COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Southeast Asia (May 2021)

A traveller wearing a mask in a city

Updated weekly. Last update 9th May 2021.

What is the situation like with COVID-19 in Southeast Asia? And when will Southeast Asia open its doors to international travellers? These are the main questions on backpackers’ minds right now after over a year of global travel restrictions… Like you, we are desperate to hitch on that backpack and set off for adventures – but when will that be possible? And will it ever be the same again? We sincerely hope so!

Every week we update this article with the latest travel restrictions across Southeast Asia to keep you up to date with where you can and can’t travel right now, and what requirements are in place (quarantine, tests, mask-wearing etc.).

To be honest, with recent outbreaks in Thailand and Laos (not to mention India) it’s not looking good for travel in Southeast Asia at the moment. With Thailand recently changing its quarantine period from seven days back to 14 days (and Vietnam changing their quarantine period to 21 days!), as well as more severe lockdowns and curfews happening across the region, we still seem a long way off ‘normal’.

There are only two countries at the moment that are open to international tourists (Thailand and Cambodia) and travel to these destinations comes with a lot of requirements and additional costs right now. There are rumours of Phuket in Thailand and Bali in Indonesia opening in July without the need of quarantine (to vaccinated travellers only), and other mutterings of whole countries opening in September/October, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Hopefully, by Autumn 2021, we will start to see more and more Southeast Asian countries relax their restrictions and open their borders to more travellers! It’s been a tough old year… hang on in there backpackers and keep bang up to date by bookmarking this article! ?

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COVID-19 Travel Restrictions across Southeast Asia (Countries Listed A-Z) – May 2021

Cambodia Travel Restrictions

NEWS –

8pm Curfew in Siem Reap extended a further 2 weeks. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: Yes, with restrictions.
  • Visa on arrival: Not available. 
  • Requirements before departure: You must arrange a visa in advance, have a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure and have travel insurance with $50,000 US medical cover.
  • Quarantine: All passengers must quarantine in a government facility or a Government-approved hotel in Phnom Penh for 14 days. You must undertake a further two COVID-19 tests (upon arrival and on the 13th day of stay in a quarantine facility).
  • Extra costs: You must pay a deposit of $2000 US to the Cambodian government to cover COVID services while you are there (tests, waiting facilities, transport, potential medical bills). Anything not spent will be returned to you once you have completed your 14-day quarantine. 
  • Current internal travel restrictions: Within the country, travel restrictions between provinces, local curfews and regional lockdowns persist. Many hotels, public businesses and tourist attractions have been forced to close due to lack of custom.
  • Face coverings: Masks are not compulsory but are recommended in all public places.
  • Border crossings: You must enter Cambodia by air. Once in the country, you are not allowed to cross the border from Cambodia into Thailand, Laos or Vietnam.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Cambodia Travel Restrictions.


Indonesia Travel Restrictions

NEWS

There have been plans since the beginning of the year to reopen the island of Bali to international tourists from July 2021 via a ‘COVID-19 free corridor’, however, requirements have not yet been released by the government. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: No. Indonesia is currently not open to international travellers. There are exceptions for diplomats, holders of Indonesian residency permits and those travelling for essential business.
  • Visa on arrival: Not available. 
  • Quarantine: Any new arrivals in Indonesia (that meet the specific categories above) must quarantine for a minimum of 5 days. (See list of quarantine hotels in Jakarta here.)
  • Current internal travel restrictions: There are restrictions on travel throughout May. Curfews apply in some regions.
  • Face coverings: Masks are compulsory in all public places (indoor and outdoor) and those not adhering to the rule can be fined.
  • Border crossings: The land border crossing into Borneo Malaysia on the island of Kalimantan is currently closed.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Indonesia Travel Restrictions.


Malaysia Travel Restrictions

NEWS

Malaysia bans all flights to and from India to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants. Source.

As COVID-19 cases surge, the Malaysian government declare a new nationwide lockdown from 10th May 2021 to 7th June 2021. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: No. Malaysia is not currently open to international travellers except for those holding residency permits and anyone with official work contracts. 
  • Visa on arrival: Not available.
  • Quarantine: Any new arrivals who meet the strict criteria must quarantine for 10-14 days in a government-designated facility. You must have a negative COVID-19 test before you can leave quarantine.
  • Current internal travel restrictions: Inter-state travel across Malaysia is currently not allowed.
  • Face coverings: Masks are compulsory in all public places including shops, restaurants, cinemas, markets and restaurants.
  • Border crossings: Crossing the border into Thailand and Singapore is prohibited (Peninsular Malaysia) and crossing into Indonesia (Borneo) is also disallowed.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Malaysia Travel Restrictions.


