If you are determined to travel to Southeast Asia soon there are some options, although they may be limited by where you are from.
We have scoured all the available information for the latest details for the region.
Don’t forget to check local travel information in your own country which may place additional travel restrictions or quarantine on your return.
Singapore has recently introduced a number of schemes to allow travel.
Air Travel Pass (ATP)
The ATP has been introduced to allow short-term visitors from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Mainland China, New Zealand and Vietnam. Visitors from Taiwan will also be able to access the ATP from 18th December.
Visitors must apply for the ATP between 7 and 30 days prior to the date of entry into Singapore. The ATP has a number of conditions attached which includes downloading and using a tracking app and a mandatory COVID-19 test on arrival and remain in isolation until a negative result is received.
Safe Travel Pass (STP)
The STP allows inbound travellers make essential business and official travel to Singapore from Japan, Republic of Korea and six Chinese provinces and municipalities (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang).
Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL)
The RGL scheme allows short-term travel for essential business and official purposes between Brunei Darussalam, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mainland China (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang), Malaysia and Republic of Korea.
Discussions are taking place with Vietnam about creating a Green Lane from early 2021.
Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA)
The PCA allows Singapore and Malaysia residents, who hold valid work passes in the other country, to enter that country for work.
Short-term business travel to Singapore will be allowed from mid-January without the need for quarantine.
The Connect@Singapore scheme will be open to a limited number of business, official and high economic value travellers entering and staying in Singapore for up to 14 days.
Unfortunately an increase in numbers of Covid cases in Hong Kong delayed the introduction of the scheme until at least early 2021.
Transit through Changi Airport is available but only on certain routes and travellers must be flying on Singapore Airlines, Scoot or SilkAir to be eligible to transit. Check with your airline before undertaking a journey via Singapore.
More information is available in our article Singapore Tourism Update.
Thailand, on the face of it, has started to re-open its borders to tourists. The reality is that numbers are heavily restricted and the conditions to gain a visa and enter the country will put most travellers off.
Reports in some areas of the media that “visa on arrival” was now available again are very misleading. The update related to the extension of the STV and TV while in the country and not for new arrivals. You must still obtain a visa and Certificate of Entry before you travel to Thailand.
Full details of the latest Visa’s available for Thailand.
Special Tourist Visa (STV)
The Special Tourist Visa (STV) is designed for long stay travellers to visit Thailand. The requirement for visitors to be from low-risk countries has now been removed and the visa is available at all Thai embassies.
The STV allows tourists to stay for up to 90 days although it can be extended up to a maximum of 270 days.
The first visitors under the STV arrived in Bangkok from China on 20th October. More have since followed but in very small numbers.
Tourist Visa (TV)
The Tourist Visa (TV) allows stays for an initial 60, which can be extended for up to an additional 45 days. The extension is only available to the 55 countries who were part of the pre-pandemic “visa exempt” agreement, which included Australia, UK, USA and mush of mainland Europe and Asia. It is also available to Russians but not those from China or India.
Tourist Visa (TV)
The Tourist Visa (TV) allows stays for an initial 60, which can be extended for up to an additional 45 days.
The extension is only available to the 55 countries who were part of the pre-pandemic “visa exempt” agreement, which included Australia, UK, USA and mush of mainland Europe and Asia. It is also available to Russians but not those from China or India.
The first 14 days would need to be spent in quarantine in a registered Thai hotel.
Our Thailand Tourism Update article has more details.
Malaysia currently prohibits entry into the country to the vast majority of foreign nationals. At the present time there are no plans to open borders to foreign tourists for the rest of 2020.
Malaysia is allowing medical tourists from Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea under certain conditions.
Transit through Malaysia is allowed if you have a connecting flight through Kuala Lumpur Airport, remain air-side and do not need to transit between terminals.
Our article Malaysia Tourism Update includes the latest information on tourism in Malaysia.
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.
Discussions are taking place with Singapore about creating a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) from early 2021 which would allow short-term travel for essential business and official purposes.
The first signs of preparations to re-open the borders have been seen recently – Vietnam Preparing to Open to Tourists
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$2,000 (down from the original charge of 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
Even if you are prepared to go through all of the conditions, it is far from certain that a visa will be granted and flights into the country are very limited.
All foreign nationals are barred from entering and transiting through Indonesia except:
- foreign nationals with limited (KITAS) and permanent stay (KITAP) permits.
- foreign nationals with diplomatic visa and working visa
- holders of diplomatic stay permits and business stay permits
- those working on medical and food assistance
- transportation (air, sea, or land) crew
- foreign nationals working on national strategic projects
Even if you are in one of the above groups you will need pass additional health related tests.
Reports that Bali was hoping to reopen to foreign visitors in December were premature. The Indonesian government is still hoping to re-open Bali to international travellers as soon as cases in the region have reduced to, or near, zero.
The Philippines is currently not open to foreign tourists although some holders of long-term visas are now permitted entry.
Domestic tourism is being actively promoted and encouraged with a number of areas now opening. The Philippines is also starting to allow nationals to leave the country for tourism elsewhere.
Laos is currently only issuing visas in exceptional circumstances.
Anyone who is allowed to enter Laos is required to complete a COVID-19 test on arrival, positive cases will be admitted to hospital, negative cases will be required to quarantine in a designated location.
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Visas are available for Timor but you will need to quarantine for 14 days in a government facility or in your approved accommodation. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you will be taken to a health facility for a COVID-19 test and, if positive, will be subject to isolation. There are also health control measures in place on exit from the country.
All people entering Timor will also be required to quarantine for 14 days either in a government facility or approved accommodation.
The situation can change quickly in Timor-Leste however.
Entry to Brunei is severely restricted and you must apply for a permit to enter or exit Brunei through the Prime Ministers Office. If granted a permit to enter you would need to provide a negative COVID-19 test on arrival, obtained within 72 hours of travel.
In additiona all travellers entering or leaving Brunei via a land border will be required to pay $3 BND per person on exit and $3 BND on return or entry.
All international passenger flights are suspended and tourist visas are not being issued. Business visas are available where there is a “compelling case”.
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