The Hong Kong government has announced that beginning September 26, inbound travellers no longer have to quarantine at a hotel when they enter the city. Instead, they must spend the first three days after they arrive in the SAR under medical surveillance, and will get a health code depending on the results of their on-arrival PCR test. With these new travel measures, Hongkongers’ pre-pandemic normal of being able to hop out of the city to Korea or Thailand for a few days or weeks has come back into focus. With our new normal, you may even be planning on a longer ‘work-from-home’ situation in a beachside AirBnB.

If you wonder where to travel in Asia, and to make your planning for a short getaway a bit easier, we’ve created a guide to vaccination requirements, quarantine duration, mandatory Covid testing, and visa validity lengths to help you weigh your options. All of the following places are currently allowing foreign nationals to enter, and most have relaxed measures for fully vaccinated travellers.

Destinations requiring vaccination

Myanmar

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar
Temples in Bagan, Myanmar (© The HK HUB)

Want to see off-the-beaten track beaches and Buddhist temples? Then Myamnar should be on your travel bucket list. Check out Ngapali beach for a spot of snorkelling and the Mergui Archipelago for the famed Salon Festival. If you want to get immersed in Buddhist culture, make sure you visit Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred pagoda in the country.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Yes, all foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated to enter Myanmar.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: There is no more mandatory quarantine, but you can be sent to a hospital, treatment centre or hotel if you test positive for Covid-19 at the airport or show symptoms of the virus there.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Anyone who wishes to enter Myanmar must take a rapid diagnostic test within 48 hours of their departure to the country. Unvaccinated children under 12 don’t have to take this test if their parents or guardians are vaccinated. All arrivals must also take a self-paid rapid diagnostic test when they arrive at the airport.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Yes, when international borders reopen, nationals from many places can enter Myanmar visa-free, ranging from 30 or 90 days. Hong Kong residents can enter for 30 days.
  • Additional requirements: All arrivals must buy a Travel Accident Insurance Policy with Covid-19 coverage purchased from Myanma Insurance. They must also submit a health declaration form to airport authorities.

Pakistan

pakistan getaway trip from hong kong
Park in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan (© Sajid Khan via Unsplash)

Pakistan is a very diverse country, in terms of both its topography and population. If you spend enough time here, you can see some of the world’s highest mountains and its most captivating deserts. There is also a wealth of history and culture in the country, as it is home to the Indus valley civilisation and Mughal-era mosques.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Yes, all travellers aged 12 and above must be fully vaccinated to enter Pakistan. (All vaccines on the WHO Emergency Use Listing are accepted.) Travellers who are medically exempt and over 18 must have a negative Covid test result issued within the 72 hours before departure.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine is required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Vaccinated travellers don’t need a pre-arrival PCR test, but certain travellers who haven’t gotten their Covid jabs must take a test within 72 hours of their planned departure to Pakistan.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, Hong Kong nationals must apply for a visa prior to arrival. Valid for 30 days.

Philippines

Typical filipino boats in Bohol, Philippines (© The HK HUB)
Typical boats in Bohol, Philippines (© The HK HUB)

This archipelagic country — which is spread over a whopping 7,641 islands — has all kinds of holiday experiences. Head to Cebu for its natural wonders, wildlife tours, colonial heritage experiences, retail therapy and foodie fun. If you want something the whole family can enjoy, stop over at Clark for attractions like Aqua Planet Waterpark and Dinosaur Island. Looking for something adventurous? There are several spots where you can surf, snorkel, dive, or zipline.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Yes, foreign nationals over 12 years old must be vaccinated to enter the Philippines.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No, but travellers should self-monitor for symptoms for 7 days.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Tourists don’t have to undergo a pre-departure PCR test if they are triple-vaccinated, aged 12-17 and double-vaccinated, or under 12 years old and travelling with adults who are triple-vaccinated. Foreign nationals who haven’t received a booster shot must present a negative PCR test result obtained within 48 hours of their departure to the Philippines, or a negative lab-administered antigen test result within 24 hours of leaving for the country.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Holders of Hong Kong or Macau passports can enter the Philippines visa-free for 14 days.
  • Other requirements: You must fill out the OneHealthPass health declaration form at least one day before you depart for the Philippines.

