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I've been away from Thailand for a few months.  Planning my return early October.  I'm a UK citizen, living in Bangkok, on a retirement non-imm-"O" Visa extension of stay valid until 19th February 2022.  I have a reentry visa.  I am double vaccinated. 

 

I am weighing up the pros and cons of ASQ vs Phuket Sandbox (it would have been Bangkok Sandbox, but that has been pushed back.)

 

When I looked into this months ago, the cost of insurance (5 months) made me favour the ASQ on the basis of cost.  Have things changed now?   Does anyone have any leads on good insurance deals? 

 

Do I need insurance for ASQ now?  Some months ago this was only a requirement for the Sandbox?  Is there any problem obtaining insurance or COE for my non-imm-O extension of stay?  (rather than being on a tourist visa)

 

If I went for the Phuket Sandbox, I would have to travel home to Bangkok after (and I read that additional Covid tests could be required), vs the convenience of ASQ in Bangkok.

 

Another factor is the delay of obtaining an ASQ.  I've seen websites that state a minimum of 5 to 15 working days prior to travel.  Do they mean one week or 3?

 

I'd also be interested in the views of other expats who have returned to Thailand, and considered ASQ vs. Sandbox options. 

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I believe a Bangkok sandbox option will be available starting October 15th (greater than 90%). Only a catastrophic deterioration of Covid in the capital would prevent that. Thus, if you can, delay your return for a short while. If travelling from a red list country, though, you might not be allowed to use the sandbox, so this may not apply.

 

There is no direct issue with getting a COE on your re-entry permit.

 

I do not think booking an ASQ hotel these days takes more than a day or two unless you are going for the absolute cheapest available option (which I would recommend against anyway). I do not think you will need any other insurance than the US$100,000 Covid insurance for your COE, regardless of whether you enter ASQ, or take advantage of a sandbox. This must, however, include coverage for the whole period until expiry of your re-entry permit (which matches your permission to stay). This can be very annoying if the period is many months.

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@BritTim.. So you're saying that covid insurance is indeed required for ASQ?  (Originally it was only required for the sandbox option).  I didn't even realise that COE was required for ASQ now. 

 

CORRECTION:  In my original post, I meant to write: "Another factor is the delay of obtaining an COE" (not ASQ). 

Edited by 234872_1469957439
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22 minutes ago, 234872_1469957439 said:

@BritTim.. So you're saying that covid insurance is indeed required for ASQ?  (Originally it was only required for the sandbox option).  I didn't even realise that COE was required for ASQ now. 

 

CORRECTION:  In my original post, I meant to write: "Another factor is the delay of obtaining an COE" (not ASQ). 

Yes, at the current time, any foreigner entering Thailand requires the Covid insurance in order to get the COE.

 

The time taken to get a COE varies a lot from country to country. In some countries, everything can be sorted out in two or three days. In others, over two weeks has been experienced. Right now, the COE application should be fast if all your paperwork is perfect. The number of people arriving has dropped back in recent weeks.

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17 minutes ago, 234872_1469957439 said:

@BritTim.. So you're saying that covid insurance is indeed required for ASQ?  (Originally it was only required for the sandbox option).  I didn't even realise that COE was required for ASQ now. 

 

CORRECTION:  In my original post, I meant to write: "Another factor is the delay of obtaining an COE" (not ASQ). 

Covid insurance was always required for ASQ. Originally it was required for the entire length of permitted stay just like now. I came in April 1 (only had to do a 7 day Q) but my extension had expired so I only needed 45 days of insurance. I bought 90 days only because I knew that I would return to the US within that time and wanted the additional no-questions-asked coverage. 

 

I'm now in the US but planning on going back in early October.  Since I now have a new annual extension valid until July, technically I'm supposed to buy coverage to last until then. However I plan to return to the US in late Dec or early Jan. I'll buy a return ticket for Dec and I'll see if I can get a COE based on a new 90 day policy.

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i returned from USA in july of this year.  i had the option of the sandbox but chose bangkok ASQ.  i figured not much would be open in phuket and i wasn't really planning to sit on the beach.  so i would have spent most of the time at my hotel/resort.  i'd rather be in ASQ for a day than spend a day traveling HKT-BKK.  so that negated one day of my ASQ in bkk.  i also didn't really want to fly via europe or middle east, i was on the west coast of USA.  i think that is how one had to fly to get to HKT.  i figured those airlines would be fairly full of people, taking people from USA east coast, europe, etc... to HKT.  i flew asiana from seattle via ICN and the plane was empty.  barely even noticed the boarding process in SEA and ICN.  happened so fast with so few people.

