Singapore recently expanded its VTL agreement with Thailand beyond Bangkok to include flights from all cities in Thailand. While VTL services were quickly announced from Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai, there was no word on popular tourism hotspot Koh Samui.
This meant that visitors would either have to take a non-VTL flight from Koh Samui to Singapore and serve a 7-day SHN, or take a domestic flight to Bangkok and connect to a VTL flight to Singapore. I ended up doing the latter for my trip in January, which was inconvenient to say the least.
But now there’s some good news: Bangkok Airways has commenced VTL flights from Koh Samui to Singapore, which operate 3X weekly for now, before going daily from July 2022.
Bangkok Airways launches VTL flights from Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways has announced the following VTL flight schedule from Koh Samui to Singapore, which operates 3x weekly until 30 June 2022, and then daily from 1 July 2022.
From Koh Samui to Singapore
Till 26 March 2022
From 27 March to 30 June 2022
From 1 July 2022
From Singapore to Koh Samui
As a reminder, passengers can either take a non-stop flight from Singapore to Koh Samui, or arrive in Bangkok and then take a sealed route flight (either PG5125 or PG 5171) to Koh Samui.
If they’re opting for the latter, the entire itinerary must be on a single ticket.
If they’re opting for the former, there’s only one non-stop option, which follows the following schedule:
Till 26 March 2022
From 27 March to 30 June 2022
From 1 July 2022
The flight timings on the SIN-USM leg are not ideal in the sense that you arrive late at night, effectively wasting one day. On the other hand, you’re confined to the hotel room until your on-arrival PCR test comes back negative, so at least you can spend the waiting time sleeping, and wake up the following morning to freedom (hopefully).
How much do flights cost?
Bangkok Airways has a stranglehold on Koh Samui Airport (they own it, after all), and it’s the only airline operating international flights from USM at the moment.
However, airfares are still relatively modest. I can find round-trip fares (with the return leg on a VTL flight) at a very reasonable S$382; prior to COVID, this would be closer to the S$500-600 mark.
If you felt inclined to burn miles (not advisable, since you’d still be paying S$199.50 of taxes and fees), the following programs offer Bangkok Airways redemptions between Singapore and Koh Samui (prices quoted are one-way Economy Class):
- Etihad Guest: 7,500 miles
- Asia Miles: 10,000 miles
- Qatar Privilege Club: 15,000 miles
Thailand Test & Go programme
|✈️ Test & Go Requirements|
|TAT: Test & Go|
Thailand resumed its quarantine-free Test & Go scheme from 1 February, and enhanced it in March by replacing the Day 5 PCR test requirement with a self-administered ART.
Travellers are still required to apply for a Thailand Pass, which should be done at least 7 days before arrival (and no later than 2 days). Here’s a step-by-step guide of all the documents you’ll need to get this done.
On arrival, travellers will be required to take a PCR test, and isolate at the hotel until they receive a negative result. Following this, they will be free to travel around Thailand as they please.
On Day 5 (the day of arrival is Day 1), travellers must take a self-administered ART (called an ATK in Thailand) and report the results via the MorChana app.
For a full walkthrough of the arrival experience in Bangkok Airport, refer to my article below.
I’ve also published a full walkthrough of the arrival experience in Koh Samui Airport- even though I arrived under the Sandbox programme, the arrival experience will be exactly identical for a Test & Go traveller.
Koh Samui Sandbox: Transit in Bangkok and on-arrival testing experience
I’ve also included links to my recent trip reports for Koh Samui and Bangkok; enjoy!
|🏖️ Sandbox Game|
|♻️ Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again|
VTL travel to Singapore
Singapore recently relaxed its border measures for VTL travellers, shortening the relevant travel history period to 7 days and replacing the on-arrival PCR test requirement at Changi Airport with a supervised ART at a QTC/CTC within 24 hours of arrival. Alternatively, VTL travellers can opt to do a DA Tele-ART from the comfort of their own home.
Also noteworthy is the scrapping of the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) requirement for the majority of long-term passholders. Only work permit holders and short-term visitors are now required to apply for a VTP.
Not allowed entry via VTL
Apply for and present entry approval
Apply for and present VTP
With these changes, here’s a summary of the requirements for VTL travel to Singapore.
|✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria|
|Short-term visitors & Work permit holders|
|*Children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year are exempt|
^Exception for children aged 12 and below, if they are accompanied by vaccinated traveller
Fully vaccinated individuals can be exempted from all pre-departure tests, on-arrival tests and SHN requirements when travelling to Singapore with acceptable proof of a COVID-19 infection/recovery within the last 90 days.
Big news: No more SHN, testing or “14-day stranding” for recently-recovered vaccinated travellers to Singapore
Singapore-Thailand travel: Total testing costs
|⚕️ Testing: Singapore-Thailand Travel|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||72h before departure (PCR)||From S$98^|
|🇹🇭 Thailand||On arrival (PCR)||~THB 2,200|
|🇹🇭 Thailand||Day 5 (Self-ART)||Free|
(Provided by hotel)
|🇹🇭 Thailand||2 days before departure (ART/PCR)||~THB 500*|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Within 24h of arrival (ART)||S$15*|
|^Children aged 5 and under exempt|
#May already be included in the cost of your Test & Go booking; this is the typical a la carte price if you want to book a different package (or use points) and add on the PCR test
*Children aged 2 and under exempt
Travellers from Singapore to Thailand will need to do up to five COVID-19 tests in total, although one of them (Day 5 test) is a simple self-ART with a kit provided by the hotel.
It’s tricky to assign an exact figure to testing costs (since the on arrival PCR test is included in test & Go bookings), but a rough estimate would be at least S$220 per person.
For the cheapest pre-departure testing options in Singapore, refer to this post.
Bangkok Airways has commenced VTL flights from Koh Samui to Singapore, which offers additional convenience for visitors to the island. The outbound timing from Singapore to Koh Samui isn’t fantastic, but since you’ll be required to isolate on arrival anyway, you might as well spend the time sleeping.
Over the next few months, we’ll hopefully see Thailand take the next step and replace on-arrival PCRs with ARTs, or Singapore decide to sunset the VTLs. When that happens, travel between Singapore and Thailand won’t be all that different from the good old days.