After more than a year of tight travel restrictions and global pandemic drama that made the world seem to stop its course, we all can finally take a breather and put our backpack/suitcase/luggage to good use again. If you’ve been dreaming of going somewhere warm and tropical, where people are friendly, food is on the thin line of adventurous and heavenly, where work is extinct and concrete jungle is not in the view everywhere you go, Phuket is your answer! The good news for us is that Phuket finally reopened its doors to international visitors thanks to the Thailand government’s Phuket Sandbox program. But, what is it and what are Phuket Sandbox travel requirements? Let’s check out the details below.
What is the Phuket Sandbox Program?
Rolled on July 1st, 2021, the Phuket Sandbox program essentially allows vaccinated foreign travelers from any country around the world to enter Thailand via Phuket without having to quarantine as it used to under several conditions;
- Under the Phuket Sandbox program, you are only exempted from quarantining if you have previously been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before your departure with the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand-approved vaccines such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, Covishield.
- Another condition of the Phuket Sandbox program is that you have to stay at least 7 nights in Phuket so you can continue visiting other parts of Thailand. If you are visiting Phuket in less than 7 days you must fly out of Phuket to an international destination or return to your home country. Direct flight to Phuket is advised and no transit in Bangkok.
- Your accommodation in Phuket must meet SHA+ accreditation. Check with your hotel or villas in Phuket before you are making a booking!
Phuket Sandbox Travel Requirements
To apply for Phuket Sandbox you need to make sure that you have these documentations ready:
1. Valid passport
The first thing you need to prepare for your Phuket Sandbox application is your passport that is still valid for 6 months at the time of your arrival. If your passport expires within 6 months at the time of your arrival, make sure you renew it before your departure or you may be rejected by the airlines upon check-in and Thailand’s immigration.
2. Visa to enter Thailand
If you come from 64 countries that have bilateral agreements with Thailand and are visiting Phuket and the rest of Thailand within 30 days as a tourist, you may have a visa exemption. However, if you are planning to travel around Thailand for more than 30 days, you need to apply for Tourist Visa. Please check with your local Thailand embassy before your departure.
3. Certificate of Vaccination
To be eligible for the Phuket Sandbox program, you must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before your departure date. Since most vaccines require two doses to be considered “fully vaccinated”, make sure you have received two jabs before leaving for Phuket. Fully-vaccinated means that you have two or one dose (depending on the vaccine, for example, Janssen – Johnson & Johnson only requires one powerful jab) of the same brand.
Another important thing to be noted is that you must not have mixed jabs between two different vaccines, for example, one shot of Pfizer and one-shot AstraZeneca.
Depending on your country, once you are vaccinated you can download your digital Covid-19 vaccination proof into your device and then print it yourself (in Australia). Contact your local health agency on how to obtain your vaccination certificate and submit it in your application to meet the Phuket Sandbox travel requirements.
Extra note: If you are previously infected with Covid, it is suggested that you must have received 1 dose of an approved vaccine within the past 3 months and at least 14 days before traveling.
4. Paid SHA+ approved accommodation reservation throughout 7 days period in Phuket
If you’ve been reading the news regarding Phuket Sandbox and wonder what “SHA+ approved” accommodations are and how to book them, read on.
If you are eligible for the Phuket Sandbox program, you do not need to do the quarantine process as you may have to do in other countries. However, you need to stay in any accommodation that has been approved by the Thai Health and Safety Administration (SHA) and received their SHA+ Certification.
Do note that no reservations will be allowed at accommodations that are not SHA+ approved. Check out our recommendation of exclusive SHA+ approved villas below!
To cater to more foreign travelers coming into the island, local residences, accommodations, and leisure activities in Phuket are encouraged to be vaccinated and get the SHA+ certificate. This means that the accommodation and tour operators need to vaccinate at least 70% of their staff to receive the SHA+ badge.
Upon entering Phuket, you must present proof of your paid accommodation reservation throughout 7 days of your stay in Phuket. It’s okay to reserve your stay at 2 or more accommodations in various regions of the island as long as they are SHA+ approved.
You’ll be relieved to learn that at your stay in SHA+ approved accommodation, you can expect all facilities to be available throughout your stay. The villa’s swimming pool, gym, restaurant, bar, and spa will be open to guests. Guests may also leave the villa and explore the island at their leisure, having fun at the bars and enjoying delicious meals at Thai restaurants, as well as touring the island’s plethora of year-round summer activities.
