Travel to Asia: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Vietnam Slowly Recovers From Coronavirus Outbreak
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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.

Bhutan

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 . Educational institutions, as well as tourist sites and other public venues, are closed.

Cambodia

E-visas and visas on arrival were suspended as of March 30, 2020, and on March 14, the country enacted a 30-day ban on visitors from the United States, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France . Travelers are advised to obtain their visas abroad and also must present Cambodian officials with a medical certificate, dated no more than 72 hours before their travel, stating they have tested negative for the novel coronavirus. Full medical coverage of $50,000 or more for the duration of their stay in the country must also be obtained.

China

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 . China has further tightened its border with Russia, as it has seen an increase in cases from Chinese nationals who live in Russia. All foreign travelers are advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has banned all tourist arrivals into the country, but those traveling from mainland China with business interests on the island are allowed to enter under certain conditions. All passengers are required to undergo a test for COVID-19 before entering the country, a process that takes place after landing. The airport is also closed to transit passengers for the time being. Cathay Pacific, the primary carrier for flights to and from Hong Kong, is requiring passengers to wear face coverings as of May 15, 2020.

India Extends Lockdown Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic
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India

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. The nationwide lockdown is still in place until May 31.

Indonesia

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 .

Japan

Japan has 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. All visa exemptions are also suspended through the end of May, and most tourist attractions throughout the country are closed.

Korea

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.

Laos

On May 15, the government announced some plans to relax the lockdown gradually and start to reopen businesses throughout the country. However, all borders are closed to travel with limited exceptions. U.S. citizens are now allowed to exit the country, but must first register with the U.S. Embassy.

Malaysia

Malaysia closed its borders, restricted intra-nation travel, and closed many businesses on March 18, 2020. While the lockdown ended May 4, schools and borders remain closed until at least June 9. 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.

Maldives

On-arrival visas were suspended for all travelers on March 27, 2020. Travelers who have visited Bangladesh, China, Iran, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, Sri Lanka, the U.K., and regions of France, Germany, or South Korea are not allowed into the country. Check-ins to hotels have been suspended since March 17, and non-essential inter-island travel was suspended April 17. There is no announced date to restart tourism, but some officials see borders reopening in July and tourism resuming in October.

Japan's Tourism Sector Hit By Coronavirus Outbreak
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Myanmar

E-visas and on-arrival visas are suspended for all foreign nationals, except diplomats, from March 19 to May 31, 2020. Commercial flights have been grounded since March 30. Sporting venues, hotels, amusement parks, and cultural sites are closed with no announced reopening date.

Nepal

On May 17, the nationwide lockdown was extended to June 2, although domestic and international flights can resume on May 31, allowing stranded travelers to return home. Nepal’s lockdown requires everyone to stay indoors with very few exceptions.

Singapore

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,” are in effect until June 1, and the economy will begin to reopen at that time. Face masks are required, and those who violate safe-distancing regulations are subject to fines and imprisonment.

Sri Lanka

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. Cruise ship passengers are banned from disembarking as well. A nationwide curfew has been issued, though individual regions may institute additional curfews.

Taiwan

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.

Thailand

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.

Vietnam

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. Face masks are required in public.

Article Sources
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  1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan. “Travel Advisory, Notification and Responses on Travel Queries on COVID-19.” May 18, 2020

  2. U.S. Embassy in Cambodia. “COVID-19 Information.”

  3. U.S. Department of State — Bureau of Consular Affairs. “China Travel Advisory.” Feb. 2, 2020

  4. Cathay Pacific. “Travel Restrictions for Passengers Travelling to/Transiting Through Hong Kong.” May 15, 2020

  5. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India. “COVID-19 Information.” May 18, 2020

  6. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Indonesia. “Health Alert (COVID-19 Weekly Update) – U.S. Embassy Jakarta.” May 18, 2020

  7. Japan National Tourism Organization. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Information.” May 20, 2020

  8. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea. “COVID-19 Information.” 

  9. Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA. “Quarantine Exemption for Short-Term Foreign Visitors to the Republic of Korea.” March 31, 2020

  10. U.S. Embassy in Laos. “Health and Travel Alert – U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos.” 

  11. U.S. Embassy in Malaysia. “COVID-19 Information.”

  12. Ministry of Health. “COVID-19 Local Updates.” May 19, 2020

  13. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myanmar. “Announcement on Extension of the Precautionary Restriction Measures Relating to Control of the COVID-19 Pandemic until 31 May 2020 (15-5-2020, Nay Pyi Taw).” May 15, 2020.

  14. Nepal Tourism Board. “Situation update (2020-05-19).” May 19, 2020

  15. U.S. Embassy in Nepal. “COVID-19 Information.” May 18, 2020

  16. gov.sg. “COVID-19: Travel restrictions for foreign visitors entering Singapore.” March 25, 2020

  17. U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka. “COVID-19 Information.” April 29, 2020

  18. American Institute in Taiwan. “COVID-19 Information.”

  19. Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Thailand Extends Temporary Ban on All International Flights to Thailand Until 30 June 2020.” May 16, 2020

  20. Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Bangkok Airways Resumes Domestic Flights Today.” May 15, 2020

  21. Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Bangkok’s Mass Transit Systems Adjust Operating Hours.” May 18, 2020. 

  22. Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom. “Thai Government Approved Second Phase for Easing Restrictions from 17 May.” May 16, 2020. 

  23. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Vietnam. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020

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