Thailand borders are now open and VISA-FREE for citizens from select countries including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and most of the EU countries. The announcement was made on December 17th, 2020. See here the full list of 56 countries.
Visa-Free Travel to Thailand for Select Travelers
After many flip-flops, that seemed to never end, the Thailand government just confirmed certain nationals may fly directly and enter the country without having to apply for a visa. These are not the previous E-Visa, Visa on Arrival, or the Thailand Special Tourist Visa programs but, yet again, a new program that was launched just in time for the winter holidays in 2020. Christmas 2020 is a few days away and it used to be the busiest time for tourists to visit the Land of Smiles.
These recent changes do not seem very attractive. For some travelers, the 14 days quarantine is a deal-breaker, and for good reason. For those looking at a fast choice, I would instead recommend a list of countries that do not require Covid-19 testing and DO NOT IMPOSE QUARANTINE on travelers. Thailand was looking to have a travel-bubble with countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and a few other Asian countries. The Japanese blogs were talking about this situation since Japanese travelers like to travel to seaside resorts in Thailand.
Need to know about traveling to Thailand
True enough, the visa requirements have been dropped for certain nationalities. Yet there are still a few hoops to jump through. Here is what you still need to do as a traveler to Thailand in December 2020.
- Quarantine is still required for travelers. A 14 days quarantine program is in place for all travelers arriving in Thailand.
- A COVID-19 test with negative results is required. The test must be taken less than 72 hours before arrival.
- All travelers must book a “quarantine hotel” approved by the Thai government. That is to say that it could get expensive as only select hotels pass the government’s health and safety criteria.
Program update for travelers to Thailand
The current program being put in place in December 2020. Here is what has changed from previous programs.
- The number of testing taken during the quarantine has increased from 2 to 3 times! This seems like a step backward. There are no details as to what will happen if travelers will test positive during the isolation.
- The visa will be amended after the quarantine time to allow travelers to stay 45 days instead of 30 days. It is said that this way to compensate for the quarantine time loss.
- The Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are not canceled, as of December 18. However, the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha mentioned that the local authorities may cancel any festivities if health protocols are no being followed.
List of countries without needing a visa to Thailand in 2020-2021
- Countries that may enter Thailand visa-free for a period of 90 days
South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru
- Countries that may enter Thailand visa-free for a period of 30 days
United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Principality of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Hong Kong, Vietnam
Still to be clarified
There are still many unknowns as with all of the recent announcements made by the Thai Kingdom. Some statements are rather confusing such as the Health Minister saying that these programs are aimed at visitors from “low-risk” countries. It is a fact that the USA and Brazil are two of the countries with some of the highest number of infections, and they are still being placed on the current visa-free list.
Starting January 1st an assessment project will gather data and recommend if a 10-day quarantine is feasible. This will improve the situation a bit though generally many will still regard it as the biggest impediment.
It is unclear how citizens of other countries, not on the above list, may enter Thailand and when. According to a spokesman of the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry, travelers from other countries may still be eligible for a 90-day stay. The complete details are missing.
List of Quarantine Hotels in Bangkok
Travelers must quarantine only in special hotels approved by the Thai government. This certainly adds a high cost to your trip to Thailand as these hotels are on the high end. The quarantine hotels in Bangkok start at around 80 euros per night.
It seems that Booking.com was bypassed by this booking offer while Agoda is selling rooms in the officially approved Bangkok hotels.