Timor-Leste

timor leste short getaway from hong kong
Manatuto, north coast of Timor-Leste (© Trevar Skillicorn-Chilver via Unsplash)

If you want to spend time on beaches that are relatively untouched by international tourism, head over to Timor-Leste. You don’t have to wander far from its largest city, Dili, to dine on fresh seafood, go scuba-diving, and do a spot of whale-watching. History buffs who want to get an insight into the country’s storied past should visit Baucau to explore its Portuguese and Indonesian culinary and architectural influences.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Yes, foreign nationals need to be vaccinated to enter Timor-Leste.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: Fully vaccinated travellers don’t need to quarantine. Anyone who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons must get a doctor’s letter confirming their situation and quarantine at a government-designated facility. Airport authorities may test passengers who exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 to a PCR test, and if the results are positive, they must also be isolated.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: There are no pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers, but they may have to undergo a PCR test at the airport if they exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 when they arrive at the airport.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, most foreign nationals must apply for a visa prior to arrival or for getting one on arrival. Valid for up to 90 days.

Destinations not requiring vaccination

Langkawi Island (Malaysia)

langkawi island trip from hong kong
Langkawi is the only UNESCO geo-park in South East Asia (© Engin Akyurt via Unsplash)

This is one of the most chilled-out spots in Malaysia, with its pristine beaches and clear waters. If your idea of a holiday is unwinding over a drink, take your pick from the island’s multitude of hip bars to while away an evening. Are you an outdoors person? Then book a jet ski tour, go snorkelling, or explore mangroves. And if you’re into retail therapy, Langkawi has loads of duty-free outlets where you can splurge without feeling the pinch.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: All travellers can enter Malaysia regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine necessary.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Malaysia has scrapped all its PCR test requirements for travellers.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Yes, Hong Kong passport holders can enter Malaysia visa-free for 30 days. Holders of passports from more than 60 other places, including Japan, Canada, and Australia can enter Malaysia quarantine-free for 90 days.

Macau

macau short trip from hong kong
St. Paul’s Cathedral facade in Macau (© Vernon Raineil Cenzon via Unsplash)

This former Portuguese colony has always been a popular quick-getaway destination among Hongkongers because it’s easily accessible by road and ferry. The biggest draws are its casinos and luxury hotels. If gambling isn’t your scene, you can easily spend a weekend strolling around the Macau Peninsula and exploring the Ruins of St. Paul’s, Senado Square and the surrounding areas.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Macau-bound travellers do not have to provide proof that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: Arrivals must spend the first seven days after they arrive in Macau at a quarantine hotel, and the next three days under self-health management.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Travellers from Hong Kong to Macau must provide a negative PCR test result obtained within 24 hours of their arrival in Macau.Once they arrive in Macau, they must generate a Macao Health Code and take nucleic acid tests on Days 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 after they complete their hotel quarantine.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Anyone who holds a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or a Re-entry Permit can stay in Macau for a maximum of one year. Those who have an HKSAR passport may stay for a maximum of seven days to transit to another destination. Other passport holders can stay in Macau for up to six months.
See also
33 Best Things To Do And See In Hong Kong

Singapore

singapore short getaway from hong kong
Singapore’s steel forest structures act as cooling ducts and rainwater collectors (© Duy Nguyen via Unsplash)

Singapore is great for a weekend getaway or a longer trip. If you’re short on time, you can still get the SG experience by hitting Chinatown for chilli crab and laksa for lunch, shopping at Orchard Road, downing a Singapore Sling at Clarke Quay, and strolling around the iconic Gardens By The Bay. If you’ve got a little more time, set aside a couple of days to stop by Universal Studios and Sentosa.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, but there are different Covid-related entry requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Vaccinated arrivals don’t need to undergo any testing, but those who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 must undergo a negative PCR or professionally-administered RAT result two days before they depart for Singapore.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Citizens of most places can enter Singapore visa-free for 30 or 90 days. Hong Kong citizens can stay for 30 days.
  • Other requirements: Vaccinated arrivals should download the TraceTogether app and fill out an SG arrival card and e-health declaration online. Unvaccinated travellers need to get travel insurance amounting to a minimum of $30,000.

