Thailand is known for its warm climate, palm fringed beaches, tropical fruit, affordable massages, shopping and medical tourism. It is now also one of the first countries in South East Asia to open its borders to overseas visitors. Tourists and long stay visitors can now apply for visas and travel to Thailand for up to 90 days, provided they meet the requirements set out by the Royal Thai Embassy.
Ranking 14 out of 180 countries in the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) means that Thailand is a fairly safe country to visit. Everyday life in Thailand appears quite normal and you can move around the country freely, once you have completed the mandatory 14 day Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) in one of the approved hotels.
Preparing to Travel to Thailand
There are several visa options which allow non-Thai citizens to visit Thailand for long stays, including the Tourist Visa, Non-Immigrant Visa and Special Tourist Visa which are obtainable from the Royal Thai Embassy in your country of residence. The Thailand Elite Visa is a unique long-term visa with additional benefits and conveniences.
Tourist Visa (TR, 60 days)
The Tourist Visa allows a stay of up to 60 days, and can be extended for an additional 30 days. Option for single or multiple entry.
Non-Immigrant Visa (90 days)
This single entry visa offers a 90 day visa available to retirees and business travellers. This visa is required if applying for a work permit. It also allows the traveller to open a bank account.
Special Tourist Visa (STV, 90 days)
Travellers wishing to travel to Thailand for a long stay can apply for the Special Tourist Visa. This single entry visa is issued for 90 days, and can be extended twice for a maximum stay of 270 days. More information here.
Thailand Elite Visa
The Thailand Elite Visa provides a renewable multiple entry visa for 5+ years. The visa comes with exclusive business, leisure and professional benefits and conveniences.
View Luma Facebook live about Thailand Elite Residence Program to learn more about the Thailand Elite Visa.
There are some restrictions and processes in place, but nothing insurmountable when the reward is an extended beach holiday in the tropics. Apart from the paperwork and health checks, you will need to prepare for a 14 day mandatory stay in an approved Alternative State Quarantine hotel at the traveller’s expense.
A 3 step process to enter Thailand during Covid:
Step 1 - Apply for your Visa and Certificate of Entry (COE)
In order to travel to Thailand you will need to apply to the Royal Thai Embassy for a visa that’s appropriate to your situation. There are two types of tourist visas: the 60 day Tourist Visa (TR, extendable to a maximum stay of 90 days), and the 90 day Special Tourist Visa (STV, extendable to a maximum stay of 270 days).
You’ll also need to apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE). This is a letter issued by the Royal Thai Embassy to allow foreigners to enter Thailand. You’ll find a list of all the required documents on the Royal Thai Embassy website in your country. The Embassy will screen and pre-approve the applicants who meet the requirements. This process can take around 5 days. Once you have been pre-approved you can go ahead and purchase your flight to Thailand.
Note: The requirements for each visa are different, and may vary depending on the country where you are applying from. You should check the website of the Royal Thai Embassy in your country of residence to confirm the information and process to apply for the Certificate of Entry (COE).
Step 2 - Choose your Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel
One of the requirements for foreigners entering Thailand is a 14 day stay in an approved Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel, at the traveller’s own expense. There’s a list of 100+ hotels accredited by the Thai government with rates starting from 28,000 THB per person for the 14 day package. For something more spacious there are premium options with private balconies and sunset views of the Chao Phraya river for around 80,000 THB per person. The ASQ packages include the cost of the hotel room, meals and service. Suites and family rooms are also available. You will have your temperature checked daily, and several COVID-19 tests upon arrival and during your stay in the ASQ hotel.
If you’re flying into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport you will need to choose a hotel in the Bangkok area. You can make your reservation directly with the hotel or through authorised online platforms.
You should also make some plans on how you will fill your time during your 14 day quarantine. Some hotels provide yoga mats and allow time for outdoor exercise. Bring some books and think about some online learning options - in addition to catching up on movies and TV series.
Step 3 - Prepare documents for the airline check-in counter and for arrival in Thailand
The last few days before your flight departs may seem a little bit stressful, as you will need to prepare all the medical checks and make sure you have all the paperwork in order before heading to the airport. You will find a list of all the required documents on the Royal Thai Embassy website in your country.
It would be wise to do a little research in advance to simplify the process. Find the medical clinics near you that provide the Fit to Fly certificates and COVID-19 test certificates. Ask if you can book appointments in advance. Make sure you get everything completed no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
Your COVID insurance policy must come from one of the approved health insurance providers in Thailand. You should make sure that the policy covers COVID-19 medical related expenses and that the cover is valued at $100,000 USD (or equivalent). The policy must cover the entire time you plan to stay in Thailand.
The Luma Thailand Pass is a travel insurance plan designed to meet the health insurance requirements for visitors wanting to enter Thailand during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers all COVID-19 medical related expenses and is valued at 3.5m Thai Baht cover (equivalent to at least $100,000 USD). You can easily purchase the Luma health insurance policy online and the certificate will be emailed to you in less than 5 minutes. That’s one step that’s easy and simple to complete, while giving you peace of mind that you have the approved health insurance policy in place.
And finally, make plans for your holiday in Thailand
After completing the 14 day mandatory quarantine, travellers are free to travel around the country. Domestic airlines are operating flights to the major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai - and there are some great deals to be found from the hotels, villas and resorts.
Life in Thailand is fairly normal compared to many other countries who are still in lockdown and struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Shopping malls, restaurants and bars are open. Golf clubs, yoga studios and water sport centres are operating. The skies are blue, and the temperature is warm. It’s a great time to visit Thailand.