Traveling to Thailand January 2022

Hey Everyone! I’m heading off to Thailand this week. I reserved my flights and hotel in early December, and applied for the Test & Go program. This program is awesome. You quarantine at the hotel for one day while you wait for the PCR test result. This was way better than the 14-day mandatory quarantine I endured in 2021. I was approved for the Test & Go program pretty quickly. That was really lucky because Thailand suddenly stop accepting applications for the program on December 22nd. This was due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Some tourists tested negative when they landed, went out, then tested positive with the 2nd test. Now, the number of new cases is spiking and the Thai government wants to minimize the number of new cases.


  • December 16th – I got approved for the Test & Go program and got my Thailand Pass.
  • December 22nd – Thailand stopped accepting applications for the Test & Go program until January 31st, 2022. Anyone who was already approved can still go.
  • January 7th – The Test & Go program is indefinitely suspended. Approved travelers must enter Thailand by January 15th. If the arrival date is later, who knows? (The latest is that all approved travelers can go. No cut off date, but this might change.)
  • January 13th – My flight lands in Bangkok.

Whew! I just made it under the cutoff. I was really nervous for a while because the first proposed cutoff travel date was January 10th. Fortunately, they extended it just enough for my flight to get through.

Alternative programs

The Test & Go program was the best program for travelers because the quarantine period was just 1 day. That’s not the only program, though. You could go to Thailand under 2 more programs.

  1. Sandbox – This is a pretty good program. You have to fly directly to the Sandbox area and stay in that area for 7 days. The good thing is you aren’t stuck in the hotel. You can roam around and see the sights. This Sandbox area was recently expanded to include Phuket, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi province, and Phangnga province. After 7 days, you can leave the Sandbox area. This probably is the best program for tourists.
  2. Alternative Quarantine (AQ) – If you don’t want to go to the Sandbox area, then you can enter and quarantine in an approved AQ hotel. The quarantine is 7 days for fully vaccinated travelers. I would have to do this if I didn’t make the cutoff for Test & Go.

The issue for me was my flights and hotels were already booked in Bangkok. That automatically disqualified me for the Sandbox program. For that program, you have to fly direct to Phuket from outside of Thailand. It’s a lot of hassle to change flights and hotels. I don’t think my bookings were even refundable. Also, you couldn’t change the travel date once you have the Thailand Pass. You have to reapply if the travel dates change.

Tightening restrictions

Many businesses in Thailand closed down for a week during New Year. Lots of people traveled and got together with families and friends. All these internal gatherings helped boost the Covid new case count. On January 7th, the government raised the Covid Alert to level 4 and tightened restrictions for everyone. Bars and many other entertainment venues are closed until further notice. Alcohol consumption in restaurants is banned in most provinces. (See graphic at the end of the post.) Travel within Thailand will be more difficult as well. I heard people got tested at the airport after their domestic flight. Not sure about buses and trains.

Covid tests

Ok, so travelers need to take a PCR test before their flight. That’s the first test.

The second test will be administered after you landed in Thailand, on the way to your hotel.

The 3rd test will be administered 5-7 days after you landed.

*About 5% of travelers from the US tested positive with the 2nd or 3rd test. That’s very high considering they passed the first test.

Lastly, you’ll take another test before flying out of Thailand.

Oh, when you fly domestically, you might be tested. My cousin said he got tested when he flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai last week.

There are Covid test checkpoints around some touristy areas like Khaosan road. If you want to visit, you’ll be tested.

In Thailand, if you test positive, foreigners will be sent to the hospital to get an evaluation. If you have no symptoms, they will send you to a hospitel (yes, this is the correct spelling) to quarantine for 10 days. Hospitels are basically hotels with extra healthcare staff, I think. I heard many insurance companies refuse to pay for the quarantine at the hospitels because the travelers have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you’ll stay at the hospital and they’ll bill your insurance.

If you are traveling with someone who tested positive and you tested negative, then you’ll be sent to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days. They’ll say you got exposed to the virus. Insurance won’t pay for this.

I think Thai people can quarantine at home if they have no symptoms. I’m not 100% sure about this.

It really isn’t a good time to travel to Thailand right now. Omicron is surging and if you test positive or sit next to someone who does, you’ll be quarantined. There goes your vacation. It’s only worth it if you’ll be there longer than a few weeks.

