Samui Plus and Phuket Sandbox - Thailand's Alternative Quarantine Schemes

How to Travel to Thailand Now

Planning a trip to Thailand? Then you need to know about the Samui Plus Program and the Phuket Sandbox which are essentially where you will need to isolate before you are allowed to travel to other areas of Thailand.

This video will give you a basic overview of things you need to know, but remember that when it comes to travel things are constantly changing and so you need to check out the most up to date information about any travel restrictions and local lockdowns or other regulations before you go, and while you are on holiday or travelling.

Thailand Opens for Tourism in July 2021

Thailand is welcoming back tourists and travellers to Thailand this year, or are they? As of the 15th July 2021 International arrivals can fly into only two locations in Thailand, Ko Samui and Phuket and must stay in what has been dubbed "Alternative Quarantine" for the first 14 nights of their stay through one of the government approved schemes of Samui Plus (if flying into Ko Samui) or the Phuket Sandbox (if flying in to Phuket).

Once you finish quarantine you can travel to other ares of Thailand such as Ao Namg beach

Once the Alternative Quarantine period is complete, and assuming travellers test negative for COVID they will then beable to travel to other destinations in Thailand.

Please note that the rules are changing all the time and this article is aimed at giving you a basic outline to help you decide if you want to look into the possibility of travelling to Thailand now or not, please check the current regulations carefully before you make your final decision

Samui Plus and Phuket Sandbox Alternative Quarantine

If you're planning a trip to Thailand and intkoend to stay in Koh Samui then you will need to book your Alternative Quarantine (AQ) hotel before you travel.

What is an Alternative Quarantine Hotel?

What is the meaning of the term “Alternative Quarantine Hotel”? Well essentially at these hotels you are confined to the hotel rather than to your room. So if you are the sort of person who enjoys staying at a resort and hardly ever leaves the hotel then this might really work for you even as a short term holiday. If not and you prefer to travel around then you will need to complete your quarantine period first.

These hotels are often referred to as AQ hotels. All hotels in this category have been officially approved in terms of hygiene and safety.

How does Quarantine Work on Ko Samui

In Koh Samui the AQ Hotels have been split into two categories of hotel accommodation, Samui Extra Plus hotel and an SHA+ hotel.

Ko Samui is one of the areas you can fly in to Thailand as part of the Samui Plus alternative quarantine scheme

Samui Extra Plus Hotels

If you enter Thailand at Ko Samui you must spend the first seven nights in a Samui Extra Plus hotel. These hotels have been specially assigned for the Samui Plus programme and have a different status from other AQ hotels.

On the 7th day you will be asked to take a PCR test and as long as you have a negative test then you may be able to proceed to another AQ hotel.

The Samui Extra Plus properties are in various locations around Ko Samui. To book a Samui Extra Plus hotel, you must contact the hotel directly via email.

A list of the original Samui Extra Plus hotels when the scheme was launched on 15 July 2021 can be found at the following link, however please note that these hotels are subject to change without notice. Samui Extra Plus hotels launched for international visitors to Samui

SHA+ Hotels (Often referred to as AQ Hotels)

Ko Samui is one of the areas you can fly in to Thailand as part of the Samui Plus alternative quarantine scheme

The remaining 7 nights of your quarantine period can be spent at a different hotel on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao as long as that hotel has an Amazing Thailand SHA+ certificate.

The SHA+ certificate is awarded by the Safety & Health Administration (SHA). The SHA has been setup to:

encorage businesses in the tourism industry to prepare their workplaces to comply with the New Normal lifestyle, in order to improve the tourism industry standards and sanitation measures.

(Cited from Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration: (SHA) (

The terms SHA+ Hotel and AQ Hotel are essentially interchangeable, but remember not all AQ Hotels on Ko Samui are Samui Extra Plus hotels.

Koh Samui Plus vs Phuket Sandbox

Phuket Sandbox is analternative quarantine scheme to the Ko Samui Plus programme

For the first 14 nights of their stay in Thailand international visitors are required to book accommodation for an Alternative Quarantine before being able to travel to other destinations in Thailand.

As you have read above, if you arrive in Koh Samui you will need to spend the first 7 nights in a ‘Samui Extra Plus hotel on Ko Samui, but for the remaining 7 nights you can stay at an ‘SHA Plus hotel either on Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, or Ko Tao.

There situation in Phuket is slightly different. Under the Phuket Sandbox program international travellers to Thailand must stay at a SHA+ hotel in Phuket for the full 14 nights quarantine period.

For up to date information visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand website here

Sunset over Koh Samui Thailand

More videos of Ko Samui in Thailand