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Is South-East Asia open to tourists? An updated list of 2022 entry rules for every country

A traveller in a treehouse on Nusa Penida Island, Bali.
A traveller in a treehouse on Nusa Penida Island, Bali.   -   Copyright  Getty Images/RMNunes
By Lottie Limb

If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to southeast Asia, this could be the summer it finally happens. Most of the subregion’s countries - all blessed by a balmy climate and dreamy coastlines - have relaxed their Covid entry rules in recent months.

Thailand recently announced it is dropping pre-departure tests for vaccinated visitors; while Vietnam has taken the unusual step of getting rid of distinctions between passengers.

So whether relaxing on a Thai beach, diving in the Philippines or getting up close with Borneo’s magnificent wildlife is top of your list, these are the rules you still need to know.

And for those still looking for inspiration (perhaps deprived of friends’ well-documented journeys to this part of the world since the pandemic began) we’ve included some of the most celebrated experiences on offer to jog your memory.

Cambodia

Known for: Angkor Wat, the ‘city of temples’ in Cambodia’s north, is one of the great cultural wonders of the world. Though it’s been in near continuous use since the twelfth century, the most striking views are of the huge trees - strangler figs and banyans - that 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 programme has now been reinstated.

Fully-vaccinated travellers only need to present proof of vaccination. An NHS Covid pass is accepted from UK tourists, but you must have it printed out. Unvaccinated tourists must quarantine for seven days (down from 14). If flying to Cambodia, health authorities will oversee a PCR test on the seventh day which (if negative) will release you from isolation. Those arriving by land will also be tested before entering quarantine.

Indonesia

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An Orangutan jumping from tree to tree in the Borneo rainforest, one of two areas where they are still left in the wild.Rita Enes/Getty Images

Known for: Bali’s beaches are the stuff of lockdown dreams, but with over 17,000 islands there’s plenty more secluded spots if you still want to avoid crowds. The jungled town of Ubud must be explored at least once in lifetime, however.

On Borneo (the bigger, Indonesian portion is called Kalimantan) you can walk past swinging orangutans.

Best time of year to go: The shoulder seasons of May-June and September are quieter than July-August, and still boast wonderful, dry weather.

Travel restrictions: Indonesia’s entry rules remain quite strict, and vary according to the type of tourist visa you apply for. A breakdown of visa types can be found on the Indonesian Immigration website.

Fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK and EU collecting their visa on arrival must show a certificate with proof of a negative PCR taken within 48 hours of departure. You no longer need to take another PCR test on arrival - unless you show Covid symptoms, or a temperature check raises concerns.

Travellers must also fill out the electronic health alert card (e-Hac) form, through the Peduli Lingungi app. And show proof of health insurance which covers the cost of you catching the virus.

The Philippines

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A woman snorkelling with a whale shark in the Philippines.Getty/Soft_Light

Known for: Its beautiful beaches. The Visayan Islands in particular have all kinds of sandy formations and ample diving opportunities.

Best time of year to go: The dry season between November and April. The narrower window of December to February is recommended for exploring more remote areas, in a cooler climate.

Travel restrictions: Double-jabbed visitors are welcome in the Philippines provided you have proof, and can present a negative Covid test on arrival. This needs to be a PCR test taken 48 hours before departure, or an antigen test no less than 24 hours before the first leg of your journey.

While checking in, you must also fill out the ‘One Health Pass' form which will generate a QR code to show the airline.

All arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, must have a minimum $35,000 travel insurance to cover any potential Covid costs.

Children under 12 are exempt from the rules if travelling with a fully-vaccinated parent or guardian.

Singapore

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Singapore skyline.Getty/kanuman

Known for: Getting stuck into the hustle and bustle of its streets, and striking architecture. It has an incredible blend of nature with highrise living. Even Changi airport itself is a treat, with a beautiful butterfly garden to start or end your holiday on a high.

Best time of year to go: June-July is high season, but it’s an amazing destination all year-round. It doesn’t matter what the weather is inside one of Singapore's many incredible restaurants.

Travel restrictions: Singapore has recently eased its Covid restrictions; since 26 April, fully-vaccinated travellers no longer need to take a pre-departure test. This also applies to all children aged 12 and under.

Unvaccinated holidaymakers are still not welcome in the country, according to the UK's foreign travel advice. But if you are granted entry for other reasons, the need for a pre-departure test within 48 hours remains. You'd also need to quarantine for seven days on arrival, and take a PCR test to be released. 

Thailand

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A traditional Thai longtail boat beached in the Krabi province.Preto_perola/Getty Images

Known for: Tropical beaches, golden temples, delicious food, and colourful 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 enticing travellers with its hot climate and quieter shores.

Travel restrictionsThailand is dropping all of its Covid entry test requirements from 1 May. Fully vaccinated tourists will no longer need to take a pre-departure or post-arrival PCR test under the relaxed measures.

If you're eyeing up Thailand for a summer holiday, note you'll still need to register for a Thailand Pass, where you should upload proof of vaccination and a health insurance policy of at least $10,000. This was recently halved from $20,000 in a bid to boost tourism - as the Ministry of Tourism looks to make up for the prolonged impact of the pandemic and expected fall in Russian visitors this year.

Pre-departure tests are also being scrapped for unvaccinated travellers from May. But they will have to quarantine for five days on arrival and undergo a PCR test on their fifth day in the country. A five-day hotel booking must be detailed on the Thailand Pass form. 

However, the need to quarantine can be circumvented by uploading proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling to Thailand. 

Vietnam

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Orange lanterns light up a street in Hội An, Vietnam.Yumi mini/Getty

Known for: The hills and terraced fields of Sapa, down to the limestone islands of Halong Bay. And from top to tail, the vibrant cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, via the charming, be-lanterned town of Hội An.

Best time of year to go: May to August, according to an Audley Travel expert. November to April are the driest months, however.

Travel restrictions: The entry rules for Vietnam are now the same for all travellers, regardless of Covid status. It's worth checking with your airline, however, as some carriers may have different rules.

All visitors must take a Covid test within 72 hours before departure for PCR tests, or 24 hours for rapid antigen ones. Negative test holders are no longer required to quarantine, so you can get on with enjoying the many splendours of Vietnam.