Unlocking Asia Pacific Travel: Which Countries Are Open for Tourism Now?
Asia Pacific countries are in the early stages of reopening their borders to tourism. Learn about travel restrictions by country, re-opening dates, new visa regulations, COVID-19 testing, quarantine procedures, and in general what to expect when planning your next trip to Asia now.
This page is updated frequently with the most recent news. For general COVID-19-related health advice please visit the WHO website.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia Pacific has taken the cautious approach to inbound travel and has had some of the strictest border restrictions and closures. At the moment, the nations of the region are in the beginning stages of reopening their borders for tourism, with every country introducing its own regulations.
The “unlocking” statuses vary widely, and travelers entering these countries may be required to do everything from self-quarantining, submitting negative COVID-19 tests, and providing proof of health insurance. Domestic travel is the first to come back to life, and you can fly between selected destinations in countries like Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Covid-19: why travel will never be the same.
International travel is still on hold, with a handful of exceptions. In Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan authorities are experimenting with country-to-country travel bubbles to jumpstart aviation, tourism, and business travel. Safe air travel corridors are being established between carefully selected airports, where quarantine-free travel is allowed (with temperature and symptom-checks still in place). We should expect a gradual addition of new “low-risk” countries to these travel bubbles, with the coronavirus-free situation being the main condition for inclusion.
There is an understandable uncertainty with how you should travel to the Asia Pacific region if you are planning to. This is why we present you the list of 20 APAC countries, along with details on the current travel situation. As each country applies precisely defined regulations, you should always check the official websites listed in the article below for the latest government’s announcements.
The situation is dynamic and national governments change the regulations in force almost every week. Countries that have already opened their borders to tourism are Indonesia, Thailand, and Maldives.
Australia’s borders are closed for international tourism. Although the first “travel bubble” with New Zealand is already in place, the Australian Government hasn’t released any official statement on further international borders reopening. Only Australian citizens, residents, immediate family members, and visitors from New Zealand can travel to Australia.
TRANSIT: Transit via Australia is allowed, as long as you are transiting for no longer than 72 hours. To transit Australia, you must hold a valid visa or be from an eligible country to Transit Without a Visa (TWOV).
TRAVEL ZONES: In the near future, it is expected that all travelers entering Australia will be assigned to one of two zones: red (arriving from a high-risk country for COVID-19) or green (arriving from a low-risk country). Only arrivals from green zone countries will be exempt from the mandatory quarantine. New Zealand remains the only “green zone country”, as the Australian Government has established a Safe Travel Zone (a “travel bubble“) with his neighboring country.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: There is a ban on overseas travel from Australia – with a few exceptions, Australian citizens are restricted from traveling to other countries. Within Australia, the situation remains unstable, with some states and territories have border closures, allowing exceptions only for emergency services. Whilst some restrictions may apply, most modes of transport are still operating, including domestic flights. Australian airlines including Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar are gradually increasing scheduled flights and re-introducing routes.
QUARANTNE MEASURES: All arriving travelers (including Australian citizens) must quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility and may be required to pay for the costs. Mandatory quarantine applies to travelers entering Australia from overseas, except if arriving from a green zone country.
Cambodia is not yet reopened for general tourism. The country has been one of the strictest territories to abide by the mandated travel bans ever since the spread of Covid. Flights to Cambodia from most neighboring countries remain indefinitely suspended and most land border checkpoints are still closed.
VISAS: The government has suspended issuing e-visas, visas on arrival, and visa-free entry. To travel to Cambodia, you will have to arrange your visa in advance, before arrival. Currently, Cambodian Embassies only accept visa applications for diplomatic, official, and business-related travels.
RESTRICTIONS: Even though the lockdown has been eased, it is still relatively difficult if you want to visit the country. Travelers who are eligible to enter Cambodia must:
present COVID-19 negative test issued no more than 72 hours prior to the travel
present health insurance of minimum coverage of $50,000
deposit $2000 at a designated bank on arrival for mandatory COVID-19 testing and potential treatment services.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Upon arrival, they will undergo another COVID-19 test and wait to receive laboratory results. If one or more travelers test positive for COVID-19, all accompanying passengers will be subject to quarantine at a location designated by Cambodian authorities.
China’s international borders have reopened for some countries in June 2020, although tourists are not welcomed yet.