Bangladesh

bangladesh getaway from hong kong
Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh (© Masba Molla via Unsplash)

This former British colony, which was also once part of newly independent Pakistan, is home to several Mughal, British and modern landmarks. You can also visit old capital city Sonargaon, the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, and the world’s longest natural sea beach at Cox’s Bazar. If you’re planning to visit Bangladesh during the monsoon, you can see some of the country’s many waterfalls in their full splendour.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, travellers can show either a vaccination record or a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours. Children under 12 don’t need to be vaccinated or present a negative test as long as their travel companions adhere to the entry guidelines.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine required.
  • Pre-arrival/post-arrival testing?: If you have Covid-19 symptoms, you may be required to take a PCR test. If positive, you must isolate at a government facility for at least seven days.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, you must apply for a visa prior to or upon arrival. Valid for 30 days and can be extended an additional 30 days.
  • Other requirements: Fill out a Health Declaration Form within three days of your departure to Bangladesh.

Cambodia

cambodia trip from hong kong
Riverfront in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia (© Kim Eang Eng via Unsplash)

Best known as home to Ankor Wat, Cambodia also has Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. If you’ve had your fill of the tourist-congested beaches of Thailand, head out to Koh Rong Samloem’s sandy shores. Go trekking in Ratanakiri, hop aboard the bamboo train of Battambang, or explore the nightlight of Phnom Penh.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: Tourists don’t need to provide proof that they’ve had any Covid vaccines upon arrival.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No need to quarantine.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: No testing requirements.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, you must apply for a visa prior to or upon arrival. Valid for 30 days from entry.

India

india trip from hong kong
Tathagata Tsal, the Buddha Park of Ravangla, India (© Pulak Bhagawati via Unsplash)

Exploring India on holiday can be daunting, given the sheer size and diversity of the country. You could choose to visit the usual tourist hotspots, such as the attractions within the Golden Quadrilateral, the Sunshine State of Goa, or the backwaters of Kerala. If you have the time, you could dedicate your holiday to one region of the country, like the relatively unexplored North East, the tea and coffee estates of the South, or the temples and national parks of Central India.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No. Unvaccinated travellers must have a negative Covid test result, while vaccinated travellers just need a valid vaccination record.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Unvaccinated travellers must take a pre-arrival PCR test within 72 hours of their departure to India and upload the results online.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, you must apply for a visa prior to arrival. Visa validity varies from 30 days to 5 years.
  • Other requirements: Submit a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha website.

Indonesia

indonesia vacation away from hong kong
Prambanan Temple, a 9th c. Hindu temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (© Eugenia Clara via Unsplash)

Does your holiday checklist include hiking active volcanoes, relaxing on the beach, and discovering indigenous customs? Get all that done in Indonesia, where you can get a close-up view of Anak Krakatau, stroll down the sandy shores of Bali, and get acquainted with the ways of the Tana Toraja Regency. Animal lovers can also view orangutans, komodo dragons, rhinos and pygmy elephants at Indonesia’s nature reserves.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: You need to provide vaccination records to get an exemption from on-arrival PCR testing. Arrivals who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated because they’re recovering from Covid-19 must provide a medical certificate as proof of their health status. The same goes for travellers who can’t receive the vaccine for health reasons.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No, but if you exhibit Covid-19 symptoms at the airport, you will be asked to undergo a PCR test. If your result is positive, you will have to isolate at a designated facility.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Fully vaccinated travellers no longer have to undergo any testing to enter the country. However, those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must take a PCR test at the airport and await the results at a designated hotel.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Yes, most foreign nationals can visit Indonesia visa-free r get a visa on arrival for 30 days. No extension is allowed.

