Editor’s note: The following is a submission from one of our readers who offered to share his recent experiences of going through the alternative state quarantine process and other requirements to enter Thailand recently and is currently wrapping up his quarantine period. He shares this to hopefully give others an idea of the experience. His thoughts, photos, and opinions are his own.
I’m a 66-year-old Englishman living in a small town in North-East England. In early December of 2020, I’d realized that the world, and my world, was changing because of Covid. The restaurants were closed, the gyms were closed, the cafes, entertainment places, and pubs were closed, the weather was cold, and everything was extremely miserable.
I generally enjoy Christmas in England, even the cold and frosty weather because it is a time of fun and festivals celebrating our Christian heritage, presents are given and received, food and wine are plentiful and the families all join together traditionally. A great time normally! Not this year.
But, I started thinking about after Christmas (December 25th). In the months of January and February when it is dark most of the day and the weather is freezing. Going outside with a hat and gloves and heavy boots and still being so so cold and with nearly everywhere closed due to Covid-19 regulations. The more I thought about it the more I realized I really, really couldn’t be in England during the winter months. Additionally, nobody knows when England will ease its Covid-19 restrictions and it may be months.
I love Thailand and have visited on many occasions and thought of my winter spent in Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Surin: warm weather, fresh food, smiles all around, and, to farangs, a lot better value than Europe. Yes, there are some Covid-19 restrictions in Thailand now too but it is nowhere near the situation in England. So, my mind was made up. Thailand was going to be my ideal destination. But, how do I travel there in these covid times? I usually go to the local Thai consulate, fill in a form, wait two days for a visa, book a flight and then travel.
But now oh how things have changed. Firstly, everyone told me I could not travel and leave England due to the lockdown rules, and secondly, they said Thailand is closed. I went online and looked at Youtube videos to get some insight, but the more videos I watched the more confused I became. So in desperation, I emailed the Royal Thai Embassy in London for advice.
They informed me that with the correct documentation I could travel, even during the lockdown, but had to follow strict guidelines. So on December the 11th of last year I officially applied for a visa. There are many visas and the most appropriate one for me was a ‘Non-O immigration ‘ visa because I could meet the criteria: over 55-years-old and have a pension of over 65,000 Thai baht per month. I filled in the required form and within a week I had got my visa.
Next, I needed a ‘Certificate of Entry ‘ issued by the Royal Thai embassy. At this point, most Europeans give up because to gain the ‘COE’ you need to have booked and paid for:
1. Insurance ( stating in English, you are covered for Covid for 100,000 US dollar)
2. Confirmation of an ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) hotel ( prices range from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht).
3. An airplane ticket ( 30,000 to 80,000 baht)
Now even for Europeans, this is a significant amount of money. And, what if you spend all this money and then you don’t receive a COE? This was a very daunting part of the process. But, and this is important, the Thai Embassy performs a pre approval check. Which only requires a copy of your visa and insurance and when you get the pre-approval you then can purchase your quarantine hotel and flights.