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[KH Explains] Where can you travel from Korea quarantine-free?

Viable tourist destinations include the US, Europe and Thailand, while Japan and China remain effectively closed to tourists

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
If you are fully vaccinated in South Korea or elsewhere and have your vaccination status registered in the country, you can now enter without quarantine on the way back.

Those who are fully vaccinated abroad but have not been able to register their vaccination status in the COOV system will also be free of the seven-day long self-quarantine, which is currently required, from next month.

As of Wednesday, 54 countries and territories around the world have banned entry from foreigners, of which 29 countries conditionally allow entry.

Those traveling back from four countries -- Myanmar, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Pakistan -- need to still quarantine until March 31.

From April, however, quarantine on arrival will be required for travelers returning from three countries, including Vietnam, Myanmar and Ukraine, regardless of their vaccination status. The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said the measures reflect the risk of each country including the number of overseas cases.

All international arrivals are still required to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test result executed and issued within 48 hours of the departure date.

Another PCR test needs to be taken on day one of arrival and a rapid antigen test on either day six or seven.

According to bookings at travel agency company HanaTour, the Americas and Europe and Southeast Asia are among the most popular regions..

When broken down by destination, islands in the Pacific Ocean such as Guam and Saipan and Europe accounted for 36.4 percent and 23.4 percent of bookings, respectively, between March 11 and 20.

Southeast Asia accounted for 16.7 percent, while bookings for China and Japan took up just 2.1 percent, according to HanaTour.

Visa exemption agreements with 29 countries including Turkey, Thailand and New Zealand have been suspended, according to the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs. South Korean nationals traveling to these countries on a short-term visit are advised to confirm with the responding embassies and acquire an appropriate visa.


Countries with no COVID regulations on arrival


Travelers from South Korea face no COVID requirements in 13 countries and territories – The United Kingdom, Norway, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and El Salvador.


The United States


Non-US citizens must be fully vaccinated as well as showing a negative COVID-19 test result when traveling to the US by air.


Europe


Residents in South Korea can travel to most countries in Europe and return quarantine-free. Countries such as France and Sweden require a negative COVID test result, or proof of vaccination. Proof of recovery is also accepted by Germany from those who show no symptoms.


Thailand


Fully vaccinated travelers can enter Thailand without quarantine. A PCR test is required on Day 1. Starting April 1, the first five nights need to be spent in a designated hotel in areas designated as part of the Sandbox program and another test on Day 5 before being allowed to travel to other parts of the country.


Japan and China


Japan, one of the most popular holiday destinations for those living in Korea, is not an option for now, as the country has yet to open its border to tourists. Travelers to China are subject to a minimum 14-day quarantine at a government-selected facility or hotel.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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