asian countries opening borders

Asian Countries Open for Tourism: September 2021 Update

Despite the third and fourth waves of COVID-19 infections, most Asian countries continue efficiently managing the pandemic keeping death tolls low. 

This is especially true on that side of the world, where many countries are settling into a “new normal” way of life. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the current border status of 21 Asian countries reopening (or not) for tourism.

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Check also: Countries Open for Vaccinated Tourists

Which Asian countries are open for tourism?

  • Brunei is open to nationals, residents, and green card holders. All visitors must pay for their mandatory quarantine and COVID-19 tests.
  • Cambodia is open to diplomatic, official and business travelers only but it may reopen for tourism in October or November. 
  • China is open to foreign nationals with work or residence visas.
  • Hong Kong is open to China, Taiwan, Macao, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other few low-risk countries. The reopening for returning workers has been put off.
  • India is open to 28 countries for essential reasons. Travel ban extended through Sept. 30.
  • Indonesia (Bali) is open to business visa holders of all nationalities. Bali will not reopen in September.
  • Japan is open for essential travelers only.
  • Maldives is open to most countries. No mandatory quarantine.
  • Laos is open for essential travel only.
  • Malaysia is open for multiple types of visa holders. Quarantine is required. 
  • Maldives is open for tourism. No quarantine is required. 
  • Myanmar is close to all visitors.
  • Nepal resumed commercial flights on June 24.
  • Pakistan is open to all countries. No quarantine required. New – Proof of vaccination is now mandatory
  • The Philippines is not open for tourism but returning nationals from 57 countries can now come back. 
  • Singapore is open for tourism to Australia, China, New Zealand and Taiwan and will reopen to Germany, Brunei, Hong Kong and Macau on September 8.
  • South Korea is open to visitors from most countries. Quarantine is mandatory.
  • Sri Lanka is open to all tourists from multiple countries. Health Insurance, visa and test are required.
  • Taiwan is open for essential travel only.
  • Thailand reopened Phuket on July 1, and 9 more islands on August 1.
  • Vietnam is closed for tourism but will reopen its island Phu Quoc in September.

Most countries on the list have banned or restricted flights from the UK, Brazil and South Africa, along with other countries who have reported new strains of COVID-19.

Asian countries open for tourism – Latest Updates (September 6)

Brunei 

Mosque in Brunei

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. 

Entry requirements:

  • 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 Reopening

Cambodia

Cambodia might reopen for fully-vaccinated international travelers around January 16, 2022, as the government will host the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), or even possibly as early as October-November, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) president Chhay Sivlin said.

“We believe that the reopening of receiving tourists will help restore tourism as soon as possible, we can no longer procrastinate. All businesses have been idling around for almost two years, making it very cumbersome for them to recover,” Sivlin said.

Currently, Cambodia is 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.

Entry requirements – Updated

  1. Have a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72-hours before arrival.
  2. Proof that they have health insurance with coverage of at least USD $50,000.
  3. Agree to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival at a hotel or government facility.
  4. The visas-on-arrival program has been suspended. All travelers need to obtain a visa at a Cambodian embassy/consulate.
  5. A deposit for USD 2,000 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. Passengers must wait in government-run facilities until all their tests come back clear. 

If even one test returns positive, then everyone on the flight, boat, or train must undergo quarantine at a government facility for two weeks. The expenses for food and accommodation will be taken out of your deposit money.

China Reopening

China

For the very first time in more than a year, China is reportedly having conversations with multiple 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 14-21 day quarantine.

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.

As of today, China is open to foreign nationals with work or residence visas, or those who need to travel for family reunification. Commercial airlines are covering multiple routes.

Entry requirements:

Check the full and updated post on China reopening borders to foreigners!

Hong Kong Reopening

Hong Kong

Nationals and residents returning from China, Taiwan, Macao, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and another handful of low-risk countries will be allowed entry under a new 7-day quarantine scheme.

This is a huge improvement in Hong Kong’s rather strict travel policies. In most cases, arrivals must quarantine for up to 21 days. These favored travelers still need to spend the first week at a quarantine hotel, then observe 7 days of self-monitoring and take a mandatory COVID-19 test on day 12th of their arrival. 

Hong Kong was set to allow entry to fully vaccinated returning nationals and work visa holders from “high-risk” countries but now the government has put off its initiative fearing the move could jeopardize its travel bubble agreement with China.

Other essential travelers who don’t belong to the mentioned categories, such as diplomats and students, still need to undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine, plus agree to the rest of the regular restrictions.

Entry requirements for people coming from medium or high-risk countries.

  • Agree to undergo a 21-day quarantine at a designated quarantine hotel
  • 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.

Read our full post on Hong Kong reopening borders.

India Reopening

India

India has tightened entry restrictions for its 28 travel bubbles due to a spike in coronavirus infections. 

All allowed visitors must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival. Quarantine may apply depending on visitors’ country of embarkment/transit.

