Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Left Lane
There were so many steps required to be completed in advance of our departure. Just so we could enter Thailand during the era of Covid-19 spawned Travel Restrictions.
Thailand 🇹🇭 is a country that’s long been on my bucket list of locations I want to visit. I decided to finally make my dream happen back in July of 2021. When Thailand first opened the country back up to foreign visitors, through the Sandbox Program.
I was very excited about the prospect of my first visit. I had located the Airline, and a qualifying Resort I needed/wanted to stay at within the Sandbox Program. I quickly begun studying up on the entry requirements for my dream destination.
These entry requirements led to a massive pre-trip headache. As I attempted obtain the litany of required documents, in the requested time frame. We also needed to have negative PCR Covid Test results (Not Rapid Antigen) that were no older then 3 days (72 Hours) at the time of our flights departure.
After doing a quick Google search for International Airport’s with on-site Covid testing facilities. I decided to leave from LAX to play it safe as a backup plan on the negative PCR Covid Test, just in case I ran out of wait time.
Cutting Through the Red Tape
In order to travel to Thailand during the Sandbox Program, you had to first secure a Certificate of Entry from the Royal Thai Consulate at your local Thai Embassy. Which as of November 1st, 2021 was updated to the Thailand Pass Program. Which is currently used for entry into Thailand.
In order to obtain a Thai Certificate of Entry. You had to first register for Pre-Approval by selecting which Sandbox program you would like to enter. In my case, I chose the Phuket Sandbox Program. We applied under the Thai Visa-Exemption rule.
I had a crazy amount of pre-travel, time sensitive documents I needed to get filled out and returned before we could be approved to enter Thailand.
This included getting a SHABA from your hotel, showing that you had prepaid for your room in advance. Which was one of the requirements for the Sandbox Program.
After securing the SHABA, I had to locate a place to take Arrival, and Departure Covid tests in Thailand. Then set up appointments, and prepay for those appointments in advance. Also required for the Sandbox Program.
After gathering all these documents for the Thai Embassy, we still needed even more. I needed to prove we both had a minimum of $100,000 in Covid-19 Medical insurance to cover medical bills, just in case we got sick whiles in Thailand.
The final pieces of pre-trip documentation we needed to enter Thailand, were the Thai T8 Form, as well as downloading a Thailand Phone App. It was originally ThailandPlus. but by the time we landed in Thailand, they had updated it to the Morchana App
Lastly we had submit copies of our most recent bank account statements. Proving that we had at least a minimum of $700 USD available to use per person during the duration of our trip… Like I said, it was a lot of documents. Which turned into a big headache, but I really wanted to go to Thailand, so it was well worth the effort!
THE HAIL MARY
After doing all that paperwork, we barely received approval for our Certificate of Entry’s in enough time for our trip. With only 5 days to go before we were scheduled to leave for Thailand, did we land the needed approval for our C.O.E’s.
I was sweating it out, I tracked down the number for the Thai Embassy in Los Angeles, and called them. I also messaged them through their Facebook page, and emailed them. I was getting extremely nervous, but they finally approved it on a Saturday evening, with only 5 days to go.
When the day to start our vacation had finally arrived, my partner had received her Negative PCR Test results already, but I was still waiting on my own, even after taking 2 separate tests in hopes of getting the results back in the required 72 hours before departure.
My last hope was to track down, and book a test at LAX when we landed. If my results hadn’t come back in enough time for my departure flight to Thailand.
With our plane in the air, I felt as if our trip had truly begun. With no Negative Covid PCR test results of my own though, this flight to Los Angles was a long shot. I wanted to be in L.A. just in case they got me approved in time, and not sitting at home waiting on my test results.
After 5 hours in the air, we landed safely at LAX in Los Angeles, CA. With a little advance planning, I searched for the closest hotel I could find distance wise to the airport with a Shuttle Bus. Just so I could easily run back, and forth between the Hotel, and the airport for Covid testing.
After making it through LAX baggage claims. We found our Shuttle Bus, and by midnight we were sitting at the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles Airport.
