(Last Updated: 1/27/2022)
Let’s spend two weeks in one hotel room without leaving!
Said or planned no one ever.
Alternative Quarantine (AQ), formally called Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) by the Thailand government, has been required for over a year, during your first 5-10 days of your stay when traveling to Thailand (and many other countries globally). To contain and catch COVID cases of visitors and those arriving back to Thailand, prepare yourself for an insular mandatory 15-day stay. Previously required hotel quarantines were up to 14 days, even longer if you tested postive for COVID-19.
This is not how you thought you’d start your long overdue return or first vacation to amazing and beautiful Thailand, and though it may feel like you don’t have any choices, we’ve got you covered. Welcome to mandatory hotel quarantine, aka government-designated Alternative Quarantine (AQ) facilities, SHA+ Hotel options are required for at least the first night of your stay in Thailand, the “new normal” to travel in the age of COVID-19. We have decided to share our research and experience because the Thai embassy’s blog posts are still very vague. Thailand goverment is catching up, so in the meantime you can get the facts.
If you plan to enter Thailand in early 2022 and beyond, vaccinated you are committing to at least 2 nights at SHA+ AQ hotels. If you are unvaccinated, or your vaccines don’t synch up with the schedule specified by Thailand, you will need to commit to 7 nights (not the 10-14 days that is often stated) in AQ in Bangkok. It is a requirement for receiving a Thailand Pass, a new qualification previously just the Certificate of Entry (COE). The Thailand Pass website is mostly in Thai and can be a daunting. Applying for the Thailand Pass and fulfilling those requirements is your first hurdle. That means a hotel confirmed, paid for, and booked BEFORE getting your COE and ticket on a flight to Thailand. Previously, to be eligible to receive a COE you must also qualify for one of 11 categories . As of December 9, 2020, the Thai government has relaxed restrictions by allowing tourists from any country to apply for a Special Tourist Visa , good for a 90-day stay in the kingdom regardless of where you’re coming from. The process is complicated, seemingly cheap, the timelines tight, and the rules and regulations unforgiving. While not impossible, get ready to treat this endeavor like a full time job. Navigating the steps requires attention to detail, follow through, perseverance, curiosity, and a deep commitment to getting into the kingdom. As we have experienced this process firsthand, we felt compelled to assemble as many resources, tools and information to help you to prepare for your adventures to Thailand. It’s worth it.
Alternative Quarantine (AQ), formerly called ASQ, is a government-mandated SHA+ hotel quarantine at the traveler’s expense for Non-thai and Thai nationals in Bangkok and whenever you’re landing in Thailand during your first days. There are over 100 hotels that have been approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Defense and outfitted for this bizarre type of stay. As of the publish date of this article, you cannot quarantine at home or with friends or family. You will be required to book an ASQ package at an accredited hotel, typically including:
‣3 meals per day
‣Complimentary WiFi. Speeds can vary, inquire for specifics if important for your work during your stay.
24/7 nurse on call
‣Two COVID tests, taking place on the 5th and 13th days of your quarantine. Thailand is has a beta group trying testing on the 3rd & 10th days to shorten quarantine, fingers crossed it works!
‣Temperature taken twice a day. We were each given our own thermometer and required to report via LINE or WhatsApp text twice a day, more on that below. If you have a fever of 37.5 degrees or more, you will be required to go to a hospital.
‣And private car/van transfer from the Bangkok airport.
There is a wide range of basic to luxury hotels throughout Bangkok that meet certain government health standards and are eager to host you for your two-week stay. They are rolling out the (plastic covered) red carpet to make your time in quarantine as comfortable, clean, and COVID-free as it can be. This Facebook page, aptly named Alternative State Quarantine, posts regular updates listing ASQ availability, new additions, special offers, and more. We found it to be the most up-to-date and responsive. If you are planning to travel to Thailand in the next year, we recommend you LIKE and check out this page now.
The cheapest ASQ package we found was 26,500 baht ($881 USD) and the most expensive is 137,000 baht ($4,555 USD). You can get more expensive if quarantining in Phuket, private pool villas and adding in a private jet. The majority are in the 32,000 to 50,000 baht ($1,063 – $1,662 USD) range. It’s certainly not cheap, especially by Thai standards, but considering you’ll have accommodations, three meals per day, and access to the entirety of Thailand after two weeks, we think it’s worth it. More on that below.
Note: Thai nationals get a discount and are offered a complimentary option at this time. Read more here if you are a Thai national.
Selecting an ASQ is not like picking a hotel for a “normal” or even “good” hotel stay. The pool you might see on a website? You won’t have access to it. The delicious restaurant on the rooftop? It will be closed. Brace yourself for a more rigid, structured system with little room for changes or requests. Reimagine your experience and take the time to think critically about what type of space will support and entertain you for 15 days with little wiggle room.