China is the country that birthed the novel coronavirus as we know it. After much speculation and a complete lockdown, many world leaders around the globe were not convinced if China had completely ridden itself of the disease. Currently, China is successfully starting its ‘new normal’ phase, by reopening flight routes, hotels, and tourist attractions to the public. Domestic travel is booming as people are allowed to travel within the country and most domestic flights have resumed their operations.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: Since 28 March 2020, the country’s borders have been closed to almost all foreigners. This seems to be slowly changing. Currently, foreign nationals from selected European and Asian countries are allowed to apply for special purpose visas at a local Chinese embassy or consulate.
TRANSIT: Not permitted.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Travelers entering Mainland China must undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing on arrival and a 14-day quarantine at their own cost.
Fiji remains closed to tourism, and international flights are suspended until further notice.
ENTRY RESTRICTIONS: Currently, most foreigners are not allowed to visit Fiji. Only returning nationals are permitted to enter the country, and must undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine in a government-designated quarantine facility.
TRAVEL BUBBLES: The Fijian Government is working on a safe travel framework for the reopening of international tourism. No official date has been announced yet, however, Australians and New Zealanders are expected to be among the first nationals to be welcomed to Fiji.
As the travel bubbles becoming a popular way to gradually reopen world tourism, Fiji plans to establish “Pacific Pathways” to allow travel from nearby islands such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
For those visiting Fiji by yachts and boats, the pilot project called “blue lanes” has been established. Currently, boats coming to Fiji are carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.
Hong kong has not yet opened its borders for international tourism. Though the authorities have announced that Hong Kong will open its borders to international travelers “at some point in 2021”, the exact date has not been announced yet.
As Hong Kong is closed to tourism, non-Hong Kong residents from overseas will be denied entry in most cases. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China are exempt from restrictions provided they do not have a recent travel history elsewhere in the past 14 days.
FLIGHTS: Most airlines have completely shut down their operations. Some are still operating emergency flights serving Hong Kong citizens stuck abroad, diplomats and business executives to and from Mainland China.
TRANSIT: Transit through Hong Kong is allowed if: (1) the passenger has a connecting flight booked on the same ticket (2) all the boarding passes are alread printed (3) the baggage checked through until the final destination (4) the connection time between flights is within 24 hours.
TRAVEL BUBBLES: To form so-called “travel bubbles” the government has approached numerous overseas countries that are successful in containing the coronavirus (Thailand, Japan, Singapore among others). To be eligible to travel through these “safe travel zones”, providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test before taking off and upon arrival will be needed. Unfortunately, in view of the severity of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong Hong, the launch of quarantine-free flying has been postponed until 2021.
QUARANTINE: All arriving passengers are required to undergo a medical test for COVID-19 prior to clearing immigration and baggage collection. There is a compulsory 14-day quarantine whether a passenger is tested positive on arrival for COVID-19 or not.
TICKETS GIVEAWAY: To encourage tourism, the Hong Kong Tourism Board is planning to give 500,000 flight tickets for free, and 10,000 discounted local tours. You would need to wait for the coronavirus restrictions to be eased to take advantage of these great offers though.
India’s borders remain closed for most foreign nationals. Travel to India is restricted to specified categories of passengers, such as Indian nationals on repatriation flights, humanitarian staff, airline crews, etc. The Indian Bureau of Immigration website outlines categories of foreign nationals who are currently eligible to travel to India.
Most international flights remain suspended. All travelers eligible to enter India must submit a self-declaration form on the Newdelhiairport.in portal at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All arrivals are subject to medical screening and 14 days quarantine. An exemption from institutional quarantine may be considered if a negative RT-PCR test result has been conducted within 96 hours prior to departure.
Indonesia is not yet officially open for international tourism.
Indonesia, particularly Bali, has always been a mega tourist attraction. The pandemic has hugely impacted the tourist market that was otherwise thriving. The nation is not yet officially open for international tourism, although foreign travelers may now use long-term e-visas to enter the country.
DATE: The beginning of 2021 is often cited as the possible date for opening borders. However, taking into account the pandemic situation in Indonesia (the peak of the first wave is expected at the turn of 2021 and 2022), reopening for general tourism may be significantly delayed.
VISAS: Although cheap visa-on-arrival and the visa exemption system has been suspended for several months, visitors can now use long-term e-visas instead. It’s a gateway that the government made available in October 2020 by introducing a new e-visa system.
Any foreign nationals can apply for a single-entry visa B211A that allows staying in the country for 2 months and can be extended 4 times with 30-days extensions. It can be used by anyone who wishes to stay in Indonesia for tourism or social purposes. As you will need an Indonesian “sponsor” (someone who vouch for you), the best way to obtain a single-entry visa is to use an agent in Indonesia (cost around 7mln IDR or 480 USD). For more information read the official guide (PDF, Bahasa Indonesia) or visit e-visa section of the Indonesian immigration website.
