One of Thailand’s most-visited destinations is set to welcome tourists again.
From July 1, there will be no restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Phuket. The region has new travel rules that are different from the remainder of Thailand, where international tourism remains closed.
Vaccinated travellers wishing to explore farther afield than Phuket have the option of spending 14 days in the island region, then they'll be cleared to visit other destinations across the country.
If a holiday in this Thai island paradise is tempting, here's what you need to know before you go.
Who can travel to Phuket?
Travellers who have received a full dose of a Covid-19 vaccination can fly to Phuket from Thursday, July 1, from most destinations around the world. The final dose of a vaccine must have been taken at least 14 days before arriving.
Travellers from countries deemed red by Thai authorities cannot fly to Phuket, even if they are fully vaccinated. At the moment, this includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, but the list will be updated based on the coronavirus situation in each country.
Non-vaccinated travellers from non-red-zone countries can still travel to Phuket, but must stay in an alternative local quarantine hotel for 14 days upon arrival. A list of these hotels can be found here.
Is Thailand open to tourists?
Phuket has different travel requirements to the rest of Thailand and the majority of the country is not yet open to tourists from overseas.
A ban on international flights to the country has been extended until at least Saturday, July 31, and travel is restricted to specific groups, mostly Thai citizens, students or those seeking medical treatment. Only after spending 14 days in Phuket will international travellers be allowed to visit any other parts of the country for tourism purposes.
What vaccines are recognised for travel to Phuket?
Authorities are recognising all of the major Covid-19 vaccinations in line with the latest guidelines of the Thai government.
This includes Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Covishield (Serum Institute of India), Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, SK Bioscience-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Sinopharm.
What do I need to do before I fly to Phuket?
PCR tests are compulsory before travelling, and need to be taken no more than 72 hours before departing for Phuket. Children aged 6 to 17 can undergo a Rapid Antigen Test upon arriving at Phuket airport instead of taking a PCR test. This costs upwards of $40. Children under 6 do not need to undergo testing.
Tourists also need to download the ThailandPlus app from the Google Play or Apple Store, and register their details there.
Finally, Covid-19 travel insurance with coverage for at least $100,000 is required, with policies offered by airlines not accepted.
Which airlines are flying from the UAE to Phuket?
Etihad Airways and Emirates have announced they will resume flights to Phuket from next month.
The UAE's national airline will resume direct flights to one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations on Thursday, July 1. With a flight time of six-and-a-half hours, Etihad has fares from Dh1,795 ($488) return.
From Dubai, Emirates will restart a four-weekly flight service to the resort island from Friday, July 2, with fares starting from Dh1,995.
What restrictions are in place in Phuket?
Travellers arriving in Phuket will need to take another PCR test on days six and 12. During visits to the island, tourists must follow all the rules in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, this includes social distancing and wearing masks in all public areas.
Thailand currently has more than 199,200 active cases of Covid-19 infections, according to data from John Hopkins University. Thailand has begun a mass vaccination drive with a target of inoculating 70 per cent of the population by 2022. So far, the John Hopkins University reports that 2.4 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.
What to see and do on holiday in Phuket?
Thailand's largest island and arguably its most famous, Phuket has all the ingredients needed for a perfect holiday. Only an hour by plane from Bangkok, it is good to visit any time, thanks to year-round sunshine and not-too-heavy monsoons.
From the blue waters of the Andaman Sea to endless sandy beaches, excellent diving and fantastic Thai cuisine, it is easy to see why travellers flock to this island paradise from all over the world.
Visit Old Phuket Town to see shrines, temples and preserved mansions, tuck into tasty street food at the Sunday Walking Street Market and don't miss the Great Buddha of Phuket, one of the island's most recognised landmarks and a great spot for drinking in 360° views of the island.