Thailand resumed its Test & Go programme on 1 February 2022, which allows fully vaccinated travellers from all over the world to enter without quarantine- well, for the most part at least!
For those who have booked their plane tickets, reserved their hotels and gotten their Thailand Pass approved, here’s what waits on the other end once you enter Thailand under Test & Go.
|♻️ Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again|
|🇹🇭 Thailand Test & Go Requirements|
Departing from Singapore
Upon checking in at Changi Airport (or wherever you’re originating from, really), you’ll be asked to present the following documents:
- Vaccination certificate
- List of accepted vaccines found here
- Thailand Pass QR code
- Apply here at least 7 days before departure
- Negative pre-departure PCR test result
- Taken within 72 hours of departure, only nasal swabs accepted (i.e. saliva PCR tests not an option)
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t asked to show my travel insurance certificate (min. US$50K coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses), nor my Day 1/5 hotel bookings with PCR tests.
I assume the Thailand Pass is evidence of that already, since you need to submit proof of both during the application process.
That said, I’d still advise that you print and carry copies with you, since you may need to show these documents on the Thailand side.
On a side note, I had the mother of all scares at check-in when I was told my certificate from Doctor Anywhere (done at Intemedical in Ang Mo Kio) wasn’t acceptable for travel as it lacked a doctor’s memo.
This was all the clinic sent me:
Fortunately, a supervisor called to review the situation approved me for travel, and there was no issue on arrival in Thailand. Still, I’d be quite insistent on getting a doctor’s memo going forward.
|❓ Didn’t you get the memo?|
For the record, I’ve used Doctor Anywhere before and I did get a memo like the following. I have no idea why they didn’t issue me one on my latest swab.
Before boarding your flight, you’ll receive a Thailand TM6 immigration form and a quarantine form. This is fairly routine stuff, and it’ll make the arrivals process a lot smoother if you fill out both on the plane.
For the quarantine form, be sure to tick the “Test and Go” option. By the way, the quarantine form is sometimes called the “pink slip” (because it was previously printed on pink paper). If someone asks you for this, that’s what they’re referring to!
On arrival in Bangkok
Once you disembark from the plane, follow the signs for arrivals.
Keep walking, and you’ll eventually see a long hallway filled with plastic chairs.
Make your way to the front and you’ll be directed to a seat. An airport staff member will ask to inspect your Thailand Pass, boarding pass, quarantine form, pre-departure test result, passport and hotel booking slip.
Once they’re satisfied, you’ll head forward to another inspection counter, which scans and verifies the documents.
After that, you walk through a temperature screening counter (where everyone was playing with their phones- the art of wayang is alive and well!).
Then you clear immigration. If you intend to move to a different hotel after Day 1, you may be asked to show the subsequent hotel reservation.
After immigration is baggage claim.
If you need a SIM card, this is your one and only chance to buy it. Once you exit this secure area, you’re escorted straight to your vehicle. Thailand’s big 3 telcos (AIS, dtac, True) all have booths here so you won’t be short of options.
True’s booth was closed when I arrived, so here’s the options from AIS and dtac.
You can also buy Duty Free items if you wish (sample price: Moet & Chandon 750ml champagne for 1,600 THB- champagne is notoriously overpriced in Thailand, so this was surprisingly reasonable).
Once you exit the secure area, be prepared for a bit of a fish market. The arrival area is populated by representatives from every hotel you can think of, all calling out their respective names.
Find your representative and follow him/her to your waiting transport.
I was pleasantly surprised that Grand Hyatt Erawan sent a Mercedes- I was expecting a Toyota Camry, since that was the default option offered by other 5-Star hotels (unless you were willing to top up).
Since the front passenger seat is sealed off, each car can take two passengers at most. If you’re travelling as a family, your hotel will arrange for a minivan.
Now, here’s where the process will vary depending on which hotel and package you book:
- Some travellers will go to a hospital to do their on-arrival PCR test, before continuing to the hotel. Results from these tests are typically out faster (since there’s no need to transport the samples)
- Other travellers will go straight to the hotel, where the test will be administered on-site
Mine was the latter. I can’t recall Bangkok traffic ever being this light, and it took just under 30 minutes to reach the Grand Hyatt Erawan.
Once there, I was whisked off to a swabbing station set up in a villa near the swimming pool.
Following the swab, I was escorted to my room to wait for the results. For obvious reasons, they don’t issue you a room key until you get a negative result.
Now here’s what surprised me. I knew that by virtue of doing my swab at the hotel (instead of at a hospital), I was already on the “slow track”. I was told to expect results to come out in 6-8 hours, but I did my swab at 12.06 p.m and got a negative result back at 3.17 p.m.
I can’t promise that you’ll have the same experience (as it depends heavily on which provider your hotel uses, how busy they are at the time etc.), but goodness me was I stunned when I got the call early.
A staff member came to the room to pass me a key and the results slip.
Grand Hyatt Erawan uses BNH Hospital for its testing, and based on what I’m seeing, this results slip should be valid for travel back to Singapore because it has:
- My full name
- Date of birth (remember: date of birth is an acceptable substitute for passport number)
- Date of result
- A “Not detected” or “negative” result
On my previous trip to Koh Samui, no one really cared about MorChana. This time round, the hotel gave me a pamphlet on arrival and called my room a few hours later to remind me that I hadn’t registered, so I guess they’re taking it more seriously now.
Registration is pretty straightforward. You’ll be asked to take a selfie, scan the QR code of your Thailand Pass, and grant the app location and Bluetooth permissions.
Once that’s done, you should see the following screen (with hopefully a better display picture).
You’re now free to explore Thailand, at least until Day 5 comes around and you need to go back into isolation following your second PCR test.
Regarding the Day 5 test…
I’ve been asking the hotels about the Day 5 PCR test, and whether it’s true you’ll really need to confine yourself to the room after taking it.
I’m hearing two different responses:
- Grand Hyatt Erawan told me that guests must stay in their room after taking the Day 5 test until they receive a negative result
- Waldorf Astoria Bangkok told me that guests must stay in the hotel after taking their Day 5 test, but can use the facilities as per normal
So it seems the hotels have some leeway in the execution of this rule. I asked my friend in the Bangkok hotel industry, and he told me it was a by right by left thing. By right, guests must stay in the room. By left, some hotels will opt to give further leeway. Yet another quirk of Thai legislation I’ll never quite grasp!
Since you can take your test anytime on Day 5, the best course of action may be to do it just before you finish up for the night, so you can sleep while the results get processed, and with any luck, have them back by the time you wake up for breakfast the following morning.
Here’s more information on the Day 5 requirement.
I like to rate my post-COVID travel experiences on a spectrum. On the one end, you have South Korea, where the arrivals process was a 2-hour marathon, filled with queueing, endless document inspections and swabbing.
On the other, you have Germany (and basically any other country without on-arrival testing), where I basically waltzed out of the airport just like pre-COVID days.
Bangkok is somewhere in between. There are some hoops to jump through before you fly, but the process on arrival was surprisingly painless. You’re shepherded throughout the entire process, and the staff seemed well-informed about what’s required at each step.
Other Test & Go travellers- how long did you wait for your on-arrival PCR results?