I’ve been fortunate to travel to Thailand multiple times (including Khao Lak, pictured above in 2011) but I haven’t been since 2015. Since Thailand is a favorite destination for many travelers and it’s been pretty much closed off for the past two years thanks to COVID, I thought it was a great time to check-in with a travel expert who’s visiting right now to talk about what it was like to get there, entry requirements and what it’s like traveling around the country.
Below is my interview with travel writer Kevin Revolinski, aka The Mad Traveler, which you can watch on YouTube or listen to on the podcast.
Kevin has traveled to 75+ countries and lived abroad in several, including Thailand, Turkey, Italy, Guatemala and Panama. He’s currently based in Madison, Wisconsin but just arrived in Thailand. Kevin was also kind enough to write about his experiences below:
Pandemic rules are finally easing for Thailand. Test & Go is for vaccinated travelers. As of April 1, no pre-flight PCR test is required. You book one night stay at an approved hotel in Bangkok, and get a PCR test upon check-in.
If it’s negative, you’re free to go anywhere in the country, and you only need to submit a self-test result on Day 5 on the free Morchana app. Tip: when uploading a test result photo, shrink the image (like 150kb vs. 4MB) or it may not go through and you’d need to get help from your original hotel.) You still need to sort Test & Go documents first and apply for a Thailand Pass via the Thai embassy/consulate in your home country, and that can take up to 7 days.
The Sand Box program, where you enter Thailand and fly directly to Phuket and a few other regions and are required to limit travel to that area. It now requires a 5-day stay in that “sand-boxed” province. Unvaccinated travelers can still travel here but must quarantine in an approved hotel for 4-5 days, get a negative PCR test, and then they are free to travel. Be aware: if you test positive, that’s 10 more days in that quarantine hotel.
Mandated masks are still on everywhere in Thailand but one can still take them off to dine and hit the beach. 90% of the travelers right now during Songkran holiday are Thai. When the holiday ends after April 15, the country goes back to work and it will be an ideal time for foreigners to visit. Be aware that the rainy season comes after mid-May. It may affect certain activities like scuba diving.
Still shy about joining public group activities such as snorkel tours or whale-watching? The dive tour we went on with Wet Zone Divers required ATK fast tests at the pier on the day of the tour for all 16 divers going on the boat. It was extremely well organized and fast, and honestly, faster than other companies herding 16 onto a boat even before COVID.
We rented a private snorkeling speedboat with Fantastic Similan Travel for about $1000, out to the Similan Islands for a full-day, skipping ahead to sites before the other groups arrived.
Last year, we paid just under $500 for the whole boat for a daylong whale watching trip for 7 of us (with room for more!) south of Bangkok in Bay of Thailand.
Kevin Revolinski is The Mad Traveler. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Sydney Morning Herald. He has traveled to 75+ countries and lived abroad in several including Thailand, Turkey, Italy, Guatemala and Panama, but currently is based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the author of 16 books, including The Yogurt Man Cometh, about the year he lived in Turkey. Find him online at www.TheMadTraveler.com or on Twitter @KevinRevolinski and Instagram @madtraveler.