Travelling may once have been a luxury for some but for the past few months it has been nigh on impossible.
The world has been on lockdown.
In the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against non-essential international travel, and then the UK Government implemented a 14 day quarantine for anyone returning from abroad.
There was joy for many in the UK though when travel was put back on the options list when it was announced that from 10th July dozens of countries would have a travel corridor exemption meaning you would not need to self-isolate on your return.
But what does this actually mean?
Jack’s Flight Club offer regular flight details to destinations all over the world including South-East Asia
The travel corridor list only currently applies if you are travelling back to England as agreement could not be reached with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland authorities. Update: Scotland has now (8th July) published its own quarantine exemption list
The only South-East Asian country to be included on the initial Travel Corridors list was Vietnam. The list is likely to be change regularly over the upcoming weeks and months with additional countries being added to the list but there is also the risk of countries being removed if their situation worsens.
Just to make matters more confusing there is a second list, this time of countries that the FCO have exempted from their travel guidance against non-essential travel.
This list includes South-East Asian countries, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Meaning in theory you can travel to these countries although with the exception of Vietnam would still need to self-isolate on your return.
Country by Country
Let’s look at Vietnam first as it’s the only South-East Asian country on both English and Scottish exemption lists.
Life has returned to normal, in many ways, in Vietnam which locked down very early. As a country that has suffered from pandemics in the past they have a very good system in place to identify and react to threats. They have reported no Covid-19 deaths and the case of a British pilot who was on life support in hospital for 65 days has been celebrated as he prepares to work back to the UK. Face coverings are not required in most places apart from some hospitals and public transport.
Now the bad news. Vietnam has not yet opened its borders to foreign travellers. So for the time being you cannot travel into Vietnam.
Vietnam has reported 369 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 341 recovered and no reported deaths.
Not listed on either exemption list so it is highly advisable not to travel to Cambodia as your travel insurance would be invalid.
In theory the air border is open but you have to:
- Get a visa before arrival, you cannot get a visa on entry at the present time
- Have a medical certificate from a “competent” health authority stating you do not have Covid-19 dated no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Have proof of insurance including a minimum of US$50,000 medical cover
- Deposit US$3,000 for Covid-19 service charges which includes a Covid test plus overnight stay at a hotel while waiting for results. If you test negative and have no further issues then you will get any remaining money refunded when you leave.
Land and Mekong River borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are all still closed.
Cambodia has reported 141 total cases of Covid-19 with 131 so far recovered and no reported deaths
FCO still advises against all but essential travel to Laos.
Laos has reported 19 total cases of Covid-19 with 19 so far recovered and no reported deaths
Thailand is now exempt from the FCO advice against all but essential travel advice but there is still the requirement to self-isolate on return.
At the present time very few foreign nationals are being allowed into Thailand which does not include tourists.
Thailand has reported 3,195 total cases of Covid-19 with more than 3,000 recovered and 58 reported deaths.
Singapore is now exempt from the FCO advice against all but essential travel advice but there is still the requirement to self-isolate on return.
However Singapore is still closed to foreign nationals without specific permission.
Singapore has reported more than 45,000 cases of Covid-19
Brunei is now exempt from the FCO advice against all but essential travel advice but there is still the requirement to self-isolate on return.
Entry to Brunei is severely restricted and is unclear who, if any, foreign nationals would be allowed into the country.
Brunei has reported 141 cases of Covid-19, 138 recovered and 3 deaths
FCO still advises against all but essential travel to Indonesia.
Indonesia has reported more than 66,000 cases of Covid-19, just over 30,000 recovered and 3,309 deaths
Malaysia is now exempt from the FCO advice against all but essential travel advice but there is still the requirement to self-isolate on return.
Malaysia currently prohibits entry into the country to foreign nationals.
Malaysia has reported 8,668 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with almost 8,500 recovered and 121 deaths
The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Myanmar.
Myanmar has reported 316 cases of Covid-19 and 6 reported deaths
FCO still advises against all but essential travel to the Philippines
The Philippines has reported 47,873 cases of Covid-19 and 1,309 deaths
It is even more essential to have good travel insurance now than it was before the pandemic. However your options for cover are limited if you want coronavirus to be included.
At the time of writing we have only found AXA, CoverForYou, Coverwise and Trailfinders who offer both cancellation cover and medical cover abroad for coronavirus. Read our COVID-19 Travel Insurance Guide.
All Clear, Leisure Guard, Post Office, Saga and Staysure all offer medical cover abroad but not cancellation cover.
It is important to check exactly what is covered and what isn’t as they may vary greatly between different insurers. Remember you must not travel against Government advice otherwise your insurance will be invalid.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms you must not attempt to travel.
What Do You Think?
Is it too much of a risk to book a South-East Asia trip yet? When will the best time be to secure good deals with less risk? Share your travel plans.
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