Travelling during corona pandemic has lots of uncertainties and is expensive. Some countries are not yet fully opened to tourists while others demand extra documentations or requirements that involve extra costs. In the last quarter of 2021, we decided to go to Asia and take a calculated risk in travelling. We did a lot of web searching and planning on how we can push through with our travel plans, with the end goal of visiting my home country – the Philippines. The Philippines is one of the countries that imposed the strictest lockdown worldwide. Coming from the Netherlands, it was not advisable to directly book a flight to the Philippines for two reasons. First, the Netherlands was considered as a high risk country by the Philippines from mid-November to mid-December 2021, and therefore travelers coming from the Netherlands are banned from entering the Philippines. Second, booking a flight en route Amsterdam-Manla is very expensive as compared to other Asian countries. These reasons led us to find a stop-over country in Asia that will protect us from the risks of travelling directly to Philippines. We had three choices – Bangkok Thailand, Dubai, or Singapore. After assessing the costs, entry requirements and risks, we decided to go to Bangkok Thailand. The flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok was relatively cheap. At the same time, Thailand launched its Test & Go (Quarantine Free) travel which makes it easier for foreigners to enter Thailand. In this blog, I will inform you on how we made it to Thailand smoothly and how much does it costs for preparation and travelling to Thailand.
Entry programs in Thailand
Thailand has various entry programs for travelers. These include the Test & Go (Quarantine Free) travel, Sandbox, and Alternative Quarantine programs. During the time of our booking, the Test & Go is valid for citizens of countries that Thailand considers as low risks in terms of corona infections. But nowadays, any countries are allowed to enter under program as long as the travellers are fully vaccinated. Under Test & Go (Quarantine Free) travel, travellers have to only book one night stay in a hotel to test whether he/she is positive or negative with the corona virus. If negative, he/she is allowed to room around the country. In the sandbox program, travelers have to stay in a hotel for 7 days (previously 14 days) before they can move to another area or province in Bangkok. For Alternative Quarantine Program, unvaccinated travelers have to do mandatory quarantine for 10 days in an approved government facilities in any of the several areas in Thailand, such as Bangkok, Samut, Prakan, Pattaya, Phuket or Samui.
Test & Go (Quarantine Free) Travel to Thailand
Among the entry programs listed above, we chose the Test & Go (Quarantine Free) program because it is the most logical for us. The travelling part is easy in terms of costs and stay. The preparation of the documents was still a challenge and it costed more as compared to my previous travels in Thailand before corona pandemic. Before entering Thailand, travellers need to apply for the Thailand Pass via this website: https://tp.consular.go.th/. Thailand Pass is an electronic pass that grants valid entry to Thailand upon satisfying all the required documents in entering Thailand. The Thailand Pass is checked during departure and upon arrival at the airport of destination.
Below are the lists of requirements for submitting your document in Thailand pass:
- Passport copy
- Vaccination certificate – you need to upload the vaccination certificate for your two vaccine shots
- Insurance coverage for at least $50,000 dollar (previously $100,000) – The insurance coverage should include coverage for corona related sickness during your stay in Thailand. Getting an insurance from the Netherlands might be tricky since many insurances do not cover countries under code red (very high risk) and orange (his risk) countries. Thailand during that time was considered code orange. In our case, we use the Oom Verzekeringen in the Netherlands as a valid travel insurance that include corona and coverage for code orange and red countries.
- Confirmed SHA+ or ASQ hotel package booking – Hotels with these accreditations are the only approved hotels by the government when entering Thailand. You can find the lists of SHA Plus and ASQ hotels in this link. It is also possible to book directly at the hotel website for a complete package (PCR test upon arrival, number of nights stay, 3-meals for a day, and airport pick-up). Please note that it is better to book this directly to the hotel online website than going to Booking.com or Agoda. The latter, though cheaper than direct hotel booking, often do not include a complete package. It is also possible to do a combination of direct hotel booking and other online booking sites for your complete stay. This is exactly what we did and it saves as a bit of money. During our stay, we booked The Berkeley Hotel Pratunam, which is just I minute away from the Pratunam shopping mall in Bangkok. Other shopping malls are also just walking distance from the hotel.
- Entry visa – This is needed your country of citizenship is required to have an entry visa to Thailand.
Note: After collecting all the documents, the next step is to upload these documents properly in the Thailand Pass site. Many people complained on the difficulty of applying Thailand pass because of some error or incomplete documents. Therefore either their applications were rejected or they had to call the embassy to ask help for errors. In our case, we had a very smooth experience applying for Thailand Pass. It took only less than a minute to receive the Thailand pass after submitting all the required documents online. Here are some guidelines to consider:
- Make sure that everything you submitted is complete and accurate, especially the SHA+ or ASQ hotel package.
- Make sure that all the uploaded documents are either in JPEG or PNG file (not PDF) file format.
- If you have a Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot, no need to upload a 2nd shot.
- Make sure you upload all these documents at least seven days before you travel.
After getting approval of your Thailand Pass, the next thing is to prepare your RT-PCR test at least 72 hours before your travel. The result must of course be negative in order to fly to Thailand. Once you satisfy all these requirements, then you are ready to fly to Thailand! Read my next blog about Bangkok Thailand: Corona proof family travel.
How much does it costs for a family to travel to Thailand during corona?
Overall it costs more than three thousand euros to travel to Thailand for 8 days. This costing is based on a family of four. Of course, this will be cheaper if there is no corona since more than a thousand euros are related to corona requirement expenses! However, when comparing to other Asian countries, travelling to Thailand is still cheaper given the luxurious experience it offers. Below is the breakdown of the sample costs we had as a travelling family with two kids in Thailand.
|Costs of Preparation|
|Items||Costs in euros|
|Complete hotel package for Test & Go (Quarantine free) travel (airport pick-up, 3 meals for a day, PCR test upon arrival, and 1 night stay in a hotel)||330 for four persons in a family suite (5-star hotel)|
|Remaining 6 nights booking with free buffet breakfast (via Agoda.com)||330 (55 euros/night)|
|Insurance with at least $50,000 coverage||166|
|PCR test for 4 pax||180 (45 euros per person/child)|
|Air ticket that includes cancellation against COVID related measures||1,240 one way|
|Total costs of preparation||2246 euros|
|Costs during a stay (For a family)|
|Food for 7 days||210 (30 euros per day)|
|Activities (Visiting grand palace, floating markt, hired van)||270|
|Total costs during stay||630 euros|
|Other costs when leaving|
|PCR-test for next country of destination||270|
|Taxi to airport||20|
|Total Costs||3,166 euros|