New procedures for travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok from May 2022


Flying is now a breath of fresh air, as some might call it after a two-year break from traveling. Since the initial relaxation of travel and quarantine restrictions, some Malaysians eagerly took to the skies – whilst others are taking a more cautious approach to overseas travel.

Given the fluid travel circumstances these days, we’ve decided to embark on a journey travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok to bring you a first-hand account so that your own experience will be smooth-sailing.


Quarantine-free travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok for the fully vaccinated


temple in pathum thaniAn aerial picture of a temple in Pathum Thani
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Before 1st May 2022, vaccinated travelers were required to undergo both pre-departure and on-arrival testing in Thailand, with a short quarantine till a negative result was received. Quarantine back then could only be carried out at a hotel that satisfies pandemic-level safety and health standards – meaning to say they are SHA+ certified – set by the Thai government.

axa sawasdee thailand insurance certificate 2022 sample

Image credit: Siam Legal/AXA Insurance

However, beginning 1st May 2022, the entry requirements to Thailand have been reduced to the following:

  • Take a Self-Antigen Test Kit (ATK) test which is recommended, but not mandatory, during your stay
  • Stay at any chosen accommodation – it doesn’t have to be SHA+ certified
  • Purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of USD10,000 for Covid-19 treatment, with proof of purchase submitted via the Thailand Pass website.

On the third point, it is important to note that your insurance letter or certificate should ideally be contained to a single page which expressly states that it covers a minimum of USD 10,000. My application was rejected on our first submission attempt despite having sufficient coverage as the amount was only reflected on a much later page of the document.

My first reaction was to appeal the rejection. However, there was no such option. After multiple attempts to call through, I was told to reapply immediately using the exact same documents, which were approved shortly after and leaving me to concur that the approval process is initially an automated one and the second involved an actual person viewing my documentation.


Five-day quarantine for the partially vaccinated & unvaccinated


a room in a bangkok sha+ hotel novotel rangsit
A room in a SHA+ hotel (Novotel Rangsit)
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Individuals who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated have to undergo a mandatory 5-day quarantine at a SHA+ hotel which may be booked through Agoda. A PCR test will be administered on day 5.

The PCR test can be avoided by submitting a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to travel via the Thailand Pass website. Similarly, insurance of a minimum of USD10,000 for Covid-19 treatment is required.


The journey begins: travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok


klia airport
At KLIA
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Quivering with excitement, I approached a Malaysian Airlines check-in counter at KLIA International Airport. During my travels pre-pandemic, I would usually hold a mobile phone pressed tightly against my passport in one hand. Today, I held a folder containing the following encyclopedia of documents:

  • Pre-departure RT-PCR (Not applicable from 1 May onwards)
  • Thailand Pass QR Code
  • Hotel confirmation
  • Proof of insurance
  • Passport

This was swiftly accompanied by a quarantine of suspected Covid-19 form (not applicable from 1 May onwards) and airline boarding pass which I was also handed at the airport.


The plane ride to Bangkok


malaysian airlines meal 2022
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Pre-pandemic, one might experience the occasional chirpy conversations which go beyond “Hello, how are you”, with the air stewardess standing at the end of the aerobridge at the entrance of the aircraft.

Today, I received a polite greeting from an air stewardess, whose smile hid behind a mask and face shield. On board my short flight, service was similar to that of the pre-pandemic era, with meal service resumed.


The arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport


arrival area at suvarnabhumi airport 2022
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Arrival procedures at the airport seemed unchanged from the past, till I was greeted by rows of chairs placed at makeshift waiting areas. These were for passengers arriving from countries that required on-arrival PCR tests or passengers without pre-departure PCR tests on hand.


