If like me you are itching to get on a plane again, or just dreaming of that next holiday, it is important to know the options and current situation.
In this update to my article South-East Asia, Open to Travel, I look at the current situation throughout the region.
We also regularly update our South East Asia COVID-19 statistics post which includes the latest information on cases, recoveries and deaths throughout the region.
Jack’s Flight Club offer regular flight details to destinations all over the world including South-East Asia
Government Advice and Quarantine
For travellers from the UK it is important to understand the consequences of travelling abroad. Each of the individual UK countries has their own list so it is important to look at the list for the country that you live in.
There are two lists that you need to be aware of.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) have always published a list of countries where there are travel advisories or in extreme cases, countries where they advise against all but essential travel.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the list of countries where they have advised against travel has expanded to include many, many more countries. It is important to check this list to see if your country of choice has been excluded from the list and where travel is now permitted, if that country will let you in.
The second list is more complicated because England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all publish their own lists. These are the quarantine lists, where you are required to self-isolate for 14 days on returning from one of these countries.
To make matters worse if you travel back from a country that is exempt from quarantine via a country that is not exempt, you would still have to quarantine. So that change of plane could be a costly one.
The quarantine list is becoming ever more controversial.
Whole countries have been added to the list despite having only localised issues.
We have seen over the last two weeks a number of countries being put back onto the quarantine list following increases of cases within that country. These changes have happened at very short notice leading to many people desperate to return home prior to the quarantine period starting.
Other countries, including a number in South East Asia, remain on the quarantine list despite recording low recent numbers, that would put them under the government set threshold.
Country by Country
It is important to understand the changing nature in destination countries as well.
Flights are being sold for future dates to many countries which do not currently allow foreign travelers entry, which can cause confusion.
Just because a country is not shown on the UK Government lists does not mean that you can travel to them at the present time.
Currently there are very limited opportunities to travel to countries in South East Asia.
COVID-19 statistics were updated on 11th September.
Brunei is now exempt from the FCDO advice against all but essential travel advice and there is no requirement to self-isolate on return.
However entry to Brunei is severely restricted and is unclear who, if any, foreign nationals would be allowed into the country. If you are allowed in you will need to quarantine for 14 days at a government facility (at your expenses) and pay for a COVID-19 test.
Brunei has reported 141 cases of COVID-19, with 138 recovered and 2 deaths
Cambodia is now exempt from FCDO advice but you would need to quarantine on your return.
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.
- If one person on a flight tests positive, then all passengers will be quarantined
Land and Mekong River borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are all still closed.
Cambodia has reported 275 total cases of COVID-19 with 274 recovered and no reported deaths. See our full article on how Cambodia has dealt with COVID-19.
FCDO still advises against all but essential travel to Indonesia, anyone returning from Indonesia would need to self-isolate.
Indonesia has reported more than 232,000 cases of COVID-19, just under 167,000 have recovered but there have been 9,222 deaths. See our full article on how Indonesia has dealt with COVID-19.
Laos is now exempt from FCDO advice but you would need to quarantine on your return.
Laos is not currently issuing Visas to people from countries with a history of COVID-19 including the UK.
Laos has reported 23 total cases of COVID-19 with 22 so far recovered and no reported deaths
Malaysia is now exempt from the FCDO advice against all but essential travel advice and the requirement to self-isolate on return has also now been withdrawn.
Malaysia currently prohibits entry into the country to foreign nationals. Following an announcement on 1st September extending the RMCO until 31st December 2020 it is highly unlikely that foreign tourists will be allowed into Malaysia until 2021.
You can transit through Kuala Lumpur International Airport as long as you remain airside.
Malaysia has reported 10,031 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 9,235 recovered and 128 deaths. See our full article on how Malaysia has dealt with COVID-19.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Myanmar.
Myanmar has seen a recent rapid increase in cases and deaths in the last three weeks and has now reported 3,894 cases of COVID-19, 908 as recovered and 46 deaths.
FCDO still advises against all but essential travel to the Philippines.
The Philippines has seen the most cases of COVID-19 within South East Asia currently reported 276,289 cases of COVID-19, 208,096 as recovered and 4,785 deaths. See our full article on how the Philippines has dealt with COVID-19.
Singapore is now exempt from the FCDO advice against all but essential travel advice and from 4:00 am on 19th September there is no longer the requirement to self-isolate on return.
However Singapore is still closed to foreign nationals without specific permission. If you have extenuating circumstances and you need to enter Singapore, you will only be permitted entry if you have been issued a ‘SafeTravel Pass’.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is allowing transit through authorised airlines but at the present time it is only possible in certain circumstances. Check with your airline before uattempting to travel via Singapore.
Singapore has reported 57,532 cases of COVID-19, 56,955 have recovered and 27 deaths. See our full article on how Singapore has dealt with COVID-19.
Thailand is now exempt from the FCDO advice against all but essential travel advice and from 4:00 am on 19th September there is no longer 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 are due to launch an STV programme in October, due to run until at least November 2021. This scheme will allow foreign tourists too stay for up to 90 days and could be extended up to twice to a maximum of 270 days.
All foreign tourists under the scheme would need to quarantine for 14 days in a hospital or Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel on arrival. They would also need to have proof of long-stay plans, for example booked accommodation, following quarantine. They would also need a COVID-19 free certificate and suitable health insurance.
Thailand has reported 3,490 total cases of COVID-19 with 3,325 recovered and 128 deaths. See our full article on how Thailand has dealt with COVID-19.
FCDO still advises against all but essential travel to Timor-Leste (East Timor).
Timor-Leste has reported 27 cases of COVID-19, 26 as recovered and no deaths.
Vietnam is exempt from the FCDO advice against all but essential travel advice and there is no requirement to self-isolate on return.
Vietnam was held up by many as being a success story in their fight against COVID-19. Despite sharing a border with China and attracting many Chinese visitors (including from Wuhan), the country kept infections very low and had no recorded deaths.
However a second outbreak occurred in Da Nang following the opening of tourism to Vietnamese. Almost 100,000 people were evacuated from the area back to their homes throughout Vietnam. Cases more than doubled and deaths occurred following this outbreak.
Vietnam has not yet opened its borders to foreign travelers, apart from a few specific exemptions. So for the time being you cannot travel into Vietnam.
Vietnam has reported 1,063 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 936 recovered and 35 deaths. See our full article on how Vietnam has dealt with COVID-19.
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 a limited number of companies who offer both cancellation cover and medical cover abroad for coronavirus, although there are key exemptions even for these. Companies offering this type of cover include CoverForYou, Coverwise and Trailfinders.
Read our COVID-19 Guide to Travel Insurance for more information.
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.
Most countries that are allowing travel reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone who may have a high temperature or do not pass certain travel and entry requirements.
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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