Beach Swing in Koh SamuiPhoto: kashmut via Flickr

 

With the outbreak of coronavirus world-wide and its newly declared status as a pandemic, there are a lot of questions and misinformation being passed around social media with regards to travelling to different destinations. Below we list down everything you need to know before travelling to Thailand.


Quick Summary

  1. Outbreak level: Thailand is at Level 2 status (similar to India) and there has been a minor rise in cases recently. However, the situation is under control and Thailand has an internationally recognised healthcare system to deal with outbreaks like these
  2. Disruption to Tourism: Most tours and attractions are running as usual and the movement of people is quite smooth everywhere
  3. Travel restriction for Indians: According to a recent change, the Thai government has stopped Visa on Arrival facility for Indians so you will need to take a visa from the Thai embassy. This reduces the ease with which you could previously go to Thailand

 Current Status

First of all, it’s important to understand the extent of the outbreak in any country and how quickly it is spreading. The below numbers will give you a basic understanding of whether the disease is under control or not.

Indian Govt Advisory on Travel

  1. The Government advises avoiding non-essential travel from India to all Covid-19 affected countries. Thailand has many cases of Coronavirus and falls under this advisory
  2. All Indian nationals entering India from any port will have to fill a self-declaration form to declare their travel history, phone number and address in India to health officials and immigration officials.
  3. While it hasn’t been imposed yet, those returning from Thailand could be asked to undergo self-imposed quarantine for 14 days from the date of their arrival if there are more cases there

Last updated on 14th March’20

What is the Thai Government doing about this?

Measures taken at the port of entry

  1. Thermal Scanning for all incoming passengers
  2. Nationals of Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (People’s Rep.), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and passengers with a Chinese Taipei (on the cover: Republic of China Taiwan) passport can no longer obtain a visa on arrival.
  3. Travellers from Italy, South Korea and Iran can no longer avail visa-free arrival.
  4. A forced 14-day self-quarantine for visitors from four high-risk countries — China, Iran, Italy and South Korea – has been implemented.

Travellers, kindly note that the Visa on Arrival policy can no longer be availed for Indians.

Health Infrastructure to Contain and Treat Coronavirus:

  1. Thailand has been named as one of the top ten countries with the best health security. Therefore, the country is well equipped to handle this latest Coronavirus infection as they have successfully done during the outbreaks of SARS and MERS.
  2. Flights are being disinfected and thermal screening is set up at all ports of entry.

What Can You Do if You Experience Symptoms while in Thailand?

The first thing you should do if you feel unwell and suspect you may have COVID-19 is pick up the phone and call the local emergency helplines. Public transport should be avoided at all costs to avoid spreading the virus further. If you are showing symptoms they will, put you under isolations, take your samples and send them for testing.

The Department of Disease Control has set up a hotline which can be reached upon dialing 1422.

Last updated on 14th March’20

Airport Experience at Destination

Arrival

  1. There are screenings held at five airports around Thailand (Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, Don Mueng, Phuket and Krabi), screening arriving passengers.
  2. All travellers must fill health declaration T8 form with your personal information including name, nationality, passport number, active mobile phone number and active e-mail address. You can do this by downloading the AOT mobile app on Android or by filling a physical form after reaching there
  3. The data will be stored for 14 days from the arrival date. This is to allow Thai health officials to contact the travellers in case of an emergency, e.g., passengers seated in close vicinity are tested positive for COVID-19.

Departure

No issues reported. Travellers are provided with 2 copies of a self-declaration form which is to be submitted at the time of de-boarding in India.

Last updated on 14th March’20

On The Ground Status

General Initiatives:

No major disruptions reported in daily life.

Tourism-Specific Initiatives:

  1. Festivals (like Songkran) are cancelled in most cities of Thailand or might get postponed to July
  2. Tourist activities are operated on the ground, a few are shut due to lowered demand
  3. Few airlines have reduced frequency of flights due to increased cancellations and lowered demand.
  4. There has been speculation (reported in official media channels) that foreigners are being tracked in real-time using the AoT app, which has elicited public outcry for being a breach of privacy.

Last updated on 14th March’20

Ithaka’s Take

We recommend that Indian travellers wanting to visit Thailand should wait until 15th April before booking and monitor the situation through reliable sources meanwhile. We will be posting regular updates and travel advisory as the situation evolves.

Therefore, we would suggest that travellers keep an eye on the news and Ithaka’s blog for the latest updates and exercise common-sense precautions while travelling. If you have already booked a trip you can go ahead and travel. The only inconvenience is you have to procure a visa in advance which you can do via VFS in India.

If you’re thinking of travelling from India to Thailand, but want some flexibility, check out our recommended airlines.

Recommended Airlines to travel from India to Thailand

  1. Thai Airways: No Change Fees for New Bookings until 30th April (applicable worldwide). Travellers can change the flight date to any date in period up to 15th December 2020, subject to availability (fare difference applicable). Promotional fares are available for a few destinations.
  2. GoAir: Free cancellation and rescheduling on all bookings made between 8th March 2020 till 30th April 2020. The travel period will have to be between 8th March 2020 until 30th September 2020. The ZERO cancellation fees and ZERO rebooking fees will be applicable only if the customer opts for it 14 days before departure. When rescheduling a flight, fare differential, if any, will be applicable.
  3. Indigo: Cancellation fee is applicable. However, up to 3 days prior to the flight, the change fee is waived. Therefore, only fare difference has to be paid for rescheduling. Journey can be rescheduled multiple times for bookings up to 31st March but only once beyond that date.
  4. AirAsia: Travelers can only reschedule their journey once. No refunds will be made on cancellation.

Last updated on 14th March’20

Sources

  1. Khaleej Times
  2. Gulf News
  3. The National
  4. High Commission of India