Initial pre-boarding PCR and Thai Pass verification before immigration


arrival area at suvarnabhumi airport
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

A short queue formed at the junction before the immigration counters where numerous officers stood. I waited for approximately 5 minutes till a masked officer signaled for me to approach, after which she checked the following:

  • Pre-boarding PCR (Not applicable from 1 May onwards)
  • Thai Pass

Immigration in Thailand


As the corridor opened into the arrival hall, I walked straight into a huge mass of bodies. Multiple immigration lines snaked around the arrival hall with officers edging the crowds into makeshift queues.

Unfortunately for business travelers and APEC card holders, these Fast Tracks were closed. The only way around the wait was if you were traveling on Business Class. I waited approximately 45 minutes will I made it to an immigration officer who checked the following:

  • Passport
  • Immigration form
  • Boarding Pass
  • Thai Pass
  • Quarantine of suspected Covid-19 form (Not applicable from 1 May onwards)
  • Hotel reservation

Luggage collection and SIM card purchases upon entry


For connected millennials who are unable to spend a minute away from the cyber world, purchases of SIM cards are available from major service providers (AIS, True, DTAC) near rows 12 and 18 of the luggage collection area. This is in addition to the regular booths which can be found after you enter the main terminal.

Unlike the pre-pandemic era where passengers could depart through multiple exits, the only accessible exit was exit C near row 21, beyond which the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand awaits.

Visitors head to Thailand for a multitude of reasons: shopping, massages, and sightseeing. For me, it was the scent of curries which lay simmering in aromatic Thai herbs which constantly fill the streets. Not forgetting the affordable yet quirky cafes which offer an endless spread of cafe favorites such as pastas and sweet treats with a tinge of Thai influence.


The pre-departure ART test



Image for illustration purposes only.
Image credit: Josiah Neo

For my pre-departure ART test, I managed to book a slot at Synphaet Hospital. Although walk-ins are available, advance booking is highly recommended. Having experienced numerous tests across various countries, I sat on the chair in anticipation of having my nose probed.

However, to my surprise, I was brought to a weighing scale to have my height, weight, and subsequently even temperature taken. Thereafter was the ART administered. I paid ฿1,780, and a quick check online more recently revealed that ART tests cost between ฿1,000 – ฿1,800 (RM127.35-RM229.24).


The return from Suvarnabhumi Airport to KLIA airport


arrival area at klia kuala lumpur airport
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Prior to being handed my boarding pass at Suvarnabhumi Airport, the check-in staff verified the following documents:

  • Pre-departure PCR
  • Travel Insurance
  • My Safe Travel
  • Passport

After that, it was smooth sailing onto the airplane. The once-bustling airport which fell silent during the pandemic has once again sprung to life with a renewed vigor.

When I waltzed through the airport before in the initial days of the pandemic, I had been greeted by empty shops with their lights turned off. Today, the echoes of my footsteps were overwhelmed by the many tourists grazing through the bustling retail and food outlets now open, bringing the airport beyond its former glory.


Thailand – the land of smiles



Image credit: W Bangkok

Bangkok is the Las Vegas of Asia by night to some. It has a colorful nightlife that hosts boisterous hen and stag parties. By day, its bustling street hawkers line main traffic junctions on makeshift stalls contributing to the symphonic sound of exhaust pipes and flaming woks.

after you dessert bangkok restaurant
A sweet dessert ending to a perfect meal at After You
Image credit: Ian Poh Jin Tze

Take a stroll along the Chao Phraya River at dusk as it meanders through the capital and explore the city as it gradually comes to life. From quintessential phad thai to Micheline starred rooftop dining experiences boasting sensational views of the city skyline, Bangkok promises to fill both your camera and your tummies.

Bangkok’s easing of travel restrictions come as a relief and in a timely manner as it coincides with multiple long weekends and meets our ever-growing hunger for travel. But as we spread our wings and take flight, let us not forget to stay safe and remain in this fight against Covid-19.

Interested in following in our writer’s footsteps and travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok? Follow The Smart Local Thailand‘s articles here:


Cover image adapted from: Ian Poh Jin Tze
View more of Ian’ s work on his website and Instagram.

 

 

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