What Visitor Quarantine Is Like In Thailand Right Now

Thailand is technically open to visitors, but even with a negative Covid test there’s a 14 day quarantine requirement and the idea of being stuck inside a hotel room that long hasn’t been popular. It’s attracted only a few hundred tourists per month to the country.

However people will go to greater lengths to visit friends and relatives than they will for just a vacation long enough to justify the quarantine period. I saw on social media that the owner of my favorite Thai restaurant was back in Bangkok, in the middle of his quarantine period at a hotel with his wife. He was gracious enough to share his story and some photos.

If you ever find yourself in the Washington D.C. area I’ve long recommended Elephant Jumps as the best Thai food in the area. I haven’t found a better place in the United States. It’s worth the trek out to Merrifield in Northern Virginia.

Though he’s the restaurant’s owner he shares that he asked permission from the team to take this vacation since they “share vacation equally.” He was headed on vacation in March 2020 but had to cancel the trip, so hasn’t taken a vacation in two years, and haven’t seen their parents in two yeas. And right now the DC restaurant scene is slow for exactly the reasons you think.

They got doctors exams and negative Covid tests, and flew Qatar Airways Washington Dulles – Doha – Bangkok. When they arrived they went into “mandatory self-isolation” or “alternative state quarantine” for two weeks.

The hotel sent a van to pick us up from the corona virus battlefield at the airport. We felt like we were among sick people at the airport. But in fact, the infection rate at the airport is none. We had never heard of the airport being shut down for cleaning up due to infection. All the officers at the airport were seriously doing their great jobs.

Here’s the airport arrival procedure.

The package includes “accommodations and medical services and 2 Covid-19 tests in a package of 15 nights.” They selected Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55 for their stay.

When arriving at the hotel, we had an unusual check-in process a medical check-in and a hotel check-in at the same time. Imagine yourself admitting at a “hotelspital.” We got temperatures check, blood pressure check, blood oxygen check and answered basic health questions while we were also being checked into the hotel. We had to download a mandatory government tracking body temperatures application onto our phones for government records.

Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55
Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55, credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana

Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55 room
Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55, credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana

So what’s it like stuck in a hotel room in Bangkok for two weeks, unable to leave? Tom had a great attitude about it,

The first seven days of the program, we were in a sleep, eat, jog, repeat mode. Our world were upside down, of course, we were 12 hours behind…. We can jog in the room. Services were excellent. We chose our own meals for the next day everyday. They have choice of 15 menus to choose from. The meals came in disposable containers….We asked if could get our our white rice to be substituted with a small salad, we got a yes. The foods was so delicious. We’re happy with our first 7 days so far.

The stay is costing them $3,833 for 15 days accommodation for two including 2 Covid-19 tests each on the 5th and 12th days as well as meals. Each day they used the LINE app to order each of the next day’s meals. Here’s a day’s menu:

Breakfast:

  • European breakfast, omelette, ham, chicken sausage, bacon, baked beans, herb roasted potatoes, grilled tomato, wheat bread, butter croissant, butter, jam, and sliced seasonal fruits
  • Cereal with fresh milk served with sliced wheat bread, butter croissant and Strawbery muffin, butter, jam and sliced seasonal fruit
  • Boiled rice with shrimp, served with steamed chicken shu mai and sliced seasonal fruits
  • Grilled Saba, Japanese rice, seaweed salad with kani, and miso soup, sliced seasonal fruits

Lunch:

  • Pork BBQ Burger with French fries and Garden Salad
  • Sauteed Beef in Oyster Sauce served with Jasmine rice, fried egg and fried fish cakes
  • Kung Pao chicken served with Steamed Rice, sauteed green bean and Shitake Mushroom clear soup
  • Tofu Green Curry served with Jasmine Rice and crispy spring roll

Dinner:

  • Beef stroganoff served with sauteed fettucine and cauliflower gratin
  • Stir fried chicken with Ginger and mixed vegetables served with Jasmine rice
  • Japanese Beef Curry Rice served with Vegetable Gyoza, pickle and Miso soup
  • Tofu teriyaki, rice and green salad and miso soup


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana


Credit: Songtham Pinyolaksana

Though I’d certainly tire of hotel food, for what it is it strikes me that the meals look quite good. And I’d even be happy eating them compared to what I get in Austin. Even in takeaway containers the options do include Thai food in Thailand.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,

    How low will community transmission have to be to get travel back to normal? And, when will vaccinated folks be able to skip this madness? Or, are we going to make them (vaccinated folks) do all this too to prevent the small possibility of transmission by asymptomatic spread? If so, when the hell do we ever get back to normal?

  2. A destination called Thailand is not worth any amount of sacrifice. You can offer me first class on the best airline and a 5* hotel with all the perks –no thanks.

  3. As someone who repatriated back to Thailand with his Thai wife last September there are NO adult beverages (alcohol) unless you sneak it in your luggage. Which is not checked.

  4. Surprising that with the increased popularity of Thailand in the last few years that people are now saying not worth the hassle

  5. @Gary: “…it is good by Austin standards….”

    lol. I’m wondering if you’ve found good BBQ in Thailand?

  6. My concern is the price. I have seen pricing for the 14 days that is far less than this. Granted the room looks like a suite. Again, the people are not tourists, they are seeing family. Which for them, may make this worth the grief and expense.

