I have backpacked all over the world on all continents but one of them because nobody backpacks Antarctica. However, it all began for me in Thailand because this is where people tend to start out and it was suggested to me as a "starter kit" of sorts for people who have never been backpacking. It was there that I fell in love with the concept of backpacking and even though I don't really backpack anymore - I'm a rolling suitcase kind of guy now - I still want to go back there again and again.
The only problem is that Thailand won't let you do that.
While a lot of countries are still completely closed because of Covid, Thailand has been trying as hard as possible to renew tourism because it is such a massive part of their economy. They started the test and go method a few months ago only to suspend it once Omicron happened. I thought this was a bad idea to shut it down and apparently the Thai people and the government agree because they are re-introducing it starting in February of 2022.
I have a few friends that have gone through this process already and it is relatively painless and straight forward. In order to qualify you have to be double vaccinated by the vaccines that they approve which is almost all of them and then when you arrive you "check in" to a hotel that you are not actually going to stay in, hopefully. You are tested upon arrival probably doing the brain scrub PCR test then they process the test in a few hours and you are free to go wherever you want in the country. Well, this is provided that you test negative for Covid. I presume they isolate you if you test positive.
The other options in the "sandbox" programs are also still available and this can be done by agreeing to spend 7 days in Phuket or Samui and you are free to roam around the islands. After 7 days you are tested again and if you are still negative you can go, again, anywhere you want in the country.
I think that this is a decent program although not ideal. It is just nice to see that there is an option other than quarantine. Of course, if you are not vaccinated you are not eligible for test and go but you CAN BE eligible for the sandbox. This of course is quite complicated to pull off but it is possible. I'm not going to pretend to be an authority on this subject but I think it involves needing to have either business interests or family in the country to qualify... so basically it applies to almost no one.
If you are vaccinated though, and you want to enter Thailand, just know that as of now the official plan is to wait until February and then extend the test and go program in Bangkok. Perhaps other international airports will follow.