Countries in Southeast Asia Open for Tourism [UPDATED 2021]

Which Countries in Southeast Asia Are Open for Tourism Now? [UPDATED 2021]

A regional look at how Southeast Asia is reopening for tourism.

This article was originally published on 22 Oct 2020. It will continue to be updated with the latest information. It’s important to note that at the time of publication, the travel guidelines and restrictions reflected the information that was currently available.


Several countries in Southeast Asia are beginning to kickstart travel and open borders to tourism while implementing health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. To give a regional look at how Southeast Asia plans to open for foreign tourists, we answer the following questions: 

  • Which countries in Southeast Asia are reopening for tourism in 2021?
  • What are the COVID-19 travel restrictions for countries in Southeast Asia? 
  • How is each country faring during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Who can travel to Southeast Asia right now? 
  • What does the future of tourism look like for Southeast Asia? 

This travel advisory is meant to provide a general overview of the COVID-19 travel situation in Southeast Asia. Therefore, we strongly advise you to check the official tourism websites and health resources of each country in Southeast Asia before making any decision to travel. 

Also read: 11 Reasons to Explore Southeast Asia Soon — One for Every Country in The Region!

Overview of Southeast Asia reopening for tourism

Image credit: Sumit Chinchane

Which countries in Southeast Asia are open to tourists right now? As of 4 Jan 2021, Thailand leads the region in reopening borders to leisure tourism and ushering in a safe future for travel. Thanks to the Special Tourist Visa program, the Land of Smiles successfully welcomed its first batch of foreign vacationers from China last Oct 2020. As of writing, Thailand is now open to visitors from all countries and offers visa-travel to tourists from 56 countries. 

Singapore is open to tourists from select countries that qualify for an Air Travel Pass (ATP). While the travel bubble with Hong Kong has been shelved for the time being, Singapore has established other green lane arrangements and air travel bubbles with low-risk countries that have kept the coronavirus under control. 

Cambodia has introduced the strictest and priciest health measures in Southeast Asia by far, requiring travellers to put down a hefty deposit and adhere to stringent quarantine protocols. 

Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines are keeping borders closed to international tourists and focusing on domestic travel to boost the tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Myanmar, Brunei, and Timor-Leste remain closed to tourists until further notice. 

Unless stated otherwise in each section, the governments of these countries in Southeast Asia have yet to release a specific timeline for when international tourism is expected to open.

Singapore 

Southeast Asia Open for Tourists

Gradually easing border restrictions to welcome safe travel in limited numbers, Singapore is now open to tourists from the following countries: China, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  

International tourists planning to visit Singapore are generally not allowed to enter the country, unless they are travelling under green lane arrangementsthey have been issued an Air Travel Pass or SafeTravel Pass, or they have obtained special approval with a letter of entry from a government agency in Singapore. Check out the entry requirements for different countries here

Singapore reciprocal green lane

Singapore has established reciprocal green lanes for short-term business travellers from the following countries: 

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • China (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Zhejiang)
  • Germany
  • Indonesia 
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea

Singapore travel bubble with low-risk places

With special travel arrangements in place, Singapore has implemented air travel bubbles with certain low-risk countries that have the coronavirus under control. 

As of 8 Oct 2020, Singapore is allowing leisure travellers from the following destinations to enter the country with an Air Travel Pass

  • Australia 
  • Brunei Darussalam 
  • China
  • Germany 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia 
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Vietnam

Travellers who fly in directly to Singapore from these destinations will be asked to take a COVID-19 test, rather than serve a stay-home notice. You can apply for an Air Travel Pass here.

Singapore and Hong Kong travel bubble to be postponed until 2021

Hong Kong Travel Bubble With Singapore Postponed

Originally scheduled to begin on 22 Nov 2020, Singapore’s travel bubble with Hong Kong would have resumed cross-border travel between the two financial hubs. On 21 Nov 2020, however, this decision was pushed back to 2021, due to an alarming surge of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. Details on the official start date of the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble have yet to be announced. 

Under the original terms that were announced in mid-Oct 2020, the reciprocal green lane arrangement will require all travellers to test negative for COVID-19 twice, in Singapore and Hong Kong. 

For Singapore’s health protocols and entry requirements, you may refer to this list here

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Singapore has 58,697 confirmed cases, 29 deaths, and 58,487 recoveries. 

For more travel updates and announcements on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore, visit the official websites of the Ministry of Health and the Singapore Government.

