Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go again: Bangkok Trip Planning

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Thailand has resumed quarantine-free travel with the relaunch of its Test & Go programme. Well, sort of, anyway...

Thailand’s policy towards tourism during COVID-19 has been…unpredictable. 

Having reopened to tourists in November 2021 via Test & Go, it rushed to slam the door on new arrivals just a month later due to Omicron, and hinted that the scheme would not return till mid-2022 at the earliest. Then it promptly u-turned, and restarted Test & Go on 1 February 2022. 

Click to enlarge

But Test & Go v2.0 isn’t quite how you remember it. The new scheme, inexplicably, requires two separate isolations:

  • On arrival, you take a PCR test and isolate until a negative result is received
  • You can then travel anywhere you want within Thailand, before taking a second PCR test on Day 5/6 and entering isolation again until a negative result is received. 

You don’t need to tell me it’s an absurd requirement, the kind of thing that makes you shake your head in a mixture of annoyance and astonishment. I can’t see this lasting long, but it’s the law of the land at the moment. Richard Barrow (the expert on all things Thailand-travel related) refers to it as “Test & Go & Come Back & Go Again”.

With some slight modifications, that makes for a good trip report title. 

♻️ Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again

Overview: Bangkok Test & Go

✈️ Test & Go Requirements
  • Fully vaccinated with approved vaccine (age 17 and below exempt)
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. US$50K COVID-19 medical coverage (foreigners only)
  • Book AQ/SHA Extra+ hotel for Day 1
  • Book AQ/SHA Extra+ hotel for Day 5 (not required if departing on or before Day 5)
  • Apply for Thailand Pass
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 72h before flight (age 5 and below exempt) 
  • Take PCR test on arrival and approved transport to hotel; isolate until result is out
  • Take PCR test on Day 5 or 6 (not required if departing on or before Day 5); isolate until result is out
  • Download MorChana app (Android | iOS) and use it to record the results of Day 5 or 6 test
TAT: Test & Go

The Test & Go scheme allows for quarantine-free (well, more or less) travel to Thailand, and is open to fully-vaccinated travellers of any nationality. 

All travellers must apply for a Thailand Pass (even Thai nationals), purchase travel insurance, present a negative pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and take PCR tests on arrival and Day 5 (isolating after both).

The need to apply for a Thailand Pass means that spur-of-the-moment trips to Bangkok are out of the question for now. Applications take up to seven days to be processed (mine took 2.5 days), and there’s a good amount of paperwork to prepare. I’ve written a detailed walkthrough of the steps below, for your reference.

Walkthrough: Thailand Pass Application (Test & Go)

Now, despite the name of this report (or perhaps because of it), I’ve decided to limit my trip to five days. This lets me avoid the second PCR test on Day 5- I don’t think that’s worth incurring unless you intend to stay in Bangkok for more than week, which is too long for me. 

If you’re nonetheless curious about the Day 5 testing process (and whether you can use it as a pre-departure test for travel back to Singapore), I’ll investigate while I’m over there and cover it in my trip report.

Flights

Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again: Flights
To BangkokTo Singapore
SQ708
Depart
: 0945

Arrive: 1110
TR607
Depart:
1155
Arrive:
1535
Cost: 21,500 miles + S$54 (SQ), S$86 (TR)

Getting to Bangkok isn’t a problem. Singapore Airlines operates five flights a day, and Test & Go eligibility isn’t impacted by which flight you take.

Singapore Airlines long-haul A350-900 Business Class

I paid 21,500 miles and S$54 in taxes for a one-way Business Class ticket on SQ708, operated by a long-haul configured A350-900. I’ve already reviewed this product numerous times, so if I do write something, it’ll be more about the soft product you can expect on short-haul post-COVID Business Class (I’ve ordered the new lobster thermidor!).

Coming back to Singapore, however, is a pain.

