Vietnam woman at market wearing a face mask

Coronavirus Travel Information

Travel Status - 26 November 2021

There is big news out of Asia this month. We've seen Thailand opening it's doors to fully vaccinated tourists in more of it's resorts, and Singapore and Malaysia are also welcoming tourists (with different conditions/restrictions). Hot off the press in an unexpected turn of events, Cambodia also recently announced that it was open for business!

Japan and South Korea announced that they would open to (controlled) business travellers and students - this is a great start to show that they are in the mindset to get things going again. However, Vietnam and Laos are playing a much more cautious game and are not being bold like their neighbouring Cambodia and Thailand. Hong Kong still has lengthy compulsory quarantine measures in place for up to 21 days and are still operating under heavy restrictions.

As the various countries' vaccination programmes soldier on, we would expect to see countries opening further or more of them considering sandbox-style programmes like their neighbours.

Overall the outlook is looking good for a return to travel for some of our destinations in early 2022. We continue to work closely with our local partners to develop and follow the robust protocols of WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) to implement new safety practices and standards. These will strengthen the current health and safety guidelines set out by local governments themselves to create a stress-free travel experience for you.

Government advisories and your travel to Asia

UK
The UK traffic light system has been lifted to red list only, and there are now only a few countries that are on that red list. None of our Asia destinations are on the list. The blanket ‘all but essential travel’ has been lifted and it is possible to visit some countries. However, it is restricted and conditional travel - proof of a negative Covid test and/or vaccination status may be required and quarantine measures still apply in some instances. It is also an ever-evolving situation as the latest concerns over the new Covid variant have demonstrated.

See the latest official government information on travel to Asia from the FCDO here.

USA

Activity in the US is picking up and it is opening to vaccinated travellers as of this month. Currently our destinations are listed as level 3s and 4s in the US, but this does not necessarily mean that you cannot travel there. It means restricted and conditional travel per the guidance below.

Advice from the CDC:

Level 4 – Avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.

Level 3 – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travelling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travellers should avoid non-essential travel to these destinations.

Level 1 – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel to these destinations.

Advice from the State Department:

Level 4 – Do not travel.

Level 3 – Reconsider travel.

See the latest official government information on travel to Asia from the CDC here.

Canada
Canada has joined the US in allowing travel to certain destinations, but it also falls under restricted and conditional travel. It is essential to check for the latest information on travel and entry requirements.

See the latest official government advice on travel to Asia here.

Australia

There has been a lot of positive news from Australia over the last month given that it had locked down and put a blanket ban on all travel in and out of the country last year. It is now starting to allow citizens out of the country earlier than expected.

As of 1 November, Australia’s international borders have progressively reopened (state by state), with fully vaccinated Australians now able to depart Australia without applying for an exemption. In line with this reopening, DFAT have removed the global ‘Do not travel’ advisory. 99% of destinations are now showing RECONSIDER YOUR NEED TO TRAVEL (Thailand, Vietnam) or EXERCISE A HIGH DEGREE OF CAUTION (Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia)

  • Lv 1 EXERCISE NORMAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
  • Lv 2 EXERCISE A HIGH DEGREE OF CAUTION
  • Lv 3 RECONSIDER YOUR NEED TO TRAVEL (avoid non-essential)
  • Lv 4 DO NOT TRAVEL

DFAT are updating travel advice levels for 177 destinations based on the latest assessment of risk – both COVID-19 and other threats to safety and security.

A global COVID-19 Health Advisory will also be issued in conjunction with the Department of Health, with advice for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

See the latest official Australian government information on travel to Asia here.

See below for a breakdown of our destinations vaccination and travel status.

Update from our destinations

Vietnam

Vietnam is taking a much more cautious approach to opening its doors to international travellers compared to its near neighbours.

The suggested plan is a phased approach, allowing fully vaccinated travellers entry to Phu Quoc Island, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Danang and Halong Bay under the 'sandbox scheme'. This allows visitors quarantine-free travel. It would allow a controlled amount of visitors to enter by charter flight to these destinations. (NB: only one destination per visit).

The second phase would begin from January 2022, where an increased (still controlled) number of visitors can enter the sandbox destinations and after 7 days are allowed to explore the other sandboxes. One condition being throughout this entire phased proposal is that people are to travel for essential reasons only.

