SEPTEMBER 2021 UPDATE
Thailand had the first Covid-19 case outside China. The infectious disease was diagnosed on January 13, 2020, on a 61-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan (where the virus originated), when she arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, the number of cases remained relatively low over the following days, so a state of emergency was only declared on March 26, and a curfew was implemented on April 3rd (everyone had to stay indoors between 10pm and 4am), but it ended on June 15. Before these measures, the virus was mostly controlled by temperature and symptom screening at international airports. A new wave in early 2021 led to new lockdowns, but Thailand aims to have 70 per cent of the population vaccinated by the end of 2021 and fully open to tourism in October.
Number of Covid-19 Coronavirus Cases in Bangkok and Thailand
There have been close to 1.3 million cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Thailand. Naturally, most of them have been in the region around the capital. The fatality rate in the country is quite low, at just 1%. The low rate of infections has been attributed to culture and the regular use of face masks. As the New York Times reported, no one knows what Thailand is doing right, but so far it's working. In January 2021, a study by the Lowy Institute concluded that Thailand's response to the Covid-19 pandemic was the fourth best in the world.
Entry Requirements and Travel Restrictions in Thailand
The first travel restrictions in Thailand took place on March 5, 2020, when travelers were subject to quarantine, and those arriving from “high-risk countries” were placed under observation. On March 19, it was announced that international arrivals from a number of countries would require medical certification and health insurance -- all travelers from China (including Hong Kong and Macau), South Korea, Italy and Iran, had to show medical certificates prior to boarding their flights and on arrival in Thailand, and then remain in quarantine for 14 days. People from other countries were also asked to stay indoors for 14 days if they showed any symptoms. All passenger flights were banned in the country between April 6 and 18. AirAsia, which operates a large number of domestic flights in Thailand, resumed domestic flights on April 29, and gradually added international destinations. However, most flights to and from Thailand remained suspended, although inbound international travel for business purposes was allowed to resume in July.
In September, the government approved a long-stay tourist visa, which allows stays for 90 days, and that can be extended twice for a total of 270 days in Thailand. It has a cost of 2,000 baht (65 dollars/50 British pounds/55 euros), and in order to apply, travelers must book a hotel or apartment for the full 90 days, and must also agree to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The first international tourists (from China) were welcomed in Phuket in October, marking Thailand’s gradual restart of the tourism sector.
On December 17, the country eased travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries . Tourists from the United States and Australia, for example, can travel without visas, but need to show a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before travel. They’re then subject to a 2-week quarantine period after arriving, and the regular 30-day visa is extended to 45 days.
Is it Safe to Travel to Bangkok and Thailand?
Bangkok shut down most of its businesses on March 21, 2020, which helped maintain the number of Covid-19 cases low, despite the city’s large population. Only supermarkets, pharmacies, and takeout services in restaurants were allowed to stay in business. Most of the city has now reopened. Once all flights return, the risk for travelers is expected to remain moderate in Bangkok and everywhere else in the world, until a significant part of the global population is vaccinated against Covid-19. Everyone is advised to practice the universally recommended protective measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing (staying 6 feet or about 2 meters away from other people) and practicing high personal hygiene -- regularly wash your hands with soap and water (or with an alcohol-based sanitizer), especially after sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose, and cover your mouth and nose with your elbow (not with your hands) every time you cough or sneeze.
Aircraft and trains in Bangkok are said to be regularly disinfected, but always wear a mask and maintain a safe distance from other passengers, when possible.
If you develop respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) or a fever, postpone your trip, stay at home, and seek medical assistance.
Keep checking this page for regular updates and advice on traveling to Bangkok and Thailand this year.