Vietnam to Further Reopen Borders from Dec. 15

Foreign travelers will be able to fly in from cities like Bangkok and Singapore, but must still quarantine for at least seven days even if fully vaccinated.

The karst pinnacles of Vietnam’s UNESCO-protected Ha Long Bay. (Photo: cristaltran/iStock)

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has confirmed that it will pilot a two-phase border reopening in the coming days, adopting a plan submitted by the transport ministry earlier this week. The first phase will begin on December 15 (next Wednesday), with commercial flights allowed to restart from nine cities deemed to be important for their political and economic ties with the country. Another factor influencing the selection was the number of overseas Vietnamese living in those places.

The lineup is dominated by Asian cities: Bangkok, Beijing, Singapore, and Tokyo are on the list alongside Seoul, Taipei, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh; passenger services from either San Francisco or Los Angeles are being greenlighted as well. In line with the transport ministry’s latest proposal, international flights will initially serve Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and up to four weekly flights are being permitted per route for each airline. Officials estimate that 14,000 visitors per week will enter the country in the second half of December.

Meanwhile, the second phase, which is set to last for a month, is being launched in January 2022. Vietnam’s civil aviation authority will then expand the scheme to six more cities: Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Paris, and Sydney. Airlines will be given permission to operate seven return flights a week per route, with the goal of bringing in more than 40,000 weekly overseas visitors. Beyond Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, scheduled international flights will also be allowed to land at Da Nang and Phu Quoc, as well as the airports of Cam Ranh, which serves the popular resort city of Nha Trang, and Van Don. The latter opened in late 2018 to provide travelers with a quicker way to reach Ha Long Bay.

The transport ministry has asked health authorities to consider the removal of mandatory quarantines for fully vaccinated travelers to “ensure the feasibility of resuming regular international flights” and replace current measures with pre-departure and post-arrival testing. Hanoi previously said it would fully reopen Vietnam’s borders by the middle of 2022, but at this stage, no details of further steps beyond January have been announced.

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