THAILAND, one of the few Asian countries currently open to American tourists, has an unusual entry protocol. The name itself conjures fun and sun: Phuket Sandbox.
Fully vaccinated visitors are allowed into the country—once a few administrative hurdles are cleared—but must first fly to Phuket, Thailand’s largest island or, as of Jan. 11, to one of three other seaside provinces, and stay at one of several designated hotels, including luxury resorts. Those hurdles include submitting paperwork for a visa and certificate of entry, showing proof of a negative RT-PCR test and paying for Covid-19 insurance (a minimum coverage of $50,000 is required).
Once travelers get the green light they must stay put on Phuket or the other provinces for seven days—but can roam around as they please. Only if they test negative again can they travel elsewhere in the country. Sure, a seaside swimming pool at a luxury resort such as Trisara, Six Senses Yao Noi, Anantara Mai Khao, Como Point Yamu or V Villas Phuket makes the hang time luxurious, but those eager to get to Bangkok—with its reclining Buddhas, golden temples and street-food stalls—must bide their time.