Update: As of December 21, 2021, Thailand has temporarily brought back mandatory quarantine for tourists again.
For the first time since near the start of the global pandemic, Thailand is reopen to tourists.
Yeah, it's been a while. Remember Thailand? Unbelievable food? Friendly and outgoing people? Secret beaches? Resorts and ruins (like Ayutthaya, pictured above) and astounding architecture?
Previously, Thailand implemented some pilot programs for localized, highly restricted tourism in a few small, touristy areas. Those tests worked out, and those strict boundaries are now finished.
For the first time since early 2020, the entirety of Thailand is back on the visitor's circuit.
Covid is still a thing, though, so of course there are rules. All tourists going to Thailand must:
• come from a country that's on a list of 63 approved nations (including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, and all of Western Europe)
• be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before traveling (Thailand will also accept a single dose plus proof of a prior Covid infection no longer than three months before travel)
• show a negative Covid-19 test administered no more than 72 hours before traveling
• plan a second Covid-19 test to be taken upon arrival
• carry travel insurance that covers at least US $50,000
All visitors must also quarantine for a single night in a government-approved hotel. Given the jet lag that many North Americans experience when they arrive in Thailand, forcing a daylong nap before starting a Thai vacation is actually a pretty good idea, anyway.
The list of requirements might have daunted some of us if we saw them a year ago, but this is late 2021 and preparations like these are becoming as common as packing a suitcase.
And we must say, even though there are a lot of regulations, Thailand's official tourism authority has laid them out as a very clear, step-by-step list of instructions that many other tourist destinations could use as a model for clarity and ease of use.
(Click here to see a larger version)
Most people in the know wouldn't knock Thailand's security measures, anyway—the country has reported fewer than 20,000 Covid-19 deaths compared to a total that's nearing 150,000 in the United Kingdom and a figure that's unspeakably higher in the United States.
The official reopening for Thailand was November 1.
Not everything is back to normal in Southeast Asia, though.
Thailand's eastern neighbor Cambodia, which many travelers visit during the same vacation, is not yet fully open to tourists. The country's beach attractions and a popular Chinese-developed resort zone, Dara Sakor, open November 30, but the world-famous ruin of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap won't be available to tourists again until early in 2022.
Visitors to Thailand may also not cross by land into Malaysia to the south. Right now, it is restricting tourist access to a carefully chosen region (as Thailand had done months ago) as a pilot program in advance of hoped-for wider permissions.
Singapore, another popular destination in the region that Western tourists often combine with Thailand on vacations, is accepting fully vaccinated tourists depending on their country of origin. (Click here to find Singapore's rules for your country of origin; Americans have been permitted since October 19, 2021).