Thanks to CAAS’s decision to cap VTL ticket sales at 50% of the allocated quota, I couldn’t find any award space on Economy or Business Class on SQ’s VTL flights up till late February. THAI Airways had Economy and Business Class award space, but their VTL flight (TG403) departs at the unearthly hour of 8 a.m.

That’s how I found myself on Scoot, which operates two daily VTL flights out of Bangkok (TR607 and TR611). It’s not champagne and caviar stuff, but the ticket cost a mere S$86 (SIA wanted an incredible S$400+ for a one-way VTL flight), and if nothing else, I’ll get to earn some KrisFlyer miles and enjoy new Elite Gold perks such as:

  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Additional 5kg baggage allowance with any baggage purchase
  • Complimentary standard seat selection
  • 25% tier bonus on actual miles flown

There’s no lounge access, but I already get that courtesy of my Priority Pass card.

Hotels

🏨 Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again: Hotels
NightHotelCost (Nett)
1Grand Hyatt Erawan6,900 THB
(~S$280)
2Waldorf Astoria BangkokS$305
3Kempinski Sindhorn9,057 THB
(~S$380) 
4SO/Bangkok 4,000 THB
(~S$160)

Remember that vow I made to avoid changing hotels every night? Me neither. But I’d like to believe there’s good reason for running from hotel to hotel this time…

For the first night in Thailand, Test & Go travellers must book an AQ/SHA Extra+ hotel, together with airport transfer and a PCR test. 

Example Test & Go rates

Many hotels sell Test &Go rates that package all this together, sometimes with breakfast for the following morning as well. However, you do not need to book a Test & Go rate if you don’t want to. It’s possible to book any cash rate you wish (or even redeem hotel points), then contact the hotel to add on the airport transfer and PCR test.

I reached out to a few 5-Star hotels to enquire about rates, and in general I got:

  • Airport transfer: 1,750-2,500 THB per transfer
  • PCR test: 2,200-2,900 THB per pax (express test options are available from 4,500 THB)

Remember that the PCR test cost is per person, while the airport transfer can usually take at least 2 people (the front passenger will be blocked, since you’re supposed to be sealed off from the driver). 

I decided to book a Test & Go package all the same, since hotels were slow in replying about add-on rates and I needed to get cracking on my Thailand Pass application. 

Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok

The Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok came highly recommended by friends (and on Flyertalk), and they offer a THB6,900 nett Test & Go package that includes:

  • Airport transfer
  • PCR test
  • Breakfast (in-room if your result isn’t back yet, buffet otherwise)

What’s slightly annoying is that all the Test & Go packages I’ve seen so far are non-refundable. I can somewhat understand the rationale, insofar as they don’t want people booking and cancelling to run off elsewhere, but it makes less sense when people can turn refundable packages into pseudo Test & Go ones (e.g. by making a points booking and adding on the airport transfer + PCR test).

Grand Hyatt, to their credit, explicitly states that the package is refundable in case your Thailand Pass is rejected, and dates can be changed.

Once I made my booking (Grand Hyatt lets you do it online; some hotels, annoyingly, require you to email), I sent my passport and flight details to the reservations team, who replied with the following document for my Thailand Pass application.

For the second night, I’m moving next door to the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, a property I’ve had my eye on for a while now.

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

The AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts portal was offering what I think is an excellent rate of S$305 nett, which comes with:

  • A US$100 property credit
  • Room upgrade (subject to availability)
  • 12 p.m check-in (subject to availability)
  • 4 p.m check-out (guaranteed)
  • Breakfast for 2 adults

The property credit alone already knocks 45% or so off the rate, and I can see on the Hilton app that I’ve been upgraded to a Deluxe Suite.

Sindhorn Kempinski

The Sindhorn Kempinski may not be as well-known as its counterpart at Siam Paragon, but that’s all the more reason to pay it a visit. It’s more of a luxury condo than a hotel per se, but get this: the lead-in rooms start from 66 sqm! That’s the size of a suite at most other hotels, and with my GHA Titanium status, I hope to get something even bigger. 