From price to room setup to food menu, there are a lot of variables to consider when selecting where you’ll be quarantined. Remember, this is not going to be a normal stay, so what you look for in a hotel is going to be different than what you looked for in the past.
Take a deep breath, this hotel selection is like no other you have ever made in your lifetime. You will be spending 24/7 (minus 30 minutes relaxation after your first negative COVID test on Day 5-7) in this single hotel room. Look through the eyes of someone selecting a ‘home’ or ‘apartment,’ your ASQ will be a full-time living space.
Prepare a list of at least 5 of your top choices from your initial research and impressions. Why 5? Well, many of the hotels have very limited availability and when you reach out to book they may not be free on the exact dates you need. We were not able to get our top two and it was choice number three that we booked.
These are a list of questions we wished we would have asked before finalizing our decision:
Can we see the menu in advance?
Is there a room service menu and will it be available during ASQ?
Can I order outside delivery of meals or groceries via an app, like Grab?
Are there any rooms with balconies?
What is your policy for getting fresh air? On what day will I be able to go outside and for how long each day?
Is there a gym and for how long will I be able to use it?
Will there be housekeeping services offered during my stay?
Can you provide a video walkthrough of my room choice as it will be set up for ASQ?
What other amenities will be available during ASQ?
You’re going to have to act quickly when the time comes time to book your ASQ. Remember, you’ll need confirmation of your hotel reservation in order to get your Certificate of Entry (COE) or for a flight ticket to be issued to enter Thailand. There’s a chance that your number one choice will be fully booked out or the specific room type that you desire will no longer be available. Additionally, hotels reserve the right to deny your booking for any reason, ie the country your passport is from or where you are flying in from. Remaining open to possibility will help you feel confident when selecting and securing any of your top five choices.
If everything went exactly according to plan we wouldn’t be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it. Keep in mind that the hotel staff you’re corresponding with are also navigating the specifics and the peculiarities of ASQ for the first time. They are doing their best to keep you safe, keep their country safe, and maintain a level of customer service so you feel comfortable staying with them. Pay attention to the ASQ hotels that have gone to great lengths to paint the picture of what you might expect. Don’t expect all the details to be provided, but if you’ve done your research and asked the right questions, there shouldn’t be any major surprises.
Brace yourself. Arrival in the COVID era airport is intense and hospital-like enough, but check-in for your quarantine ASQ hotel is like nothing you’ve experienced before.
Your ASQ package includes private transport from the airport, you will have a private larger van-type taxi and your driver will be in a full hazmat suit & mask. Don’t take offense, this is required of them. You will have little to no interaction with your driver who knows who you are and what hotel you’re headed to before you get to the curb.
Upon arrival in your room, expect:
Fill your suitcase if you’re a picky eater or have dietary restrictions like vegan, vegetarian or keto. Choosing an ASQ on the cheaper side will leave your stomach rumbling as their portions are much smaller. You can’t leave your room to buy anything for 14-days, what could you possibly crave or desire between meals. We like granola (bars), crackers, cookies,
In traditional Thai style, you will have sugar and chilli powder with Pad Thai, and salt & pepper packets. We had come from India and had a variety of spices and nice Himalayan salt that made a word of difference.
Our ASQ, Hotel Eleven Sukhumvit , sent a Google Form in the afternoons for the 3 meals we would receive the following day, that thankfully often included images. We often requested extra salad, fruit or croissants. If your ASQ served you something you loved, tell them and see if you receive it daily. Additionally, we’re not used to eating 3 meals a day, so we liked combining breakfast & lunch for a fun brunch spread. Selecting the meals that would combine well for a delicious filling feast.
Questionable rules and claims
After experiencing the full 15-day in one-hotel-room, without leaving quarantine experience, there is a few things we wish we did a bit differently. These are inspired what we’ve seen others do or after reflection, what we’d do if we had to quarantine again.
Keep track of how many days you’ve been in quarantine / how many days you have left. Even if its post-it notes on the wall, give yourself perspective. Don’t get lost in the eternity that 2 weeks can feel like.
Don’t jump into everything when you get out of ASQ quarantine. We made this mistake, upon release – we had a half spa day & a night adventure in Chinatown waiting. Ease yourself back into ‘real life.’ Don’t plan on doing anything
If you are ready to come to Thailand for a long stay, the Special Tourist Visa and Alternate State Quarantine process are worth it. Clear your schedule and come experience the magic of the kingdom for the full 90 days. Like any big adventure, we encourage you to educate yourself, expect the unexpected and fly to Thailand ( don’t forget your face shield!) to stay, enjoy & spend money in a country that desperately needs your tourism dollars right now.
Blog last updated: January 5, 2021
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