You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

A Country-by-Country Guide to Where Travelers Can Go in Asia

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 10/28/2021 Kate Springer, Megan Spurrell
© Getty

A lot has happened since COVID-19 emerged at the end of 2019, with nearly every country in the world having been touched by the virus. But as of fall 2021, more places are figuring out ways to safely reopen their borders to tourists once again, including countries throughout Asia.

Most recently, Singapore announced that vaccinated Americans would be able to visit once again as tourists, if they follow a few simple guidelines. Likewise, Thailand has announced plans to widely reopen to travelers on November 1, and certain provinces in Vietnam have plans to start pilot programs welcoming tourists again ahead of the country-wide reopening in June 2022.

Still, some countries remain closed off entirely. Japan, for instance, is still largely closed to travelers without special exemptions. The Maldives, on the other hand, began welcoming travelers over a year ago, in July 2020.

Travelers entering countries with open borders should expect to do everything from submitting a health questionnaire to taking a pre-departure coronavirus test, undergoing more testing on arrival, and potentially quarantining in a government-approved facility.

Read on for our extensive regional breakdown, designed to help you navigate the various travel restrictions and reopening statuses throughout Asia. This intel on more than 20 countries will be updated regularly.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

East Asia

China, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, began reopening in 2020. As of December 2020, U.S. citizens who have valid residence permits and visas may enter mainland China if they present two pre-departure test results: a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test (taken within 72 hours of departure) and an IgM antibody test. Travelers must submit results to the Chinese Embassy to obtain a green health code or health declaration form for entry (more details here). Upon arrival, U.S. travelers must complete a 14-day quarantine, and additional health screening is also in place at China's airports. The American Embassy in China notes on their website that while domestic travel restrictions have eased, local rules vary greatly and change rapidly. All international arrivals, they say, should be prepared to complete quarantine at a government-selected facility or hotel at their own expense, even if they have a residence in China.

Hong Kong has implemented social distancing and quarantine measures off and on throughout the pandemic. And as of August 20, 2021, the Hong Kong government moved the U.S. to the “high risk” category. This means only fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents may enter—non-resident U.S. travelers will be denied entry, and U.S. travelers who are residents will still need to quarantine for 21 days. Anyone coming from the U.S. will need to present a valid vaccination record, a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test (within 72 hours of departure), and show proof of a hotel room confirmation at a government-approved hotel. Upon arrival, they’ll undergo another test, wait for negative results, then be transferred to quarantine for 21 days, followed by seven days of self-monitoring and five coronavirus tests throughout.

Japan is mostly closed to U.S. travelers. © Getty Japan is mostly closed to U.S. travelers.

Japan’s borders are currently closed to most travelers, including travelers from the U.S. A few exceptions to the rule include those with "Special Permanent Resident," “Permanent Resident,” “Spouse or Child of a Japanese National,” “Spouse or Child of a Permanent Resident,” or “Long Term Resident” status. Those returning to Japan must show proof of negative coronavirus test results taken within 72 hours of departure, take a mandatory test upon landing, and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Taiwan’s initial coronavirus response was incredibly successful at keeping coronavirus cases minimal, but a second wave upended daily life in May 2021. That said, as of June 29, foreign travelers with a non-tourism reason for entering Taiwan can apply for permission to enter; “students and people wishing to study Mandarin in Taiwan" can apply to travel to the island, according to Taiwan's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Those granted permission will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to boarding their flight and quarantine in a government-approved hotel or facility with periodic testing, at their own expense, for 14 days upon arrival.

South Korea was praised for controlling its first wave of coronavirus cases, but new outbreaks have continued to crop up. In October 2021, the country began easing restrictions on social gatherings and operating hours at cafés and restaurants as part of its new “living with COVID-19” strategy. Borders remain open to travelers, including to those from the U.S. who are willing to quarantine. All inbound travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PRC test within 72 hours of departure and are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Non-Korean short-term travelers must do this at a government-designated facility at their own expense (costs per night average $100-$150), and travelers will need to consent to these terms to board their flight. Only a few categories of short-term travelers—like those traveling for business, academic reasons, or family emergencies—can request quarantine exemption before they travel. Fully inoculated travelers in South Korea may be eligible for activity monitoring instead of government quarantine at the discretion of Korean authorities at the point of entry.

