Thailand reopens three islands under the Samui Plus scheme. Image via UnSplash

Thailand launches tourist reopening scheme for three more islands

Following Thailand’s Phuket Sandbox experiment, the Land of Smiles has opened three more islands to international visitors.


Thailand reopens three islands under the Samui Plus scheme. Image via UnSplash

It is still possible to travel outside of South Africa’s borders under current lockdown regulations. Thailand, being one of South Africa’s best-loved tourism destinations is gradually opening up to international visitors again.


On 1 July, the country reopened its second-largest tourism hotspot Phuket, to vaccinated international travellers. It has now reopened three other hugely popular islands, as part of the country’s phased reopening.

Thailand is eager to revive its tourism sector which accounted for up to 20% of the country’s GDP prior to the pandemic. The country has just reopened three more islands: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.  


Thailand’s latest reopening programme, the Samui Plus scheme, focuses on resuming international travel as quickly and as safely as possible. The programme has been designed so that it does not pose risks of COVID-19 infections to the trio of islands located in the Gulf of Thailand. 

Launched on 15 July, the initiative aims to attract foreign tourists back to Thailand. The programme includes the neighbouring islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao on Thailand’s east coast.


It is expected that only 1000 tourists will arrive in the first month after the launch. The Samui Plus project expects to generate at least 100 million baht (R44 million) initially. This will inject much-needed income into the local economies of these three tourism-dependent islands.

Traveloffpath reports that up to 177 hotels and accommodation establishments are providing 8 629 rooms on the island of Koh Samui. This is around a third of all available facilities on the island.

From August direct flights between Singapore and Koh Samui are planned. This should enable more international visitors to reach the island.


Travellers entering the island on the Samui Plus scheme will have to remain in their hotel for the first three days. Between days four and seven they will be able to move around the island on specially approved tourist routes.

From days eight to 14, visitors are permitted to move between Koh Samui and the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. After 14 days, tourists are free to travel as they wish throughout Thailand.


To be eligible for entry to Koh Samui under the Samui Plus programme, international travellers will need to comply with the following requirements :

  • Have at least six months validity in their passport;
  • Come from a Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), where they have remained for at least 21 days or more;
  • Obtain a Certificate of Entry;
  • Present proof of having been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health or the World Health Organisation (WHO);
  • Be in possession of return air tickets;
  • Have fully prepaid accommodation for their stays;
  • Present negative COVID-19 PCR test results (taken within 72 hours of travel); and
  • Have medical insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage, to the value of at least US$100 000 (R1.4 million).