A guide to Thailand's Sandbox scheme

3 May 2022 by Hannah Brandler

UPDATED 01/05/22

Thailand’s Sandbox scheme no longer exists. See our feature: Thailand’s entry requirements for more information. 

Thailand reopened to fully vaccinated travellers in stages, beginning with Phuket in July and then to the whole country on November 1.

Visitors who are not fully vaccinated can still enter Thailand but will have to quarantine in a state-approved facility for 7-14 days (5 days from April 1).

The country has two schemes designed for fully vaccinated visitors:

  • Test and Go
  • The Blue Zone Sandbox (Sandbox Programme)

This feature will outline the Blue Zone Sandbox programme. You can also read our guide to Test and Go.

Rules are always subject to change so keep up to date with the latest information via the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.

Who can use the Sandbox scheme?

The scheme is open to fully vaccinated travellers from any country around the world. Visitors can stay in up to three Sandbox destinations, but need to complete seven days and seven nights there before visiting destinations that aren’t within the Sandbox programme. This will be reduced to five days from April 1.

All travellers arriving in Thailand by air must register with the Thailand Pass seven days before their departure date. The approval process normally takes three to five working days.

What destinations are part of the Sandbox scheme?

As of February 23, the following destinations have sandbox programmes:

  • Phuket
  • Krabi
  • Phang-Nga
  • Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, Ko Tao)
  • Bang Lamung
  • Pattaya
  • Si Racha
  • Si Chang
  • Sattahip (only Na Jomtien and Bang Saray)
  • Ko Chang in Trat

Points of entry by air

  • Fly directly to Phuket International airport for Krabi, Phang-Nga, and Phuket
  • Fly directly to Krabi International airport for Krabi
  • Fly to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport then transit on a sealed flight for Ko Samui or Phuket
  • Fly to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport then travel by a prearranged vehicle on a sealed route to Bang Lamung, Pattaya, Si Racha, Si Chang, and Sattahip (only Na Jomtien and Bang Saray), and Ko Chang in Trat.

Note that the Tourism Authority of Thailand states:

“Travellers planning to travel to Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao must have a confirmed payment for at least 1-night stay at an approved accommodation on Ko Samui and must receive a negative result for their first PCR test, before being able to continue their remaining nights in Ko Pha-ngan or Ko Tao.”

What are the entry restrictions?

Travellers must fulfil the following criteria to visit the country:

  • Provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (this will be dropped from April 1)
  • Proof of full vaccination 14 days prior to the date of travel – the NHS Pass can be used for this
  • Thailand Pass QR code (either digital or hard copy) – this will be needed to show to the airline and at immigration upon arrival
  • Health insurance with a minimum coverage of US$20,000 (Thai nationals are not required to provide proof of insurance coverage)
  • Pre-book and pay for a PCR test for Day 1 in Thailand*
  • Pre-book and pay for a seven-night stay at a SHA Extra Plus accommodation** at a Sandbox destination – this may include the PCR test
  • Download and install the MorChana Covid-19 tracking app

*Travellers arriving at Phuket International or Krabi International airports can book their PCR tests here (the first will be at the airport, and the second at test centre in Phuket). Those travelling to Surat Thani can book the two tests when booking accommodation.

Travellers arriving at Samui International airport can book and prepare for their PCR tests when booking accommodation at the SHA Extra Plus hotels. The first test will take place at Samui International and the second test at any of the designated hospitals on Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao.

**The SHA Extra Plus hotels/accommodation meet the ‘Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration’ standards and are eligible to be used under the Sandbox and Test and Go schemes. A list of such hotels can be seen via the Thailand Pass website here.

Can I stay in multiple accommodations?

Travellers to Krabi, Phang-Nga or Phuket can change accommodation three times within the first 7 days, provided it’s within the province.

Travellers to Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao can change accommodation three times within the first 7 days but they must stay the first night on Ko Samui and receive a negative result for their first PCR test before being able to change accommodation to other hotels on either Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao.

The Sandbox Extension programme

The programme has been introduced between Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, and Ko Samui/Ko Pha-ngan/Ko Tao, allowing travellers to travel within these destinations during the seven days. The TAT states:

“Travellers under the Sandbox Extension programme, such as, Phuket and Phang-Nga, Phuket and Krabi, or Phuket and Ko Samui, can change accommodation 3 times within the first 7 days (can book 3 different hotels) within the areas. However, travellers on the Andaman (Krabi, Phang-Nga, or Phuket) extension with Ko Samui, must extend their trip by air only.”

What happens when I arrive?

Once documents have been checked by the Communicable Disease Control officers and Immigration officers, travellers can proceed to their pre-arranged or pre-paid shuttle service, which will transport them to a test centre, hospital or hotel to carry out a PCR test (if it didn’t take place at the airport).

You will need to isolate in your hotel room until you receive a negative result. Once that’s arrived, guests can roam freely within the bounds of the Sandbox, but must return to their accommodation on a nightly basis.

Travellers will also be required to take an antigen test on Day 5-6. If negative, they will receive a ‘release form’ which allows them to travel domestically from Day 8.

Note that travellers intending to stay less than seven nights should take the second PCR test one day prior to their departure date, as a negative result issued no more than 72 hours before travelling is required when exiting the Sandbox destination.

Can I travel across Thailand?

Once you have completed the full seven days in the Sandbox area, you should be able to travel domestically. You may be asked, however, to download an app or complete additional travel documentation to prove your Covid-19 status. There may be restrictions in place for certain regions.

What if I test positive during my trip?

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand:

Travellers whose test result returns as positive will be referred for appropriate medical treatment in accordance with Thailand’s Communicable Diseases Act B.E. 2558 (2015). The expenses must be covered by the required insurance for foreign travellers, or national healthcare coverage for Thais and eligible foreign expatriates.

    • Pending on their conditions, they may be medically advised to receive treatment in either hospital hotel isolation or community isolation.
    • While receiving the medical treatment – at least 10 days, they must remain in their accommodation only. They should not leave their accommodation unless utmost necessary, and must notify the Communicable Disease Control officer in-charge.
    • After having recovered from COVID-19, they will receive a medical certificate of recovery.

What will change in the future?

It is hoped that the registration for further Sandbox destinations will resume soon.

Before the onset of Omicron, the government had also planned to change the PCR requirement upon arrival to a rapid antigen test. This was put on hold but may be introduced in the coming weeks or months.

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