The Philippines Travel Restrictions

NEWS –

The Philippines extend quarantine from 10 days to 14 days. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: No. The Philippines is only open to returning Filipino nationals, parents, children or spouses of Filipino nationals and those with a valid residency or work permit.
  • Visa on arrival: Not available.
  • Requirements before departure: If you match the criteria above before departing to the Philippines you will have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of boarding the plane. You will need a valid visa and proof of payment of your quarantine facility.
  • Quarantine: 14 days. (10 of these must be in a designated government facility, 4 of these can be in your place of residence.) You will need to take a COVID-19 test on the 9th day before you are released from government quarantine.
  • Current internal travel restrictions: There are restrictions on travel and the opening of public places depending on the number of live COVID-19 cases in each city/barangay. There are three levels of restrictions: ECQ, MCQ and GCQ. Currently, most of the country is experiencing the second level, including Manila.
  • Face coverings: Face masks must be worn in all indoor places and on public transport, including jeepneys and taxis.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Philippines Travel Restrictions.


Thailand Travel Restrictions

NEWS

From July 1st 2021, it is proposed that the island of Phuket will be open to vaccinated arrivals without the requirement of quarantine. The official government rollout has not yet been revealed. Source.

From 1st October 2021, Thailand plans to open certain major tourist destinations to vaccinated travellers without the need for quarantine. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: Yes. Thailand is open to travellers from all over the world (apart from India).
  • Visa on arrival: Not available. 
  • Requirements before departure: You must arrange a visa in advance before you travel to Thailand. You can apply for three types of visa (special tourist visa (which can be extended up to 270 days), 60-day tourist visa or visa-exempt entry.) You must also apply for a COE (Certificate of Entry), have a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure and have travel insurance with $100,000 US medical cover. You must have proof of payment for 14-day quarantine stay and proof of stay after your quarantine period is over. 
  • Quarantine: All passengers must quarantine in a state quarantine facility or an alternative state quarantine hotel for 14 days upon arrival. (See list of quarantine hotels in Bangkok here.) You must undertake a further two COVID-19 tests in quarantine.
  • Face coverings: Masks are obligatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in Thailand.
  • Current internal travel restrictions: Within the country, travel restrictions between provinces, local curfews and regional lockdowns persist. Many hotels, public businesses and tourist attractions have been forced to close due to lack of custom.
  • Border crossings: You must enter Thailand by air. Once in the country, you are not allowed to cross the border into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Malaysia.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Thailand Travel Restrictions.

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Vietnam Travel Restrictions

NEWS

Vietnam extends quarantine to 21 days. Source.

Vietnam has plans to resume flights from Asian nations in July and other vaccinated nations from October. Source.

  • Open to international travellers: No. Since 22nd March 2020, it has not been possible for any foreign national to travel to Vietnam. There are exceptions for Vietnamese repatriates, certain skilled workers, foreign investors and others with official business in the country. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Visa on arrival: Not available. 
  • Quarantine: Any new arrivals in Vietnam (that meet the strict criteria above) must quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. (Recently extended to 21 days.)
  • Current internal travel restrictions: Regulations vary in each province. Within the country, travel restrictions between provinces, local curfews and regional lockdowns persist. Many hotels, public businesses and tourist attractions have been forced to close due to lack of custom.
  • Face coverings: Masks are compulsory in all public places in Vietnam and those not adhering to the rule can be fined.
  • Border crossings: All land borders into Vietnam are closed. 

READ MORE: COVID-19 Vietnam Travel Restrictions.


More countries coming soon.

Founder & Editor at South East Asia Backpacker | Author\'s Blog

Nikki Scott is the founder & editor of South East Asia Backpacker. A traveller-turned-entrepreneur, she left the UK in 2009 and after 6 months on the road, she started a bi-monthly print magazine about backpacking in Asia. South America Backpacker soon followed and today she runs her backpacking enterprise from her base in Spain. Her honest and fascinating book, Backpacker Business, tells the story of her success in the face of adversity.