Despite the second and third waves of COVID-19 infections, most Asian countries continue to efficiently manage the pandemic and have kept new cases and death tolls low. The world is better prepared this time around.
This is especially true on that side of the world, where many countries are settling into a “new normal” way of life. Their efforts in containing and preventing new outbreaks have paid off and as of today a few countries have reopened or are very close to reopening their borders to international travelers once again.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the current border status of 16 Asian countries reopening for tourism.
Nepalis open to all countries. No quarantine required.
Pakistanis open to all countries. No quarantine required.
The Philippines is not open for tourism but multiple groups of visa holders are allowed.
Singapore is open to travelers from 66 territories (China, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Vietnam).
South Korea is open to visitors from most countries. Quarantine is mandatory.
Sri Lankaisopen to all tourists. Health Insurance, visa and test are required.
Taiwan is open for essential travel only but opened a travel bubble with Palau on April 1.
Thailand is open to all travelers under a STV scheme (Special Tourist Visa). A 14-day quarantine is required.
Vietnam is closed for tourism but might reopen soon.
Most countries on the list have banned or restricted flights from the UK and South Africa, along with other countries who have reported new strains of COVID-19. They also may have additional requirements like negative COVID-19 test results or tests on arrival. Below you can find the specific requirements of each country.
Asian countries reopening – Latest Updates (April 6)
Brunei is open for essential travel only. Nationals, permanent residents and green card holders require permission from the Prime Minister’s Office to leave the country.
Show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility.
Foreign travelers visiting Brunei for essential reasons must pay for their quarantine accommodation, COVID-19 tests, and food.
For more information about approved accommodations click here.
Visitors who bypass quarantine may be liable for a fine up to USD $7,459.47 or imprisonment for up to six months, or even both.
Royal Brunei Airlines has canceled most of its operations until March 27, 2021.
Cambodia plans to get 20% of its populations vaccinated by mid-2021. To do so, the country has recently received its first batch of 600,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China as well as 300,000 dosis of AstraZeneca.
Domestic travel including flights between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are now operating.
Cambodia is currently open to diplomatic, official and business travelers only. The country has suspended its e-visas program so travelers will need to obtain one through an embassy or consulate in their home countries.
Have a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72-hours before arrival.
Proof that they have health insurance with coverage of at least USD $50,000.
Agree to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival at a hotel or government facility.
The visas-on-arrival program has been suspended. All travelers need to obtain a visa at a Cambodian embassy/consulate.
A deposit for USD 2000 to cover unexpected expenses related to biosafety measures.
Before arrivals can settle into quarantine accommodations, they must submit to additional COVID-19 screenings at the entry port. Everyone on the passenger manifest must wait in government-run facilities until all the tests come back clear. If even one test returns positive, then everyone on the flight, boat, or train must quarantine in a government facility for two weeks, the expenses for food and accommodation will be taken out of your deposit money.
For the very first time in more than a year, China is reportedly having conversations with 23 countries to resume the visa/entry request process for travelers who have received two doses of the Chinese vaccine.
Visitors will still need to bring a negative COVID-19 test result and undergo a 14-day quarantine. (Source)
Using their own home-made vaccine, China has set a new goal to boost the ratio to 40 vaccines per 100 people by the end of June, 2021.
Most restrictions on local travel have been lifted and life has almost gotten back to normal. However, allowed visitors must go through a strict process of obtaining a visa, get tested for Covid-19 and undergo mandatory quarantine.
Travelers coming from Mainland China, Taiwan and Macao can all visit Hong Kong, diplomats and other essential travelers of different nationalities can be allowed as long as they acquire a proper visa.
The quarantine period for incoming travelers is now mandatory for all arrivals and it has been extended from 14 to 21 days. Travelers who have hotel reservations for a shorter period than that will be refused entry.
Present proof of having spent the 14 days prior to their arrival in Mainland China, Taiwan, or Macao and have a reservation for 21 days at a regular hotel in Hong Kong.
