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COVID-19 and Travel within Asia

It’s certainly sobering for Asia to be ground zero and the genesis of the resulting impact this virus has had on all of us. I was thinking the other day, what was I doing on December 1, 2019, when patient zero stood in that wet market in Wuhan, China deciding what was he going to eat that day? That one split-second decision has had such an incredible impact on us all. Imagine if he’d chosen the vegetarian option? Could all of this have been avoided? It has given me a moment of pause for sure and a clear reminder that nothing is certain and that life always hangs in the balance.

But all that aside, in so many ways, it couldn’t be a better time to travel within Asia. I’d be there right now in a heartbeat if I could. The idea of standing in front of Lin Po on Lantau Island without a selfie stick waving in my face or paying my $1.20 for a gorgeous banh mi sandwich at Madam Khanh’s inside Hoi An’s ancient town without queuing for 40 minutes—ah, what a thought.

There has never been a better time to travel to Asia than now. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not making light of the fact that COVID-19 has left significant loss in its wake. For those who cannot travel because their jobs forbid them to take holidays abroad, I completely get it. And for those who have been anxiously looking forward to scaling the Great Wall of China after years of dreaming about it only to have their travel plans completely capsized and are now left having to rebook new travel dates spending countless hours on the phone—my heart goes out to you.

And most of all, to our family of travel advisors who are having to redo all of the work they’ve already done for rarely more than a thank you and having to explain why full monies often can’t be refunded, I am with you and the team at Goway appreciate all that you’ve done and will continue to do.

Sunrise on Jeju Island

But for those who have no employment travel restrictions and for those who are under the age of 60 and have the flexibility to travel and an open mind to take things as they come—because the situation changes on a daily basis—I highly recommend packing their suitcase and heading East.

There are a couple of things to note, though. While most of Asia is business as usual, there are some updates that travellers still need to be aware of if Asia is on their itinerary:

1. Vietnam visas on arrival have been temporarily suspended until further notice. This just means that clients have to apply for their visa prior to leaving their home country and they will be expected to complete a declaration of health form as well. Also, the areas of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Yen Tu, and Co To Island are closed until March 26 (at the time of writing).

2. China is still off limits, but it does appear that cases of COVID-19 are recovering and that there are no additional outbreaks. It won’t be long before China is considered safe to travel to once again.

3. Only the province of North Gyeongsang in South Korea is off-limits at the moment, which does include the popular city of Daegu and the famous Bulguksa Temple, but Seoul and the beautiful island of Jeju are still unaffected.

4. Finally, because things are changing at a rapid pace, we highly recommend that travellers planning on visiting any country, even if zero cases of COVID-19 have yet to be reported, still check in with the entry requirements for that country as many countries are closing their borders to travel coming in from affected areas.

Just as we got through 9/11, SARS, MERS, H1N1, and a multitude of other maladies that have plagued our travel industry, this too shall pass. Thank you for your continued support. Our mandate is to give our travel community the same support in return.

We have some excellent trip savings for travel later this year. Our 6-day Malaysia Luxury Island Escape is only US $839 / CA $1,085 per person, with a savings of US $290 / CA $364 per person! Plus our 8-day Mandalay to Bagan River Cruise includes US $369 / CA $490 worth of savings per person. For those who can travel this spring or summer, we have an 8-day Southern Thailand Wellness Escape, which includes US $429 / CA $485 per person in savings. We will keep updating our specials page frequently as we get new offers coming in.  


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