India’s borders are open to foreign nationals who hold a work or residence visa, as well as returning citizens and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). Tourist visa holders are not admitted at the moment.

The country has recently extended its ban on international visitors through August 31. Arrivals visiting from any of India’s 28 travel agreements are still allowed to enter. 

However, people who have been to Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa, must take an additional COVID-19 test on arrival at their own expense. When a test returns positive, the traveler will need to quarantine for 14 days at minimum. 

Entry requirements

  • Agree to a 7-day quarantine at a government facility, followed by 7 more days of self-isolation at home (applies for New Delhi, quarantine policies in other regions may vary.)
  • Submit a self-declaration through the New Delhi Airport website 72 hours before your arrival in India.

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.

Also read India opening tourism.

Indonesia Reopening

Indonesia

Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Cultural Economy Sandiaga Uno was targeting August or September to reopen at least Bali, but a spike in coronavirus cases has forced officials to suspend their plans.

Governor of Bali Wayne Coaster has confirmed the country’s biggest tourism hub – Bali – will not reopen to international tourists in Sept.

Coaster cited the rising number of cases reported across the country over the last weeks as the grounds for his decision.

Fortunately, the coronavirus cases have started to decrease on some islands and the government decided to start reopening its economy.

Restaurants, malls and places of worship in the capital Jakarta and Bali have reopened at a limited capacity, President Joko Widodo announced a few weeks ago.

For further information on the new protocols click here.

As of today, Indonesia is open to business visa holders of all nationalities.

Entry requirements

  • Visa
  • Health certificate from the country of origin
  • Negative PCR COVID-19 test results
  • Agree to health screenings and self-isolation for 14 days at home (if not infected) or a government-approved facility (if infected)

For more details, check out the full post on Indonesia reopening borders and Bali opening tourism.

Japan Reopening

japan reopening borders

Japan detected some of the new highly-contagious 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.  

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.

Entry requirements

  • Diplomatic visa, work visa, or re-entry permit.
  • PCR COVID-19 test results no older than 72 hours.
  • Agree to get tested on arrival (at no cost)
  • Complete an online health declaration
  • Agree to a 14-day quarantine 

Read the full post on Japan opening for tourism for the latest updates!

Maldives Reopening

Maldives

Maldives was open to all countries but since the islands are going through a severe spike in COVID-19 cases, the country has decided to halt flights from India and other South Asian countries until further notice. 

The rest of travelers are welcome in Maldives. They only need to bring their negative PCR test results. Visas are issued on arrival at no cost. No quarantine is required, but if a visitor gets in close contact with a positive patient they will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Check out full post: Maldives is open for tourism

Entry requirements

  • Booking at a hotel, resort, or any other government-approved lodging facility.
  • Negative results of a PCR COVID-19 test taken in the 92 hours before departure.
  • Agree to undergo health screenings on arrival, and additional testing if necessary.

Laos Reopening

Laos

Laos is not welcoming foreign tourists just yet. Although many of the internal measures -lockdowns and travel restrictions- have been relaxed, airports remain closed to international commercial flights.

In order to be granted entry, visitors need to request a special permit from the Laos’ government explaining the type of emergency that forces the traveler to visit the country.

The country only allows one or two international humanitarian flights with Korea every two weeks, and a weekly UN humanitarian one to/from Malaysia. 

Inside the country the situation is quite normal. Domestic flights continue to be fully operational, restaurants, grocery stores, and schools and universities are open, and even large gatherings such as religious ceremonies, and karaoke sites are open for business.

Entry requirements

  • Negative PCR COVID-19 test results
  • Agree to a 14-day quarantine

Malaysia Reopening

Malaysia

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.

Also read: Malaysia reopening!

Entry Requirements

  • Apply for permission to enter through MyTravel Pass portal
  • 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 Reopening

Myanmar

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.

Nepal Reopening

Nepal

Nepal resumed commercial flights to and from Kathmandu on June 24. Multiple restrictions apply.

Also, according to the U.S. embassy in Nepal, the Nepali government announced the reopening for American travelers a few days ago. 

U.S. visitors still need to obtain a tourist visa from a Nepali diplomatic mission abroad or obtain a pre-approval recommendation from the concerned ministry for ensuring their on-arrival visa. 

Also read: Nepal reopening for tourism – Travel restrictions

Entry requirements

If allowed, visitors must bring, 

  • A proper visa.
  • Negative results of a COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before arrival.
  • Booking in an approved hotel for a 10-day mandatory quarantine. On day 10 of their quarantine, they will get retested regardless of their symptoms. 
  • Trekkers and Mountaineers need to bring proof of insurance that covers COVID-19 up to, at least, US $5,000.

Special entry requirements for Mount Everest climbers

Apart from the insurance that covers COVID-19 related expenses, Mount Everest climbers will need to agree to potential additional testing, mandatory face mask wearing, and mandatory social distancing during the climbing period. 

The Nepali government has stationed trained medical personnel at the Base Camp to deal with infected patients but this is increasing the total costs of the trip.

