Despite the novel coronavirus originating in China, the country’s infection rates have subsided exponentially, a pattern seen across much of the continent, where testing and tracking is more widespread than in many parts of the world. Countries like Vietnam have been diligent in containing the virus, and, as a result, there have been no deaths within its borders. Still, the threat of a widespread outbreak has prompted countries to lock down their borders, halt commercial flights, and implement strict quarantine measures and testing protocols. Here’s what you need to know about border regulations and travel restrictions across Asia.
As of April 15, 2020, Bhutan is closed for tourism indefinitely. Visas were suspended on March 6, 2020, and flights to the country from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Singapore, and Thailand have all been suspended . While activities within the country has resumed, Dorji Dhradhul, Bhutan's director general of the Tourism Council, told Lonely Planet that a date has not been set for resuming tourist activities.
Cambodian borders began reopening in late May, but has asked travelers to pay a $3,000 deposit to cover any medical care they wind up needing while in the country. A mandatory test, the cost of which is deducted from the deposit, is conducted upon arrival.
The U.S. has placed China under a Level 4 travel advisory, advising that all travel to the country be avoided. The country closed its borders to almost all visitors as of March 28, and the number of commercial flights into China is severely limited. While tourists likely won't be able to visit for quite some time, the country has implemented "fast-track" plans for allowing essential businesspeople to enter the country. China has further tightened its border with Russia, as it has seen an increase in cases from Chinese nationals who live in Russia.
On June 2, Hong Kong's government announced that until at least Sept. 18, 2020, all non-Hong Kong residents arriving by air from any location other than mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan will be denied entry. Those arriving from the countries listed above will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. As of April 8, all inbound travelers at Hong Kong International Airport will be tested for COVID-19. Cathay Pacific, the primary carrier for flights to and from Hong Kong, is requiring passengers to wear face coverings as of May 15, 2020.
All international flights to India have been suspended, except for some Air India flights that are flying to various international destinations to evacuate foreign nationals . On May 20, it was announced that domestic flights within the country would resume on May 25 with staggered schedules, social distancing, thermal screening, and other safety measures. Internal restrictions have eased, but it's still unclear as to when tourists will be welcomed again.
On April 23, the government imposed a travel ban that included practically all domestic and international flights, excepting ones to allow foreign nationals to evacuate. On May 8, it eased the former ban to allow some domestic air travel to resume for those who have necessary, documented reasons to fly. U.S. citizens are only allowed on those domestic flights to connect to an international one to leave the country . The country has said that Bali may reopen to tourists by October.
Japan has still banned entry from foreign nationals from about 100 countries, including the U.S., as well as citizens of any other country who have passed through countries on the banned list within the past 14 days. The country's state of emergency ended for all 47 prefectures on May 25. While Japan was supposed to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, the event has been pushed back to 2021.
As of April 1, all travelers arriving in South Korea must complete a 14-day quarantine at their place of residence or a government center, out of pocket (about $100 per night). Anyone with symptoms will be subject to testing, and all passengers must also log into the Self-Diagnosis Mobile App daily for 14 days to answer questions.
On June 1, the Government of Laos announced new entry and exit regulations to reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19. Most borders remain closed, and all entrants will be subject to COVID-19 testing and a 14-day self-quarantine requirement at their own expense.
Malaysia closed its borders, restricted intra-nation travel, and closed many businesses on March 18, 2020. Any U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who want to leave Malaysia before borders are reopened will need a letter from the U.S. Embassy, and travel restrictions on foreign nationals have been extended through Aug. 31, 2020.
Maldives will reopen to tourists on July 1. There are no quarantine or testing requirements for entry.
The Myanmar government has extended restrictions through June 30; however, the country does have a three-part reopening plan for tourism. The plan focuses heavily on domestic travel, so it's unknown when foreign visitors will be welcome again.
Nepal has slightly eased its nationwide lockdown, allowing for travel in private vehicles and other previously-prohibited activities, but the government has suspended domestic and international flights through July 5, 2020.
As of March 23, “short-term visitors” are prohibited from entering Singapore. A 14-day stay-home notice will be given to returning citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders. Restrictions that limit the spread of COVID-19, referred to by the Singapore government as the “Circuit Breaker” were in effect until June 1, and the economy has slowly reopened since then. Face masks are required, and those who violate safe-distancing regulations are subject to fines and imprisonment.
Since March 17, international passenger flights and visa (either immigrant or non-immigrant) appointments with the U.S. Embassy in Colombo Sri Lanka have been canceled. The country has said that it will reopen to limited groups of tourists, staying at approved five-star hotels, in August.
As of March 19, foreign nationals are banned from entering Taiwan, though travelers with an Alien Resident Certificate or special permit are permitted. Anyone who comes to Taiwan must undergo a 14-day quarantine, submit a health declaration form, and provide their travel history. The country will reopen to foreign tourists in October.
All international flights through June 30 have been canceled, with few exceptions , while Bangkok Airways resumed domestic flights on May 15. Bangkok’s public transit system is operating under a reduced schedule , and buses have resumed operation through the northern, northeastern, and eastern provinces. The State Railway of Thailand has resumed service of 34 intercity, regular, and local trains, and rapid long-distance trains are in operation through June 17. The country has issued a curfew from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. The Thai Cabinet has extended the nationwide state of emergency through June 30.
Vietnam has banned entry indefinitely to all but “nationals, foreigners on diplomatic or official business, and highly skilled workers.” All travelers entering the country are subject to a medical check and must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Domestic travel, however, is beginning to kick back up. Budget airline VietjetAir has resumed domestic service, and the Quang Ninh province is offering discounts to some of its biggest attractions. Tourist attractions were allowed to reopen as of April 23. Face masks are required in public.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan. “Travel Advisory, Notification and Responses on Travel Queries on COVID-19.” May 18, 2020
Royal Embassy of Cambodia to the United States of America. "Notice on Pricing Policy for COVID-19 Test, Quarantine and Treatment Services to Foreign Travelers Entry to Cambodia at the Public Hospital." June 11, 2020
U.S. Department of State — Bureau of Consular Affairs. “China Travel Advisory.” Feb. 2, 2020
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau. "COVID-19 Information."
Cathay Pacific. “Travel Restrictions for Passengers Travelling to/Transiting Through Hong Kong.” May 15, 2020
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India. “COVID-19 Information.” May 18, 2020
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Indonesia. “Health Alert (COVID-19 Weekly Update) – U.S. Embassy Jakarta.” May 18, 2020
Japan National Tourism Organization. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Information.” May 20, 2020
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea. “COVID-19 Information.”
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA. “Quarantine Exemption for Short-Term Foreign Visitors to the Republic of Korea.” March 31, 2020
U.S. Embassy in Laos. "COVID-19 Information." June 4, 2020
U.S. Embassy in Malaysia. “COVID-19 Information.”
U.S. Embassy in Nepal. "COVID-19 Information." June 15, 2020
gov.sg. “COVID-19: Travel restrictions for foreign visitors entering Singapore.” March 25, 2020
U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka. “COVID-19 Information.” April 29, 2020
American Institute in Taiwan. “COVID-19 Information.”
Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Thailand Extends Temporary Ban on All International Flights to Thailand Until 30 June 2020.” May 16, 2020
Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Bangkok Airways Resumes Domestic Flights Today.” May 15, 2020
Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Bangkok’s Mass Transit Systems Adjust Operating Hours.” May 18, 2020.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Thai Government Approved Second Phase for Easing Restrictions from 17 May.” May 16, 2020.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Vietnam. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020