*The information in this article was last updated on Thursday, July 16th
In March, the Thai government enacted a visa amnesty covering thousands of foreigners stranded in the country due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The amnesty provided tourists and other visa holders in Thailand with the ability to remain in the country, without prosecution, after their visa expiry date until July 31st.
Now, with the deadline looming and an extension for the amnesty seeming increasingly unlikely, many foreigners in Thailand are beginning to explore what options are available.
A “visa run” to a nearby country would solve any potential visa expiry issues in normal circumstances.
Below, we look at the latest entry requirements for six of Thailand’s neighboring countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore – and when they may open to tourists again.
Last month, Cambodian authorities announced that they would charge all foreign arrivals a USD3,000 (94,500 Thai baht) deposit on arrival to cover mandatory covid-19 testing and other potential treatment services.
Costs include USD165 (5,200 Thai baht) for the covid-19 test, around USD1,300 (41,000 Thai baht) if one or more passengers on the flight tested positive for the virus and therefore quarantine is required, and a minimum of USD3,250 (103,000 Thai baht) for treatment and quarantine if the traveler’s covid-19 test is positive.
Also, arrivals must have medical insurance of no less than USD50,000 (1.5 million Thai baht) coverage and posses a covid-19 negative medical certificate issued no less than 72 hours before arrival.
However, despite all of the entry requirements listed above, Cambodian e-visa and visa-on-arrival programs remain suspended until further notice. Currently, Cambodian embassies are accepting visa applications for official, diplomatic, and business purposes only.
There has been no indication of when Cambodia will start to reissue tourist or other visas.
On July 1st, Laos’ government announced an extension of their entry regulations until at least July 31st. The provisions include the continued closure of all airports and land border crossings for visitors with very few exceptions.
The “Health and Travel Alert” states that entry to Laos is granted in “very limited circumstances,” meaning that regular travelers cannot enter the country at present. Some groups who may request admission to Laos include investors, project owners, and diplomats.
Those who do enter Laos are subjected to covid-19 tests and a mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own expense in a designated facility.
In addition to entry rules, Laos’s government has also implemented strict exit regulations for anyone who wants to leave the country. All departures must present a medical certificate obtained from a government-approved facility before leaving the country.
Locally, some restrictions are easing, including the reopening of schools, some sports competitions without spectators, and dine-in restaurants. Transportation of goods across land borders is also permitted presently.
The current travel regulations are due to expire on July 31st. However, the situation is fluid, and it is highly unlikely that Laos will permit tourists to enter the country after this date.
The Myanmar government has suspended the issuance of all visa types to all foreign nationals until at least July 31st. The only exceptions are diplomats accredited to Myanmar, official United Nations residents in Myanmar, and aircraft and ship crew members.
Myanmar’s current entry requirements include the presentation of a medical certificate showing no covid-19 infection issued no less than 72 hours before arrival in the country, quarantine in a state facility on arrival for 21 days, and a further home quarantine for seven days.
Foreigners entering Myanmar for “professional purposes” must first quarantine for one week in their country of origin, followed by one week quarantine in a government facility after arrival, and finally another quarantine week at home.
Currently, all international flights are banned from Myanmar until at least July 31st. Foreign nationals are also prohibited from entering the country via land borders until further notice.
The regulations in place for Myanmar are due to expire at the end of July. However, it is highly unlikely that foreigners will gain entry to the country as tourists after that date as a nationwide curfew remains in place across the country in addition to many other domestic restrictions.
Malaysia first issued travel restrictions on March 16th, which have been updated and extended regularly. At present, there is a blanket ban on foreigners entering the country, with very few exceptions, until at least August 31st.
Foreigners who meet the criteria for entering Malaysia, such as diplomats, must first gain permission from the Malaysian government. Arrivals are subject to a covid-19 test on arrival and a mandatory 14-day stay in a quarantine facility.
All ports of entry remain closed to foreigners who want to enter Malaysia for tourism purposes with the Malaysian government advising anyone planning a trip to the country to monitor the situation as additional restrictions may be put into effect with little or no notice.
The local autonomic regions of Sabah and Sarawak both have additional restrictions in place for anyone who entered Malaysia after March 16th, including mandatory quarantine on arrival.
Malaysia’s Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) will remain in place until at least the end of August. However, discussions are underway to allow some monitored travel across the border with Singapore. There are currently no plans to allow foreigners from Thailand to enter the country.
Vietnam enacted a travel ban on March 22nd, which was reaffirmed by the Prime Minister on June 24th. The ban suspends entry for all foreigners into Vietnam, including those holding a visa exemption certificate.
Exceptions include diplomats, high-skilled workers, and those visiting for official business purposes. Other categories are being considered for entry, including “special cases” and business managers.
Anyone who enters Vietnam must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine period and covid-19 testing. Arrivals must also complete a medical declaration form upon landing in the country.
Vietnam has now gone three months without a local transmission of coronavirus and has started to ease local restrictions for travel by train and flight.
Despite this, there is no official planned end date for the current travel restrictions are in place indefinitely.
However, the Ministry of Transport is in discussions regarding the operation of international flights to and from selected countries that have gone 30 consecutive days without a covid-19 case.
Singapore announced a ban on foreign travelers from March 23rd until further notice with some exceptions, including permanent residents, long-term pass holders, and selected visitors who have received approval from the Ministry of Manpower, Immigration, and Checkpoint Authority.
Those permitted to enter Singapore must first make an application for approval from the relevant authorities. Upon arrival, they will receive a “stay-home notice” (SHN) requiring a 14-day self-isolation.
Foreigners who have been in the following countries for at least 14 consecutive days can choose a lodging for the SHN – Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Mainland China, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Arrivals from other nations must serve their SHN at a government facility at their own expense, estimated at approximately SGD2,000 (45,000 Thai baht). Visitors will also need to take a covid-19 test.
Domestically, Singapore has entered “phase two” of reopening, including allowing retail and other businesses to operate again.
However, the travel ban for general tourists or those who do not meet the individual criteria for entry will remain in place for an indefinite period.
Source: US Embassy