 

another consideration is how had life been prior to the ASQ.  i'd been holed up in a room/condo/hotel for so many months (over a year really !!), i'd gotten used to it.  going out daily to get food was kind of a hassle at times.  spent several months in las vegas and not alot was open so getting food was problematic at times.  especially on weekends.  i stayed at the fraser suites sukhumvit soi 11.  paid extra for a treadmill to be put in room.  the food selection was great and the time flew by.  i really enjoyed it.  i'm sure some of it was i expected the worst so it felt great with such low expectations going in.  it was not cheap though, 72,000thb plus another 6,000thb for the treadmill.  i was spending 1,000USD/wk for lodging in vegas (not gambling much) so the ASQ cost wasn't much more than that and it included meals. 

 

edit:  i started off paying 500/week in vegas but the rates really spiked in april/may/june.

 

Edited by buick
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I returned a a week ago and opted for Bangkok ASQ mainly because:

 

(1) I would otherwise have had to buy a new air ticket (you have to be booked through to Phuket, and my airline doesn't fly there). For the same  money could pay extra to get  a large upscale 2-3 room ASQ suite in Bangkok.

 

(2) was concerned about possible hassle getting home from Phuket - domestic flights had been cancelled when I made decision, they are back on now but things can again change, and I have a large amount of luggage with me and just wanted an easy, no-hassle return for the final leg of my journey.

 

Add to all that, rainy season in Phuket.

 

COVID insurance has always been a requirement for ASQ BTW. Entering on a re-entry permit that is all you will need, same whether "Sandbox" or regular ASQ. And it needs to cover the duration for which you will be stamped in, which will be the expiration date of your extension of stay/re-entry permit.

 

It is possible things will change for Bangkok in October or November (no decision on that yet so looks unlikely before late October IMO) so if you have flexibility you might like to hold off a bit on arrangements.

 

 

 

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I couldn't stand being locked in a hotel room for 2 weeks. Even one with a private balcony or patio. Not to mention the terrible food that I've read about.

 

With the sandbox, you can walk around, go to the beach, eat where you like, see other people, etc. The rates I've seen are quite good. Excellent deals right now.

 

I believe you can now transit via Singapore? And flights are now operating from there to Bangkok and other places in Thailand.

 

As for insurance, I'm getting mixed messages on what's required. Seems different consulates are requiring different policies.

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13 minutes ago, Sheryl said:

 

Terrible food is only in the lower priced places. Excellent food to be had if you go higher end. With plenty of choice and kitchen happy to adjust menus on request.

 

And no need to be locked in a room singular. You can get a spacious apartment. But yes, confined within that, and if this really bothers you then Sandbox likely a better choice.

My friend did a luxury villa with private pool. Said the food was barely edible. My other friend stayed at a high end one also and said the same thing. Just my personal experience. I believe both had their food brought in from outside. Strange.

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I didn't realise before the insurance applies to both options, So I'm favouring the sandbox scheme now.  Let's focus on that. 

 

Any leads for cheaper insurance?  I've started shopping around and six months insurance is around £400.  I only need 5 months (possibly 4), and I don't need all the travel insurance stuff (except perhaps refunds if I get a positive PCR test before departure).  Any leads on cheaper insurance deals?

 

Specifically, what's the minimum safe time to apply for COE in the UK?

 

I heard that an additional PCR test might be required to leave Phuket and travel to Bangkok.  Is that right?  Any other complications getting from Phuket to Bangkok?

 

I'm not sure when in October I will travel.  The date could be sprung on me at short notice.  (Selling a house, completion date unknown). It might be that the conveyancers drag their feet so much I can utilise the Bangkok sandbox.  But I don't want to hang around in the UK too long once I have nowhere to live.  That's why the COE delay is a factor. 

Edited by 234872_1469957439
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I have a condo in Phuket, and did the Phuket sandbox in July. Your final PCR test on day 12 (results on day 13) will be valid for travel to Bangkok. I had several sandbox friends who used that final test as proof for travel. There are now a few daily flights to Bangkok so I don't think getting there at the end of sandbox will be an issue. 

 

I have Cigna insurance and with an extra letter from them, it covered the COE requirement. Assuming you have insurance, you might already be covered. The required insurance must be valid until your extension expires on 19th February 2022. 

 

For sandbox hotels, look for ones in an area where nearby restaurants are open. I stayed at the DoubleTree Hilton on Patong beach road (many restaurants are open nearby and the beach is currently very nice) and I could walk to Jungceylon for my PCR tests. With taxes/fees and breakfast it was in the low 20,000 baht range for 14 days. I also had to pay 8000 for the required PCR tests. When I was looking at ASQ's in BKK, similar level hotels were around 50,000 - although they did include PCR tests and 3 meals. 

 

Assuming you have all of your documents for the COE, approval is usually pretty fast. They prioritize approvals based upon departure date. The earliest you can start is 30 days in advance. Once you get pre approval you have a maximum of 15 days to upload supporting documents (proof of SHA+ booking, PCR test prepayment, etc.). 

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1 hour ago, 234872_1469957439 said:

 

Any leads for cheaper insurance?  I've started shopping around and six months insurance is around £400.  I only need 5 months (possibly 4), and I don't need all the travel insurance stuff (except perhaps refunds if I get a positive PCR test before departure).  Any leads on cheaper insurance deals?