Image
Vietnam vaccination status chart

Cambodia

What an exciting time for Cambodia! Not only are they 9th most vaccinated country in the world, but on Monday 15th November they reopened their borders to tourists.

To travel to Cambodia, you will need to:

  • Take a test 72 hours prior to departure for Cambodia
  • Are required to be fully vaccinated
  • Have adequate health insurance covering Covid treatment
  • Require the e-visa (type T).
  • On arrival at the airport they will take a RTK test, wait for the results (15-20 mins) and if the tests are negative then they are free to travel Cambodia unrestricted of quarantine.

Our sources on the ground have said that they are welcoming tourists in and that it would be good if people were to come in the New Year. A lot of the sites and temples are quieter meaning people are freer to move around. We are hoping to gather more intel as to what life is like on the ground over the coming month.

Image
Cambodia vaccination status

Laos

Laos is behind its neighbours in terms of its rates for the vaccination programme, despite being a relatively small population. However, Ministers are in discussion about creating a 'Lao Safe Health and Hygiene' certification programme. In short, this is a formalised criteria for identifying hotels, restaurant and suppliers who have passed certain health and hygiene checks and are deemed safe for tourists. Laos would create 'green travel' zones in areas in the country that people would be safe to visit. It is more likely to open to domestic tourism and travel bubbles with Thailand before opening fully to international tourism, although no firm plans have been announced.

Image
Laos vaccination status

Thailand

Thailand have introduced a 'Test & Go' scheme that allows fully vaccinated travellers who have spent at least 21 days in any of the 63 Covid-safe destinations listed in the scheme (UK, US & AUS are approved) to enter the country. Thailand are citing this as a success and claim some 85,000 travellers have visited the country since it kicked off. Restrictions in Thailand are slightly more relaxed than other Asian destinations; visitors are required to take a PCR test on arrival, spend one night in a designated hotel and as soon as the negative results come back they are free to explore the country unrestricted.

Tourists traveling to Thailand would require the following:

Pre-arrival:

  • Register for a ‘Thailand Pass’ at tp.consular.go.th by submitting required documents (below) prior to travel. After receiving confirmation of approval, guests will receive their Thailand Pass QR code.
  • Submit proof of full vaccination completed at least 14 days before arrival (if applicable)
  • Anyone infected within the previous 3 months can submit a medical certificate of recovery and proof of at least 1 vaccination 14 days prior to departure to Thailand.
  • Proof of a negative PCR test result within 72 hours before departure to Thailand for ALL travellers irrespective of age
  • Submit proof of medical insurance with at least USD$50,000 of coverage valid in Thailand, paid accommodation and the included PCR Test(s)
  • Children under 12 years of age travelling with parents are exempt from vaccination requirements for Test & Go.

Arrival:

  • Present Thailand Pass QR code to health officials prior to immigration procedures
  • Use pre-arranged transport from the airport to an SHA+ certified hotel for at least one night
  • Undergo PCR Test at the hotel (children under 6 years old will have a saliva test) and receive free ATK Self Test to submit electronically on days 6 / 7
  • Download MorChana, a contact-tracing app, at the hotel
  • Wait for results from the first PCR test upon arrival (up to 72 hours, but normally less than 12 hours).
  • Children 6-12 years old must receive PCR tests before flying and on arrival, while children under 6 years old will receive Saliva tests.

During Stay:

  • Wear masks in public places including outdoor areas
Image
Thailand vaccination status

Malaysia & Borneo

Malaysia opened it's doors to a Langkawi 'sandbox-style' opening on Monday 15th November. In short this means that visitors can travel to this beautiful tropical island quarantine free.

This pilot scheme allows fully vaccinated travellers (from all countries) to enter the Island with no quarantine for a minimum stay of 3 days. After 7 days, visitors would be free to explore Malaysia (as long as there are repeated negative PCR tests). This scheme is on trial for three months, at which point success will be evaluated and could potentially lead to a full reopening.

Tourists travelling to Langkawi would need the following:

  • Valid visa (if required by country)
  • Proof of full vaccination (at least 14 days prior to arrival)
  • Proof of full travel and medical insurance with Covid cover of USD$80,000
  • Negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure to Malaysia (ages 7 and above)
  • Pre-purchased RTK kits to take with them on their trip and there will be required screening sites at the airports and ferry terminals
  • Clients must use a travel agency that is registered in Malaysia (note, InsideAsia Tours are covered) and must be accompanied by a guide with all transfers and tour activities. Independent travellers are not allowed to take part in the scheme.

