Thailand has fared well during the Covid-19 storm, and is recognised as one of the countries with the most impressive ongoing recovery rate, according to the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI). With just under 70 deaths as of today’s date, the country, although dealing with its second wave, has managed to reduce the level of community transmissions and infections through strict monitoring and control. In a country of 70 million people the numbers are both encouraging and impressive, and in line with these stats the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has now classified Thailand as one the safest travel destinations in the world.
The low case numbers and fatalities could be attributed to several factors- the Thai Government’s decision to close down borders and take swift control early into the pandemic; the social distancing embedded naturally within Thai culture — the habit of greeting each other with a wai rather than a handshake or kiss; or the early adoption of face masks, combined with an impressive health care system, the outdoor lifestyle of many Thais, and their relatively low rates of pre-existing conditions. Whatever the reason for the low infection rate, the good news remains: Thailand is open again to international travellers allowing for visa-free visits for SA citizens valid for up to 45 days. Read on for all the details.
In December last year Thailand announced they will ease restrictions, announcing visa-free travel for citizens from 56 countries in a bid to boost the country’s pandemic-hit tourism industry. All visitors will however be required to follow a set of prescribed protocols.
THE LIST OF VISA-FREE COUNTRIES & MANDATED QUARANTINE PERIOD
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Principality of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, SOUTH AFRICA, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Peru, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea can enter the Kingdom.
👉 NB: Visa-Free visits will be valid for 45 days, changed from the original 30 days, in order to accommodate the 15-DAY QUARANTINE PERIOD.
According to Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s COVID-19 task force, travellers will need a PCR certificate to show they were free of COVID-19, 72 hours before travel, as well as proof of a reservation at a quarantine hotel. While in quarantine, they will undergo three additional PCR COVID-19 tests – on day 1, day 9 and day 13. This is up from the two previously required in the belief that more testing could potentially lead to shorter quarantine times in the future.
OTHER NATIONS & LONG STAY VISAS (over 45 days)
Travellers from countries not included in this announcement are eligible for a 90-day special tourist visa and certificate of entry. Travellers will not be able to extend their visa free 45 day visit, and if you are hoping to stay for longer, you should also consider applying for the Long Stay Tours Visa, as below.
LONG STAY TOURISTS – The STV Visa (Special Tourist Visa)
Thailand announced a 90-day visa for long-stay tourists on September 15th, 2020. The visa is called the ‘Special Tourist Visa’ (STV) and will allow approved travellers to stay in Thailand for 90 days. It can be renewed twice, for 90 days each time. Once approved, travellers can apply for the certificate of entry (COE) based on the following requirements:
– Approved Visa
– Approved COE
– Proof of payment for 90 day accommodation booking
– Copy of recent bank statement ($700 per person and $1,500 per family). The name of the applicant must be indicated clearly), In case of submitting a family bank statement, proof of relationship (i.e. birth certificate, marriage certificate) must be provided.
– 14 day ‘state quarantine’ upon arrival
– All countries may apply
– Medical insurance that covers COVID-19 with at least $100,000 USD in coverage for the entire stay duration
– Proof of alternative state quarantine reservation (ASQ)
TRAVELLERS MUST ALSO FOLLOW THAILAND’S HEALTH PROTOCOLS, INCLUDING:
– Travel health insurance that also covers Covid
– All travellers arriving in Thailand must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test taken within 72 hours prior to flight
– A pre-screening health declaration card filled out before departure
– The wearing of masks is mandatory on in-bound flights and in the airport
– Thermal scans and temperature checks upon arrival
NOTE: All travellers will be required to wear masks and follow strict disinfection policies. There will be less crowds and stricter back of house procedures, while the Thai Chana Mobile phone app will be used to track people going in and out of premises, in order to monitor their infections.
PROTECTION& SAFETY MEASURES:
Stay at least 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you. I
Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces, including when using public transportation.
Wash your hands often or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Do not travel if you are sick, have a fever of any COVID-19 symptoms.
The above information was accurate at time of publication, but the situation is ever evolving. Do consult with your airline and the Royal Thai Embassy prior to travelling.
WHY SAFFERS LOVE THAILAND AS A HOLIDAY DESTINATION
I’ve written much about Thailand, having visited eight times. (Read my articles on Chinatown in Bangkok, Koh Phangan island, and Jay Fai, the Michelin star chef in BK, for starters). There are many reasons South Africans love Thailand: it’s a safe and secure family friendly destination, has abundant natural beauty, an array of diverse attractions and activities no matter the interest, offers good value for money, hotels and hospitality services of a very high standard, delicious cuisine, shopping, and a nation of friendly people that embraces all, equally. (Visit https://thailandsa.co.za/ for all the reasons why Thailand needs exploring).
Contact Details for Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria 👇
- Visa enquiries : firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 012 342 5470 Ext 110
- Facebook : Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria www.facebook.com/thaiembassypretoria
Additional contact info:
- CDC Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/covid-1/coronavirus-thailand
Travel well, be safe! as they say in Thai: ‘Mai pen rai’ meaning it’s going to be okay!