On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

CDC's recommendation for travel

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam.

The CDC’s new ratings, released on June 7, listed 56 countries in the “Level 1: COVID-19 Low” category. These countries are deemed the safest countries for travel for US citizens because of
their low infection and death counts and effective handling of local outbreaks.

Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea are some of the countries on Level 1. CDC, however, emphasized the importance of being fully vaccinated before traveling to any destination and
following local safety protocols.

CDC’s travel health notice levels reflect the current global situation and are aligned with guidance for international travel.

  • Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
    • Avoid traveling to this destination.
  • Level 3: High level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling.
    • Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to this destination.
  • Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling.
    • Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to this destination. If you must travel and have concerns, talk to your doctor.
  • Level 1: Low level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to this destination.

Vietnam and Laos’ neighbors, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar are in levels 2, 3, and 4 respectively. Cases in these countries continue to grow, with major cities grappling their worst outbreaks yet. Thailand, which has just started its long-awaited vaccination drive, has over 180,000 COVID-19 cases. Cambodia has nearly 36,000, from only 366 total cases in 2020. The US bars nearly all non-US citizens who have within the previous 14 days been to China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border control.

Check here for the full list of recommendations for all other countries

What travelers can expect in Vietnam

In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Vietnam has imposed a number of new restrictions on inbound travel. While entry of all foreigners (except for diplomats, investors, experts and highly skilled workers) have been suspended since March 2020, those who are allowed to travel to Vietnam are required to be quarantined for 21 days, up from the previous 14-day requirement. They must also undergo medical checks and COVID testing.

The country has also imposed social distancing measures from May 31 for two weeks in Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi, the capital city, has shut most non-essential businesses from May 25 until further notice. Wearing masks is mandatory in public places across the country.

Tan Son Nhat Airport and Noi Bai Airport have resumed incoming international flights, after a few days of suspension.

You can get more travel information from the official website of Vietnam Tourism.

The US Embassy in Vietnam reminds all US citizens that they are subject to Vietnamese local laws and regulations while visiting or living in Vietnam. Individuals required by the Vietnamese government to conduct COVID-19 testing and to quarantine should comply with these instructions; violators may be subject to serious charges.

It also indicated that it “may not intervene” in the policies imposed by the national government.

As of this writing, Vietnam has already recorded 9,222 infections and 55 deaths. Although the number is low in comparison to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam's vaccination rate per capita is the lowest in the region, and among the lowest in Asia. Vietnam has vaccinated only about 1 million of its 96 million citizens.

No new ‘hybrid’ COVID-19 variant

Contrary to initial reports by Vietnamese health authorities last week, the World Health Organization clarified that the variant thought to be a combination of the Indian and UK strains is not a hybrid but part of an existing Indian strain.

WHO said viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of those coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first discovered in China in December 2019. The organization currently lists four global “variants of concern” - the two first found in the UK and India plus ones recorded in South Africa and Brazil.

Vietnam’s health ministry previously reported that the new outbreaks, which started in late May, were fueled by a new, highly dangerous variant of the virus, sending citizens into panic. The country immediately announced its plan to conduct large-scale testing in Ho Chi Minh City, a city of nine million people.

Before its fourth outbreak, Vietnam was highly praised for smashing outbreaks swiftly, with only a little above 3,000 cases and 35 deaths by early May.

What travelers can expect in Laos

Tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and standing visa exemptions remain suspended. All entrants require prior permission from the nearest Laos diplomatic mission at least seven days before arrival. Approved foreign travelers, such as diplomats, officials, essential workers, technical experts, and tourists from locations with low COVID-19 activity, may enter Laos.

Entrants must produce negative COVID-19 test results obtained within 72 hours before the trip. Additionally, arrivals will undergo paid testing upon entry and a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility. Land border restrictions remain, except for cargo transport.

The government allows Chinese nationals from provinces without COVID-19 activity to enter Laos with testing and reduced quarantine requirements.

International borders remain closed for entry to foreigners. Entry requirements to Laos are:

Valid Certificate of entry issued by MOFA (2-6 weeks to process). COE’s are valid 2 weeks minimum, if expired at the time of travel they must be re-issued.

Existing multiple entry visa or temporary visa obtained at your closest Lao embassy or consulate (you pay only after you have arrived safely in Laos).

Confirmed quarantine hotel reservation and Government pickup at Vientiane Airport or International Land Border.

Mandatory 14 day / 100$ Covid insurance (currently available for purchase upon arrival at Wattay airport only, if land border entry please contact us).

A negative PCR Covid test confirmed no more than 72 hours before your last flight to Laos.

Time to pack your luggage?

As of this writing, June 14th, 2021, we do not think you can make any travel plan yet at least until October this year, due to the strict restrictions in the destinations.

When do we think you can travel?

We expect travel to our destinations (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos) will be possible from 1 October 2021 for vaccinated travellers. Official details are yet to be released. Quarter of our booking requests are for Q4 2021, with half for the first half of 2022 and the remainder for 2022 and 2023.

The general industry expectation is vaccinated travelers will be welcomed with much fewer restrictions. Proof of vaccine will likely be needed with a valid visa, passport (with an expiry date of more than 6 months), proof of insurance, and possibly a negative Covid-19 test result obtained 72 hrs before arrival. Requirements may change so please contatc us for the latest travel and entry requirement information.

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My name is Jolie, I am a Vietnamese girl growing up in the countryside of Hai Duong, northern Vietnam. Since a little girl, I was always dreaming of exploring the far-away lands, the unseen beauty spots of the world. My dream has been growing bigger and bigger day after day, and I do not miss a chance to make it real. After graduating from the univesity of language in Hanoi, I started the exploration with a travel agency and learning more about travel, especially responsible travel. I love experiencing the different cultures of the different lands and sharing my dream with the whole world. Hope that you love it too!

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