If a 14-day stay in Phuket is not enough to seduce you, how about a total change of scenery?
Phuket Sandbox in Thailand – a pilot program for vaccinated international tourists to visit without quarantine – has been upgraded, with the recently launched 7 + 7 extension program.
Previously, travelers who wanted to visit other parts of Thailand were stranded in Phuket for at least 14 days. The 7 + 7 Extension, however, reduces this mandatory stay to just seven days.
Tourists can then spend the next seven days in selected extension areas, namely: Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai or Railay), Phang Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao), or Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, or Ko Tao).
You probably recognize each of them as a privileged beach paradise – which means traveling in Thailand has just gotten a lot more exciting.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Phuket Sandbox 7 + 7 expansion.
Requirements for the 7 + 7 expansion
Currently, 70 countries and territories have been on the list of countries approved by the Thai government for travel, including Singapore. The existing conditions for entering Phuket remain unchanged, but here’s a recap:
Proof of vaccination:
A vaccination certificate involving a Covid-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization, at least 14 days before arrival. Unvaccinated tourists must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
An entry permit issued by the Thai Embassy which must be requested in advance online.
Negative RT-PCR test:
Proof of a negative Covid-19 RT PCR test result, taken within 72 hours of departure.
An insurance policy covering health expenses during your stay, with a minimum coverage of USD 100,000 (S $ 135,000). All medical treatment for Covid-19 will be the responsibility of the traveler.
Proof of accommodation:
Confirmation of reservation of SHA + certified hotels by the Thai government.
Prepaid RT-PCR Tests:
Travelers are required to pass up to three RT-PCR tests during their 14-day stay in Thailand. These tests must be prepaid and are priced between 2,500 THB (101 S $) and 4,000 THB.
Proof of prepaid flight reservation for departure from Thailand must be presented.
If you are planning to travel beyond Phuket, you will need to obtain a transfer form from your hotel certifying that you have stayed in Phuket for seven days.
You must also show proof of negative results from two Covid-19 tests, one performed on your arrival in Phuket and the other on the sixth or seventh day.
Finally, you must also have booked and prepaid SHA Plus approved accommodation in your next destination.
READ ALSO: Thailand hopes to welcome tourists to Bangkok, major cities next month
Traveling from Phuket
International tourists can only travel from Phuket to Krabi, Phang Nga or Surat Thani via certain approved modes of transport. Those traveling to Khao Lak in Phang Nga should take SHA Plus certified car transfer services directly to their SHA Plus hotels.
On the other hand, those heading to Ko Yao Noi or Ko Yao Yai in Phang Nga should board SHA Plus certified ferry services from the approved jetties, Ao Po and Ao Po Grand Marina.
Likewise, travelers to Krabi are required to take SHA Plus certified boat and ferry services from approved docks (Ao Po, Chalong, Rassada, and Wisit Panwa).
Jetsetters to Surat Thani must take Bangkok Airways’ direct domestic flight on the Phuket-Ko Samui route, with tickets to be reserved and paid for in advance (from THB 2,160).
There’s also a whole playbook for your trip home. If you are returning home after staying in Krabi, Surat Thani or Phang Nga for less than seven days, you must first return directly to Phuket International Airport for your departure from Thailand.
You can also choose to stay less than seven days and return to Phuket to complete your 14-day stay in Thailand. Return to Phuket requires proof of a negative RT-PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours prior to your return.
After spending seven nights in an extension area, people wishing to travel to other parts of Thailand are also free to do so. All you need is a negative test result from your third Covid-19 test taken on day 12 or 13, along with a discharge form issued by your hotel.
Not all the fun and games
In the program’s first two months, Phuket attracted around 26,400 travelers to play in its sandbox.
While that appears to be a respectable number, it is a far cry from the 100,000 tourists expected by the Thai government by the end of September.
Aside from the enormous amounts of paperwork, there are relevant reasons for this low-key response.
While only 83 foreign travelers to Phuket have tested positive for Covid-19 so far – a reassuring rate of 0.3% – the rest of Thailand is not doing as well. Last August, daily cases hit a record 23,418, and the number of cases currently hovers around 13,000 per day.
To combat the increase in the number of cases, the lockdown measures have been extended to 29 provinces. This included travel restrictions and the suspension of flights between provinces, derailing plans for tourists hoping to travel from Phuket.
In other words, the 7 + 7 extension sounds like a postcard on paper – but given the volatile Covid-19 situation in Thailand and the rapidly evolving restrictions, the risks are many.
Coupled with a 14-day notice to stay home once back in Singapore, that’s enough to make even the most avid sun worshiper think twice.
For more information on Phuket Sandbox, check out the guide here.
This article first appeared in Nomads of the city.