The era of COVID-19 hasn’t been the friendliest for travelers, but there’s plenty of momentum to end the restrictions that have stifled travel in recent years. East Asia was one of the first regions to be hit by COVID-19 while also being home to some of the strictest COVID-19 guidelines seen anywhere in the world. In 2022, that has finally changed.
Southeast Asia was the region that started the year with restrictions easing, but in the second half of the year, more northern countries in East Asia also began to relax policies. One of the last zero-Covid holdouts, Taiwan is moving fairly quickly to accommodate tourism. Japan is taking baby steps, while Indonesia and Malaysia opened earlier this year and have seen growing numbers of travelers. Here’s a quick look at East Asian destinations that will be travel-ready in fall 2022.
Taiwan reinstates visa-free entry for diplomatic allies
A recent announcement by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center states that Taiwan plans to reinstate the visa-free entry program for nationals of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, European countries and diplomatic allies starting September 12, 2022.
The number of reasons why travelers are allowed to travel to Taiwan has also increased. The list now includes business, exhibition visits, fact-finding missions, international exchanges, visiting relatives, tourism and social events.
If travelers still do not meet the criteria to enter Taiwan, they can attempt to apply for a special entry permit.
Those wishing to enter Taiwan should be aware that there are still some requirements.
For one, vaccination records must be presented, and Taiwan still has a cap on the number of entries (at the time of writing, this is likely to change soon).
To avoid problems with this cap, travelers should contact a local Taiwanese mission in their country to confirm their ability to enter the country. It should also be noted that Taiwan has not lifted its three-day quarantine requirement upon entry.
Of course, it’s still important to follow the do’s and don’ts of visiting the country amid the changing rules.
Japan plans to move towards unrestricted tourism
Currently, the Japanese government is allowing group tourism to allow some tourism while trying to control the virus by containing groups.
However, with COVID-19 already rampant in the country, private sector pressure mounting and the yen plummeting, it looks increasingly like Japan is about to lift its restrictions.
Small steps have been taken to remove some of their restrictions.
The most likely restrictions to be lifted soon are entry restrictions of 50,000 people per day, restrictions on independent tourists and visa requirements for short-term visitors from countries previously eligible for an exemption.
Conservative estimates assume that Japan will drop these requirements
As of Wednesday, September 7 this year, Japan’s entry restrictions and requirements stipulate an entry limit of 50,000 people per day, and travelers must be part of a tour group (seven or more).
The requirement for a PCR test on vaccinated travelers has been removed (three doses are considered fully vaccinated in Japan).
Malaysia has been open since early 2022
As the second quarter of the year began on April 1, two years of strict border controls in Malaysia ended.
From now on, travelers can easily enter Malaysia and no longer need to apply for a MyTravelPass.
Malaysia is one of many Southeast Asian countries moving into the endemic phase of the outbreak, meaning the government sees the virus as no greater threat to its population than any ordinary disease.
The country has a vaccination rate of 64% and after suffering an economic slump in 2021, Malaysia is hoping for a recovery with a boost for the tourism industry.
Malaysia’s diplomatic allies, including Americans, will no longer need to apply for a visa in advance to enter the country.
Travelers traveling for pleasure are fine as long as they stay in the country less than 90 days.
However, it should be noted that travelers are still essentially required to carry their passports wherever they wish to travel in the country, this includes in particular travel from Peninsular Malaysia to East Malaysia (on the island of Borneo) and between the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak, both of which are in Borneo.
Indonesia, including cities like Bali, is open to tourism
Indonesia has been open to travel since the beginning of this year. Indonesia once again welcomed international tourists to its shores in January this year.
There is currently no entry ban for nationalities, although prospective travelers must apply for a visa if they plan to stay in the country for more than 30 days as a tourist.
This early opening has allowed popular tourist destinations like Bali to help revitalize the country’s economy.
In addition to the visa requirements for stays longer than 30 days, there are a few things that travelers should confirm before leaving for Indonesia. Here is a list of three things travelers need to check before traveling.
- requirement one – Take possession of the vaccination record or certificate (physical or digital). Download and use the application.
- requirement two – A negative result of the RT-PCR test is not required.
- requirement three – No proof of health insurance is required.