I had a lot of travel last 2019. This 2020, I decided to stay in the Philippines for a while and only travel when I need to — for work or events. At the very beginning of 2020, there’s a lot of sad, world-wide circumstances that are happening.
Early February, the COVID-19 outbreak reached different parts of the world, and some countries are starting to implement travel bans. We’ve been planning this event since late October 2019. So we don’t want to cancel it a month before the planned event dates.
Good thing Thailand, at the time of our travel, is quite a bit chill about the COVID-19. They’ve haven’t implemented travel bans yet and there are still a lot of tourists coming in.
A lot of people were asking if it’s still safe to travel. Were there a lot of people? How were the flights? Were there any canceled flights? Are we going to be in quarantine when we arrive? How about when we fly back to the Philippines?
Well, here are some of my thoughts and experiences. I hope this would answer your questions. If you still have any other questions, don’t be shy to comment them below!
Traveling Amidst The Outbreak
We flew to Phuket, Thailand on March 3, 2020, in the evening and going back on March 11. There’s no direct flight from Davao City to Phuket so we had to fly to Singapore for an 11-hour layover. I was quite afraid because Singapore, before, was one of the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
There aren’t many people at the airport when we arrived. I guess it’s because it’s already late at night. It’s my first time at Changi Airport so I have nothing to compare to. Davao-Singapore flight took 4 hours and there weren’t many passengers on our flight.
People were wearing masks and there are a lot of hand sanitizers available in Changi Airport. Flights are still coming in and out.
What to do when traveling amidst the outbreak?
- Bring and drink your vitamins. This will help boost your immune system.
- If you’re that paranoid, bring and wear a mask. You’re gonna be in an airport, one of the most crowded places, so just to be safe.
- Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face when you’ve touched a surface/thing touched by the public. Apply alcohol if you have before touching your face.
Will I be quarantined even if it’s just a layover?
No. If you don’t show any symptoms or if you’re clear in their scanners, you’re good to go! Nothing to worry about. But if you do feel something, then authorities will immediately take you to the hospital. This also applies to the Manila and Davao airport (at that time).
Authorities suggest you take a 14-day home quarantine when you get back especially if you’ve recently traveled in countries where there are positive COVID-19 cases. During this 14-day home quarantine, you should rest and observe your body if you develop symptoms.
What was Phuket, Thailand like during this outbreak?
Thai people in Phuket are chill, actually. Phuket is one of the touristy islands in Thailand. Shockingly, tours and island hopping tours are still operating during the first week of March 2020. Even Bangla Road, the road for clubbing, parties, etc., are still operating like there’s no outbreak going on.
There’s still a lot of tourists on the road. Public beaches are still full of tourists. To sum it all, you feel like there’s no outbreak going on. Though in most facilities, people are encouraging you to apply sanitizers before you go in. They’ll scan your body temperature at the entrance just like in the Philippines.
What happened to our return flight back to the Philippines?
While we’re waiting for our boarding time to Singapore, we received an email that our Singapore to Davao flight on March 10 was moved to March 12. We don’t want to stay in Singapore for two days because (1) we still have work when we get back, and (2) we don’t want to spend much money in Singapore and we know SG is expensive.
So we changed our return flight to March 10 still but it’s Singapore-Manila-Davao because there’s no direct flight available on that day. When we confirmed the changes, we didn’t know we got checked out. Meaning, our Davao-Singapore also changed and got checked out.
During the boarding time, we had to run back to the check-in counter to check-in again and run back to the gate, shouting to the flight attendants not to close the cabin gate. We literally almost missed our flight.
So if ever you guys received an email that there’s a change of return flight, do not change them until you hop on that plane because you’ll be checked out like what happened to us.
Phi Phi Islands
We went to Thailand for an event, so we were quite busy during our whole stay. But on our last day in Phuket, we went for an island hopping at Phi Phi Islands.
If you’re going to Phuket, Phi Phi Island Hopping is a must. The place is like Coron or El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines. You can book your tour in Klook: Phi Phi Lay, Phi Phi Don and Kai Island Day Tour by Speedboat from Phuket
Island Hopping Itinerary
7:45 am – 8:45 am: Pick up at your hotel accommodations
9:30 am: Arrive at the Asia Marina Pier and enjoy some coffee and tea
10:00 am – 10:30 am: Depart from the pier and head for Phi Phi Islands
11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Arrive at Phi Phi Lay, enjoy snorkeling and swimming at Loh Samah Bay/Pileh Cove/Viking Cave/Monkey Beach (the place can be changed up to sea conditions)
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm: Have buffet lunch at Phi Phi Don Restaurant
1:30 pm: Depart from Phi Phi Don Island and head for Koh Khai Nok Island
2:30 pm: Arrive at Khai Nok Island, stay on the beach, or feed fishes, etc.
4:00 pm: Depart from Khai Nok Island and head for the pier
4.30 pm: Arrive at the pier and back to the hotel
We didn’t end our day after the Phi Phi Island Hopping! We dropped off to Karon Beach to witness a beautiful sunset by the beach. I wrote a separate blog about Karon Beach. Check it out here: Swimming at One of Phuket’s Public Beaches.
Then, we head over to Kee Sky Lounge for a team dinner and jacuzzi.
After 4 passport stamps, I’ve finally visited Phi Phi Island. I was only going to Phuket, Thailand because of work-ation (Work and Vacation). Now, after those stamps, I’ve finally seen Phi Phi Island.
So far, this March 2020 travel to Phuket is the most interesting and full-of-events travel. Hoping this COVID-19 outbreak would stop so that I can visit more countries. Praying for the best for everyone! Stay safe and healthy!