It’s no secret that Southeast Asia is one of the most popular regions for tourism. In fact, before the pandemic, Asia was the second-most popular region for tourism, trailing right behind Europe.
From beautiful blue beaches to colorful cities, undiscovered nature, and captivating temples, there’s something for everyone in this corner of the planet. Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on world tourism, many countries in Asia are bouncing back and reopening, and the ASEAN countries are no exception.
ASEAN, better known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is made up of 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Despite being in one organization, each country has its own path to reopening for international tourism. Learn more about the travel restrictions in each country in this quick guide — and don’t forget to check out the Southeast Asian Nations visa to see if your destination is eligible.
Countries that haven’t reopened yet – As of Apr 2022
Out of the ten ASEAN countries, four have not formally reopened.
Despite being relatively unscathed throughout most of the pandemic, Brunei has recently seen a very large spike in infections. The biggest wave began towards the end of February 2022 and reached its peak at the beginning of March, when the country had around 4,000 new cases per day.
Although the spike is decreasing (new daily averages are half of those that happened during the peak), Brunei is still closed off for tourism and inbound travel by foreigners.
Next on the list is Laos, which is allowing tourists on a very limited basis. The Laos government is not issuing tourist visas at the moment, but those who currently hold valid visas may return to Laos as long as they undergo a 14-day quarantine and present relevant documents.
On a similar note, Malaysia is stuck somewhere in between: the majority of travelers are barred from entering the country, yet Malaysia’s government is planning to significantly relax restrictions at the beginning of April.
Finally, Myanmar, just like the rest of the world, closed its borders in March of 2020 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, due to a coup in February 2021, the country has effectively suspended entry for foreign nationals until further notice.
Vietnam: The latest country to reopen
Vietnam scrapped the majority of its travel restrictions on March 16 and was the latest country to do so among the ASEAN members.
In a move that was met with enthusiasm and glee by intrepid travelers, those who are planning to visit the country will only need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. After passing through immigration, travelers will need to monitor their health for 10 days and, in case they develop symptoms, visit a relevant medical center for treatment.
Besides these new measures, Vietnam has reinstated issuing visas and visas on arrival. There are many adventure things you can do in Vietnam on your next adventure there!
Thailand and the Philippines: Fully open
Thailand and the Philippines, both famous for their jaw-dropping nature and dozens of islands, are open for tourism.
Although the country had been experimenting with various ‘sandbox’ schemes and pilot programs for months on end, Thailand officially opened its borders to foreign tourists on March 1st. Under the Test & Go Program, travelers who are fully vaccinated can enter Thailand after taking a PCR test upon arrival and quarantining until the results are ready. On day 5, travelers will also need to take a self-administered antigen test.
The Philippines have a similar arrangement. The country, which opened in mid-February, allows fully vaccinated visitors to enter as long as they are under the visa-free travel scheme. The only requirement is to have a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure, self-monitor for one week, and have proper insurance coverage.
Cambodia: Enter with a valid visa
If you’ve been craving Cambodian cuisine for the longest time, there’s good news – Cambodia has recently opened up to a limited number of tourists.
At the moment, only those who have a valid visa can enter the country, as Cambodia’s visa on arrival program is still suspended until further notice. Those who have a visa will need to have a negative test result (taken within 72 hours before arrival), undergo a rapid test upon arrival, and be fully vaccinated with proof (i.e. a certificate with dates and name of vaccine).
So hopefully you can make plans to visit places like Siem Reap or Phnom Penh and go about cafe hopping all the best local or vegetarian food delights.
Singapore: Vaccinated travel lane
Travelers from select countries can take advantage of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane, or the VTL. At the moment, there are more than three dozen countries that can travel via the VTL, including Australia, Canada, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and more.
In order to travel to Singapore, travelers will need to have acceptable proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, a VTP (vaccinated travel pass), an insurance policy, and a visa (if needed).
Indonesia: Be sure to check for updates
Indonesia’s grand reopening was one of the highlights of this year, as travelers could finally visit their favorite spots in Bali, Ubud, Lombok, and more.
However, the country’s reopening has a catch: the entry requirements and travel restrictions are constantly changing (sometimes within a few days of each other) so it is best to consult a trusted source (such as the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia) for a detailed explanation of the paperwork and other documents required to enter the country.