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Cambodia becomes the first test-free travel option in South East Asia

Cambodia becomes the first South East Asian country to remove all pre-departure and on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers, making it Singapore's simplest regional VTL trip.

South East Asian countries seem to be in a race to drop COVID-19 quarantine, entry and vaccination requirements lately, with another one on Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) list – Cambodia – becoming the first in the region to remove all pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements.

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According to an update by the Ministry of Health, foreign travellers will no longer need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival to check-in for their flight to Cambodia.

The mandatory (but free) on-arrival antigen ART test has also been removed.

That makes Cambodia the sole country in South East Asia to have removed all testing requirements for inbound international travellers.

Despite the relaxation, travellers must still be fully vaccinated to travel to Cambodia (unlike the new Vietnam process, where there is no vaccination requirement, but testing is required).

PDT no longer required

Effective from 16th March 2022, Cambodia has removed its pre-departure and on-arrival test requirement, which comprised:

  • PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours before arrival; and
  • an ART test conducted on arrival.

There was no exemption in place for children of any age.

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These tests are no longer required, but do be careful as the official edict has not yet filtered through to the IATA Timatic system, used by many airlines, nor is it reflected by Singapore Airlines at the time of writing, so you may come up against the former pre-departure PCR requirement for unvaccinated travellers at the check-in desk, even though it has been officially dropped.

If you’re making a trip in the coming days, it may be safer to comply with the test requirement until these sources have been updated, since it will be impossible to then get a PCR test and still make it on board your flight if the airline digs its heels in at the counter.

Cambodia has also reinstated its visa-on-arrival list, for those arriving from non-ASEAN countries, removing the requirement for many travellers to apply for an e-visa. Effectively, visa-on-arrival is now available for all foreign nationals arriving in the country.

Process to Cambodia

Now that testing has been ditched, to enter Cambodia quarantine-free, you must have:

  • a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that you have been fully vaccinated (no booster requirement)
  • A health insurance policy with a minimum medical coverage of US$50,000. The insurance can be obtained at www.forteinsurance.com/covid-19-insurance, though that particular policy is not compulsory

Nationals of Cambodia are exempt from the insurance requirement.

Children aged 17 and under can follow the rules for fully vaccinated travellers to enter Cambodia.

Cambodia is known for its temples, and now could be a perfect time to visit test-free as a fully vaccinated traveller. (Photo: Paul Szewczyk)

This is by far the simplest process in the region, so now may be a good time to consider a trip to Cambodia, especially with SIA’s flights currently offering 30% discounts on saver award tickets to and from Siem Reap as part of the Spontaneous Escapes promotion, including the new Boeing 737-8 MAX Business Class for 15,050 miles each way.

Here’s how that deal looks:

Business Class
(Apr & May 2022)

Singapore to Siem Reap
Miles Flights Aircraft Seats
21,500
15,050
SQ164
SQ166
737-8 MAX
737-8 MAX
MAX RJ
MAX RJ
Blackout: 13 – 18 April 2022, 29 – 30 April 2022
Siem Reap to Singapore
Miles Flights Aircraft Seats
21,500
15,050
SQ163
SQ165
737-8 MAX
737-8 MAX
MAX RJ
MAX RJ
Blackout: 13 – 18 April 2022, 29 – 30 April 2022
Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Economy Class
(Apr & May 2022)

Singapore to Siem Reap
Miles Flights Aircraft
12,500
8,750
SQ164
SQ166
737-8 MAX
737-8 MAX
Blackout: 13 – 18 April 2022, 29 – 30 April 2022
Siem Reap to Singapore
Miles Flights Aircraft
12,500
8,750
SQ163
SQ165
737-8 MAX
737-8 MAX
Blackout: 13 – 18 April 2022, 29 – 30 April 2022

Unfortunately Phnom Penh is not included in the offer this time round.

VTL countries still requiring pre-departure testing

Less than half of Singapore’s 32-strong VTL list – 15 countries – still require a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers in the outbound direction from Changi.