Check our post for more information about when is Nepal opening for tourism?.

Pakistan Reopening

pakistan reopening borders

Pakistan has ordered an 80% reduction of international flight operations and the closure of most non-essential business including tourist spots.

Effective August 1, all domestic air travelers must provide proof of vaccination, according to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC).

Important! – In certain provinces only fully vaccinated people will have access to public transportation.

For further information, click here.

Entry requirements for allowed visitors

Philippines Reopening

Philippines

Although the Philippines is not open for tourism, President Duterte has decided to permit returning nationals and people visiting for essential reasons from 57 low-risk countries to enter the territory under a reduced 7-day quarantine.

“Those who received full vaccination outside the Philippines need to bring the official documents stating you were already vaccinated,” said a government spokesperson at a conference some days ago. 

This is a huge step for the Philippines that only allowed returning nationals who had received their vaccination curse in the Philippines. 

Additionally, 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.

Also read: Philippines reopening for tourism

Entry requirements

  • Get tested for COVID-19 on arrival
  • Present a reservation for at least days at a pre-approved quarantine hotel or facility
  • Quarantine for 14 days or until negative test results are made available

Singapore Reopening

Singapore

The Singaporean aviation regulator stated the country will accept vaccinated travelers over the months to come. The government will accept the International Air Transport Association (IATA) mobile travel pass for pre-departure checks. Travelers must upload their vaccination certificates from accredited laboratories to the app so they can get clearance to enter the country.

Singapore has eased entry restrictions for visitors from Germany, Brunei, Hong Kong and Macau. 

The travel bubble with Germany and Brunei will open on Sept. 8.

Visitors from these 2 countries will need to be fully vaccinated, download a contact tracing app for use while in Singapore and spend the 21 previous days in either Germany or Brunei.

Entry restrictions for visitors from Hong Kong and Macau would be a bit easier.

So far, Singapore is open for tourism to Australia, China, New Zealand and Taiwan thanks to its Air Travel Pass agreement.

Travelers coming from other countries will need to get 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.

Entry requirements

  • Negative COVID-19 test results (or a test on arrival for Air Travel Pass visitors)
  • Agree to a 14-day quarantine
  • Proof of vaccination against COVID-19

Also read: Singapore is open for some tourists but reimposing strict local restrictions

South Korea Reopening

South Korea

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.

Entry requirements

  • 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

Sri Lanka reopened for tourism from June 1. The country had to temporarily close its borders due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, but it is open again. Commercial airlines can operate at a limited capacity.

People who have visited or transited through India, South Africa, Vietnam, as well as South American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela over the last 2 weeks will be denied entry regardless of nationality or vaccination status. 

Check our full post Sri Lanka opening for tourism!

Entry requirements

  • Apply for a visa or travel permit online here.
  • Bring a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before departure.
  • Pay for on-site COVID-19 testing and health insurance.
  • Undergo a 14-day quarantine regardless of vaccination status at a government-designated facility.

Visitors cannot leave their hotels for 14 days but they can enjoy the hotel facilities and common areas.

Taiwan Reopening

taiwan reopening - asian countries

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

Entry requirements to the rest of visitors

  • Negative PCR COVID-19 test results, in English or Chinese issued within three days before boarding.
  • Show proof of a reservation at an approved hotel or quarantine facility.
  • Mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility or a government-approved hotel (residents can stay at their homes if they can prove is a one person household)

Check our full post Taiwan opening for tourists!

Thailand Reopening

Thailand

Thailand reopened its resort island Phuket on July 1 and 9 other Thai islands from August 1.

“I’m very excited that it’s finally happening,” said Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, the head of the Phuket branch of the Thai tourism authority. “Business here has been devastated. With this reopening, at least the people are being given the chance to welcome tourists again.”

Once fully vaccinated travelers have spent at least 7 days in the “Phuket-Sandbox,” they will be given the option to visit other 9 Thai islands. 

The ones included in the initiative are Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, Railay, Khao Lak, Koh Yao Yai, and Koh Yao Noi in Phangnga.

To be eligible, visitors need to be able to demonstrate they received the last shot of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival in Thailand. 

Furthermore, the country is set to fully reopen for tourism in mid-October, according to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chanocha.

Check our full post:  Thailand opening for tourism!

Vietnam Reopening

vietnam reopening borders

Vietnam is set to reopen its island Phu Quoc for international tourism in September. The government is confident they will have vaccinated 90% of the island’s population by then. 

If this reopening is successful, the government would reopen other areas of the country right after. 

Fully-vaccinated Russian tourists would be among the first tourists allowed to visit the country. 

Also, Vietnam resumed international flights to and from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh from June 2 after closing airports following a series of concerns about a new hybrid variant linked to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

As of today, Vietnam borders still remain closed for most types of travel. Only pre-approved diplomats, returning citizens, officials, experts, business managers, foreign investors, high-tech workers and essential workers will be considered to be granted entry.