Vietnam has seemingly quashed a spike in Covid-19 cases that appeared in August.
It reported fewer than five new cases each day in September, until the 29th of the month when 17 new cases were reported.
For now, the coronavirus appears to be at bay in the Southeast Asian country.
So what’s the status of tourism, and is it sensible to book a holiday to Vietnam?
Above: Daily new cases in Vietnam as of 30 September.
Vietnam entry restrictions
Leisure travel to Vietnam is all-but impossible right now.
There are very few flights operating from the UK, foreign nationals are barred from entering the country (aside from some diplomats, students and highly-skilled workers), and the issuing of visas has been suspended.
This has been the case since March 25th, causing Vietnam’s foreign arrivals to drop by 70% year-on-year between January and September.
Vietnam’s land borders with China, Cambodia and Laos are closed to non-essential travel. It’s not even possible to transit through a Vietnamese airport right now.
Will Vietnam’s entry restrictions be lifted soon?
It’s very difficult to say when the entry restrictions will change, but for British travellers it is unlikely to be in 2020.
The Vietnamese government has given no indication it will soon allow tourist arrivals from the UK, especially as the UK’s Covid-19 caseload is high and rising rapidly.
Regional travel to Vietnam may restart more quickly. The country may also offer visas for international travellers who wish to self-isolate and then stay in the country for several months, as Thailand is looking to do.
Should I book a holiday to Vietnam for 2021?
We recommend only doing so if you are completely clear on your airline’s policy in case you are unable to travel or wish to change your flight. Even if foreigners are still being denied entry to Vietnam, it’s possible your flight may still take place, in which case you may not be entitled to your money back.
Some airlines have introduced new flexible booking policies to encourage travel, or you could pay extra for a flexible ticket. Check whether the policy entitles you to your money back, or just a voucher for future travel, and bear in mind that many airlines are struggling to process timely refunds at the moment, which may continue into next year.
Where can I visit in Southeast Asia?
Thailand is beginning to reopen its borders, but as of October 1st this was only to flights from China. The country is considered safe to visit by the UK Foreign Office, but British travellers are currently unable to enter the country. Brits may soon be able to visit the country on a 90-day visa as long as they self-isolate for two weeks first.
Cambodia is allowing foreign visitors, but strict entry requirements are in place. Brits must obtain a visa ahead of travel, as well as a medical certificate stating they do not have Covid-19 (which should be obtained privately and not through the NHS) and proof of medical insurance up to $50,000. They must then complete a period of testing and quarantine in government-monitored facilities, at their own expense.
Laos has been added to the UK’s travel corridor list, but the country has suspended visa on arrival services at all international entry points, and no visas are being issued to people travelling from countries with cases of Covid-19, including the UK.
Myanmar has suspended all international commercial passenger flights until 31st October, and all its land borders are shut. Tourist visa applications are also suspended.
Singapore is on the UK’s travel corridor list, but short-term visitors from anywhere in the world are not able to enter the city state, and long-term pass holders and dependants need approval before entering Singapore.
Malaysia has prohibited entry to all British nationals indefinitely.
The Philippines is only admitting Philippine nationals and foreign nationals holding residency permits or long-term visas.
Indonesia is also only admitting Indonesian nationals and foreign nationals holding residency permits or long-term visas.