It’s slightly more expensive at 9,057 THB nett for a breakfast-inclusive rate, but I’ll be able to burn the D$200 (equivalent to US$200) I have, and get a sense of how GHA’s major programme changes are playing out on the ground. 

SO/Bangkok

For the final night, I booked an Accor STEP rate via HoteLux at the SO/Bangkok for 4,000 THB nett. This comes with:

  • A US$50 property credit
  • Room upgrade (subject to availability)
  • Early check-in (subject to availability)
  • Late check-out (subject to availability)
  • Breakfast for 2 adults

I’ll also have access the executive lounge with my Accor Platinum status. 

COVID-19 Testing

Thailand requires a negative pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure. I did mine with DoctorAnywhere for S$107, purchased via Klook (slightly cheaper options exist, but I had a Klook gift card to burn). 

The cost of Test & Go PCR testing in Thailand isn’t standardised, and as mentioned you can generally expect to pay anywhere from THB2,200 to 2,900 for a standard 24-hour turnaround test.

Depending on where you’re doing your Day 5-6 PCR test, it may be possible to top-up and add a certificate to your results, thereby making it valid for pre-departure testing for return to Singapore. This certificate should feature the following:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth or passport number
  • Negative COVID-19 test result
  • Date and time the test was taken
  • Name of testing institution 

If you’re not planning to stay till the Day 5-6 test, or are staying beyond Day 8 (where it wouldn’t be valid for pre-departure travel to Singapore anymore), you can get a pre-departure ART done at Bangkok airport for about 500 THB. 

On return to Singapore, there’s the usual on-arrival test at Changi Airport (S$125 per person), followed by six days of daily ART self-swabbing (~S$5 per kit).

⚕️  Testing Regime for Bangkok Travel
LocationRemarksPrice
🇸🇬 Singapore72h before departure (PCR)From S$99
🇹🇭 ThailandOn arrival (PCR)~THB2,500
(~S$100)
🇹🇭 Thailand2 days before departure (ART)THB500
(~S$20)
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival at Changi (PCR)S$125
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2 (ART)S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3 (ART)S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4 (ART)S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5 (ART)S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6 (ART)S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7 (ART)S$5
  Total CostS$374

Conclusion

If you’re itching for a trip to Bangkok, my personal advice would be to wait a couple of months (unless you plan to do a 5 days or less trip). I just can’t see the Day 5-6 PCR test & isolation requirement lasting very long, and I’m certain the Thai tourism industry is lobbying to have it dismantled as we speak. 

Remember: it wasn’t so long ago that the Thai government was talking about replacing the on-arrival PCR test with an ART, allowing passengers to start exploring from pretty much the moment they land. I’m still confident that will happen sooner or later, and when it does, travel to Thailand won’t be that much more inconvenient or expensive as before.

Questions about the Test & Go v2.0 process? Post them below!

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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David

You write “If you’re not planning to stay till the Day 5-6 test, or are staying beyond Day 8 (where it wouldn’t be valid for pre-departure travel to Singapore anymore)” I think that is wrong. Don’t I have to fly back on day 7 to use my day 5 PCR? Since I need to take the test within 2 days of departure.

David

Are you sure that it can be taken on day 6. Looking at the infographics it says day 5. Where do you get day 6 info from?

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Last edited 8 months ago by David
asprino

do you think it is worth it to pay extra for the express PCR option?

Matthew

Yes, in my case I topped up 2000baht to get results in 4hours, some are offering faster turnaround in 2hours, good if you arrive early in the day

Adam Liu

just come back from koh samui. you only need ART test which is done by hospital to get yourself onboarded on bkk(VTL Flight). crews on bkk they only check your test result while onboarding. crews in changi do not need this. ART is cheap so you can take it on bkk or pay 990 baht to the hospital on koh samui and get result within one hour

Last edited 8 months ago by Adam Liu
ken

thanks for the informative report Aaron. I have booked the 4000baht PCR, is it a faster turnaround? how fast will it be?
Also I applied my thai pass on 3rd Feb and i yet to get an approval. it is a common waiting time?
thanks

James Quek

Hi Aaron, thought that the flight time for SIN-BKK is too short to have lobster thermidor being offered?