Visitors who have been to Bangladesh, Belgium, Ethiopia, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Romania, Ukraine, Pakistan, The Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States in the 21 days prior to their arrival in Hong Kong, must present a COVID-19 nucleic acid test negative result issued 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the aircraft.
India has tightened the entry restrictions to the 27 countries allowed. Due to an increase in coronavirus infections, allowed visitors must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival.
Also the country has decided to extend its ban on international flights once again. This means all commercial flights will be suspended until the end of March. Only international travel through official travel bubbles is allowed for now.
Certain people — including students, medical professionals, engineers, design specialists, and managers working on projects in India — are welcome back if they obtain the proper visas, test negative, and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Bali, the most famous Indonesian Island, will officially reopen some areas for tourism in July 2021. Such zones were designated as “green areas”. So far, it’s not clear if there will be any type of restrictions to access those places.
Also, Indonesia is working together with other Asian governments to reopen some “travel bubbles” that allow them to restart the tourism industry in other cities and islands of the country.
To do so, the country has created a “Penalty for Health Protocol.” Due to biosafety concerns the country has decided to strengthen their policies against tourists who don’t want to comply with the COVID-19 protocols. Bigger fines and deportations are included.
For further information on the new protocols click here.
Japan detected some of the new highly variants of the coronavirus in 20 prefectures so the government decided to tighten the restrictions. As of today, only 2,000 people (of those who are allowed for essential reasons) are permitted to enter the country per day.
Additionally, Tokyo banned foreign spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held on July 23.
“If the situation is tough, and [having foreign visitors] would make locals concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” said the new head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto.
Foreign nationals from non-banned countries who have diplomatic, work or study visas should check with the Japanese embassy in their country if they can travel and if they need to comply with additional requirements.
Diplomatic visa, work visa, or re-entry permit.
PCR COVID-19 test results that are no older than 72 hours.
Malaysia Airlines has introduced its brand-new Digital Travel Health Pass. The new app will permit passengers to schedule COVID-19 tests with trusted medical partners and upload their COVID-19 vaccination certificates. The idea is to make travel to the country easier for locals and visitors.
The country has authorized the entry of foreign students starting January 1. Other categories of allowed foreign travelers are:
Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T) and their dependents
Employment Pass (Category EP I, II and III)
Professional Visit Pass (PVP)
Dependent Pass to expatriate for all categories
Long Term Social Visit Pass (LT-SVP) to expatriate for all categories
Foreign Maid to expatriate for all categories
Spouses of Malaysian citizens are allowed to apply for an entry permit since November 20.
All travelers will be tested on arrival. This does not have any effect on their mandatory quarantine.
Travelers with a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to boarding will need to undergo a 7-day quarantine and get retested on day 5.
Travelers without a negative COVID-19 test will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine and get retested on day 8.
Myanmar is currently closed to all travelers and it may remain so for a long time since a military council has overthrown the elected government and declared a State of Emergency for a year.
Myanmar continues to have a heavy lockdown that includes curfews, domestic travel restrictions and a ban on all international flights. It does not seem like Myanmar is planning to reopen any time soon.
The Nepali government has announced that all visitors who have been administered two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine over the last 14 days will be allowed in Nepal without having to undergo a quarantine period. This move is an attempt to attract visitors for the mountaineering and trekking season.
Not all countries can afford a pandemic. Not all can invest in complex systems and resources to respond to COVID-19. That’s the case of India, a country that has had to go back to “almost normal.” As of today, political leaders are organizing mass rallies, nightclubs remain full, schools and universities have reopened and sports venues are also open for fans.
Any type of visa
Negative results of a COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before arrival.
Booking in an approved hotel for a 7-day mandatory quarantine. On day 5 of their quarantine, they will get retested.
Trekkers and Mountaineers need to bring proof of insurance that covers COVID-19 up to, at least, US $5,000.
Pakistan has eased the COVID-19 restrictions. Starting March 15, the government will allow indoor activities such as weddings, cinemas and shrines. Also, commercial activities and amusement parks will be allowed to open for business without a time limit.