RESTRICTIONS: As Indonesia prepares to enter a long phase of “new normal”, tourist spots are gradually reopened, including the most famous such as Borobudur Temple, Mount Bromo, Ijen Crater, national parks, beaches, etc. Visiting Bali is also possible for holders of new e-visas.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All arriving passengers are expected to bring along a negative COVID-19 PCR test (in English), which, if not present, would be conducted at their own expense upon arrival. Visitors should also have valid health/travel insurance and sign a personal statement stating their willingness to undergo quarantine for up to 14 days.
Japan is not yet opened for international tourists. The COVID-19 situation in Japan is constantly evolving. As the number of new cases has begun to stabilize, the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) is in the process of preparing for the international travel ban lifting.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: Currently, travelers from a majority of Asian, European, and American countries are denied entry, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
VISAS: Under directions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visa restrictions have been introduced, including cancellation of already-issued visas and suspension of visa-free entry.
FLIGHTS: International flights are still limited to essential travelers, government officials, and repatriated citizens. Local travel in Japan is open, though, and domestic flights have resumed at limited capacity.
TRANSIT: Allowed, if the connecting flight is on the same calendar day.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: There is a 14-days quarantine in a facility after arrival. However, travelers who can present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival, and agree to have another test done upon arrival, can circumvent the 14-day quarantine (providing both tests are negative).
Laos keeps its borders closed on international travel. Most foreigners are not allowed to visit Laos. However, the authorities may consider granting entry permission for foreigners who are experts, diplomats, technicians, or foreign nationals that are required for essential projects.
FLIGHTS: Commercial flights to and from Laos are mostly suspended except for humanitarian, medical, and repatriation purposes. Some domestic flights are gradually being resumed.
VISAS: From March 18, 2020, all tourist visas are suspended until further notice. This restriction applies to the visa on arrival, eVisa, and all visa exemptions.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All arrivals testing negative for COVID-19 will have to undergo 14 days quarantine at designated locations (with all expenses covered by the passenger).
Malaysia is not yet reopened for general tourism. The recent updates point that Malaysia may only start allowing international travelers from the second quarter of 2021.
ENTRY RESTRICTIONS: Passengers (except Malaysian nationals, permanent residents, work pass and MM2H permit holders, expatriates with special approval from Malaysian immigration) are not allowed to enter at least until the beginning of 2021.
FLIGHTS: International flights to Malaysia are still limited to essential travelers, government officials, and repatriated citizens. Inter-state travel is permitted though, and domestic flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport are operating but at limited capacity.
TRAVEL BUBBLES: On 14 July 2020, a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) (or a “travel bubble”) has been established with Singapore. At the moment the cross-border travel between countries is permitted for essential business and official purposes only, and up to 14 days. All travelers using RGL must be sponsored by either a company or government agency in Malaysia.
TRANSIT: Transiting Malaysia is allowed, and you can transit via KLIA as long as you remain airside. Transit that requires passage through immigration (to collect bags, or to move between the two Kuala Lumpur terminals – KLIA and KLIA2) is not possible.
QUARANTINE: On arrival, anyone who gets permission to enter the country will be obliged to enter a 14-days quarantine in a designated facility (or in the hospital if symptomatic) at their own expense. Effective from 15 November 2020, guests who will be entering Malaysia will be required to make payment in advance for their quarantine accommodation as well as an after-arrival COVID-19 screening test.
Famed for their pristine beaches and turquoise waters, the Maldives took a different approach than most APAC countries. The point to note here is that the gorgeous nation of 1190 coral islands and more than 150 upmarket resorts is entirely reliant on tourism. COVID-19 brought upon the country a situation for the first time in almost 50 years that severely hurt this lucrative sector.
To protect tourism the Maldives reopened its borders to all travelers in June 2020. Commercial outbound foreign flights are resumed with normal traveling procedures and the visa-on-arrival is available for all international visitors. There is no quarantining mandated upon arrival in the Maldives. However, travelers will have to follow some procedures to enter the country:
present a confirmed booking at a registered tourist facility
fill in an HDF (Traveller Health Declaration form).
wear face masks in all indoor public spaces
The Maldives are presenting themselves as a tourist destination offering a “normal” vacation thanks to the fact that most hotels are located on isolated islands, and that the vast majority of leisure-seekers stay in-resort rather than venture out. In fact, when visiting the Maldives you should be prepared to stay in one place as movement between resorts and islands is subject to quarantine requirements.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All tourists must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19, conducted within 96 hours prior to arrival in the Maldives. Travelers presenting symptoms of COVID-19 will be subject to another PCR test at their cost and in case of positive result transported to quarantine facilities to isolate for 14 days. Tourists who do not show COVID-19 symptoms will not be required to quarantine on arrival.