CSS

Love the SO/Sofitel BKK especially with Platinum status.
Infinity pool overlooking the park is nice though location is a bit off the center.

samui

I recovered from Covid recently and triple vaccinated. Does submitting a medical certificate of recovery make any difference to the testing protocol I undergo in Thailand? If not, why bother submitting it during the Thailand pass application? I know I am exempt from all testing requirements on the Singapore side upon return (within 90 days of recovery).

Saqib Malik

So is it just Bangkok that’s open to this? Could we fly into Phuket or Krabi?
On a positive note, a lot of ppl are now covid recovered so as long as they have the proof from MOH they won’t need to do an arrival PCR, ART or need a VTL flight back to SG.

Gerald

You can fly into Phuket, in fact, its easier to do the PCR test in Phuket (you dont have to books hotels with specific test and go rates in Phuket, any SHA+ hotel will do) and Day 1 PCR is at Phuket airport, then you just book any transfer yourself (but must be SHA+ approved). Then day 5 test can be at any locations in Phuket (the website will show).

SantR

Just got back from Phuket sandbox and we used the day 5 pcr test to come back to Singapore via Bangkok without any issues. The PCR test result we got contained all the necessary info in English. In case anyone is wondering.

Last edited 8 months ago by SantR
Sing

Do you know if I were to depart on Day 5, can I skip the Day 5 PCR test and submit 2 flight bookings (HKT – BKK, BKK – SIN) during the Thailand Pass application?

SantR

Caveat: I stayed more than 5 days and had to do 2 pcrs so I’m not answering your question based on my personal experience here. But I think the issue here is not the Thai pass but the Phuket psas system (for booking pcr tests). If I’m not wrong, I think when you book the test, you’re required to book 2 tests no matter what. However you can still get a refund for unused tests through this link (http://www.thailandpsas.com/refund). So my advice for you would be to just book both pcr, apply for Thailand pass and once that is accepted,… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by SantR
Eric

No thanks. I will only visit countries without any testing. I am already triple jabbed – quite ridiculous if I am still asked to be tested.

Harry

The triple jab is to protect yourself, the test is to protect people around you. They’re different.

Patrick

Thanks for this. I need to plan to spend my “Banyan Tree Bangkok” offer from 2 years ago. Remember ? 😉

Gerald

Thats a nice retreat in the city!

Last edited 8 months ago by Gerald
samui

Will it be worthwhile to use it for day 1 and 5 quarantine since we cant leave the room.

Gerald

You will like the Sindhorn Kempinski, the development is a new “wellness focused green lung concept” – I stayed there last year after it opened as I was living in Bangkok in 2020-2021 and was able to enjoy the hotels at amazingly low rates when Covid struck. The Kimpton is just next to it so you may wish to book a night there too, but personally, the Kempinski is nicer for me; Kimpton is a tad too hip but do check out the rooftop bar at Kimpton. I won’t recommend Grand Hyatt (though the location is amazing) – its nice… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Gerald
James Quek

Is scanning of QR code via MorChana app required for access into the malls and restaurants etc ?

Efsu

Not required anywhere so far. They have the QR codes there in case you want to scan. Only check required at malls and restaurants was temperature, as per Singapore previously.

Elin

How did you get pre departure ART done at Bangkok air Port? Do you have to pre-book it or come in much earlier to do it?

Brian

You can do art instead and not pcr 2 days before you arrive back in singapore?

Wilson

Hello, where did you get your Thailand pre-departure ART (THB500) done? Do you need to make a booking for the test and is a medical cert required (physical or soft copy??) ? How long does it take for the results to be out? Thank you! Much appreciated

Michelle

Hi – what kind of documents did you have to show for the travel insurance? I have a work insurance which should cover this but I only have the insurance card which doesn’t specify the Covid 19 coverage and amount. Thanks!

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