The announcement that Cambodia has joined Thailand, Laos and Vietnam on the UK’s safe travel corridor has been met with a lukewarm reception within the travel industry, as Cambodia and Thailand travel restrictions remain for anyone trying to enter the Southeast Asian nations.
Now, travellers from the four nations do not have to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon arrival in the UK.
Nick Ray, Lonely Planet Cambodia author and Principal of Hanuman Travel, believes Cambodia should have been added to the UK safe travel corridor months ago.
Ray says, “The inclusion of Cambodia on the list of UK travel corridors is long overdue, as the kingdom has experienced extremely low rates of COVID-19 to date, with only 300 cases, zero deaths and no community spread. This decision is a timely acknowledgement that Cambodia and Laos have fared very well in the fight against coronavirus.”
What are the travel restrictions in Cambodia?
Currently there is no reciprocity between the UK and either Thailand or Cambodia.
“It doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to get into Cambodia at this time,” cautions Ray.
For people travelling to Cambodia, there are no visas on arrival, and anyone wishing to enter the Kingdom must have a valid visa and COVID-free health certificate taken within 72 hours of departure. In addition, foreign visitors must leave a $2,000 deposit on arrival.
The Cambodia entry requirements also necessitate all people arriving – even Cambodians – to check in to a designated quarantine hotel upon arrival. The cost will be deducted from the deposit. Visitors have to remain under quarantine for 14 days. The only exception to this is when travelling under the VAPGI sponsorship, which only applies for short-term business visitors (maximum 14 days).
What are the travel restrictions in Thailand?
The situation is no better across the border, with stringent Thailand Covid travel restrictions in place.
The Thai government has just announced that foreign tourists will one more be allowed to visit the country. However, first they will have to confirm that they have 500 thousand baht (roughly $16,580), in their bank account, and take out medical insurance for three million baht (approximately $99,500).
“For now this really is a one-way corridor”
If that were not enough all foreign visitors will have to go into quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
“For now this really is a one-way corridor,” says Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures and founder of Khiri Travel of the Thailand travel restrictions. “The issue for Thailand still is that on arrival you still need to go into 14 days quarantine”
Niemeijer is hopeful that the announcement by the UK Government might trigger a relaxation of the Thailand covid entry restrictions.
“It may encourage Thailand to start thinking about reciprocating these gestures. As long as Thailand is stuck in a perceived zero cases strategy, there is little hope for European countries to be allowed in.”
“The world’s largest religious building is the perfect destination for social distancing”
Niemeijer believes the game changer will be when travellers are allowed in with at a maximum a negative test upon arrival and proof of insurance.
He also suggests that a small Covid charge can be levied on all tourists entering both Cambodia and Thailand to fund local Covid treatments.
A Nomad’s Holiday in Cambodia
Ray still recommends that people with sufficient time should visit Cambodia.
“For retired professionals, digital nomads or students that aren’t having a fresher year to remember, it might just make Cambodia that much more tempting for a long winter escape,” says Ray.
“Winter is coming, but not to Cambodia. Similarly Cambodia has never implemented a lockdown during the time of coronavirus, so restaurants and bars have remained open and the one and only Temples of Angkor never closed to visitors. After all, the world’s largest religious building is the perfect destination for social distancing.”
For more information on what life in Cambodia is like at the moment, listen to our Cambodia and the Coronavirus Podcast.
Cover image by Nathan Horton.