Upon check-in they had a restaurant on site that we could order from, and a store to purchase quick snacks. Being late, we decided to go with a quick snack purchase from the store, and head back to the room.
After our post-flight snack we called it a night. The next morning I was up bright and early at 6:30a.m checking to see if my Negative PCR Test results were in yet, which they weren’t. This activated Plan-B, which is the whole reason I flew all the way across the country, just to leave from LAX.
Plan-B was to use the on-site airport PCR Testing facility at LAX, and purchase my 3rd PCR Test hoping to get these results back at least 2 hours before my flight for Thailand left.
I caught the Hotel Shuttle back to the airport. Walked around half of the LAX terminals from Tom Bradley, to Terminal 6. Just to locate the on-site test facility. After finding the facility and getting an Online Appointment in advance. I was finally in line for my 3rd Swab Test, just to try and board my flight to Thailand.
I stood in line from 7:15a.m to 8:55a.m, after finally getting Swabbed. All I had to do was wait again, and hope at least 1 of my PCR Tests would come back in time, before my flight to Thailand left without me on it.
THE BACK UP PLAN
Just in case I didn’t get my PCR Tests back in time before my flight to Thailand. I wasn’t going to let this trip go to waste. I was going to fill the 10 days I had left off work with an impromptu vacation.
I had already checked on prices from Los Angeles California to Anchorage Alaska. I was gonna purchase tickets leaving the next day, and arriving that night in Anchorage Alaska. Spend 3 nights and 4 days exploring Anchorage, and surrounding area.
Including activities like a 4-Wheeler adventure tour, Hiking 🥾, Bicycling around the city, and a culinary taste tour. Then we would fly out of Anchorage Alaska on the 4th day on our way to Kona International Airport in Hawaii.
We would spend the next 4 nights, 5 days exploring Hawaii, and the Big island doing the Mt. Kilauea volcano tour, relaxing on some of the beautiful beaches like Manini’owali Beach, and of course enjoying some of the authentic island cuisine’s native to Hawaii.
RESULTS ARE IN!!!
Hoping I didn’t have to initiate my back up plan. I caught the Shuttle Bus back to the hotel, where my partner was waiting, ready for breakfast.
As we ate breakfast, some of my family from in the area, stopped by to visit us, and had breakfast with us as we waited to find out rather I would get any of my PCR Test results back in enough time.
With my flight scheduled to close doors at 2p.m on the runway, I needed to start bag check, and security at 12:00p.m. Yet here it was 11:00a.m and I still had no results back, I was turning into a nervous wreck as I impatiently waited.
Finally, at long last at 11:06a.m with just 54 minutes to go until security check, and luggage drop. My results were in, I had a Negative PCR Test in just a nick of time.
THAILAND, HERE I COME
With my prayers answered, we were finally clear to go to Thailand! We proceeded to print the documents out in the Hyatt Regency’s Business Center, and headed to the airport.
Upon reaching our Airline Luggage drop Gate. The Gate Agent was shocked to see, 2 people of Non-Thai descent approaching the gate. According to her, we would be the only one’s of Non-Thai descent aboard the flight.
Due to Covid-19, and all the many restrictions, and all the required documentation needed to fly to Thailand from the United States. Many passengers simply weren’t going.
She was shocked to find out I had printed all our documents off, and labeled them making her pre-flight Gate Check easy on her. She couldn’t stop thinking us for making her job easy. With a quick call to her manager, we were approved, and on our way to Thailand!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our last minute nail biting Adventure, and that you didn’t receive the same headache I did from all the paperwork, and pre-trip preparation. Tune into my next few Blog Posts, to find out how our Thailand trip went.
To Be Continued…
The Roving Gypsy
The Roving Gypsy®
Thanks for reading my latest Travel Blog, I hope you enjoyed our nail biting, last minute wait for a PCR Test, and tune into read the next part of our Thailand Adventure. Like what you read, & want more, or have a suggestion? Follow, Share, Comment, & let me know.