After a gruelling 16 months of pandemic forced closure Koh Samui is finally open again for international tourists under the Samui Plus scheme. Some planning and paperwork will be necessary so the idea of dropping everything on the spur of the moment and heading off to enjoy a few days on this wonderful tropical island is still some months away. However the starter's gun has definitely been fired and the race is underway. It will be a slow start, but it is the start of a long and determined run to get visitors back to Samui and to revive the tourism dependent island. Certainly the action will speed up as vaccinations continue to be rolled out in Thailand and around the world and the travelling public regains confidence to step outside the door and onto an air plane once again.
SAMUI PLUS is the name of the Government approved scheme to allow international visitors to return to Samui. After an initial seven day period on the island visitors will be able to venture across to the neighbouring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan as well. After 14 days and with a final negative COVID test they may travel anywhere in Thailand (subject to domestic travel restrictions at the time).
To start the process you will need to gain a certificate of entry (COE) and if required a visa. The COE can be applied for online here, which if granted will be emailed to you. The documents and information to be submitted during the multi-stage application process will be:
A passport with at least 6 months validity;
Confirmation you have been in a CCSA (Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration ) approved country for 21 days or more;
Proof of full vaccination with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO);
Receipt for booked and purchased return air travel;
Receipt for booked and fully paid accredited accommodation including payment for the required RT-PCR COVID tests;
Proof of medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage for a minimum of US$100,000;
and last but not least proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before departure.
Accommodation can only be at one of the Samui Extra Plus or SHA Plus accredited hotels. The first seven days of your stay must be at a Samui Extra Plus Hotel. If you wish to change hotels after that you can book at one of about sixty Safety and Health Administration (SHA) accredited Samui Plus Hotels.
After arrival at the Samui International airport and clearing a compulsory health check, immigration and customs visitors will be taken directly to their Samui Extra Plus hotel where they must remain in their room until the first COVID test results returns negative. Results will be available within 24 hours. Those with a negative test can then on days 1 to 3 move around designated areas in the hotel; on days 4 to 7 travel within designated routes and on tour programmes around Koh Samui only; on days 8 to 14 travel freely within Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. Finally on day 15, if the last of the three COVID tests is negative, visitors can travel to any destination in Thailand depending on general domestic travel restrictions at the time. A positive result at any time will mean being hospitalised for assessment and treatment if required. A personal QR code will be generated for each visitor which needs to be presented on request and the official Mor Chana COVID tracking App must be downloaded to each travellers phone.
A COVID test will be conducted on the day of your arrival, again on days 6 to 7, and finally on days 12 to 13, depending on the length of your stay. If your stay is less than 5 days, you are not required to take a second test, but you must leave Thailand within that time. Flights can only be those connected through Bangkok International airport or from 1 August direct flights with Bangkok Airways from Hong Kong and Singapore. Those arriving in Thailand on the Phuket Sandbox scheme and who have completed 14 days on Phuket island and return a final negative COVID test will be able to fly direct, as a domestic arrival, from Phuket to Samui with Bangkok Airways from 15 July.
So, it is clear this scheme is not for those seeking a weekend getaway, but it is a beginning. The starter's pistol has been fired and Samui is now on the long road back to business as usual. If successful this will be a race where everyone is a winner. Good luck to all and see you soon!
Note: The COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving as are requirements and restrictions for entry to and travel around Thailand. For updates and changes to the information provided above and to view full details of the Samui Plus program please check the TAT website
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