Maldives

maldives resort trip from hong kong
Overwater villas in Maldives (© Rayyu Maldives via Unsplash)

If you want a vacation that’s all about the sun and sea, then pack your bag for the Maldives. Book a stay at any one of the country’s atoll resorts. You can pick a place based on whether you’re interested in a chilled-out family-friendly holiday or an adventure-packed getaway. Explore coral reefs, lounge around on the beach, or check into an underwater luxury hotel.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists can enter the Maldives.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No. However, if you exhibit Covid-19 symptoms, you may have to quarantine.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: No pre-arrival test is required. Travellers are advised to conduct a PCR test between the third and fifth day after arrival.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, all tourists get on-arrival visas. Valid for 30 days.

Mongolia

mongolia quick flight from hong kong
A ger, a nomadic dwelling, in Mongolia (© Patrick Schneider via Unsplash)

Known for its sweeping landscapes and nomadic culture, Mongolia should be on your must-visit list if you truly want a break from the bustle of city life. The landlocked country has nature reserves and national parks, ancient Buddhist monasteries, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Petroglyph Complexes of the Mongolian Altai and the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. The capital Ulaanbaatar boasts attractions in the form of Gandan Khiid Monastery (which houses the world’s tallest indoor statue of Buddha), Chinggis Khan Statue, and Bogd Khaan Winter Palace Museum.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists can enter Mongolia.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine is required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: No pre- or post-arrival Covid testing is required.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Yes, nationals of 26 places can enter Mongolia visa-free for various periods between 14-90 days. Hong Kong nationals can stay for 14 days visa-free.

Nepal

nepal getaway from hong kong
Stupa Bodhnath in Nepal, one of the largest spherical stupas in the world (© Raimond Klavins via Unsplash)

Apart from the Himalayas, the biggest draw in Nepal is its capital, Kathmandu, which has several historic and sacred sites. Head to Chitwan National Park and Bardiya National Park for wildlife viewing or the lakeside town of Pokhara for treks. If you’re serious about trekking, the best areas are the Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, you can present either a vaccination certificate or negative Covid test (PCR, Gene Expert, True NAAT or WHO-accredited tests are all accepted) within 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine is required, for vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: If you’re exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, you may be subjected to Covid-19 testing on arrival.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Nearly all foreign nationals can be issued a visa on arrival. Multiple entry visas can be issued for 15, 30, or 90 days. Residents of China, Hong Kong, and Macau can have their visa fees waived.

South Korea

south korea short trip from hong kong
Busan in southern South Korea (© Thomas Roger Lux via Unsplash)

If you’re into K-pop and K-dramas, we bet you already have a wish-list of iconic shoot locations you’d like to capture an IG moment at. The most popular times to visit South Korea are during autumn to see the fall foliage and spring to view the cherry tree blossoms. You can pack visits to the bustling metropolis of Seoul, the beach getaway of Busan, and the volcanic island of Jeju into a relatively brief trip to the country.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: All travellers can enter South Korea, whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or not.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: There are no more post-arrival quarantine requirements for tourists, irrespective of their vaccination status.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: South Korea has scrapped all Covid-19 testing requirements for tourists.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Under normal circumstances, Hong Kong citizens can enter South Korea visa-free for 90 days. However, the visa-free and K-ETA (Korean Electronic Travel Authorization) is currently suspended. Check with the Korean embassy about visa application.
  • Other requirements: It’s recommended that travellers use the Q-code system before they board their flight to make the arrival process smoother.

