Thailand Finally Opening To Vaccinated Travelers?!

Thailand Finally Opening To Vaccinated Travelers?!

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Thailand’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism (pre-coronavirus, it made up about 20% of the county’s GDP), yet borders have largely been closed, at least for those looking for free movement without quarantine.

Thailand’s government has now outlined a plan to reopen borders, which could see the country reopen to many tourists in a matter of weeks.

Thailand reopening as of November 1?

Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has today announced that he’s pushing for the country to be reopened to fully vaccinated travelers from 10 countries as of November 1, 2021. With this plan, travelers would be allowed to arrive in Thailand by air with no quarantine requirement.

Among the first group of 10 countries is the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, and China. The plan would then be to open to vaccinated travelers from some other countries as of December 1, 2021, and then to open to vaccinated travelers from even more countries as of January 1, 2022.

The hope is that if this plan is finalized, it will help the tourism sector recover a bit for the end of the year, including over the holidays. With this reopening plan, travelers would be able to visit any part of the country, so there’s no “sandbox” concept, as we’ve seen previously proposed.

It’s now up to the Ministry of Public Health and CCSA to consider this within the coming week, and hopefully approve it so that plans can be made to implement it.

One major consideration is that while the country hopes to open to tourists as of November 1, the plan is still for a 10PM curfew to remain in place, and for bars to remain closed, and restaurants to not serve alcohol. Until those rules change, I can’t imagine many people will consider a holiday in Thailand.

Thailand could open to vaccinated travelers in November

Will it really happen this time?

Up until this point, Thailand’s reopening plan has been a hot mess. I don’t know how many dozens of reopening strategies we’ve seen proposed by various government officials in Thailand, only for nothing to come of them. That’s why I’ve been skeptical of Thailand’s plans, and haven’t written about them much.

That being said, I feel like we’re finally getting to the point where this might happen:

  • Here we have the Prime Minister talking about a plan for the whole country, rather than the previous plans, which have largely been regionalized
  • I feel like we’re finally reaching the point in the pandemic where even conservative destinations are starting to make realistic plans to open up; just look at countries like Australia, Fiji, Singapore, etc.
  • Once countries have widespread vaccinations, at some point I think we’re at the “new normal,” because there’s not some magic that’s going to happen to completely eradicate coronavirus anytime soon
  • Thailand has suffered a ton with the lack of tourism, and the country can’t afford to stay closed forever

So maybe I’m naive, but I genuinely think that we may see Thailand open on a widespread basis shortly… maybe?

Could Thailand actually reopen this time?

Bottom line

Thailand’s Prime Minister has today outlined a plan whereby fully vaccinated travelers from select countries would be able to visit as of November 1, with no need to quarantine, and the ability to move freely within the country. While we’ve seen plenty of reopening strategies proposed, this seems like the most realistic, and it also comes from the top of the government.

I’m curious to see if this plan actually happens this time around, or if it’s just the latest concept to go nowhere…

Do you think Thailand will follow through with this latest strategy?

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  1. Raksiam

    The health officials have been pretty steadfast in their opinion that until the population is at least 70% fully vaccinated that they shouldn't be reopening. So it will be interesting to see if they give in. I think the latest numbers were around 40% so far. Certainly a country with so much reliance on tourism is really struggling. They also want to add a new 500 baht fee for foreign tourists

  2. Experienced Traveller

    Lets see if opening happens. The rural health authorities are telling the politicians in Bangkok that cases are rising and that the case numbers published are untrue. Politician have an election coming up so make your own asessment

    1. HARRY

      So true, hard to believe the numbers the Gov't is putting out. they have also cut back on testing to keep the numbers low.

  3. Steven E

    @Regis - I don’t Know where you’re getting your facts from but you’re way off base - Mexico has the fourth greatest mortality rate anywhere

  4. Malc

    Can anyone find the full list of countries? I've looked and can't find it.

    1. Dick Bupkiss

      I don't believe they've shared that - probably because they have no idea. They make stuff up as they go along and just pull details out of their arse. This is just today's example.

    2. Phillip

      And clearly “low risk” countries actually means countries from where traditionally most tourists to Thailand arrive from and therefore the flow of money!

