Bangkok, which was one of the world's most visited cities before the pandemic shut down tourism, will finally reopen to fully vaccinated foreigners on Friday, October 1.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand announced that international visitors to the capital city and four other popular areas—Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan—will no longer have to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine upon arrival, provided those tourists have gotten all their shots and have negative Covid-19 test results.
Agence France-Presse reports that the destinations will likely follow the so-called "Sandbox" program introduced in Phuket when that beachy hot spot resumed welcoming international vacationers in July.
Under the Sandbox model, each visitor must register for an entry certificate that requires proof of vaccination, medical insurance coverage, and negative PCR test results no older than 72 hours before travel.
PCR tests are also required upon arrival in Thailand and on days 6 or 7 and 12 or 13. All testing appointments must be made ahead of time using an online portal.
Under the Sandbox extension, you'll need to remain in designated areas of your chosen destination for the first seven days, but you will not be confined to the grounds of your hotel. At this stage, it's still unclear whether some parts of Bangkok or the other four places will be out-of-bounds or whether visitors will be limited to certain activities during that first week.
In Phuket, where the waiting period is currently 14 days, visitors who follow the testing regimen, wear masks, and practice distancing have access to pretty much all restaurants, beaches, national parks, yachting excursions, and other tours. Businesses are certified Covid-safe by the government.
We'll have to wait and see whether travelers will have similarly free rein in Bangkok during the first week or will have to avoid certain parts of the city.
Keep an eye on the Tourism Authority's official website for updates.
It's also possible for fully vaccinated travelers to visit the Thai islands of Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Tao by fulfilling slightly different requirements.
In its announcement, Thailand's government says that if things go smoothly with this round of reopenings, 21 more destinations, including Chiang Rai in the country's north, seaside Rayong in the east, and temple-dotted Ayutthaya north of Bangkok, will join the sandbox in mid-October.
Meanwhile, another Southeast Asian country, Vietnam, will begin a very limited tourism reopening on October 1. Fully vaccinated foreigners with negative Covid-19 tests will be permitted to visit precisely one location in the country: the idyllic island of Phu Quoc off the coast of Cambodia.
Pictured at top: Wat Arun in Bangkok