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We are all now aware of the Phuket and Koh Samui Sandbox scheme (Samui includes Koh Phangan), allowing vaccinated tourists to enter Thailand without quarantine in Bangkok. The scheme is meant as a way to give more freedom to travellers, allowing them to actually leave their room and enjoy the trip, also to help boost the tourism economy which has been devastatingly hit during the pandemic.
Have you met someone who has entered through the scheme yet? No, neither have we, until now…
Bianca was in Koh Phangan 20 years ago, she was a little child and so does not remember much. “I can tell I liked it and that it was much wilder than it is now”.
Bianca, who is Italian works for a social enterprise about development cooperation consultancy. She decided to enter Thailand through the Phuket Sandbox as a nice way to avoid the usual quarantine.
How did you find the process of entering?
In the beginning, it might seem overwhelming but in reality, it is pretty smooth and hotel staff usually help you to ensure all your documents are ok.
Was it more difficult to meet requirements?
You surely have to prepare more documents but nothing more.
How was your time in Phuket?
Nice but not as exciting as expected. Many restrictions are -rightfully- still in place and it’s hard to get to know new people.
What is the atmosphere like there?
Most restaurants are open but cannot sell alcohol after 9 pm (restrictions can change). Several malls and neighbouring islands have closed. Muay Thai gyms and other contact sports have been closed recently while normal gyms are still opened but only to vaccinated people. The beautiful thing is that there are not many people around so you can enjoy deserted and quiet beaches all for yourself.
How was the trip to Koh Phangan?
I went from Phuket to Koh Samui by car and ferry, then took a ferry to Koh Phangan. They checked my sandbox documents to enter the island and everything else was smooth.
You’re staying at Retro Mountain, why did you choose there?
It’s a beautiful place, nestled in nature, and the owners are known to be super kind and helpful (they are).
What are your first impressions of the island since being here the first day or so?
It’s beautiful! I love the mix of beaches and jungle. It is also much more lively than my past locations but quiet and calm at the same time. The food is great.
Why did you decide to go through the Phuket sandbox and not Samui sandbox?
It was easier to get the right paperwork and I had the idea that Phuket was more open and lively than Koh Samui.
What are you looking forward to doing?
Exploring the island’s wildlife and nature and getting to know the community better.
What advice would you give people wanting to come?
Just come! The sandbox process might seem intimidating but it is not. Being here with lower prices and without tourists storming the islands is something that will be unlikely in any other circumstances and truly worth it.
For more information about the Sandbox schemes, you can click the read more links below.