If you were dreaming of a trip to Southeast Asia, this could be the summer when it finally happens. More than half of the countries in the sub-region – all blessed with mild weather and dreamy coastlines – have eased their Covid travel restrictions in recent months.
Whether it’s relaxing on a Thai beach, diving in the Philippines, or getting up close to Borneo’s magnificent wildlife, here are the rules you still need to know.
And for those still looking for inspiration (perhaps bereft of friends’ well-documented trips to this part of the world since the pandemic began), we’ve included some of the more famous experiences on offer to refresh your memory.
Famous for: Angkor Wat, the “city of temples” in northern Cambodia, is one of the great cultural wonders of the world. Although it has been in use almost continuously since the 12th century, the most striking sights are those of the huge trees – strangler figs and banyan trees – which have overgrown the monumental buildings.
Best time of year to go: November to April to ensure clear blue skies.
travel restrictions: European visitors need a visa to enter Cambodia – which can be obtained before arrival here. The country’s visa-on-arrival program has now been reinstated.
Fully vaccinated travelers need only show proof of vaccination. An NHS Covid pass is accepted by UK tourists, but you must have it printed. Unvaccinated tourists must present a negative PCR test upon arrival, taken at least 72 hours before, and quarantine for up to 14 days.
Famous for: Bali’s beaches are a dream come true, but with over 17,000 islands, there are plenty more secluded spots if you still want to avoid the crowds. The jungle town of Ubud, however, must be explored at least once in a lifetime.
In Borneo (the larger part of Indonesia is called Kalimantan), you can pass swinging orangutans.
Best time of year to go: The May-June and September off-seasons are calmer than July-August, and still benefit from magnificent, dry weather.
Travel Restrictions: The rules for entering Indonesia remain quite strict and vary depending on the type of tourist visa you apply for. A breakdown of visa types can be found on the Indonesian Immigration Website.
Fully vaccinated travelers from the UK and EU collecting their visa on arrival must present a certificate with proof of a negative PCR taken within 48 hours of departure. You will also need to take another PCR test upon arrival.
Travelers must also complete the Electronic Health Alert Card (e-Hac) form, via the Peduli Lingungi App.
Famous for: Its beautiful beaches. The Visayan Islands in particular have all sorts of sand formations and plenty of diving opportunities.
Best time of year to go: The dry season between November and April. The narrower window from December to February is recommended for exploring more remote areas in a cooler climate.
Travel Restrictions: Double visitors are welcome in the Philippines, subject to proof, and may present a negative Covid test upon arrival. This must be a PCR test carried out 48 hours before departure or an antigen test at least 24 hours before the first leg of your trip.
When registering, you must also fill in the ‘One Health Pass Registration‘ which will generate a QR code to show the airline.
All arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, must have travel insurance of at least $35,000 to cover all potential Covid costs.
Children under 12 are exempt from the rules if traveling with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian.
Famous for: Being stuck in the hustle and bustle of its streets and its striking architecture. He has a incredible mix of nature and life at height. Even Changi Airport itself is a treat, with a beautiful butterfly garden to start or end your vacation in style.
Best time of year to go: June-July is high season, but it’s an amazing destination all year round. No matter the weather at one of Singapore’s many amazing restaurants.
Travel Restrictions: The rules for Singapore are still quite complex. The country runs a program of “vaccinated traffic lanes” (VTL). Fully vaccinated arrivals from these countries, including the UK and EU, do not need to quarantine if they test negative before and after departure.
The pre-departure test must be a PCR or professional antigen taken within 48 hours of the flight to Singapore. You will also need to pay for an antigen test at an official testing center within 24 hours of arriving on the island.
Travel insurance with Covid cover worth at least S$30,000 is required. And be sure to spend the previous seven days in a VTL country and apply for the vaccinated pass at least three days before the trip.
Famous for: Tropical beaches, golden temples, delicious cuisine and colorful parties.
Best time of year to go: November to March is the peak time to go, with the shoulder season of April to June and September to October also attracting travelers with its warm climate and calmer coasts.
Travel Restrictions: Fully vaccinated travelers can apply to enter Thailand via Thailand pass as part of the Test and Go and Sandbox programs (which allow travel without quarantine in certain areas).
The Thailand Pass QR code will be checked during your trip, along with your Covid vaccination certificate. And you will also need proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the first point of embarkation. However, the pre-departure test may soon be scrapped in a bid to boost tourism – as the Ministry of Tourism seeks to offset the prolonged impact of the pandemic and expected drop in the number of Russian visitors this year.
To this end, the minimum Covid travel insurance of USD 20,000 could also be reduced by half.
Famous for: The hills and terraced fields of Sapa, to the limestone islands of Halong Bay. And from top to bottom, the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, passing through the charming lantern town of Hội An.
Best time of year to go: May to August, according to an expert from Audley Travel. However, November to April are the driest months.
Travel Restrictions: Fully vaccinated visitors must take a PCR test at least 72 hours before departure. Some airlines are also asking passengers to take a rapid test up to 24 hours before their flight, the UK Foreign Office notes, so it’s important to check your airline’s advice.
Keep in mind that currently all visitors must quarantine in a designated hotel or pre-approved accommodation for three days. A PCR test on day 3 will set you free, to enjoy the many splendours of Vietnam.