Ask any Malaysian who has been to Phuket, and they’ll recall how amazing their last trip was. As the largest island in Thailand, Phuket is one of the best island destinations for serene beaches and turquoise water. So it’s no surprise why Phuket is popular among honeymooners, snorkelling enthusiasts and scuba divers alike.
If you’ve been dreaming about travelling to Phuket, we have good news to share! Starting July 2021, Thailand will be safely reopening their borders to international travellers with the launch of Phuket Sandbox! Curious to know about Phuket Sandbox and whether Malaysians can travel to Phuket soon? Let’s find out!
How will travelling to Phuket be like post-COVID?
In March 2020, Thailand’s tourism industry was brought to a standstill by COVID-19 pandemic. In efforts to revive its tourism industry, Phuket Sandbox will be their first pilot ‘island tourism approach’, where fully vaccinated travellers are allowed to enter Phuket without quarantine.
However, there are still restrictions in place to keep everyone safe while travelling during the pandemic. Some of these restrictions include full vaccination prior to arrival, presenting a negative RT-PCR laboratory test result, obtaining a health insurance policy, and so on.
Who is eligible for travel?
If you’re travelling under Phuket Sandbox, only international travellers from countries or regions with a low to medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus are allowed to enter Phuket. This ensures that the pandemic will be kept under control in Thailand, and tourists can travel with confidence.
Since the risk status list is constantly updated, email the Tourism Authority of Thailand at [email protected] to find out Malaysia’s current risk status and other information. Phuket is ready to welcome you!
What are the guidelines on COVID-19 tests and vaccinations?
When the situation improves and Malaysia is listed as a low or medium risk country, Malaysians need to adhere to COVID-19 tests and vaccination guidelines, provided for international travellers, before entering Phuket.
Malaysians must be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine registered with MoPH or approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As of July 2021, the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by WHO are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, and Sinovac-CoronaVac.
On top of that, Malaysians must present a negative RT-PCR laboratory test result taken 72 hours before arriving in Phuket. You’re also required to get a COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of USD 100,000 (RM415,250) and obtain a Certificate of Entry.
What are the quarantine requirements for Phuket Sandbox?
For Phuket Sandbox, fully-vaccinated travellers are not required to complete any quarantine. However, you must stay in Phuket for 14 days, and arrive and depart from Phuket Airport. If you’re planning a short stay, you can leave Thailand before the 14 days period.
For travellers who want to visit destinations outside of Phuket, you need to stay in Phuket for at least 14 days before travelling to other provinces like Krabi, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and more.
What are the safe distancing measures and safety protocols in Phuket?
There are some safe distancing measures and safety protocols to follow in Phuket. Before arriving in Phuket, you need to download ThailandPlus, a COVID-19 contact tracing app (available on iOS and Android), which functions just like MySejahtera app in Malaysia. You’re required to scan from the app before entering a premise.
Similar to Malaysia, everyone is required to wear face masks at all times, practice safe distancing from others, and take temperature checks before entering the eateries, shops and other public places.
When booking a hotel under Phuket Sandbox, travellers are only allowed to stay in SHA Plus-certified hotels, a certification by Thailand’s Safety and Health Administration (SHA). It guarantees that public health measures are adhered to and more than 70% staff have been vaccinated. SHA Plus-certified hotels in Phuket include Ayara Hilltops Boutique Resort and Spa, Wyndham Grand Nai Harn Beach Phuket, and Seaview Patong Hotel. The SHA Plus certification also applies to restaurants, recreational tours, travel agencies, department stores, and so on. Click here to view the full list of SHA Plus-certified premises.
What are some of the must-visit places in Phuket?
We can sense your excitement to visit Phuket again! While we wait for the situation to improve in Malaysia, we’re definitely adding these must-visit attractions and sights in our bucket list!
Besides watching the sunset at Patong Beach and Promthep Cape, there are many things to do in Phuket including ziplining through the rainforest at Flying Hanuman, spending a day on a luxurious catamaran, and going on a day trip to Phi Phi and Khai Islands!
Since Malaysians are huge foodies, you can find a variety of halal food in Phuket too! We definitely recommend Bang Mud floating restaurant for fresh crabs and squids, Kusuma Seafood for tom yam, and Pantai Seaview Restaurant for pineapple fried rice. Perfect for your future travel plans, save this 4D3N Muslim-friendly Phuket itinerary for the best beach getaway!
It may be a while before Malaysians can travel to Phuket again, but we remain hopeful that someday, we can revisit our favourite travel moments in Thailand. For the latest updates on Phuket Sandbox, visit the official website of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Newsroom and follow TAT’s social media for more information about Thailand and participate in fun activities to win amazing prizes!
This article was brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand, Malaysia