It’s a crapshoot. If your plane arrives at the same time as several others, be prepared to queue for a while. Hopefully the capacity to process passengers through Immigration and PCR testing will be increased to reduce this bottleneck.
- If you test positive on arrival in Thailand, you then have to go into 10 days quarantine at your own expense. If you’re on a two-week holiday, that means you’d have 3 days in Thailand before having to go home again.
- If someone on the plane sitting immediately next to you tests positive, you will also be put into 10 days quarantine, even if you test negative. This rule is somewhat draconian and hopefully will be removed very soon, but it does mean you might end up in quarantine through no fault of your own.
- When you arrive in Thailand and go to your hotel room to await your results, you are effectively confined to the room. Food will be delivered to the room and left waiting outside your door. This might cause you to go a bit stir-crazy.
- Rules change quickly in Thailand – there may be extra rules imposed or removed directly before you fly or while you’re in Thailand.
Is Covid Still A Problem In Thailand?
Covid is still an ongoing problem in Thailand. While around 70% of the Bangkok population have been double vaccinated, the percentage is lower elsewhere in the country. If you have been double vaccinated, your symptoms should be mild if you catch it. Just be aware that, despite Thailand reopening, Covid has not gone away. At the time of writing, infection rates were 7000 to 10,000 a day with 80 to 100 deaths per day.
Do I Have To Wear A Mask In Thailand?
Be aware, mask wearing is still mandatory outdoors and indoors in Thailand. For example, you cannot enter shopping malls, workplaces or Bangkok’s BTS and MRT public transport systems without wearing a mask. So bring a supply of masks and be prepared to wear them.
In late November, the Thai government threatened to begin fining foreigners who did not wear a mask in Thailand.
Ready To Come To Thailand? Visit The Thailand Pass website
If you want to begin the process of applying to travel to Thailand, visit the official Thailand Pass website.
You should also read the official list of requirements as listed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as they will update their page with any changes in the requirements going forward.
Is Everything Open In Thailand?
Sort of. There’s a general sense of things waking up and, for visiting tourists, there are still plenty of hotels and places to eat. However, it’s undeniably quiet in many locations. If you want Thailand’s beaches and places of interest almost to yourself, visiting in the next 12 months is the time to come.
Koh Lanta has always a been a chilled-out, peaceful kind of destination so the slow start to Thailand’s reopening suits the island’s quiet vibe. As high season continues on until its conclusion in May, the number of visitors will probably pick up month on month. Certainly there are plenty of Thai tourists visiting Koh Lanta already with holiday weekends already very busy.
The major exception about things reopening is that there are curbs on nightlife across all of Thailand: no nightclubs are currently allowed to be open, bars that don’t serve food are closed, and all of Bangkok’s red light districts (Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong) remain closed. The current reopening date for Thailand’s nightlife is January 15, 2022, but this is subject to change.
The other big issue affecting businesses in Thailand is the current ban on alcohol sales in restaurants in most parts of the country.
However, to be clear, Koh Lanta is EXEMPT from this ban. Alcohol is on sale as normal in restaurants and bars serving food until 9pm. This is because Koh Lanta is in Krabi province, which is one of the 4 provinces allowed to serve alcohol in restaurants due to the international tourists that are expected to visit these areas.
Are Alcohol Sales In Restaurants Still Banned In Thailand?
During much of 2021, the sale of alcohol in restaurants was banned everywhere in Thailand as a Covid prevention measure.
As of November, alcohol is legally on sale again in restaurants and bars serving food in Bangkok, Krabi (which includes Koh Lantas), Phangnga and Phuket provinces, along with the Green Zone in Koh Samui. These establishments are allowed to serve alcohol until 9pm.
Unfortunately, booze still cannot be served in restaurants and pubs serving food in every other province in Thailand, including Chonburi, which is where Pattaya is located.
There are a few exceptions on Koh Samui, where you can buy alcohol at Green Zone establishments – see the Green Zone Alcohol Policy section in this guide to arriving on Koh Samui.
You can buy takeaway alcohol from supermarkets and 7-11 as normal everywhere in the country.
It’s expected that alcohol will be back on sale in restaurants everywhere in Thailand from January 15, 2022 (unless the authorities change their minds again). It’s a confusing situation for all involved.
As with everything in Thailand, the interpretation of the law can be very elastic.
What Happens To Thailand Tourism In 2022?
It’s likely – unless there is a huge resurgence of Covid cases – that Thailand will make it much easier to enter the country in the coming months. Neighbouring Cambodia has already announced a drastically simplified entry process for tourists.
As noted above, if you want to experience Thailand without the 40,000,000 tourists that visited before Covid in 2019, the next 12 months are when to come.
For many people, going through the Thailand Pass process and entering the country will be relatively straightforward and uneventful. The issue is, of course, the consequences of what happens if you are unlucky enough to test positive for Covid on arrival in Thailand. The main thing is to stay aware of the changing situation with regards to the regulations in Thailand and how it could impact you if you decide to visit.
Thailand Pass Discussion, Updates and Help
- It’s worth checking the Bangkok Post regularly, and also keep on eye on Thailand blogger Richard Barrow’s Twitter account as he posts timely updates on the tourism situation.
- The AseanNow forum (formerly Thai Visa) has the useful discussion thread Thailand Pass is up and running which, at the time of writing, is over 70 pages. (Skip to the latest post and work backwards for the quickest way to see what issues and solutions other travellers have been facing).
- On that same thread, there is a Thailand Pass agent mentioned who will process your paperwork for you for a fee and guarantees to get the Pass issued. No idea as to the agent’s effectiveness – just passing on the info.
(A different version of this article previously appeared on Travelhappy.info. Text used with permission).