Myanmar is not yet open for international tourism. Currently, all international flights are suspended and new tourist visas (including visa on arrival) are not issued. Foreign visitors with business visas may be accepted if the case submitted to the Myanmar Embassy is compelling.
DOMESTIC TRAVEL: Domestic travel is allowed, also for foreign residents. Hotels, guest houses, and restaurants are reopening according to the national guidelines of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Foreign nationals eligible to enter Myanmar must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result. There is a 21-days quarantine for all Myanmar nationals and a 7-days facility quarantine for foreign visitors.
New Zealand is not yet opened for international tourism. At the moment, only New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, diplomats, Australian citizens who normally resident in New Zealand, and others with a critical purpose are allowed to enter the country.
DATE: New Zealand has been close since March 2020 and will be observing the same restrictions well into 2021 to maintain closure from COVID-19.
TRAVEL BUBBLE: To reunite families and back the tourism-depended businesses New Zealand has established a “travel bubble” with Australia recently. Surprisingly this agreement works only one-way and travelers from Australia are not allowed to enter New Zealand yet, but New Zealand citizens can travel to Australia, quarantine-free.
RESTRICTIONS: The country during the year came close to complete eradication of Covid, only to impose a lockdown again as the cases starting popping up again due to ease in travel. Ever since then, the country under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rotated travel bans, and even if you are a permanent resident or a citizen you are required to request special permission from the authorities before being able to enter New Zealand. A list of critical purposes has been stated online that allows you to put in your reasoning for traveling to or from the New Zealand borders.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Mandatory standard operating procedures have been put in place where 14-day quarantine and a negative PCR test are compulsory upon arrival. Passengers are legally required to obtain a Managed Isolation Allocation system voucher confirming their place in a managed isolation facility before boarding a flight.
Philippines’ borders remain closed to international travel until further notice. All foreign tourists are prohibited from entering the Philippines. Visa issuance and entry permission are temporarily suspended, and previously granted visa has been canceled.
Only Filipino nationals and residents returning from abroad are exempt from the entry ban and may be subject to 14-days quarantine upon arrival. Also, foreign nationals with existing long-term visas are still allowed to enter the Philippines.
Domestic travel is gradually restarting, with such destinations as the island resort of Boracay, beaches of Batangas, islands of El Nido being reopened with a set of strict requirements and health protocols in place. A negative PCR test result not earlier than 72 hours prior to many of those destinations is mandatory.
Singapore is gradually opening its borders for international tourism. Travelers from selected countries are able to apply for an Air Travel Pass (ATP) which allows them to enter Singapore without having to quarantine.
AIR TRAVEL PASS: Starting September 2020 travelers from selected countries are able to apply for an Air Travel Pass (ATP) which allows them to enter Singapore for any purpose (including tourism) and without having to quarantine (a valid entry visa is still required). Among eligible countries are Australia, Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
TRAVEL BUBBLES: As part of plans to revive its aviation sector, Singapore is also in ongoing discussions with various countries on developing bilateral arrangements for safe travel. These “travel bubbles” or Reciprocal Green Lanes have already been established with selected countries, such as Brunei, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mainland China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan (others to follow). At the moment, most Reciprocal Green Lanes are only available for eligible passengers in business and official travel.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All travelers arriving in Singapore must undergo a COVID-19 PCR test at the Changi airport. They must remain in isolation at declared accommodation until they are notified that their test result is negative.
South Korea is still closed for most foreign nationals.
South Korea has cleverly handled the situation of the outbreak and is one of the very few Asian countries to achieve normalcy. But as the situation is still evolving it’s difficult to estimate the date of borders reopening to non-essential travelers, especially tourists. Currently, most foreign visitors are denied entry into the country (except in some exceptional cases).
VISAS: Visa for non-urgent travels (especially tourism) is suspended until further notice. Visa-waiver and visa-free entry programs are not available. Only visas for work, investment, and other business purposes are being issued.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: South Korea’s major airlines have resumed international flights, starting with China and other countries with stable COVID-19 situation. Domestic travel is back and residents are allowed to travel within the country without any restrictions.