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You’ll be subject to testing requirements when travelling to the following countries, in addition to VTL testing on your return:

Testing before travelling to selected countries
based on fully vaccinated travellers departing from Singapore by air

Country Test type Test timing Exemptions
Hong Kong PCR
48h before departure
Japan PCR 72h before departure
Age 5 or below
Myanmar PCR 72h before arrival Age 5 or below
Qatar PCR 48h before departure
Age 3 or below
&
Vaccinated Qataris and residents
South Korea PCR
or
ART
PCR 2 days before departure
or
ART 1 day before departure
Age 5 or below
Taiwan PCR 2 days before departure
Taiwan citizens
&
residents

If you are heading to a country requiring pre-departure testing, be sure to check our comprehensive updated guide to the cheapest PCR and ART options available in Singapore.

There is no longer any pre-departure test required for fully vaccinated passengers travelling to the following VTL countries:

  • Cambodia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • India
  • Italy
  • Maldives
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • UK

VTL flights Cambodia – Singapore

Cambodia joined Singapore’s VTL on 16th December 2021.

You can travel to Cambodia on any direct flight, or transit via another VTL country, then return to Singapore on designated quarantine-free services operated by Jetstar and Singapore Airlines, as shown in the following tables (click to expand).

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ153
737-8 MAX
PNH
09:35
SIN

12:40
 bgcolor= 3K594
A320
PNH
15:25
SIN

18:25
 bgcolor= SQ157^
737-8 MAX
PNH
18:25
SIN

21:25
 bgcolor= 3K592
A320
PNH
21:30
SIN

00:30*

^ From 1st April
* Next day

1st June 2022 - 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ153
737-8 MAX
PNH
09:35
SIN

12:40
 bgcolor= SQ155
737-8 MAX
PNH
14:05
SIN

17:10
 bgcolor= 3K594
A320
PNH
15:25
SIN

18:25
 bgcolor= SQ157
737-8 MAX
PNH
18:25
SIN

21:25
 bgcolor= 3K592
A320
PNH
21:30
SIN

00:30*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ163
737-8 MAX
REP
10:40
SIN

13:55

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

Process to Singapore

Obviously no testing now applies for fully vaccinated Singapore residents heading to Cambodia, but on the way back to Singapore the standard process will apply, as shown below.

VTL Process
Cambodia Singapore

  • Must be fully vaccinated in with a WHO-approved vaccine in Singapore, or any VTL country (e.g. Cambodia), or any EU member state, or any non-EU countries that have joined the EU DCC system.
  • Must have an accepted digital proof of vaccination.
  • Must have stayed in a VTL country/region and/or an approved travel history country (EEA + 3) and/or Singapore for the last 7 consecutive days
  • Apply for a VTP in advance*
  • Purchase COVID-19 travel insurance (min. coverage of S$30,000)*
  • Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or ART test (up to 2 days before departure)
  • Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
  • Take a self-swab COVID-19 ART test within 24 hours of clearing immigration in Singapore, and report the result
  • Self-isolate at place of residence or suitable accommodation such as a hotel or serviced apartment until negative test result received

* Not applicable for Singapore Citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders

Testing costs

Here are the approximate testing costs for a Singapore – Cambodia – Singapore trip, using the VTL on your return, now that no pre-departure test is required on the outbound journey.

🇰🇭 VTL
Singapore Cambodia
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
Cambodia pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
SG on-arrival (self-ART) ~S$5
Total ~S$35

* Prices vary based on provider

A round-trip to Cambodia and back will only incur the regular VTL testing costs on the way back to Singapore, which now stand at around S$35 for this routing, thanks to a recent relaxation of on-arrival testing in Singapore to a self-swab ART test.

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Obviously for those returning from Cambodia to a country also not requiring pre-departure testing, like the UK, there are no tests whatsoever in either direction for fully vaccinated travellers.

Summary

Testing and vaccination requirements for entry into South East Asian countries are falling like cards lately, as nations battle with each other to take the first slice of post-pandemic travel and tourism, which is great news for simpler and cheaper options for all of us in the region.

We can’t exactly complain about pre-departure PCR testing in Singapore being short of options, but it is expensive and an inconvenient addition to your trip, so this removal of the requirement when travelling to Cambodia is a welcome improvement for this relatively recent VTL addition.

With Siem Reap on the Spontaneous Escapes list this month, including Boeing 737-8 MAX Business Class seats for 15,050 miles each way during April and May, this could be a great time to lock in a hassle-free trip with minimal testing costs.

Hopefully we will see Singapore start to unwind its arduous VTL scheme soon, since it’s now beginning to look ridiculously complex in comparison to many neighbouring countries. Replacement with a simple system allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter from any country is already on the cards.

(Cover Photo: Geroge Bakos)

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