From March 20, the Filipino government banned the entry of all international tourists and returning Filipino nationals who are not part of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
As of today, all visitors are compelled to book a room at a government-designated facility to quarantine upon arrival and take the extra COVID-19 tests. All at the visitors’ expense.
On March 4, the country received its first batch of 487,000 AstraZeneca Plc. vaccines from the COVAX program. The country will start its vaccination rollout this week with another 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd. jabs donated by China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that with the new vaccines the country would be easing restrictions soon.
Quarantine for 14 days or until negative test results are made available
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, the Singapore government is working on ensuring the safety reopening of its borders this year. The country is determined to secure Changi Airport’s position as an international hub based on new biosecurity protocols.
Singapore has added Taiwan to the list of countries allowed entry through their Air Travel Pass agreement. Other countries on the list are Australia, Brunei, China, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Travelers coming from other countries will need to be holders of a long-term visit pass (for work, study, business and others) and obtain an Approval Letter issued by the respective Ministry to be allowed entry.
Negative COVID-19 test results (or a test on arrival for Air Travel Pass visitors)
Agree to a 14-day quarantine
South Korea Reopening
South Korea continues to be open to tourists with restrictions. However, the government is reportedly negotiating travel bubbles with a number of Asian countries. The beneficiaries of these new agreements will forgo quarantine and other requirements. The names of these countries have not been released yet but Australia and Japan are two of the candidates. (Source)
The country has introduced an additional entry requirement for all foreign arrivals, they will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours prior to departure.
South Korean citizens and permanent residents are exempted unless they are returning to the country from the U.K., South Africa, or Brazil.
Foreign travelers will need a visa and present proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
All travelers will need to quarantine for 14 days at their own cost
Nationals returning from the UK, South Africa or Brazil need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. (source)
Sri Lanka Reopening
Sri Lanka continues to be open for tourism and the industry is now thriving. As of now, most of its tourists come from Belarus, China, Russia and Germany, but it is Ukraine, the country that is currently representing the 86.8% of its visitors.
Countries need to get creative in order to reopen for tourism. Sri Lanka is trying a “new concept” developed by the tourism authority. This new strategy allows groups of tourists to visit the country in “bio-bubbles” which means that visitors can enjoy the country’s tourist destinations but are not allowed to get in contact with locals to avoid the spread of the virus.
Traveling from the UK is still banned and special conditions may apply to other countries. Check the complete information here.
Bring a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 96 hours before departure.
Pay for on-site COVID-19 testing and health insurance
Bring proof of a reservation for 14 days at a hotel in Sri Lanka
Visitors cannot leave their hotels for 14 days but they can enjoy the hotel facilities and common areas.
On April 1, Taiwan opened its first “travel bubble” with Palau, one of the few countries in the world with zero COVID-19 cases or deaths. The first flight took off from Taipei to Palau international airport carrying Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Jr. and first lady Valerie Whipps among the 100 lucky tourists.
“We are opening this travel bubble in hopes of boosting tourism and economic activities for both (sides) while preventing the spread of Covid-19.” Said the Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.
The island has instituted group quarantine facilities for travelers from the UK, South Africa and the Kingdom of Eswatini. They have also banned passengers in transit through their airports
The Thai government has decided to reopen some areas of the country and remove the quarantine restrictions in October, 2021.
The good news is that Thailand’s Minister of Tourism, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has proposed to reopen Phuket, the most visited island with the same conditions in July. The decision has not been officially announced yet.
By summer, an important number of potential visitors will be vaccinated and that’s why they think it could be a key date to reopen.
Thailand is open to tourists from all countries with its long-stay STV scheme first introduced in October 2020. This allows visitors to stay in the country for a 90-day period and can be renewed twice.
Travelers must also submit proof of an insurance policy that covers treatment for Covid-19 up to the cost of $100,000 and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
Last week, Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyễn Xuân Phúc spoke with his ministers about starting working on a reopening plan for international visitors and also to create some protocols for the so-called “vaccination passports.” “The war against the virus is not over and there is still a lot to do.” said the Prime Minister.