6 Changes I Noticed after Thailand Reopened

In front of The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where the inside is still closed for visitors, and a mask is required at all times.
In front of The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where the inside is still closed for visitors, and a mask is required at all times.

Thailand reopened to vaccinated tourists in over 40 countries November 1, 2021 without requiring a full quarantine. I was there for the month of November, and noticed a lot of changes from the last time I visited. Some are common practices I’ve seen in the US/traveling in other countries as a result of COVID-19, and others were much more unexpected.

This was my third time visiting, and these are the biggest changes on day-to-day activity that I noticed after Thailand Reopening.

1. Thailand Pass Required

As part of Thailand reopening, you need to apply for Thailand Pass before coming, under whichever scheme meets your situation, and stay at least 1 day at an ASQ (alternative state quarantine) or SHA+ hotel. You can’t just book a plane ticket and show up like before! Thailand Pass registration is here. The Thailand Pass requires you to have travel insurance, book and prepay for a hotel for one night, show vaccination documentation, passport, and visa (if required by country, for US citizens you can receive a 30-day visa on arrival if you have a Thai Pass).

While you can’t even receive a Thailand Pass without these documentation, when you arrive at the airport you need to show this documentation along with the Thailand Pass and negative PCR-RT 72 hours prior to departure, so I recommend printing all of it out. With the Thailand Pass you book just one night of ASQ/SHA+ hotel as you wait to get the results of your COVID test on arrival, which is called the “test-and-go” program. However as of December 22, 2021 at midnight, the one-day test-and-go scheme has been suspended until further notice due to Omicron.

2. Need to Carry a Copy of Vaccine Card

Some places will ask you for your vaccine card if you are a tourist, so make sure to have it with you just in case. I needed to show it at restaurants, buses, and on domestic flights. Not all businesses require it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

3. Temperature Checks At Most Businesses

When you go to restaurants, grocery stores, and events you have to do a temperature check. You need to either sign in with you name and phone number or register in the app, Mor Chana, for contact tracing. The first time a store asked me to do this, I couldn’t get the app to work. I decided I would just sign my name and phone number everywhere. It wasn’t a big deal.

4. Everyone Wears a Mask in Public and Outside

Everyone wears a mask in public, whether walking by yourself, sitting outside by yourself, riding a motorbike, driving, or running. Make sense since the streets are busy with people walking (although still much quieter than when I was here in 2019).

5. It’s Harder to Use a Credit Card

Some places (my favorite places) that I frequented only take cash. These are places like stands, mom and pop restaurants, and small shops. This happened last few times I traveled to Thailand. But, there used to be lots of places, such as nicer restaurants, ice cream shops, bike rental stores, and others that would accept credit cards, but stopped or even unplugged their credit card machines because it cost to much to run with the lack of tourists who would use credit cards. Places like that now only accept “Thai QR”, a touch less system requiring Thai bank account. At larger, chain stores or fancy restaurants, this was less of an issue. As a budget tourist, I barely used any of my cards while in Thailand.

6. Bars Closed and Alcohol Restricted

Bars, for the most part, are closed (or at least appear to be). Some bars are secretly open on the top floor, and some restaurants serve alcohol but it’s very secretive. For example, if you order beer they may bring you a tea pot and ceramic cups for you to covertly drink out of. Different provinces seemed to have different rules when it came to alcohol, both at restaurants and stores. Some have restrictions based on time of day (different hour windows where you can buy or order alcohol, some didn’t sell any at all. Definitely a big change from the last few times I was here

Are you visiting Thailand any time soon? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to ask me any questions!

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