Traveling During Covid-19: Is It Possible?
As you all may have realized, in the past year, Covid-19 has significantly affected tourism due to all the restrictions put in place by many countries. The aviation industry took a very hard hit because of this. Governments cancelled tons of flights and people were not traveling as freely as they used to do.
Traveling during the pandemic has been possible but with many restrictions and risks. Laws and restrictions from all countries change on a frequent basis, causing uncertainty of your trip. That’s why travelers will have to realize that complications may arise unexpectedly
I traveled cross-continental during Covid-19, from Asia to Europe in December of 2020. At the time, Germany was accepting residents of five low risk countries, with one of them being Thailand. I was able to fly from Thailand then enter with my US passport. The US passport holder who’s expecting a stay of 90 days or less doesn’t need a visa. I’m also a citizen and residence of Thailand.
So, it was and is possible, BUT…
Keep in mind that not only should you find crucial information regarding the entry into a country and the documents needed, finding out regulations placed for the citizens and people in that country you are looking to travel to is also very important.
Before I flew to Germany, I had read on one of their Ministry’s websites that hotels were not to accept any tourists and only people with urgent reason would be accepted to book. So even if someone had the same circumstances as me regarding their citizenship, visa, and residency, but didn’t have a friend or family members living there, they still wouldn’t have been able to book a hotel as a tourist. I wasn’t going to stay at a hotel anyways since I was visiting my boyfriend’s family so this problem was eliminated for me.
Entering Thailand, simple?
In April 2020, Thailand went into immediate lockdown with no flights allowed into the Kingdom until further notice. Then starting in May, repatriation flights were available, followed by semi-commercial flights with the condition that everybody entering Thailand will have to do a 14 day quarantine.
Now I believe the quarantine is reduced to 10 days* for ones that possess a negative PCR Covid-19 test (which is required for foreigners who wish to enter Thailand anyways). There’s also talk about disregarding the quarantine all together starting January 2022, but that’s a long way from now so hopefully things do get better from here as we now have the vaccine! *with exceptions for flights from some countries
In early February 2021, after spending two whole months in Germany, it was time for me to go back to my home country. During my time in Germany, I was very prepared and alert about the procedures and regulations of traveling back.
I booked my flight on Thai Airways and opted for Alternative State Quarantine(ASQ). I prepared all documents needed at that time: Certificate of Entry, T.8 form, and Fit-to-Fly certificate. Thai Airways require Thai nationals to show the Fit-to-Fly certificate, that’s why I didn’t need to get a Covid test done. For non-Thai citizens, a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result has to be presented along with the other documents mentioned below as well.
List of Documents to Prepare:
- Visa (if needed)
- Flight confirmation
- ASQ confirmation (or SQ for Thais)
- Covid-19 Medical Insurance (100,000USD coverage)
- Certificate of Entry (COE)
- Documents 1, 2, 3, and 4 are required to apply for this document
- T.8 Form
- Declaration Form
- Covid-19 PCR testing (no more than 72hrs before departure)
- Download the Thailand Plus application
Where to Start?
Here’s information I’ve found on the Royal Thai Embassy in Vienna’s website. The process will be relatively the same for other countries as well, but do double check.
It is best that the aforementioned documents are printed out and kept in a folder for you to take to the airport with you because they will be checked by the ground staff at the check-in counter.
Another tip for you is to get to the airport earlier than you think you should. The line is going to be long as every passenger’s documents need to be individually checked. I arrived at Frankfurt Airport around 3 hours beforehand and the line was super long at that point. Please keep this in mind when planning your schedule on the day of departure.
14 Day Quarantine
After landing, everyone on the flight was expected to separate into two groups: SQ and ASQ. Then after our documents had been checked by staff, we were escorted to the immigration. Which was a relatively fast process.
There was only one exit that everyone could take. At that exit, you either walk left (ASQ) or right (SQ). After walking left, an airport staff member asked my name and escorted me to an airport taxi, which was provided by the hotel. Others who got SQ, were escorted to the large busses that were going to take them to their destinations.
As I mentioned earlier, I paid for ASQ so I had the ability to choose my own hotel. These cost from 25,000 THB and upwards of 100,000 THB+. My hotel was relatively affordable at 32,000 THB. Before you make a booking, I suggest you read reviews about various hotels in the ASQ Thailand Facebook Group. It helped a lot in my decision making process.
How was it?
I had online classes and I’m a homebody at heart so the 14 days weren’t that bad for me. The hotel required 2 temperature checks a day, morning and evening. Some hotels have staff doing these checks, whereas mine and other hotels prepared thermometers inside the hotel room. My hotel required me to send photos of the thermometer through the Line app. The hotel prepared three meals a day with snacks on the side, room service was available, and amazingly, delivery from 7-11 was possible. Some hotels also allow your relatives to bring some snacks to the hotel and the staff will bring it up to your hotel room.
On the 5th on 12th day, I got 2 PCR tests done which were a breeze. It took probably 10-15 seconds for them to swab me. If your tests come back positive, you will be transferred to a hospital. On the brightside, if your tests come back negative, many hotels will allow you to book time to walk around the communal space such as the garden or side of the pool. The conditions are different at each hotel but most do provide this.
After your boring quarantine days are up, you are free to leave the hotel and enjoy exploring the beautiful places in the land of smiles!
Enjoy your trip and I hope I helped you at least a little bit to understand the process of entering Thailand! 🙂