  5. Azamaraal

    Do you have any information of the other 5 of the 10 countries?

  6. MDA

    Not sure if you have seen this @ben @Tiffany but Australia is getting a new LCC - Bonza! Goo figure.

  7. Jan

    Open it up (to the vaxxed) like most of Europe has opened up, tourist dollars will follow. Unfortunately for me I still do not trust most of Asia and Oceania when it comes to their alleged reopening. I'll believe it when I see it.

  8. Rick

    With the Thai-government, it's always very hard to tell, because (as Ben says) there have been vague promises & dashed-hopes so very many times ! Believe it only when we see it, and it's been implemented, without any extra last-minute changes ! I myself won't regard the country as 'open', until the Certificate-of-Entry & compulsory medical-insurance & ASQ are all completely dropped ... so we can arrive at the border with just a passport/regular-visa/smile !

    With the Thai-government, it's always very hard to tell, because (as Ben says) there have been vague promises & dashed-hopes so very many times ! Believe it only when we see it, and it's been implemented, without any extra last-minute changes ! I myself won't regard the country as 'open', until the Certificate-of-Entry & compulsory medical-insurance & ASQ are all completely dropped ... so we can arrive at the border with just a passport/regular-visa/smile !

  9. Luke

    It's not only Thailand & Fiji reopening as per your articles today, India too is set to start allowing foreign tourists starting on November 15th and the first 500k tourist visas issued are to be complimentary.

    https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/india-to-allow-tourists/index.html

  10. Mike Saint

    I hope it really opens up this time. I've rescheduled my Bali and Thailand trip 3 times now. I'm currently scheduled to go in May 2022 to both. Hopefully it opens and plan to come back with my kids in July.

  11. Joe

    100% Thailand opening in June. I mean July. Absolutely September. October for sure. November, yes November.

    See a pattern here? While it will happen, it is far from certain November 1 will be the date.

  12. Chris

    Ben, what’s your favourite hotel in Bangkok?

    1. S

      I've never been but it looks like an incredible market. Even the Peninsula is less than $200 a night most of the year. So many elite hotels for a good price. Sounds great.

    2. Fed UP

      nothing like staying at the Penisula Hotel and being totally insulated from anything remotely Thai....

    3. NYGuy24

      Yea I would temper those expectations. I travelled some and some of these higher end hotels have limited their services etc. You don't necessarily get the full experience depending on what services you want to utilize.

    4. LCT

      Sheraton Grande and the Anthenee are my favourite. Both are having incredible rates with free hotel credits.

  13. Rambo

    @Florian These guys were trying so hard to figure out a way to get the tourists money without getting the tourists. That ended up becoming a laughing stock, none really cares about these silly announcements anymore XD

  14. Dick Bupkiss

    I believe your assessment is about right. I have family there and watch Thailand from a distance, but follow news closely.

    Previous "plans" to open up have been a fiasco, with proposals floated constantly then quickly abandoned, in rapid succession, so you're right to view the latest trial balloon with some skepticism (one needs to view a lot of Thailand with that skepticism). But this does seem different, in that it's not some insane location-specific...

    I believe your assessment is about right. I have family there and watch Thailand from a distance, but follow news closely.

    Previous "plans" to open up have been a fiasco, with proposals floated constantly then quickly abandoned, in rapid succession, so you're right to view the latest trial balloon with some skepticism (one needs to view a lot of Thailand with that skepticism). But this does seem different, in that it's not some insane location-specific "sandbox" scheme that's destined to fail. After a long string of endless embarrassments and screw-ups, Thailand has been making progress on vaccinations recently (though they still have a very long way to go, and I expect more ups and downs for them). Their initial vaccine plans (including the specific vaccines they initially picked) were crazy stupid and their government has a consistent track record of making disastrously bad choices over and over. But there is some progress, and they really need to get out of the deep hole they have made for themselves. Even though this is probably a bit premature (they're nowhere close to other places you cite, Fiji, Singapore, etc.), they may actually stick to this plan, even if it results in some COVID surges (I expect it will). Will be interesting to watch, and I hope they are able to manage it.

  15. shawn

    Fake re-opening.
    Real Open means: be vaccinated, hop on plane, cross border with passport, be on your way.
    Fake Re-Open means: caving to the racket of testing, before and/or in between and/or after.

