Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/AvigatorPhotographer)
Later this week, Thailand joins the growing number of Asian destinations dropping the last of their COVID-related travel restrictions.
From Thursday, October 1, the peninsular Southeast Asian nation will cease to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative testing from travelers seeking to cross its borders, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) confirmed in a recent announcement.
As of that date, the country’s Centre of COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will lift a nationwide COVID-19 Emergency Decree that’s been in place since March 2020. The decision comes as a result of the Thai government’s reclassification of COVID-19 from “a dangerous communicable disease” to “a communicable disease under surveillance”.
In addition to repealing its pandemic-era entry requirements, the Kingdom recently extended the amount of time that international travel from visa-exempt countries can remain in Thailand visa-free, stretching it from 30 to 45 days. Currently, the newly extended exemption period is expected to remain in effect from October 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023.
Luckily for Americans eager for a Southeast Asian escape, the United States is among those visa-exempt countries. Per the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Thailand, “U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport and in possession of an onward or return airline ticket do not require a visa to enter Thailand,” as long as their passport is valid for at least six more months upon their arrival.
Talk of ending Thailand’s COVID-era travel restrictions began back in July, when Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn revealed that an end to the Thailand Pass pre-travel registration program for international travelers had been proposed. Under that system, travelers have been required to pre-register for their trip, upload their proof of vaccination and provide proof that they’ve purchased medical travel insurance that covers treatment for COVID-19 while they’re overseas.
In a statement provided to Travel + Leisure on the subject, Santi Sawangcharoen, director of the TAT New York office and acting director of the TAT Toronto office, said that the dissolution of the emergency decree, “further simplifies the ability for all to experience the vibrant culture, cuisine and natural beauty of Amazing Thailand. We’re hopeful that easing the arrival process will encourage travelers to plan their visits, resulting in a resurgence to Thailand’s tourism.” He added, “The ‘Land of Smiles’ is eager and excited to welcome travelers to experience all the beloved destinations across Thailand just as easily as they used to.”
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