Southeast Asia

Vietnam’s borders remain largely closed to all foreign nationals, with just a few rare exemptions for diplomats and those with an essential business reason. (Family reunification does not qualify for an exemption.) On October 7, 2021, the Vietnamese government announced plans to reopen its borders to foreign visitors in June 2022. Some provinces, including Phu Quoc and Khanh Hoa, are planning to implement pilot phases of the reopening as soon as November 2021. Although the country escaped the first wave of coronavirus largely unscathed, the Delta variant has swept through the country, which has now seen more than 900,000 infections.

Singapore is allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travelers to apply for quarantine-free entry under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program as of October 19, 2021. All travelers, except those under the age of 2, must still present a negative PCR test result administered by an internationally accredited medical facility. The test also must be taken within 48 hours of passengers’ departing flight. All flights must be designated VTL flights made by certain airlines or travelers may be denied entry into Singapore. For more information on the program, visit the Singapore government’s FAQ page.

Malaysia is prohibiting foreign entry, with very few exceptions. The country has launched a program that allows a few categories of travelers—including residents, professionals, and spouses of Malaysian citizens—to apply to enter the country. As of August 10, 2021, fully vaccinated Malaysians and residents granted entry will be subject to a rapid COVID-19 test and a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine with compulsory electronic monitoring. Note that the local U.S. Embassy warns that local regulations are changing quickly and vary greatly throughout the country (the states of Sabah and Sarawak, for example, have complete autonomy over their ports of entry).

Thailand will begin allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travelers to visit on November 1, 2021. Vaccinated travelers will be exempt from quarantine, but will need to wait in an approved hotel for one night to receive a negative PCR test result on arrival. Tourists must register for the Thailand Pass digital vaccine passport before entering Thailand. That process takes up to seven days and requires proof of medical insurance that covers all COVID-19 expenditures up to $50,000, passport information, airline ticket, proof of vaccine, and proof of one-night hotel booking for arrival PCR test. Unvaccinated travelers will also be allowed to visit, but will need to quarantine in an approved hotel for at least 10 days.

Cambodia has suspended its e-visa and visa-on-arrival programs, but is granting visas to international visitors with diplomatic, official, or other business reasons to visit. The entry requirements are among the most stringent: All foreign travelers must put down a $2,000 deposit upon entering the country, which is used to cover a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-selected hotel, testing, and transportation from the airport. Travelers must also arrive with proof of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Additionally, a local health insurance package from Forte Insurance that is valid for 20 days must be purchased for $90. (The Cambodian government has released a fee schedule breaking down these costs.)

Indonesia has recorded one of the highest number of COVID cases in Southeast Asia, at over 3.8 million. The island of Bali has been given priority under Indonesia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan so it can reopen to international tourism as soon as possible. But, for now, visa-free and visa-on-arrival options remain suspended for all foreign nationals. Travelers eligible for entry under certain visas are still required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility or under the supervision of the Indonesian health authority, as well as to present a negative pre-travel test.

The Philippines, another Southeast Asian country lashed by the pandemic, has recently taken a region-based approach to its lockdown efforts. The government placed Manila under lockdown in early August in an attempt to slow the spread of the Delta variant. Currently, borders remain closed to U.S. travelers, with few exceptions: Filipino nationals, spouses and children of nationals who are traveling with the Filipino citizen, former Filipino citizens, and residents returning from abroad will be allowed in with an appropriate visa, but will still be subject to a quarantine of at least six days in a government facility. Travelers will need to show their quarantine arrangements at the airport before departure. All entries will be subject to a maximum number of inbound passengers set per port and date of entry. (The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines encourages travelers to contact the nearest Philippines Embassy or Consulate for more details.)

South Asia

India is fully resuming tourism and other short-term trips on November 15, 2021, for individuals with tourist or e-tourist visas issued on or after October 6, 2021. (Tourist visas prior to that date will not be honored, and individuals will likely be detained and returned to their port of origin.) All international travelers, regardless of vaccination status must upload a negative PCR test to the Air Suvidha portal taken within 72 hours of their departing flight, as well as a self-declaration form within 72 hours of the start of their journey. Passengers must also be screened for a fever upon arrival—if their temperature is normal they do not have to quarantine and can self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days; anyone with a fever will be sent to additional screening and either institutional quarantine or home quarantine on a case-by-case basis.

