Thailand, Vietnam opening up
Thailand is preparing to open a few more destinations to international travellers from October 15. The new areas will be Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Cha-am. They will open under a sandbox scheme, similar to that already in place in Phuket.
Visitors are required to apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE) from a local embassy or consulate and have US$ 100,000 worth of covid-19 specific insurance. On arrival they will be required to download an app and stay at an approved SHA (Safety & Health Administration) Plus hotel for the first two weeks where they will be checked each day. During the 14 days they are required to undergo three PCR tests. After two weeks, if all are negative, they are free to travel anywhere. Even the cost of the three PCR tests is expected to reduced by 50 percent from the rather stiff 8,000 baht currently.
The only fly in the ointment is that Thailand remains a high risk country and governments are recommending their nationals avoid the place or face potentially stiff quarantine measures when they return home.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has approved a proposal to welcome tourists back to the holiday Island Phu Quoc under a vaccine passport programme. Visitors from approved countries will need to book a package through travel agencies which will fly them direct to Phu Quoc.
They will also need produce a certificate showing full vaccination or recovery from covid-19 and a negative covid-19 test result within 72 hours of their flight departure. They must install the Vietnam Safe Travel or Healthy Vietnam apps and make a medical declaration.
The first tourists are expected to arrive in Phu Quoc this October. The experiment will continue with two phases of three months each for evaluation. It is estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 visitors per month could join the scheme during the first phase.
In the past I have avoided stories about places opening because circumstances change so rapidly. Having said that it does at last seem as if things are looking up. All Southeast Asian eyes have been on the Phuket sandbox scheme and that seems to be holding up so far. Bali had planned to open before the end of the year but then it was put back. It could change again. There has also been talk of Malaysia opening Lankawi but as far as I’m aware no details have been announced yet. The decisions will be determined by the vaccination status of each country and I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is finally progressing in most places.