Thailand 

Southeast Asia Open for Tourism

Currently, Thailand is open to tourists from all countries. To enter Thailand, all tourists must have a Certificate of Entry (COE), a negative COVID-19 test result (issued not more than 72 hours before travelling), and health insurance with a minimum coverage of US$100,000 (S$131,791) to cover medical expenses. Furthermore, they will need to show proof of their  booking confirmation on their chosen accommodations, where they will quarantine for two weeks at a government-approved hotel or resort in Thailand. Throughout the quarantine period, visitors will undergo three COVID-19 tests. 

As of 7 Dec 2020, Thailand has lifted travel restrictions to allow visa-free travel for tourists from 56 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Nationals of these countries can now travel to Thailand without a visa and can stay for up to 30 days. 

Here are the following destinations that are allowed to travel to Thailand without a visa: 

  • Andorra 
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bahrain
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong 
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Principality of Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Peru
  • Vietnam

Travellers who are excluded from the list can still visit Thailand by applying for a 90-day Special Tourist Visa.

Special tourist visa in Thailand

Launched on 30 Sep 2020, the Special Tourist Visa program enables visitors to stay in Thailand for 90 days, provided that they self-quarantine for 14 days first. Furthermore, this visa can be extended twice, allowing for a maximum of 270 days in Thailand. 

To qualify for a Special Tourist Visa, foreign visitors should meet the following requirements:  

  • Be a resident of a low-risk country with plans to stay for three to nine months in the Kingdom of Thailand. 
  • Provide a negative COVID-19 test issued at least 72 hours prior to their arrival. 
  • Comply with public health measures implemented by the Thai government, including a compulsory quarantine period for 14 days. 
  • Present a health insurance policy that will cover the duration of a long stay in Thailand, outpatient treatment of no less than ฿40,000 (S$1,700) and inpatient treatment of no less than ฿400,000 (S$17,347). 
  • Show proof of payment of hotel accommodations or a place to stay in Thailand. 

Also read: Thailand to Allow Foreign Tourists a 9-Month Stay As Long As They Quarantine

Thailand travel bubble with low-risk countries

Thailand is currently seeking an agreement with Beijing to open a quarantine-free travel bubble with China by Jan 2021. China will be the first low-risk country to sign up for this travel pact in Thailand, according to Thai Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. 

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Thailand has 7,694 confirmed cases, 64 deaths, and 4,337 recoveries. 

For more travel updates and a list of requirements for the Special Tourist Visa, visit the official website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand here

Vietnam

Vietnam’s borders are closed to international tourists until further notice. Only Vietnamese nationals, diplomats, officials, investors, foreigners travelling on business, and highly skilled workers can travel to the country at this time. 

All visitors must submit mandatory health declaration forms and undergo COVID-19 medical checks and a 14 day-quarantine upon arrival. Visitors who plan to stay at government quarantine facilities can expect to spend at least VND120,000 (S$7) per day to cover their quarantine costs. 

Domestic tourism in Vietnam

While the entry of foreign travellers has been suspended, Vietnam has opened its doors to domestic tourism and resumed flight operations around the country. 

Starting 16 Sep 2020, bars and clubs have been allowed to reopen in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh after no local transmissions were reported for 28 days and over a month respectively. Tourism activities have also returned to Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. Meanwhile, public beaches in Da Nang, Quang Nam, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Binh Dinh, Nghe An, Quang Ninh, and Thanh Hoa are ready to welcome locals who are willing to follow social distancing measures. 

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Vietnam has 1,494 confirmed cases, 35 deaths, and 1,339 recoveries. 

For more travel updates, visit the official tourism website of Vietnam here.

Cambodia

Southeast Asia Open for Tourists

As of 20 May 2020, Cambodia is open to tourists arriving by plane from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Iran. However, they will be expected to follow very strict entry requirements. 

All foreign visitors must put down a US$3,000 (S$4,069) deposit at the airport. Moreover, they will need to provide a health certificate of a negative COVID-19 test result issued no more than 72 hours prior to their arrival. 

Tourists should also present a health insurance voucher with medical coverage of at least US$50,000 (S$67,815). Alternatively, they can choose to purchase a local health insurance package for US$90 (S$122) from Forte Insurance Company, which will be valid for 20 days. 

Cambodia quarantine protocols

The Royal Government of Cambodia has made it mandatory for all visitors to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they arrive in the country.

Upon arrival, passengers will be transported from the airport to a designated testing facility, where they will take COVID-19 swab tests and wait for the lab results. From there, they can expect one of two possible scenarios: 

  • If one or more passengers on the flight test positive for COVID-19, then all passengers in that flight will be quarantined at a government-designated facility. On the 13th day of quarantine, they can have another COVID-19 test that will be conducted by Cambodian health representatives. 
  • If all passengers on the flight test negative for COVID-19, they can self-quarantine for 14 days at their hotel, residence, or chosen accommodation. 

Also read: Cambodia Has Intense Requirements for Travellers Amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Cambodia has 382 confirmed cases, no deaths, and 362 recoveries. 

For more travel updates and a list of costs, visit the official website of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation here.

Laos

Is Laos open for tourists?

Laos is closed to international tourists until further notice. The country has suspended tourist visas and e-visas for all foreign nationals, except for diplomatic and official passport holders. 

However, the Government of Laos will continue to issue non-tourist visas for investors, diplomats, and experts. Foreign travellers who hold valid multiple entry long-term visas — say, a work visa or a diplomatic visa — can qualify for entry to Cambodia by completing a health declaration form and submitting a health certificate showing that they don’t have COVID-19. Moreover, they will be asked to disclose their travel history and follow the 14-day self-quarantine procedures listed here

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Laos has 41 confirmed cases, no deaths, and 40 recoveries. 

For more travel updates, visit the official website of Lao PDR’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

Malaysia

Malaysia is keeping borders closed to international tourists, while the Government of Malaysia has extended the nationwide Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) through 31 Mar 2021

While foreign tourists are currently barred from visiting Malaysia, the Immigration Department makes an exception for other types of visitors. Medical tourists are permitted to enter the country, as are expatriates and foreign travellers with valid long-term passports, who can apply for permission here.

Reciprocal green lane between Malaysia and Singapore

On 17 Aug 2020, Malaysia launched a reciprocal green lane with Singapore, allowing residents of both countries to cross the border for essential businesses and official purposes only. You may read the full guidelines here

Also read: Malaysia, Singapore Discuss Leisure Travel Plans Starting Early 2021

All visitors to Malaysia will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival, as well as a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-approved facility. Testing and quarantine costs must be shouldered by the traveller. 

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Malaysia has 119,077 confirmed cases, 494 deaths, and 97,218 recoveries. 

For more travel updates, visit the official website of Malaysia’s Immigration Department here

Indonesia 

Effective 1 Jan 2021, Indonesia will remain closed to international tourists until 14 Jan 2021 to prevent the spread of a new and highly contagious strain of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. 

Only domestic tourists can visit Bali at the moment. The Indonesian government remains optimistic about the possibility of Bali welcoming international tourists in 2021, but this plan will depend on the island’s control of the COVID-19 situation, according to Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry spokesman Prabu Revolusi. 

Indonesia reopened for domestic travel on 31 Jul 2020, while imposing strict lockdown measures that limit big gatherings and non-essential travel in the country. Domestic tourists traveling to Bali via plane will be required to take a PCR swab test before departure. Meanwhile, those who travel overland to Bali must show a certificate of negative results of a rapid antigen test before departure. All certificates of negative test results must be valid for 14 days from the date of issuance. 

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, Indonesia has 765,350 confirmed cases, 22,734 deaths, and 631,937 recoveries. 

For more travel updates, visit the official tourism website of Indonesia here

Philippines 

The Philippines will remain closed to international tourists until mid-2021, according to the Department of Tourism. 

As of 21 Oct 2020, the Philippines has lifted the ban on Filipinos who wish to take leisure trips overseas. However, international flights to the Philippines are still restricted to essential purposes only, which include passengers travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons, accredited foreign government officials and their dependents, returning Filipinos or Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and other special cases listed here

Domestic tourism in the Philippines

Several tourist destinations in the Philippines with few COVID-19 cases are open for domestic tourism, while Metro Manila and many parts of the country remain under different stages of lockdown.

Also read: Slowly But Surely: Here’s What Tourism Reopening Looks Like in The Philippines

World-famous sites such as Boracay, El Nido, and Bohol have already reopened to local travellers in 2020. Additionally, a travel bubble called the “Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor” has been created for residents from the provinces of Baguio, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte. Tourists coming from Metro Manila can also visit Tagaytay and recreational diving spots in Batangas

All domestic tourists in the Philippines must follow strict health protocols, namely wearing face masks and face shields and observing physical distancing. 

COVID-19 update

As of 4 Jan 2021, the Philippines has 477,807 confirmed cases, 9,257 deaths, and 448,258 recoveries. Refer to our travel advisory below for a comprehensive look at the COVID-19 travel situation in the Philippines: 

Also read: COVID-19 Philippines Travel Advisory for Filipinos & Foreign Visitors

For more travel updates and information about health protocols in each province, visit the Department of Tourism’s official website here

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer who covers travel, food, and pop culture. She has a soft spot for stories about Japan and Italy. While she waits patiently for her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.

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