Sri Lanka

sri lanka quick trip from hong kong
Nine Arches Bridge in Sri Lanka (© Hendrik Cornelissen via Unsplash

This island nation is chock-full of things to do. You can stroll through the Dambulla Cave Temple (the largest temple complex in Sri Lanka), take a safari in Yala National Park, or hit Arugam Bay for adventure sports. Sri Lanka is a foodie haven and no trip here is complete without a stop at Colombo’s famed Ministry of Crab.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, but unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated travellers must arrange for a pre-departure Covid-19 test. Tourists who have recovered from the virus within the past six months and received only one dose of a vaccine are considered fully vaccinated, and need to carry proof of their infection.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine is required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: A pre-arrival Covid-19 test is not required for vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated travellers must have a PCR test result from within 72 hours or a laboratory-administered RAT result from within 48 hours prior to departure. Children under 12 are exempt from this test.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: No, tourists must get an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) prior to arrival. You must have Covid-19 insurance coverage to obtain an ETA.

Thailand

thailand short trip away from hong kong
Floating market in Bangkok, Thailand (© Renee Kennedy via Unsplash)

This is one of the most popular places to visit in Southeast Asia, whether you’re a beach bum, a food fanatic or an adrenaline junkie. You can experience the buzz of big-city life in Bangkok and Chiang Mai or the laid-back ways of the mountain villages in the north. And if you’ve got a beach resort vacay in mind, you can take your pick from Phuket, Krabi or Koh Samui.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, vaccinated and unvaccinated foreign nationals can enter Thailand.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: Thailand has removed its quarantine requirements for all travellers, irrespective of vaccination status.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: There are no more Covid-19 testing requirements for tourists.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Most foreign nationals can enter Thailand visa-free for 30 or 90 days. Hong Kong citizens can stay for 30 days.

Vietnam

vietnam short trip from hong kong
Train street in Hanoi, Vietnam (© Thijs Degenkamp via Unsplash)

Vietnam has so much to offer to tourists that we recommend making more than one trip to this Southeast Asian country. If you choose to stay in the capital of Hanoi in the north, you can see the French influences on Vietnamese culture and have easy access to UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay. Danang in central Vietnam is a midway point between the ancient town of Hoi An, Hue and My Son. The commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh, is the epitome of a buzzing SEA metropolis, and has several attractions dedicated to the Vietnam War.

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists can enter Vietnam. All tourists must follow the same entry requirements.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: No quarantine is required.
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: No testing is required.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: Foreign nationals from everywhere except for 22 countries must apply online for a visa. Valid for 30 days.

Japan

A view of the Yasaka Pagoda in Kyoto, Japan
A view of the Yasaka Pagoda in Kyoto, Japan (© Sorasak via Unsplash)

Pre-Covid, this country was a favourite destination among Hong Kong residents, but has had strict entry regulations in place to protect its population against the virus since 2020. However, from October 11 this year, the government will do away with its current testing and quarantine requirements for tourists and will resume its prior visa exemption policy for certain countries. So if you’ve been craving authentic yakitori from a Tokyo bar or want to hit the slopes of Hokkaido this winter, book your tickets to Japan!

  • Do I need to be vaccinated?: No, but there are different testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists.
  • Do I need to quarantine?: Starting October 11, the government will cancel all quarantine measures.   
  • Pre- and post-arrival testing?: Tourists who’ve gotten a third vaccine shot don’t have to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon entry. Anyone else must take a Covid test within 72 hours of their planned departure to Japan.
  • Can I enter visa-free?: From October 11, Hong Kong passport holders can enter Japan visa-free for up to 90 days.
See also
Places To Visit In Hong Kong : 20 Attractions & Tourist Spots You Must Go

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Born in Canada, Danielle is deep diving into the things that make Hong Kong a city of intermingling identities, and bridging the information gap as someone trying to navigate the city herself as a cultural inbetweener. Sometimes this means examining culture and local people’s stories, and other times it means drinking all the milk tea and doing walking explorations of peripheral districts.

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