*Update – Good Arrival

My experience was really positive. The flight from Seattle to Narita was about 20% full. I was able to relax and watch several movies. The latest James Bond movie was great. The flight from Narita to Bangkok was about 75% full. However, I still got 2 seats to myself. It was nice.

Upon arrival at 11:30 pm, we left the plane and walked toward the immigration. On the way, we had to fill out paperwork and show our documents. If you’re planning to go, you should print out everything to make the process smooth.

  • Thailand pass (the QR code)
  • Flight info and stubs
  • Hotel info
  • Insurance info

I finished quickly and went through immigration. There was no line at all. After that, I went to get my luggage then go out to meet my hotel transfer. My driver wasn’t there, but the info people called them for me. While I waited, I purchased a sim card and they put it in the phone for me. The driver arrived quickly and whisked me to the hotel. The drivers were paramedics. They swapped me at the hotel’s parking lot. It was around 1 am by the time I get to my room.

I got the result back at 1 pm the next day – negative. Yes! I’ll update this post more after I get the next PCR test.

Okay, I got the 2nd PCR test and it is still negative. Now, I’m at my parents’ place. Whew! The whole process worked out quite well for me. You can check out my quarantine room hotel below.

Why I’m going to Thailand

I’m going to Thailand for about 3 months this time. My mom has dementia and she’s getting a lot worse. She can’t do anything by herself at all. My dad takes care of her and it’s been difficult for him. I need to convince him to set her up at a nursing home. We’ll visit some and see.

I’ll spend a few days in Bangkok and then fly up to Chiang Mai. I’ll probably spend the rest of my time there. My dad needs to go run some errands around the country. He hadn’t been able to go anywhere for over a year. Hopefully, I can set my mom up in a nursing home and go visit every day. While I’m there I’ll try various restaurants and food stands in Chiang Mai. I’ll have to wait and see how things are on the ground. I think most eateries are still open. They just can’t serve alcohol after 9 pm. Stay tuned and check out my new clips… If you’d like me to go visit some places around Chiang Mai, let me know and I’ll do my best to report back.

January 2022. They’ll probably lockdown harder if things worsen.

News and updates

Here are the best sources of updates I’ve found.

  • Thaiger – Newer media company with videos and quick updates.
  • Thai PBS – Thai public television station with a nice YouTube present.

Have a great trip?

All right, wish me luck! Hopefully, I won’t test positive on any of the first three tests. After that, I’m not too worried. I could quarantine at home, assuming mild symptoms. I got my booster shot last month so I shouldn’t get too sick even if I catch the bug.

How about you? Going anywhere oversea this year? Get ready to jump through the hoops if you do.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

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34 thoughts on “Traveling to Thailand January 2022”

  1. Having just been I Thailand for a month on Thai Pass I was fortunate that all my tests were OK.
    It is nerve-racking each time as any plans can dissolve if test is wrong. I stayed at Chiang Mai 4 days and it’s a beautiful area to explore.
    I wish you well with your parents and as many have said treasure this time with both your mum and your dad.
    I will now wait until all test restrictions are relaxed before returning

  2. I bought Turkish Air tickets to Philippines.. then learned there hoops are a brick wall. Agent BudgetAir should not have sold those tickets… Then they kept $200 per ticket as fee to cancel for cause.

  3. I hope things go well with your mom. Seems like it was the right decision to get her there. I hope you are able to take some time off and it’s not all work setting up stuff there. Selfishly, I hope that you’ll still be posting like you usually do. Good luck.

  4. Many hoops to jump through but it’s worth it. Stay safe out there. We recently went to Portugal and got our noses jabbed quite a bit but this was in fall before the new variant and the procedures don’t seem as stringent. Good luck Joe.

  5. Enjoy your time with your parents! Priceless time that you will not regret. Please send pics and write updates!

    I’ve always wanted to be a digital nomad. Maybe after my kids are 10+.

    Oh yeah, won’t you miss your wife and son? I can’t leave for more than 2 weeks max max before really missing them.


  6. Safe travels Joe and I hope everything goes smoothly for you. Definitely have some backup plans in case things don’t go according to your plans.

    On the bright side, you don’t have to quarantine for as long this time around. Keep us posted.

  7. 2 faults i found.

    1) you could change your flight and date but only for within 72 hours of the original bookings.