TRANSIT: Transiting Korea is possible if the connecting flight is within 24 hours. Any passenger transiting Korea must have a confirmed ticket.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: 14-day quarantine rules apply to all international passengers entering Korea. Foreign travelers must present a Self-Isolation Exemption Certificate issued by the Embassy of Korea or, alternatively, must agree to quarantine at a government facility at a cost of KRW1,400,000 (A$ 1750 / $1150).
Sri Lanka is not yet opened for tourism. As of recently, the government has delayed reopening plans until 2021.
The tourism sector is responsible for a significant 12% of the GDP of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the rising concern and pressure to resume travel have been hovering over the officials – to consider opening the borders as early as possible.
Entry to Sri Lanka is currently prohibited for all foreign nationals, and tourist visa issuance has been paused. Only Sri Lankan nationals and residents returning from overseas are permitted entry into the country. Travel between districts is strictly prohibited, except for those providing essential services.
FLIGHTS: Colombo International Airport is closed for commercial passenger flights (except transit). Maximum 5 hours of permitted transit time, confirmed onward flight out of Sri Lanka.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Passengers must present a medical certificate in English with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued 72 hours before arrival. Mandatory 14-day quarantine for all those traveling into Sri Lanka.
Taiwan has been one of the most successful countries in the world when it comes to battling COVID-19. Its impressive success has been largely attributed to early border controls (including a strict ban on foreign visitors), mandatory quarantine for all Taiwan nationals returning home, and the proactive wearing of face masks by its citizens.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: Beginning January 1, 2021 entry restrictions for foreign nationals have been tightened. Currently, most foreigners are not permitted entry to Taiwan, unless they obtain special permission. Tourism is not accepted as a purpose of visit.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: All passengers eligible to enter Taiwan are required to provide a COVID-19 RT-PCR test report issued within three days of boarding. Arriving travelers must also provide proof of the location of their intended quarantine.
Thailand is now opened for international tourism. With the flat pandemic curve and low level of community transmission Thailand is one the safest destinations to travel to now.
After the successful administration of restricted traveling, the Thai government has finally taken the initiative to open the country, starting in September 2020. International tourists are now welcome to visit Thailand, albeit strict protocols are in place in order to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases – including a requirement to present a negative PCR test (no more than 72 hours old) on arrival and 14-days mandatory quarantine.
VISAS: Two types of new visas have been introduced:
Long-stay Special Tourist Visa (STV). Allows staying for up to 90 days, which can be extended twice, each time for another 90 days (9 months of total stay length). The issuance of visa costs 2,000 THB (~66 USD), and the same fee applies for every extension.
Regular 60-day Tourist Visa (TR). Allows staying for up to 60 days. Cost: 1,900 THB (~63 USD).
Both visas require a Certificate of Entry (COE), which can be granted after applying online on the official Thai Government website.
The following entry requirements must be met to apply for COE:
Both visa and COE must be approved by the Thai embassy/consulate in the traveler’s home country
A copy of a recent bank statement with a minimum balance of $700 per person and $1,500 per family.
Health insurance that covers COVID-19, and minimum medical coverage of $100,000 USD.
An agreement to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival (at traveler’s own expense) and proof of Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) reservation.
Furthermore, for an STV visa, the visitor must present proof of payment for 90 days of accommodation in Thailand.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: Please note that the mandatory 14-days quarantine can be undergone in appointed hospitals or hotels only, with all costs paid by the visitor. At the moment there are quarantine hotels in Bangkok and Phuket with quarantine packages ranging from 28,000 THB (~885 USD) to 200,000 THB (~6,300 USD) per person.
Vietnam is not yet opened for international tourism.
Known for its Buddhist pagodas, green valleys, idyllic villages, and bustling cities, Vietnam sees its worth 8% GDP tourism sector struggling during coronavirus outbreak.
Currently, entry for all foreign nationals is suspended, and tourism-related visas are not issued. Only Vietnamese nationals, foreigners on diplomatic or official business, and highly skilled workers (such as software engineers, medical staff, writers and reporters, etc), allowed to enter the country at this time. All inbound commercial flights (except for repatriation flights) are suspended.
QUARANTINE MEASURES: In order to minimize the risk of contagion, all travelers entering Vietnam must comply with specific health regulations, and undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival.
Maksim is an industry expert and digital editor at Tiket2. He is also a frequent flyer, travel writer, photographer, and the truest evangelist of the company.
Amanda Jerelyn is a Travel Blogger at Dissertation Assistance, the perfect platform for buying assignment help. She has been keen on the travel bans being lifted so that she could travel again. She will soon be updating her experiences on her blogging platform.
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