Thailand's most popular island destination is welcoming back international travelers, who can now look forward to living it up in this sun-kissed paradise in the southern part of the kingdom.
The Sandbox program was conceived in response to the increased rates of COVID-19 vaccination in many countries across the globe. With many individuals having completed their inoculations, the authorities have deemed it appropriate to reopen the country to tourists without the need for quarantine, and Phuket was selected as the program’s pilot area because of its widespread popularity.
The initiative is not as straightforward as it sounds, however. Here’s everything you need to know about this government program.
What exactly is Phuket Sandbox?
Phuket Sandbox is a pilot program launched by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in partnership with Phuket Tourist Association in hopes of reviving the country’s severely-affected tourism industry. Through this scheme, vaccinated tourists are allowed to visit the popular island destination without having to undergo quarantine.
Aspiring travelers are required to stay in an accommodation with a SHA+ (SHA Plus) certificate issued by the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration and to undergo three COVID-19 screening tests during their stay.
Who is eligible to travel to Phuket from abroad?
Well, everyone! Whether you’re a Thai citizen or an international tourist from ANY country/territory.
Do tourists need to be vaccinated?
Phuket Sandbox, as well as other Sandbox destinations, is eligible for tourists who have been vaccinated, based on the following details:
Individuals ages 18 and older who have been fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before traveling to Thailand.
Individuals ages 12 to 17 (and traveling unaccompanied by parents) who have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Those traveling with their parents are exempt from this rule.
Individuals ages 6 to 11 and traveling with parents don’t have to be vaccinated.
Where can I land for a holiday on the Sandbox program?
Sandboxers are required to travel by air and arrive at Phuket International Airport.
What do I need to prepare before flying to Phuket?
A booking confirmation for at least seven days of stay at a SHA-certified hotel within the eligible Sandbox destination
Phuket Sandboxers can book up to three different hotels located in the province to stay within the first seven days.
Alternatively, the tourists aspiring to stay in Phuket and Phang-Nga, Phuket and Krabi, or Phuket and Koh Samui can book up to three different hotels (in any of these areas) to stay within the first seven days.
An insurance policy with coverage no less than US$20,000 (formerly US$50,000)
Confirmed payment for two RT-PCR tests
A certificate of COVID-19 vaccination
A certificate of COVID-19 recovery for those who have been infected
What do I have to do once I arrive in Phuket?
Go through an “entry screening” for a body temperature check.
Take the first RT-PCR test at a pre-booked facility or accommodation via a pre-booked vehicle on a sealed route.
Wait in the hotel room until the test result arrives.
If test comes out negative, the traveler is allowed to travel within the Sandbox destination for seven days, but hase to come back to the accommodation they booked, and take the second test on the fifth or sixth day.
If test comes out positive, the traveler will be transferred to a facility for appropriate medical treatment, with expenses to be covered by insurance.
What can I do during my stay in Phuket
Basically anything a tourist expects to do when on holiday, as long as they test negative. But remember to take a second test on day 5 or 6 and come back for the night at the hotel(s) you have booked.
Download the MorChana application and turn it on at all times.
You are also kindly requested to follow preventive protocols when in public spaces, such as wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.
What happens after I have completed the seven-day requirement?
There are two cases here:
If you only planned for a week-long vacation, you need to immediately leave Thailand for another country.
If you plan to explore other destinations in Thailand and received a negative test result on day 7, you will get a release form that allows you to continue your trip elsewhere in the country.
SHA is a certificate given by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to hotels and services that meet pandemic-level safety and health standards. These include cleaning regularity, placement of sanitizers, table arrangements, adequate signage and several staff procedures. Basically, it’s a certificate meant to assure you that the establishment you’re staying at practices proper hygiene protocols and is safe to visit.
SHA+ is simply an upgraded—stricter, we say—version of SHA. Being a SHA+ hotel means more than 70 percent of the staff is fully vaccinated and that no unvaccinated staffers are allowed to have close contact with guests. It also requires each staff member to be prepped with COVID-19 emergency solutions. Currently, there are around 300 SHA+ hotels around Thailand. Only these establishments can issue the SHABA certificate.
The SHA+ identification is also given to specific types of services, such as limos and taxis.
COVID-19 may have put your annual shopping spree in Europe, a snowboard trip in Japan, or a gastronomic getaway in Denmark on hold, but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying Thailand’s own attractions. The beauty of Phuket beckons, and this time you can indulge without having to deal with hordes of tourists. Thanks to these jaw-dropping deals, you can get major bang for your buck —and enjoy complimentary extras—at one of the island destination’s best five-star hotels and resorts. Plan your next weekend getaway now!
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