    2) 15th January as a cut of for pre-approved pass was only a proposal and was not accepted at this stage all are being honored.

    • Thanks. My brothers want to go see my parents too but their vacations are much more restrictive. 2 weeks isn’t worth it at this point. Hopefully, Thailand will loosen restrictions soon.

    • I put it in the post. As of now, a foreigner has to go to the hospital to get evaluated. If you have symptoms, you’ll stay at the hospital for 10 days. Otherwise, they’ll send you to a hospital. You probably won’t be able to stay at the same hotel. However, some asymptomatic people have been able to do so. From what I’ve read, many hospitals are full. If they can’t take you, then maybe you can stay at the hotel?

  8. good luck and safe travels, joe. against our better judgement we are taking a domestic flight to florida at the end of this month. luckily i think florida is still like the wild west as far as restrictions once we arrive.

  9. Instead of putting your mom in a home, why not see if you can get a person that can come by daily and help? If she has dementia, it would be best to keep her surrondings the same

    • We tried having a caretaker come over, but it didn’t work out. My dad is difficult to work with. We tried with quite a few caretakers.
      Unfortunately, I think a nursing home is the only way.

  10. We were supposed to leave for Dubai for the International Expo on 2/12 and then continue on to Kenya for ten days. Decided not to go because of the fear of getting a positive test and getting stuck somewhere. Oh, and the fact that Dubai will not allow anyone transiting from Kenya to enter the airport probably had something to do with it.

    Really bummed about not going to expo. Maybe things will get better before the end of March when it closes and we can go to Dubai for a week.

  11. It feels like you were just there! But I guess that was almost a year ago. Your dedication to your parents is inspirational — I realize it’s more-or-less expected, but no less noble for it. Our sewer line backed up the last week of December so we stayed for five nights with my 73-year-old dad at my childhood home, half an hour away, until a crew could come make a repair; I hadn’t spent a night there since 2003. It was an unexpected and surprisingly fulfilling opportunity to spend time with him. Safe travels, Joe — you’re in our thoughts.

    • Thanks! I pass the first test this morning so I’m clear to go.
      I agree about the 5% statistic. Are people picking it up from the airport or flight? Who knows?
      Travelers from the US and UK have the highest positive % on the 2nd or 3rd test.

  12. We were planning to go visit my dad in Thailand in March. We’ve decided against it as we don’t want to risk testing positive and having to isolate in a hotel or hospital, especially on the test to fly at the end of the trip. It’s really sad as I haven’t seen my dad for 2 years and he’s really lonely. I’ve traveled to several countries in the last 6 months, but with surging omicron and the Thai approach to testing, it’s too risky for us to take the trip. I really hope we can go later in the year, it’s a beautiful country!

    • Sorry to hear that. You should keep your eyes on the news. They might relax the restrictions later if Omicron isn’t that bad. My brother also plans to take his family to visit in April. It’s on hold for now, but I hope it’ll work out.

  13. I hope everything goes smoothly for you on your trip Joe. It sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through, but at least you don’t have to quarantine this time around!

    I agree that for most people traveling to Thailand under these restrictions is kind of a no-go. Who has the time to waste if you get quarantined?

    Maybe someday I’ll finally visit Thailand, but I think I’ll wait until the threat of quarantine isn’t an issue. Best of luck!

  14. Joe, I wish you have a great trip.

    One of the positives will likely be that if you aren’t flying Business Class, the plane will be a third full and you may find 3 empty seats together in Economy that you can sleep on. That happened to a friend of mine who flew to Sau Paulo in early November.

    As for me, I have one of my Honolulu trips scheduled for Tuesday but I have to get a Covid test within 24 hours of my first flight time. A normal rapid test won’t work for flying into the US. But I may receive a special test today (Monday) that is approved by Air Canada and I can do at home and then upload the results. This would allow me to fly on Tuesday.

    In any event, you will be much warmer for the next 3 month than I will be here in the frozen Tundra of Edmoton, Alberta. We just went through the longest severe cold spell in 50 years.

    • I think there should be a lot of extra space this time. Japan has a very restrictive entry requirement as well.
      I’m flying to Thailand via Japan. When I flew last year, I had a row of 4 seats to myself. It was great.
      Have a good trip in Hawaii. I bet you’ll enjoy the warm weather.
      It’s been pretty cold in Portland as well. I really don’t want to spend much time here in the winter. 🙂


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