Bangkok will reopen for travel in October: Here’s what you need to know
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The plan is to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists, including Americans, who will be able to visit without having to quarantine. Currently, travelers to the provinces that have already reopened, such as Phuket, must quarantine for a minimum of seven days before traveling elsewhere in Thailand. The new reopening plans are the most significant travel policy changes the country has enacted since the start of the pandemic.
Additionally, the Thai government relaxed some restrictions on gatherings in certain areas, including Bangkok.
The city is still in the “dark red zone” — the strictest designation — that has restricted movement in the city for months. However, the government has said that activities such as shopping malls and dine-in services in the dark-red zone will be allowed to reopen. Gatherings are now capped at no more than 25 people, an increase from just five people. A curfew still remains in place, however.
“This October reopening will be launched alongside with the country’s newly adjusted ‘universal prevention’ guidelines against COVID-19 … including accelerating vaccination for the local population and formalizing tourism campaigns,” said government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.
Thailand reopened in phases: Phuket reopened in phase one in July, while Bangkok will reopen in phase two. Phase three will reopen 21 destinations in mid-October, while phase four will begin in January 2022.
The measure comes not a minute too soon for local tourism operators. Tourism is one of the nation’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a massive blow to the industry.
But, if the country wants to avoid delays in reopening, it’ll need to combat a worrying surge in COVID-19 cases. Thailand has recorded 1.4 million positive cases of the coronavirus and over 15,000 deaths. More than 500,000 of the positive cases were from the past month. And just over 18% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Still, some areas in Thailand have already begun to reopen to travelers, so if you’re planning to travel to the country this year, you may want to start looking into your hotel and flight options. As the situation on the ground can always change, it’s best to book your award tickets and hotels now because you can always cancel later down the road if necessary.
Where to stay in Thailand
If you have a large points balance, or just earned a big welcome bonus, there are several ways to use your points in Thailand. Keep in mind, however, that the country has pretty affordable cash rates for hotels, so you may want to save your balance for another destination.
- Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a Luxury Collection Hotel: As a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property, travelers can use a free night certificate or spend 35,000 points per night on standard dates.
- Conrad Bangkok: Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, so rates vary from 13,000 to 40,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
- Mandarin Oriental Bangkok: Rates start at $589 a night for October dates.
- The Siam: Rooms start at $471 a night for October dates
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui: Cash rates start at $458 per night in October.
- Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai: Cash rates start at $286 a night for October dates.
- Park Hyatt Bangkok: Award nights here cost 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
How to get to Thailand
You may not find much flight availability if you’re flying from the U.S., but consider flying to Thailand with Emirates, Etihad Airways or Qatar Airways.
Emirates recently launched the Emirates Skywards card with Barclays. You can also transfer points from the major transferable points programs (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Miles) to Emirates Skywards at a 1 to 1 ratio. With Marriott Bonvoy, you can transfer points at a 3 to 1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
If you were flying from New York-JFK to Bangkok (BKK) in Emirates business, for instance, a one-way ticket would cost you 131,000 Skywards. Out of Los Angeles (LAX), that price would jump to 145,000 Skywards.
Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of three major U.S. transferrable points programs: Amerian Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou. Transferring miles from these credit cards is the easiest way for American travelers to earn Etihad Guest miles quickly.
Economy flights to Bangkok are also pretty affordable for flights originating from the U.S., with flights starting at just under $700 for October dates.
If you have American AAdvantage miles, the program allows one-way redemptions, and you’ll avoid the high fuel surcharges British Airways and Iberia would impose.
Featured photo by Peerapas Mahamongkolsawas/Getty Images
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