  7. I am currently in day 5 of ASQ at Grande Centre Pointe Ratchadamri, and my experience has been quite similar to that of the correspondent, down to identical menus, and the food prep looks exactly the same, which would be expected in sister properties. However, I have found the food to be bland. There is a rumor that this has been ordained by the Ministry of Health so as to minimize the chance that a guest might develop indigestion or some other condition which would necessitate contact with health workers.
    That said, I can think of no compelling reason to visit Thailand for tourism under the 14 day quarantine dictate. I have a home and partner in Chiang Mai , so I simply had to come back. But with other countries such as Maldives, Seychelles, some Caribbean Islands and Mexico welcoming visitors with few restrictions , why would anyone waste that time and the money to go into isolation for 2 weeks?
    Prior to Covid, tourism comprised 20% of the Thai economy. Because of the collapse of the tourism industry here, the poverty level in the country has climbed precipitously. The country should be praised for limiting Covid deaths to only 71, but at what cost to the millions who have become unemployed?

  8. Best Thai restaurant in metro DC is Thai Square in Arlington. The Thai embassy staff goes there. An in-law was one of them but reassigned back to Bangkok.

  9. @Bc – I had gone there dating back to 2006, it’s been the one most popular with Thais for many years, and it’s one of the better places but that doesn’t make it best.

  10. I did the quarantine October 2020 as my wife is Thai and we went back to visit family and a little holiday from the US. She did the free state quarantine offered to Thai nationals down in Pattaya and I picked a less pricey hotel than the person in the article. Sure, you can spend 2-4 thousand a person to live like a king for not two weeks but 16 DAYS!! Your first day is day zero! It does not count even if you arrive at the airport at 7am. And you don’t get to check out until day 16, albeit you can usually leave starting at 6am. But I chose a hotel I knew would let me hang out by the pool as much as I wanted after my first negative COVID test. 99.9% of the hotels only allow you out for 30-60 minutes after your first negative test. As far as liquor, if you get caught with liquor in quarantine you start the whole process over again. So is that worth the risk? Some people think it is. As far as the food, mine was not like those pictured for sure but I could order from the restaurant at a discount if I didn’t like the menu. And everything is plastic because it’s all considered hazardous material and treated as such. You have special bags to put your food containers in and leave them outside the door. Plastic utensils and no knives! So if you go, pack plastic knives in your checked luggage. I also brought a bunch of KIND bars and some sugar free chocolate treats to satisfy my in between meals cravings and a nighttime snack after dinner. Some hotels let you order from 7-11 certain snack foods and have them delivered and most ding you for a service charge for doing that. Just take your own! Mine lasted until about 2 days before I was allowed to escape! But I could order iced lattes, ice cream or anything else from the restaurant if I wanted it and they had it. So while it’s a pain to do the quarantine, it was worth it as I was there 2 months coming home the same day the big second wave hit Thailand. Of course, you can’t jet off to Vietnam, Cambodia or anywhere else and come back to Thailand without doing the quarantine all over again. Personally, I think 7-10 days max is all it should be but the hotels are making money to stay open doing the ASQ, at least some of them. One of my favorites in BKK closed at the end of October due to lack of business.

  11. My concern and a main reason for not tolerating it and not being able to live in my condo this winter, is what happens if you test positive and have no symptom or minimal symptoms, I had heard they would march you off to hospital, and then god knows when that would end. So, suffering in a room for 16 days, spending lots of money when you own two condos sitting empty, living with bland food, no decent exercise, and then also risking the hospital jail time. Count me out.
    My wife suffers from not seeing her family, and I wonder also how many suicides from the ruined Thai lives from all this, but then nothing I can do about that, given the above.

  12. @Andrew Ramsay

    They are very strict about alcohol consumption during quarantine, you could get fined or worse (deported). As reported on ASQ groups on social media, this happened to this poor Norwegian bastard who hotel staff found 3 empty beer cans in his quarantine room trash and were obligated to report him in accordance with their ASQ contract with the government. When he was questioned, he was belligerent about his action and get deported.

  13. We just passed our 2nd covid test and get out in 2 days. We decided to get a 2 bedroom apartment in a serviced apartment ASQ (Somerset Rama 9) which gave us lots of room, including converting the 2nd bedroom to an exercise room. Food has been pretty bland as described. We have actually enjoyed the 2 weeks, kept fit, lost a bit of weight and managed to finish off some good projects. Now we get to go spend a few months on the islands. Well worth it.

  14. We are residents of Chiangmai and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Bangkok on our way home. I agree: 16 days is way too long but if you have to get back, no choice. My husband and I shared a Family room, so we weren’t completely isolated. We were allowed to sit by the pool for an hour on day 7 with our negative COVID test (but not allowed to swim). They gym was closed. The food was surprisingly good, considering it had to be delivered to the room every day. Choice of Thai, Western, American, or for a small $2 surcharge, a special menu meal. Meals were delivered in plastic until day 7 and negative test (considered biohazard material until then). After that, our meals were delivered with normal dishes and cutlery (and yes we had knives). No alcohol, of course. But plenty of soft drinks available. Corner room, bath tub and separate shower. We caught up on our reading. But it’s good to be home back in Chiangmai which is virtually COVID-free. Life goes on pretty much as normal but the tourists are staying away. Our western resident friends are trickling back in from all over the world and the mountain air is fresh, not smokey … for the moment anyway.

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