Earlier this week Vietnam’s official government news portal VGP reported on the country’s plan for a wider reopening of its international borders following the Lunar New Year holiday celebrations, which comes after a small-scale introduction of regular passenger flights from 12 countries, including Singapore, in January.
Under direction from the Prime Minister, Vietnam will follow a phased plan to reopen to tourists “no later than April 30”, according to the article.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism then submitted a plan in which it suggested full reopening of borders to foreign tourists through all international border gates.Viet Nam Government Portal
In a further update the following day, the Prime Minister confirmed the plan was to reopen to international tourists “ideally at the end of March and no later than the end of April”, following the proposal by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which is for Vietnam to completely reopen to international tourism starting on 31st March.
The date coincides with Vietnam’s plan to have its entire adult population boosted with a third COVID-19 vaccine dose.
This will be a significant step up from Vietnam’s initial small-scale tourism opening in five specific areas in November last year. That scheme has recently ben expanded to include Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Dinh.
Under the plans by the government, tourists travelling to Vietnam will have to meet the following requirements:
- Be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival (in one of 79 countries with vaccination recognised by Vietnam, including Singapore).
- Undergo a pre-departure PCR test with a negative result at most 72 hours before arrival in Vietnam, or have proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the last six months.
- Have health insurance including COVID-19 treatment, with a minimum cover of US$50,000.
Currently children under 12 are exempt from vaccination requirements when travelling to Vietnam with a parent or guardian, while children under two are exempt from pre-departure testing, though in this latest update the government has merely stated that “there will be separate requirements for… young children”.
While there’s no word on quarantine yet, currently fully vaccinated travellers are subject to three days of self-isolation on arrival (seven days for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers).
That should be reduced to zero at the “full reopening” stage on 31st March 2022, in common with Vietnam’s initial tourism zones launched in November last year.
Singapore – Vietnam flights
While airlines including SIA, Scoot and Jetstar have been operating flights to and from Vietnam throughout the last two years, they have been forced to operate from Singapore as cargo-only services, carrying passengers only on their return journey to Changi.
Singapore Airlines now operates three of its weekly flights to Ho Chi Minh and two per week to Hanoi as passenger services, since the rules started to be relaxed to allow international arrivals under specific conditions last month.
Scoot and Jetstar now each fly twice weekly to Ho Chi Minh with passengers, while Scoot will also reinstate its Singapore – Hanoi route twice per week from 22nd February 2022.
Bamboo Airways and VietJet are also currently operating Singapore – Ho Chi Minh flights, while Vietnam Airlines is operating to and from both Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
Prior to COVID-19, Jetstar and SilkAir also offered Singapore – Da Nang flights, linking to the popular Hoi An area.
Singapore Airlines, which merged SilkAir into its own brand in 2021, is provisionally loading Da Nang flights using Boeing 737-800s from 30th October 2022.
Vaccinated Travel Lane?
An important aspect for our readers when it comes to Vietnam’s border reopening will be reciprocity with Singapore, which would likely come in the form of an upgrade to join the likes of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand on the list of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries.
Vietnam currently sits in Singapore’s ‘Category 2’ health control measures for arriving travellers, allowing Singapore residents to return and serve seven days of home isolation. Short-term visitors, however, are not eligible.
An enhancement to the VTL category would allow quarantine-free travel in the Vietnam – Singapore direction for everyone, including short-term visitors, so we’re hoping to see this upgrade come through, for an additional two-way quarantine-free regional travel option.
Singapore has opened Vaccinated Travel Lanes with 24 countries to date, plus three others in the Middle East temporarily deferred due to the Omicron variant, but hopefully coming on board soon.
Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lanes
🇦🇺 Australia (except WA)
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka
🇦🇺 Australia (WA)
🇶🇦 Qatar (2-way)
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia (2-way)
🇦🇪 UAE (2-way)
Updated: 10th February 2022
Hopefully Vietnam’s border relaxations in the coming weeks will also coincide with VTL status for the country on Singapore’s side, which would potentially give us another regional trip choice to and from this popular country, offering both city and beach options for travellers.
Our last overseas vacation pre-COVID was to Hoi An in Vietnam, which was a fantastic trip and we’d certainly love to go back!
With Thailand “sort of” now quarantine-free via its latest Test & Go programme and Bali reopening to international tourists, initially under a four-night “resort bubble” quarantine arrangement, but hopefully relaxing further, 2022 will surely be the year we see a significant expansion of low- or no-quarantine regional travel options.
Stay tuned for the latest updates on Vietnam’s opening plans as we receive them.