As we would expect there is other accompanying paperwork and certificates which will be required to be shown on arrival. There are also requirements for regular testing and screening when out in resort.

Image
Malaysia & Borneo vaccination status

Singapore

Singapore is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and is currently shifting from a ‘zero Covid’ to ‘live with Covid’ strategy. As part of this, Singapore have established a ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane’ (VTL) programme - initially with Germany and now with 8 more countries and more still to join soon - allowing for quarantine-free travel to Singapore.

Vaccinated Travel Lane – What is it?

VTL allows for reciprocal travel for citizens of Singapore and ‘Covid safe’ destinations without quarantine using a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP).

  • Currently applies to fully-vaccinated travellers who have spent at least 14 days in the following 13 countries prior to arrival in Singapore: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK or the United States.
  • Singapore looks to also include: Finland, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Sweden from 29 November and Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE from 6 December

Tourists looking to travel to Singapore would need the following pre-arrival:

  • Fully vaccinated with recognised vaccines
  • Departing from an approved country
  • Negative PCR result within 48 hours of departure to Singapore
  • Flights to Singapore must be with a VTL designated airline ((US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Brunei, South Korea), British Airways (UK), Air France (France), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Netherlands), Lufthansa (Germany), Scoot (Germany), Asiana Airlines (South Korea)
  • Visa (if applicable)

On arrival:

  • PCR test upon arrival in Singapore
  • Clients must self-isolate in hotel while waiting for the results of their PCR test (usually within 12 hours)
  • Health insurance covering Covid-related medical expenses with a minimum coverage of SGD$30,000
  • Download and install TraceTogether app to aid in contact tracing

Assuming that all the criteria is met and negative results are received throughout the process, then you are able to move about Singapore fairly freely. Please note that there are still limits to how many people are allowed in restaurants and masks are to be worn everywhere in all public spaces, no exceptions.

Image
Singapore vaccination status

South Korea

South Korea boasts an impressive vaccination rate with 79% of the population fully vaccinated, making it one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The country has opened its doors to some essential business travellers – and immediate family of residents – of late. On the 15th November the process was formalised for Singaporeans to travel to South Korea under the reciprocal VTL (vaccinated travel lane) scheme. The process looks like this:

  • Flights must be direct from Singapore to Korea (approved airlines)
  • You need to obtain an electronic Visa (K-ETA)
  • You must bring a proof of vaccination certificate
  • PCR test on arrival at Incheon airport (booked in advance). Quarantine at whichever hotel you’ve booked while awaiting results. Results will be texted/emailed to clients before 10 am the next day.
  • You must download the Korea COVID 19 self-diagnosis app and check in everyday with your health status.
  • If the trip is over 8 days, then a further PCR test is needed on day 6/7 (you can just turn up to an appropriate hospital for this on the day)
  • PCR two days before you leave and pick up certificate of negative test the day before you leave.

This is a pilot scheme in place and based on the success of this, we might see other countries being added to the list to join the scheme. We remain optimistic that South Korea won't be closed for much longer, and that international leisure tourism will return early in 2022 (if not just before).

Image
South Korea vaccination status

Japan

Japan now ranks among the most vaccinated countries in the world and has seen a sharp decline in infections and the number is declining.

We have seen of late that Japan are starting to gently ease restrictions within the country, plus they have increased the number of business travellers allowed into the country up to 5,000 people per month. Those arriving under this plan need to self-quarantine for 3 days and, on day 4, they will be allowed to use public transportation and dine out until they receive negative PCR test results.

We wait with baited breath to see the success of this initial phase and to hear more about when Japan is likely to open to international tourists.

Image
Japan vaccination status

Hong Kong

It seems that Hong Kong is still closed to international travellers for now.

UK and USA are considered high risk countries and are not allowed entry into Hong Kong and it is currently only allowing Hong Kong residents to enter the country.

At the moment there is little visibility about plans for reopening or insight into discussions.

We have our eyes on this one and continue to wait patiently!

Image
Vaccination status in Hong Kong