Note: If your itinerary in Phuket is less than 7 days, you cannot visit the other parts of Thailand and must fly back immediately to your home country or another country.
5. RT-PCR Covid-19 test before arrival in Phuket
After you have prepared your vaccine certificate and SHA+ paid booking reservation, the next thing you need to submit is a COVID-19 RT-PCR medical certificate with a negative test result no later than 72 hours before your departure to Phuket.
6. Covid-19 insurance with minimum coverage USD 50,000
Travel insurance — You’ll need travel insurance that covers you for at least USD 50,000 in COVID-19 medical expenses. Please check with your insurance company regarding its COVID-19 coverage before you leave.
7. Pre-paid RT-PCR Covid-19 test in Phuket
On the first and sixth days of their stay in Phuket, all visitors will be required to do a COVID-19 RT-PCR test. The testing will take place at your SHA-accredited accommodation. Guests will be obliged to pay for the tests that are estimated to cost between 2500 and 4000 THB each.
If in the worst scenario, you are tested positive for COVID-19 at any point during your stay, you will immediately be transferred to a hospital in Phuket and receive your treatment there.
8. Certificate of Entry (COE) or Thailand Pass that is issued by the Thailand Embassy/Consulate
Here are the following steps you need to do to complete the Certificate of Entry Form:
- Make a flight reservation. For the accommodation to authorize your stay, you will need to provide them with your valid flight information.
- Make a reservation with SHA+ certified accommodations. Once you’ve made a reservation, Villa Finder will send you a confirmation and add your reservation to the “SHA+ Booking Authorisation” System (commonly known as “SHABA”), which will allow you to stay in Thailand.
- Apply for your Certificate of Entry’s ‘stage 1’. When applying for the first stage of your CoE, you’ll need your travel information as well as confirmation of your villa reservation.
- Apply for your Certificate of Entry’s ‘stage 2’. You will receive the SHABA booking from your SHA+ hotel once stage one of the CoE has been approved. To apply for stage two of the CoE, you’ll need a QR code from your SHABA booking.
- Within 3 working days, you will receive your Certificate of Entry if you have submitted all the documents above as well as meeting Phuket Sandbox travel requirements.
Recommended SHA+ Villas in Phuket
Our team in Thailand has carefully collected nothing but the best and exclusive SHA+ Certified villas in Phuket for you to check out and book for your application for Phuket Sandbox.
Thames Tarra Villa
A perfect option for a medium to large size family of 8, Thames Tiara Villa offers 4 chic bedrooms and a completely secluded space so residence guests can enjoy ultimate privacy in luxury. Featuring a private swimming pool right in the heart of the villa that can be accessed from the bedrooms, a kitchenette, a dining table for 8, a spacious lounge, and just minutes away to Rawai beach.
Thames Tiara Villa is a part of a large villa complex tucked away in lush, tropical gardens and fine amenities such as a gym, private parking spaces, and catered service.
Casabay Villa 3
Casabay Villa 3, with its spacious living areas, offers exclusive tropical retreats for your vacation in Phuket. Located just 15 minutes drive away from the gorgeous Naiharna and Kata beach in Phuket and has its own private pool and fully-equipped kitchen for ultimate seclusion.
The lovely and chic villa is modernly designed with traditional wood furnishings and fabrics in an East meet West design. Casabay Villa 3 offers 3 stylish rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, a home entertainment system, and an en suite bathroom are included in each villa.
Visiting Other Parts of Thailand
As mentioned in the earlier part, if you are coming under the Phuket Sandbox program, your travel itinerary should include a full week of stay in Phuket at a Thailand government-approved SHA+ accredited accommodations before you depart to other 17 Blue Zone Sandbox destinations or anywhere else in Thailand.
During Your Stay in Phuket
All foreign visitors to Thailand under the Phuket Sandbox program are required to install the ThailandPlus App on their mobile devices to be tracked throughout their stay in Thailand. Throughout their stay in Thailand, travelers are also encouraged to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by Thailand’s government and practice D-M-H-T-T-A precautions: D – Distancing, M – Mask wearing, H – Handwashing, T – Temperature check, T – Testing for COVID-19, and A – alert via a mandatory application.