Asian Destinations Are Finally Cracking Open For U.S. Travelers
When it comes to reopening to international tourism, the Asia-Pacific region has been among the slowest and most careful in the world, with many countries still imposing quarantines and strict vaccination and testing restrictions for foreign leisure travelers.
In general, there are very few Asian destinations that an American leisure traveler can visit right now. A couple of destinations, including the Maldives and Sri Lanka, stand out as exceptions in welcoming tourists since early 2021.
Yet slowly but surely, the tourism doors are starting to crack open, if ever so hesitantly and with many restrictions still in place. Here’s a tentative timeline for countries that have recently announced rolling out a conditional welcome mat for U.S. travelers.
Thailand - Phased Reopening Underway
As of October 1, fully vaccinated Americans can visit Phuket and other select areas of Thailand without having to quarantine, thanks to a “sandbox” model that requires staying within a designated area for seven days after arrival and taking periodic Covid tests. On November 1, the program will expand to seven more areas, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin. Travelers must apply for a Visa and Certificate of Entry at least 15 days prior to departing for Thailand, show a negative Covid test result taken within three days of arrival and have travel health insurance with a minimum $100,000 of coverage that includes Covid.
India - October 15
Last week, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it will soon begin reissuing tourist visas after 18 months. Beginning October 15, U.S. visitors can arrive in India by chartered flight and, starting November 15, by commercial flight. But questions remain. It’s not clear, for example, if quarantine requirements will remain in place, or whether restrictions will vary depending which airport you fly into.
Singapore - October 19
After a successful month-long trial run with Brunei and Germany, Singapore announced plans to expand its “vaccinated travel lanes,” or VTLs, to eight more countries, including the United States. Starting October 19, Americans will be able to enter without having to quarantine if they show proof of vaccination and prove they are Covid-free through two PCR tests, taken 48 hours before departure and again upon arrival in Singapore. Other countries gaining access through VTLs this month include Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom.
Vietnam - Phased Reopening Begins in November
Stealing from Thailand’s sandbox playbook, Vietnam is working on a phased reopening that will begin with a pilot program for a single destination. Starting next month, fully vaccinated U.S. travelers using the Vietnam Safe Travel app can visit Phu Quoc, an island known for its idyllic white-sand beaches, without quarantine. But it won’t be easy. From November through January, only 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per month will be allowed in; they will arrive via charter jet and be limited to government-designated accommodation and attractions. In February, the program will begin ramping up to allow in more travelers via commercial flights and loosen the parameters of what travelers can experience on the island.
Fiji - December 1
Last month, Fiji announced a phased reopening plan for quarantine-free travel for visitors from seven “green list” countries, which includes the United States and Canada. The program will launch once 80% of Fijian adults are vaccinated, which is targeted for December 1, 2021. Travelers will need to be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of departing for Fiji. Upon arrival, tourists must stay within “designated travel safe areas.”
Bali - Not Yet For Americans
Indonesia’s most popular tourist magnet is among the latest destinations to announce that it is reopening to international travelers, but again, with a very conditional welcome mat. Beginning this Thursday, October 14, travelers from a few select countries — New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, Qatar and the U.A.E. — can visit Bali as long as they adhere to very strict protocols, including complying with an eight-day quarantine at their own expense and showing both proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test result. No timeline has been announced for when U.S. travelers will be allowed to visit.