Vietnam and the coronavirus - an unreliable travel guide - Rusty Compass travel blog

Vietnam and the coronavirus - an unreliable travel guide

| 18 Mar 2020
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18 Mar 2020

This is a rolling blog of updates on the coronavirus COVID-19 in Vietnam and how it is impacting travel in the country. As of this update (18 March), the coronavirus is a global threat that has brought international travel to an effective halt. Vietnam is closed to new tourist arrivals until further notice - like many countries. Mandatory quarantine requirements are in place for travellers and a number of foreigners are being treated for coronavirus in Vietnam.

For regular updates on the coronavirus, please check this frequently updated page and these English language news services from Vietnam -

Vietnam Tourism
Vietnam News Agency
VN Express


18 March 2020

Vietnam has temporarily closed its doors to international tourism in its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus

Leisure travel to Vietnam for new arrivals is neither possible nor recommended at this time. Vietnam is now fully focused on combating the spread of the coronavirus. Most tourism sites and many destinations are closed - as are many restaurants and bars.

As of 18 March, Vietnam has 67 confirmed coronavirus cases. A number of these cases are international travellers. Containment efforts have had some success to date.

We wish the people of Vietnam success in their fight against spread of the coronavirus.

We will next update this blog when there is a significant new development to report. We hope that will be a positive development and it will be soon.

15 March 2020

Vietnam's fight to contain COVID19 is now heavily impacting tourism across the country.

Vietnam's expanding efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus are now impacting all aspects of life. Tourists are increasingly finding themselves impacted. Some tourists have contracted the disease on flights into Vietnam and others have been quarantined. All visitors to Vietnam will encounter many closed tourist destinations, services and tourist sites. The romance of travelling in the age of the coronavirus is fading - and even if you're still keen, you may not be able to get a visa, or visit your favourite places.

For now we recommend postponing immediate travel plans.

As of today, Vietnam has 49 cases with many more suspected patients in quarantine. Vietnam is considered to have been proactive and effective in the containment of the coronavirus to date. The coming weeks will be critical in gauging the ongoing success of containment measures.

Many popular tourism destinations including Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Con Dao Island and tourist sites such as museums, live shows and more, are closed until further notice. Our sources in Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An say these places are very quiet with many areas, restaurants, cafes and bars closed.

Ho Chi Minh City authorities have proposed the closure of all bars and restaurants in the District 1 area after 6PM.

Visa regulations have been tightened to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, including visa waivers for travellers from the EU and UK and all intending travellers should have a visa before arriving. Travellers from the EU and UK face a mandatory 24 hour observation on arrival. We are advised that some of Vietnam's diplomatic missions are not issuing visas. Please check with your nearest Vietnamese mission. Please also note that visa and flight arrangements are changing by the day globally. It is possible that travellers may face further closures and obstacles to travel in the days ahead.

The Australian Government has today recommended the postponement of all non-essential international travel to all countries.


Ha Long Bay is among the tourism hotspots in Vietnam presently closed to visitors.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ha Long Bay is among the tourism hotspots in Vietnam presently closed to visitors.


11 March 2020

An increase in coronavirus cases and an increased response in Vietnam likely to impact travellers.

Vietnam's 22 day run without a new coronavirus ended on 6 March when health officials advised that a Vietnamese national on a Vietnam Airlines flight between London and Hanoi had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. A number of passengers from that flight have since also been diagnosed with the virus. Some had travelled extensively prior to diagnosis and this has increased the spread of the virus in Vietnam. As at 11 March, Vietnam has 34 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus and this is likely to rise. A number of the new cases are foreign nationals and they are being treated.

Vietnam has responded quickly to the new risks and this response is impacting travellers. Here are key issues to be aware of.

* A number of foreigners (mainly British nationals) are being treated for coronavirus contracted on the Vietnam Airlines London - Hanoi service.
* A number of foreigners from the same flight are in quarantine.
* The Vietnamese Government has suspended visa waivers for EU and UK passport holders. Please refer to your nearest Vietnamese Embassy for the latest information on visa availability. There are reports that visa issuance has been temporarily suspended in some cases. This should be verified with local Vietnamese diplomatic missions.
* There are reports that Cham Island, Con Dao Islands and Cat Ba Island are all presently closed to tourists.

5 March 2020

Travels in Hoi An Vietnam - an unreliable travel guide to the coronavirus

I spent a superb week in Hoi An. The big tour coaches and their heavy-footed tour groups were gone. But Hoi An felt surprisingly buoyant. There were still lots of people around. The weather was perfect with warm days and cool nights. And the heritage listed historic streets could be enjoyed in a way that hasn't been possible over the past five years or so after Chinese and Korean tour groups discovered the delights of the place. They have pulled out as quickly as they arrived providing a rare opportunity to fully appreciate the heritage charms of the place in some superb accommodation.

An Bang beach was perfect for some ocean time.

In this video, I look at the whole question of risk and travel and consider the possibility that the reaction to the coronavirus is worse than the virus.

26 February 2020

Travels in Saigon in late February 2020 -  an unreliable travel guide to the coronavirus

My few days in Saigon came as the panic across Vietnam was subsiding in late February. The city was quieter, the air was cleaner, businesses were struggling, but the city felt positive that it was dealing with the challenge. Developments on the weekend of 7 - 8 March (see above) will have dampened some of that optimism.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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