If you’re contemplating traveling to Thailand as the spouse of a Thai citizen or returning to Thailand for work, the following information from a recent traveller is aimed at helping you with your decision or making your journey less stressful. Thailand has one of the lowest rates of COVID infection in the world and like other countries has introduced stringent controls including 15-day quarantine, mandatory health insurance and visa restrictions on persons traveling here. We interviewed a foreigner regarding his experience through the process after arriving here from the US. Here is what he had to say:
What are some of the major hurdles you faced before leaving your home country?
You can expect long delays trying to get through your local Thai Embassy’s switchboard as the number of people seeking advice on the visa restrictions and regulations continues to grow. Also, although you will be required to undertake a COVID test 72 hours before your flight, I was told it usually takes more like 1-2 weeks to obtain the results, even though many labs claim they are able to complete the process within 2-3 days. Give yourself plenty of time and be prepared to comply with the numerous regulations the Thai Government has put in place to keep Thailand safe, and Coronavirus numbers low.
How difficult was it to find a hotel for the 15-day quarantine?
Right now there are about 80 hotels offering accommodation for foreigners arriving for quarantine. Initially there were only about 50. I saw hotel prices from as little as 30,000 THB up to 295,000 THB for 15 days including meals. Some hotels were very expensive. I was interested in high internet speeds and the English channels I like to watch. Be sure to contact the hotels, via email, and ask very specific questions if these services are important to you, else you may find yourself locked in into an undesirable situation. I found most higher priced hotels (above THB 60,000) provide airport pickup and have excellent customer service. Make sure to check hotel reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, etc. — and look for a hotel which has over 1000 (or at least several hundred) customers rating the hotel on average 4.5 stars or above. The critical ratings are the ones which provide more reliable and meaningful information. If the hotel has a swimming pool, or a gym, or an open-air lounge/garden area, you will have an outlet for recreation. If you choose such a hotel, you should be able to use these facilities on a limited & Covid-monitored basis, after 7 days (following your 2nd COVID test). For example, you can go to the pool every second day for one hour, with no more than 4 people being at the pool at any given time slot. I think it is worth paying the extra money for a hotel which can provide these kinds of facilities.
What advice would you give about insurance?
Researching over the internet (Google, etc.) you will find various insurance companies and insurance brokers. Make sure you check customer reviews posted on the internet, and social media by happy and unhappy customers. Using a broker is an advantage but don’t expect all your questions answered in one email or a single phone call. The application process is generally fine but can take up to 10 days or longer. You can apply for comprehensive medical insurance through a reputable broker. Or, minimally, you can buy travel insurance — which includes coverage for COVID-19 and up to 100,000 USD coverage — which is the minimal coverage required by the Thailand government in order to get a visa. However, realize that once a short-term travel policy expires you are at risk of being excluded by a future insurance company if you have had treatment during the period of your policy. Being able to reach your broker or the insurance company promptly on the phone or by email is important. Large international companies, like Cigna, even though more expensive, are better choices — as they are more likely to pay claims with fewer hassles, provide more professional service in a timely manner, and communicate through English-speaking staff. It is better to sign up with an insurance company that will maintain your coverage moving forward into old age rather than a travel policy which will expire at the end of your visit.
What other advice can you offer now given your experience applying and traveling to Thailand?
Be aware that you’ll be spending a lot of time getting all the paperwork together for the Thai Government. This is a very taxing and tiring process so allow yourself plenty of time, maintain a positive attitude and be patient. English can be a challenge when dealing with the Embassy and you might have more success communicating by email. A lot of the paperwork may seem unnecessary, but conforming to the rules will save you problems later as you move through the process of applying for medical insurance, obtaining Certificate of Entry, booking your chartered flight, taking the COVID test 72 hours before flying, finding a suitable hotel for the period of your quarantine, undergoing quarantine for 15 days, and filling out numerous forms the authorities require.
Overall, how would you rate your experience?
Thailand is one of the best countries in the world, joining New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. with the least number of people infected with the Coronavirus. Per WHO (World Health Organization) report dated October 9, 2020, USA with a population of 328.2 million has 7.472 million cumulative cases of Covid. In contrast, Thailand with 69.4 million people has a negligible only 3628 cumulative cases !! Statistically speaking, you have a 438 times greater chance of catching Covid in the US compared to Thailand! The quarantine hotels are very good at providing a positive customer experience and implementing the strict COVID regulations as laid down by the Thai Government. Thankfully, the people of Thailand seem to be much more vigilant in fighting this epidemic, wearing masks, following guidelines, washing hands, social distancing, etc. than people in the USA. You will feel much safer here in Thailand than most anywhere else, and most likely be very happy to be here.
Many thanks to the person/s who have contributed to this article. Knowing more about the issues expat are likely to come across as they move through the process, will help others prepare for the journey and help them decide whether now is the right time to be traveling to Thailand.
Thai Expat Health makes it EASY for foreigners to obtain the certificate of insurance required to meet the Thai government’s entry requirement (insurance covering all medical expenses including COVID-19 and worth at least 100,000 USD). We have assisted many clients to receive their certificate of insurance in the FASTEST possible time with a MINIMUM of fuss. Our service is provided FREE of charge and you benefit from our personalized help and experience.
Note that there are a large number of applications in the system at the moment, so please submit your application early to avoid delays.
Please contact Thai Expat Club Health if you have any questions or require any further information
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