5 Countries offering quarantine-free travel to Hong Kongers

The Hong Kong government has closed its borders from inbound travellers except for those who have stayed in Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan on the day of arrival or during 14 days before their arrival. Flights originating from Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States are banned until 20 April. Even Hong Kong residents are prohibited from entering the city if they return from any of these nine countries, according to government’s announcement on 23 February.

Yet, there is a silver lining.

With many overseas countries gradually reopening to foreigners, Hong Kongers can finally have a getaway from this gloomy city. Here are five of the countries offering quarantine-free travel to Hong Kong travellers and are not currently in the list of flight bans.

1. Thailand

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Entry requirements under the “Test & Go” scheme, which is also known as the “Exemption from Quarantine” program, for international travellers to Thailand have been eased since 1 March 2022, according to the Thai government. The updated “Test & Go” scheme replaces the COVID-19 RT-PCR test by the antigen self-test on Day 5 of arrival. The revised scheme also reduces minimum coverage of health insurance and the required number of nights of prepaid accommodation.

Here are the entry requirements listed on Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website:

  • All inbound travellers entering Thailand under the “Test & Go” scheme must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travelling.
  • Every air traveller must apply for a “Thailand Pass” prior to arrival.
  •  The online application requires the uploading of the following documents:
    1. A proof of COVID-19 vaccination
    2. A proof of prepaid one-night accommodation at a hotel designated by the government (Lists of hotels available can be found on SHA for “SHA Extra Plus” hotels and HSSCOVID for “Alternative Quarantine” hotels)
    3. A proof of COVID-19 insurance with a coverage of at least US$20,000

Detailed procedures for the application for “Thailand Pass” can be checked out here.

  • To enter Thailand, travellers must also present a proof of negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued within 72 hours before travelling, together with the “Thailand Pass” and the documents mentioned above.
  • On the first day of arrival, travellers must undergo a RT-PCR test in their hotels. Those who will stay in Thailand for 5 or more nights also have to take an antigen self-test on Day 5.
  • Travellers must also install the “MorChana” app to upload their self-test results on Day 5.

2. Malaysia

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Malaysia will reopen its borders to international travellers from 1 April, offering quarantine-free travel to all fully vaccinated visitors, according to the Malaysian government.

Here are the latest entry requirements stipulated on the official website of Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board:

  • Travellers must be fully vaccinated and undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test 2 days prior to departure.
  • Travellers are also required to download the local COVID-19 contact tracing app “MySejahtera” and complete the pre-departure form in the app.
  • Travellers should purchase COVID-19 insurance in advance.
  • Upon arrival, visitors must take a RTK-Ag professional test at a private facility or hotel within 24 hours.

3. Singapore

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The Singapore government announced to extend its “Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) (Air)” to Hong Kong more than one year after a plan to launch a bilateral “Air-Travel Bubble” between these two cities went off. Quarantine is exempted for fully vaccinated Hong Kong travellers.

Here are the entry rules specified on Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s official site:

  • Travellers must be fully vaccinated and apply for a “Vaccinated Travel Pass (AIR)” under the VTL (Air) 3 to 60 days before their intended date of entry into Singapore.
  • Hong Kong travellers are not required to provide their proof of vaccination during the application, but their passport information and accommodation address in Singapore are required for application.
  • Travellers should also ensure that their flights to Singapore are approved under VTL (Air). Designated flights can be checked out here.
  • They should purchase COVID-19 insurance with a coverage of at least S$30,000 in advance.
  • Travellers should undergo a PCR test or a professionally conducted Antigen Rapid Test within 2 days prior to departure.
  • A health declaration form must also be submitted at most 3 days before arrival at Singapore.
  • Travellers should install the “TraceTogether” app on their phones.
  • Documents required for pre-departure flight check-ins and upon arrival:
    1. Vaccinated Travel Pass
    2. Proof of negative COVID-19 test result
    3. Proof of vaccination
    4. Proof of COVID-19 insurance (Only upon arrival)
  • The final step is to undergo a self-test within 24 hours of arrival and upload the negative test results to SYNC before enjoying the trip.

4. Vietnam

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The Vietnam government announced that compulsory quarantine is no longer required for international travellers on 16 March.

Here are the entry requirements based on the government’s latest announcement:

  • Travellers must undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR or RT-LAMP test within 72 hours or a rapid test within 24 hours prior to departure for Vietnam.
  • If travellers could not take a pre-departure test, they should undergo COVID-19 testing within 24 hours of arrival.
  • International visitors should also complete a health declaration form before arrival.
  • It is necessary for travellers to install the PC-COVID app on their phones and use it as they travel within the country.

Note that Hong Kong travellers are required to have a visa to enter Vietnam. E-visas can be applied here.

5. Switzerland

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Unlike the countries mentioned above, the Swiss government no longer requires Hong Kong travellers to provide proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test result and an entry form. Mandatory quarantine is currently not required for inbound travellers, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

Most of the social-distancing measures in Switzerland such as mask mandate in most settings, restricted private gatherings, and the COVID certificate requirement for access to different premises have been lifted since 17 February, according to the Federal Council. While the mask mandate on public transport and in healthcare institutions is still required by the government until the end of March, travellers are expected to freely move across the country as they did in pre-COVID era.

(Cover photo: Natalie Mak)

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