The Maldives reopened to travelers in July 2020 with various hotels and resorts opening in waves (you can find a complete list of open properties on the government's website). Travelers must have a booking at a registered hotel from the list above for entry; travelers must also stay at just one hotel for the duration of their stay. Travelers regardless of vaccination status must present on arrival a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel (children under age 1 are exempt). Visitors must submit tests within 24 hours of arrival in the Maldives as part of the mandatory Traveler Health Declaration form.

a boat on a lake next to a body of water: Nepal reopened to travelers in October. © Getty Nepal reopened to travelers in October.

Nepal started welcoming trekkers and mountaineers into the country in October 2020. As of September 24, 2021, the country began allowing fully vaccinated tourists to visit without quarantine. Upon arrival in Nepal, vaccinated tourists must present: proof of vaccination; a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of entry into Nepal; a copy of any mountaineering/trekking permits, or related permits, if available; proof of hotel reservation; and a printed copy of the International Traveler Online Arrival Form. Unvaccinated travelers are also allowed but in addition to the above paperwork, they are required to present a letter of recommendation from their travel/trekking/tour agent in Nepal and a visa from the Nepali diplomatic missions abroad. On-arrival visas are not available to unvaccinated travelers.

Sri Lanka is allowing U.S. citizens as of August 16 for tourism, so long as they secure a valid tourism visa, present a negative PCR test, take another test on arrival, and quarantine at a government hotel for one to two nights (if fully vaccinated) or 14 days (if partially or unvaccinated). In addition, the government has instituted a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., and there are some restrictions on inter-provincial travel due to outbreaks.

West Asia

Turkey was among the earliest countries to reopen, with restaurants, museums, and hotels up and running again in 2020. However, the country implemented new restrictions—including a curfew and bans on interstate travel—after a significant spike in cases in the first half of 2021. As of July 1, the Turkish government has lifted restrictions and travelers can move around the country freely. However, as of September 6, proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours is required for intercity travel by bus, plane, train, or other public transportation. Arriving U.S. citizens do not need to quarantine, so long as they present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight, or an antigen test within 48 hours. It’s worth noting that U.S. travelers can bypass the above if they show official proof of full vaccination at least 14 days before arrival or COVID-19 infection in the past six months.

a group of palm trees on a sunny day: Travelers will need an entry permit to enter Israel. © Getty Travelers will need an entry permit to enter Israel.

Israel has reopened to fully inoculated travelers from the U.S., but the country is currently on the U.S. State Department’s “Do Not Travel List” due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Since the U.S. is currently listed as an “orange” or “at-risk” destination by the Israeli government, travelers must secure an entry permit and present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure. Upon arrival, they will need to take an additional COVID-19 test, present proof of vaccination or a certificate of recovery, and stay in quarantine for 24 hours or until test results comes back.

Jordan is currently open to U.S. citizens, who present a health form at flight check-in and a completed PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Jordan. Proof of health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatments during the entire visit is also required. Unvaccinated travelers will need to conduct a second test upon arrival at the traveler's expense of 28 JD (about $40); fully vaccinated travelers can show proof of vaccination to eliminate the second on-arrival test.

Georgia has resumed international flights, and visitors from the U.S. must either present proof of full immunization upon entry. Unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. can enter Georgia without a quarantine if they present a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours before departure, are flying only from an approved list of countries (including layovers), and take another COVID test at their own expense on the third day after arrival.

Central Asia

Uzbekistan permits U.S. citizens to enter with a visa and a negative COVID-19 test taken at an approved lab within 72 hours of departure. U.S. citizens do not need to quarantine unless they test positive on a PCR test after arrival. Tourist sites have reopened with a new standardized set of hygiene regulations, and the government is backing these measures with a guarantee—should you arrive and contract COVID-19, the country offers up to $3,000 to cover medical expenses.

Additional reporting by Jessica Puckett

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Condé Nast Traveler [Articles/Slideshows]

Condé Nast Traveler
Condé Nast Traveler
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon