Which Countries in Southeast Asia Are Open for Tourism Right Now?

Which Countries in Southeast Asia Are Open for Tourism Right Now?

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, these travel guidelines on Southeast Asia reopening for tourism 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: 

  • What is the travel situation in Southeast Asian countries during the COVID-19 pandemic? 
  • Is travelling to Southeast Asia possible? 
  • Who can travel to Southeast Asia right now? 
  • Which countries in Southeast Asia will be the first ones to open for tourism in the future? 
  • What does the future of tourism look like for Southeast Asia? 

This travel advisory provides 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 decisions to travel. 

Overview of Southeast Asia reopening for tourism

Southeast Asia Open for Tourism

Which countries in Southeast Asia are open to tourists? As of 22 Oct 2020, Singapore has created travel bubbles to welcome travellers from low-risk areas such as New Zealand and Hong Kong under special travel arrangements. Presently, Singapore is also establishing reciprocal green lanes with Thailand and Indonesia

Thailand is on its first phase of a limited reopening to foreign tourism, having initiated a new special tourist visa scheme that saw the first batch of leisure travellers fly in directly from China

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 lifting border restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore is now open to limited tourists from low-risk countries with necessary safety measures to protect Singaporeans from COVID-19. 

International tourists planning to visit Singapore on a short-term basis will generally not be allowed to enter the country, unless they are travelling under green lane arrangements, 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 business travellers from China, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, and South Korea. In addition, the Singapore government is currently in talks to create more reciprocal green lanes with Thailand and Indonesia

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 New Zealand, Brunei, Vietnamand Australia (excluding travellers from Victoria state) to enter Singapore with an Air Travel Pass. Travellers who fly in directly to Singapore from these countries will be asked to take a COVID-19 test, rather than serve a stay-home notice. They may apply for an Air Travel Pass here.

Singapore has also agreed to launch a travel bubble with Hong Kong that will resume cross-border travel between the two financial hubs. This reciprocal arrangement will require all travellers to test negative for COVID-19 twice, in Singapore and Hong Kong. Details on the official launch date of the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble have yet to be announced. 

Travellers from other low-risk places like Macao, China, Malaysia (excluding Sabah), and Taiwan will also be allowed to spend a reduced seven-day stay-home period at their chosen accommodations, rather than a designated facility. You may refer to this appendix for Singapore’s measures for inbound travellers here

COVID-19 update

As of 22 Oct 2020, Singapore has 57,933 confirmed cases, 28 deaths, and 57,819 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

Starting 1 Oct 2020, Thailand is open to select long-stay tourists under a brand new visa scheme. For the first time in seven months, the Land of Smiles welcomed its first batch of foreign vacationers: 39 Chinese tourists who flew in from Shanghai, China to Bangkok on 20 Oct 2020, Tuesday — all thanks to the Special Tourist Visa program. 

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 between Thailand and 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. 

After the first arrivals of Chinese visitors, a second batch of tourists from Guangzhou will arrive in Thailand on 26 Oct 2020. They will be followed by a group of Scandinavian tourists flying in from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on 1 Nov 2020. 

Provided there are no coronavirus infections among these groups of tourists, Thailand can move on to the second phase of their reopening plans on 17 Nov 2020. If all goes well in the Thailand government’s strategy to slowly open the country to foreign travellers, this could spell a turnaround for Thailand’s tourism industry. 

COVID-19 update

As of 22 Oct 2020, Thailand has 3,709 confirmed cases, 59 deaths, and 3,495 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

Since 22 Mar 2020, Vietnam’s borders have remained 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. 

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 22 Oct 2020, Vietnam has 1,144 confirmed cases, 35 deaths, and 1,046 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 22 Oct 2020, Cambodia has 286 confirmed cases, no deaths, and 280 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?

All international flights and land border crossings in Laos remain closed to tourists. The country has suspended tourist visas and e-visas for all foreign nationals, except for diplomatic and official passport holders. 

Meanwhile, 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 22 Oct 2020, Laos has 24 confirmed cases, no deaths, and 22 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 under government orders that restrict the entry of all foreign nationals. According to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) will be extended until 31 Dec 2020, placing Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Selangor under partial lockdown. 

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 may apply for permission here.

Reciprocal green lane between Malaysia and Singapore

Malaysia has also implemented 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 22 Oct 2020, Malaysia has 22,957 confirmed cases, 199 deaths, and 14,931 recoveries. 

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

Indonesia 

Due to an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, Indonesia will remain closed to international tourists until the end of 2020. According to Bali Governor Wayan Koster, the world-famous island of Bali will not be accepting foreign visitors for the rest of the year. 

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. 

COVID-19 update

As of 22 Oct 2020, Indonesia has 373,109 confirmed cases, 12,857 deaths, and 297,509 recoveries. 

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

Philippines 

According to the Department of Tourism, the Philippines will be closed to international tourists until mid-2021

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

Some destinations in the Philippines with few COVID-19 cases have begun to reopen 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 tourist sites such as Boracay and El Nido have already reopened to local travellers. Plus, 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 the Philippine capital of Metro Manila can also visit Tagaytay and a few tourist sites in Batangas that are open. 

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 22 Oct 2020, the Philippines has 362,243 confirmed cases, 6,747 deaths, and 311,506 recoveries. You may also 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


This article on Southeast Asia reopening for tourism was originally published on 22 Oct 2020. It will continue to be updated with the latest information. 

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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