Thailand Postpones Reopening of Popular Cities While Beaches Welcome Tourists — What to Know

The opening of cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai has been pushed back while beach destinations like Phuket and Ko Samui are welcoming visitors thanks to special travel programs.

Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. . Photo: Luke Duggleby/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Thailand continues to navigate welcoming back international travelers, the country has opened some beloved beach destinations to tourists but is postponing plans to reopen other areas.

Several notable cities in Thailand — like Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai — were initially slated to open to tourism on Oct. 1, travelers will now have to wait until November, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The reopening will now be done in four phases, starting on Oct. 1 by allowing tourists in Krabi to go into designated areas. On Nov. 1, the reopening will be extended to 10 other destinations, including Bangkok along with designated areas in Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, and Ranong.

On Dec. 1, the country will look to reopen 20 more provinces: Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Nong Khai, Pathum Thani, Phatthalung, Phetchabun, Phrae, Rayong, Samut Prakan, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Trang, Trat, and Yala. And on Jan. 1, 2022, Thailand will plan to open 13 border provinces.

The decision to postpone the opening until November came after vaccination rates fell short of targets, Reuters has reported. In order to open to international tourists without quarantine measures, at least 70% of Bangkok residents must be fully vaccinated, infection rates must decrease, and the rate of hospitalizations must decrease, according to local news outlet Thansettakij.

While Bangkok had been placed under strict lockdown over the summer, restrictions were eased in September, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

"Cities we've targeted have not reached 70% vaccination rates and so we have to push out the date to November," Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.

While the reopening of some cities has been postponed, Thailand has already started welcoming fully-vaccinated tourists to Phuket and Ko Samui in special travel programs which also allow tourists to visit nearby areas like Krabi and Phang-Nga.

To go, travelers must secure a Certificate of Entry, obtain proof of insurance that would cover up to $100,000 in potential COVID-19 treatments, pre-book a stay at an SHA Plus-certified hotel for at least seven nights, and book and prepay for all required on-the-ground testing. Travelers must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure.

After seven days, travelers must test negative again and obtain a "Release Form" before heading to other destinations in Thailand.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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