    1. Florian

      @Shawn, it's Thailand – they make the rules. Stop using that "fake" narrative just because you don't agree with the terms

    2. DenB

      Shawn's opinion makes sense in the circumstances. The label "fake" is arguably appropriate when the "reopening" has these conditions attached.

    3. Arlington Traveler

      That's fine. I assume I will need to test to go to most countries with low COVID rates and that's usually reflected in lower than normal airfares as @shawn isn't going if he has to test. That's fine, I'll go to countries with testing requirements as long as they are not onerous. Meaning, I'm fine with pre-departure testing and a arrival test and even quarantining until that arrival test comes back (usually less than a...

      That's fine. I assume I will need to test to go to most countries with low COVID rates and that's usually reflected in lower than normal airfares as @shawn isn't going if he has to test. That's fine, I'll go to countries with testing requirements as long as they are not onerous. Meaning, I'm fine with pre-departure testing and a arrival test and even quarantining until that arrival test comes back (usually less than a day). What I'm not fine with is getting my nose violated after arrival. Not only is that too much discomfort, it' get's expensive quick AND as Singapore as shown it's not really needed as long as your pre departure and test on arrivals are PCR tests.

    4. Regis

      Singapore's "Re-opening" is even worse. You can only fly into the country on special, dedicated flights.

      All these countries, including unfortunately ours, should take a cue from Mexico: no quarantines, no proof of vaccination, no tests (before, during or after), nothing, completely open, AND AND AND last time I checked nobody is dying or being infected in droves there and the infection rates there are no better or worse than everywhere else.

      The...

      Singapore's "Re-opening" is even worse. You can only fly into the country on special, dedicated flights.

      All these countries, including unfortunately ours, should take a cue from Mexico: no quarantines, no proof of vaccination, no tests (before, during or after), nothing, completely open, AND AND AND last time I checked nobody is dying or being infected in droves there and the infection rates there are no better or worse than everywhere else.

      The Mexican situation is proof these travel lockdowns and restrictive measures imposed on travelers are unscientific and have have no effect in protecting anyone.

    5. Arlington Traveler

      Regis, what are you smoking regarding Mexico? They are fourth in the world with 282,086 deaths. Placing them among the worst in deaths per capita among large countries (hint, hint, Murica is ahead of them, us being a shining example of how to handle COVID). Oh, you'll say those statistics are from the beginning of the pandemic, and they are doing better now. Sorry, dude but you'd be dead wrong again. Just checked on the...

      Regis, what are you smoking regarding Mexico? They are fourth in the world with 282,086 deaths. Placing them among the worst in deaths per capita among large countries (hint, hint, Murica is ahead of them, us being a shining example of how to handle COVID). Oh, you'll say those statistics are from the beginning of the pandemic, and they are doing better now. Sorry, dude but you'd be dead wrong again. Just checked on the Nytimes.com as of today (10/11) they were averaging 480.9 deaths a day, and only world leaders Murica and Russia were worse. They do better on a per capita bases, but among large countries (population wise) it seems only superpowers USA and Russia and depending upon where you draw the cutoff for large, Ukraine are doing worse.

      One thing, everyone seems to forget is that the price of testing and the possibility of being stuck get's priced into airfares for sure, and to a lesser extent accommodation (especially in countries reliant on tourism). Personally, I'd never travel to Mexico as the risk of testing positive on return is too high and as small as that is, I wouldn't risk travelling to a COVID hot spot.

    6. Jerry

      If you test positive in Mexico, you're clearly going to the wrong pharmacy to get your test.

  16. Never In Doubt

    “there’s not some magic that’s going to happen to complete [sic] eradicate coronavirus EVER”

    Fixed that for you.

Featured Comments Load all 30 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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DenB

Shawn's opinion makes sense in the circumstances. The label "fake" is arguably appropriate when the "reopening" has these conditions attached.

Steven E

@Regis - I don’t Know where you’re getting your facts from but you’re way off base - Mexico has the fourth greatest mortality rate anywhere

Dick Bupkiss

I don't believe they've shared that - probably because they have no idea. They make stuff up as they go along and just pull details out of their arse. This is just today's example.

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