 

 

 A COVID-only policy has to be either 3 or 6 months. Coming from  UK, 3 months = 12,160 baht; 6 months = 23,040 baht    https://covid19.tgia.org/

Note that the coverage is for COVID only, nothing else

 

For about the same amount you can probably get more comprehensive policy  that would include all illnesses and injuries.  Try here for a quote https://quote-uk.april-international.com/shortterm/get-quote/basic-details.aspx

(just one source, there are many others)

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1 hour ago, buick said:

agreed.  i was higher end and the food was great.  choice of thai, western, indian, japanese, and 'dietary'.  plus within each of those groups was a vegetarian option.  i'm a meat eater but i did opt for a veg plate a couple times.  so that is 10 choices.  as an example one dietary selection was a grilled chicken breast with broccoli.  a western i got was meatballs with marinara sauce with broccoli and cauliflower.  i skipped the indian but alot of the positive reviews on tripadvisor were about the indian food (hotel has an indian food restaurant).  the other thing was the generally large portion sizes.  i had leftovers from almost every meal.  so plenty of snack options if i got hungry btwn meals.  had a full kitchen so no problem storing and reheating food.

 

i had a one bdrm apartment with a balcony, 16th floor.  everything was generally new inside (fraser suites sukhumvit soi 11).  plus had the treadmill i mentioned in earlier post.  i remember reading about one place near the airport where the person got adjoining rooms and the second room included a treadmill and some workout stuff, balconies in both rooms.  i think having two rooms is a definite plus and big windows.  i had floor to ceiling windows all along one wall in the living area and two walls in the bdrm.

 

i really didn't feel 'confined' at any time.  i know that sounds strange and unbelievable but it is true.  the time flew by and i enjoyed it.  i'd do it again without worry assuming i could get the same place.

I had a one bedroom suite in the aspira hansa in the thonglor district of Bangkok, that was 45,000 baht food was great, I made a YouTube video of it called Asq Bangkok, definitely need that bit of extra space of a bedroom and as you said never felt penned in and the time flew over, 

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3 hours ago, Jeffr2 said:

I couldn't stand being locked in a hotel room for 2 weeks. Even one with a private balcony or patio. Not to mention the terrible food that I've read about.

 

With the sandbox, you can walk around, go to the beach, eat where you like, see other people, etc. The rates I've seen are quite good. Excellent deals right now.

 

I believe you can now transit via Singapore? And flights are now operating from there to Bangkok and other places in Thailand.

 

As for insurance, I'm getting mixed messages on what's required. Seems different consulates are requiring different policies.

Hi, how does Singapore airlines work with the transit ? They fly from France to Phuket  transit Singapore so that’s good for me . But is it a  valid  option within Sandbox rules? Help please.

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1 hour ago, Sheryl said:

 A COVID-only policy has to be either 3 or 6 months. Coming from  UK, 3 months = 12,160 baht; 6 months = 23,040 baht    https://covid19.tgia.org/

Note that the coverage is for COVID only, nothing else

 

For about the same amount you can probably get more comprehensive policy  that would include all illnesses and injuries.  Try here for a quote https://quote-uk.april-international.com/shortterm/get-quote/basic-details.aspx

(just one source, there are many others)

https://aseannow.com/search/?&q=insurance&search_and_or=or

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13 minutes ago, geisha said:

Hi, how does Singapore airlines work with the transit ? They fly from France to Phuket  transit Singapore so that’s good for me . But is it a  valid  option within Sandbox rules? Help please.

You have to be issued a through ticket to Phuket. Doesn't matter where you change planes, but it must be a through ticket

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6 hours ago, Jeffr2 said:

I couldn't stand being locked in a hotel room for 2 weeks. Even one with a private balcony or patio. Not to mention the terrible food that I've read about.

 

With the sandbox, you can walk around, go to the beach, eat where you like, see other people, etc. The rates I've seen are quite good. Excellent deals right now.

 

I believe you can now transit via Singapore? And flights are now operating from there to Bangkok and other places in Thailand.

 

As for insurance, I'm getting mixed messages on what's required. Seems different consulates are requiring different policies.

I am in the US now and returning to Thailand the 2nd week of October. I got my COE through the LA embassy took 3 days no problem so far.  I have a re-entry permit 90 days Insurance confirmed flight and a ASQ hotel in Pattaya. Beach Rd and Soi 1  I checked out the hotel before I went to the US and it was not to bad 35,000 baht 15 days all meals pick-up at the airport and 3 PCR tests. This hotel is about 2km from my Condo and the hotel is going to arrainge transpo. 

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For me the length of time required for the ASQ will be the deciding factor. A 7 day quarantine in Bangkok would be acceptable but if still 14 days I would opt for the sandbox. I think there is a good chance the ASQ time will be reduced to 7 or 10 days in the near future .

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