Young Pioneer Tours

COVID-19 / Coronavirus Travel Update – Which countries are open to tourism?

As you might imagine one of the most frequent questions we are getting asked right now is which countries have open borders and where can I travel to during coronavirus?

While the COVID-19 pandemic still refuses to die down in many parts of the world, there are an increasing number of countries that are now open, or opening to tourism.

Group tours during coronavirus remain particularly tricky, especially if they involve multiple countries. That being said we are now offering at least some group tours which you will find listed below.

Independent tours have now started in earnest, and we are offering tours for individual, pair or small group travel to a range of destinations.

Please note this page will be continuously updated with border closures and openings, but we also recommend doing your own independent research, as well as checking with your own government regulations on travel.

In the meantime, you can still sign up for our YPT member if you want to secure discounts on tours in 2021 and beyond, or buy it as a Christmas present for a friend or relative, and all tours are only a €50 deposit only.

Which countries are open to group and independent travel?

Africa

  • Burkina Faso – A negative COVID-19 test taken no earlier than 72 hours before landing is necessary. Land borders remain closed to tourism. Now is a great time to visit this West African nation, home to pan-Africanism and Africa’s Che Guevara, where we get a great experience of local village life and up real close to everyone’s favourite aquatic reptile, the crocodile.

Asia

  • China – China are currently not issuing any tourist visas. However, for expats based in China domestic tourism has returned to normal and YPT is running our signature North Korea Borderland tour, Chinese Ghost City tour of Inner Mongolia, and others. We will keep posting updates regarding tours in China here.

The Caribbean

  • Cuba – the country is now open to tourism, but arrivals are required to self-isolate for 10 days. This time can however be spent in a resort hotel with access to the beach etc.

Eastern Europe

  • Belarus – COVID-19 restrictions are non-existent. Do keep in mind that whilst passing through immigration not to present yourself as a journalist as they are turning away anyone who will potentially report on the political events regarding their recent election. Visa-free entry still stands for most nationalities. Some might say this is the perfect time to visit. You can visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Belarus. Read more on Belarus.
  • Bulgaria – Thanks to an initial strict lockdown, Bulgaria is largely handing the coronavirus well. Alongside common restrictions such as masks in supermarkets and museums, the country is functioning as normal and is an ideal destination for private and small group tours.

Middle East

  • Iraqi Kurdistan – Unlike Southern Iraq, Kurdistan is visa-free for most nationalities, has not been affected badly by COVID 19, as well as being politically stable. If you have not been here yet, it is a must-see destination both as an unrecognised country and a highly fascinating part of the Middle East.
  • Somaliland – The unrecognised country of Somaliland is now fully open to tourism and all that is needed is a negative COVID-19 test taken no earlier than 72 hours before arrival. From the colonial architecture of Hargeisa to the seashores of Berbera via the prehistoric cave art of Las Geel, Somaliland is a must visit for all Pioneers!

Which countries are currently open to independent travel?

Africa

  • MaliMali has also fast become a staple of YPT’s Africa tours and is now opened to independent travel. We have a group tour in January but this may be heavily amended because of the difficulties of multi-country tours. We can organise independent tours starting now. Unfortunately, due to the threat of violence in Dogon Country, it is completely closed off to tourism.
  • Mauritania – Now fully open to travel. A negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival has to be presented and YPT can arrange independent travel to suit your needs. Mauritania has rapidly become one of our favourites around the world. Home to the famed Mauritania iron ore train riding in open carriages into the Saharan sunset, the train is 3km in length and is one of the heaviest in the world. While there you can also visit the UNESCO world heritage site Chinguetti, a holy city of Islam, the incredible scenery of the Adrar region and the ancient city of Ouadane as well as the capital Nouakchott. Check out our 5 Reasons to Visit Mauritania.
  • Sudan – this country has been going through big changes recently, with the leader deposed and a seemingly entering a new era of openness. YPT can organise independent travel to Sudan and also Bir Tawil – the only truly unclaimed piece of land in the world, which we wrote a book on.
  • South Sudan – this is our favourite new destination we’ve unlocked having already operated multiple group and independent tours. If you hadn’t heard, this is the newest country in the world and is now safe to visit. YPT can procure visas and arrange bespoke itineraries at short notice.

Asia

  • Nepal – Suffering civil war and natural disasters, Nepal was already one of the poorest countries in the world and with a large number of people relying on tourism for their income COVID-19 has further ravaged the economy and people’s lives. YPT can organise Himalayan treks and Maoist Civil War adventures in this truly beautiful country. Negative COVID test within 48 hours is required on arrival.

Central Asia

  • Afghanistan – Open for business “as usual”, or as close to it as is possible. Afghanistan requires no quarantine or COVID tests on arrival, however you will need a COVID test to leave the country, which we can organise for you on the last day of your tour.
  • Pakistan – It is now possible to visit Pakistan, however most people will need to produce a negative PCR test on arrival. There are a few countries exempt from the test requirements. However, anyone who arrives with symptoms will then need to take a test and if found positive will have to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Tajikistan – It is possible for some people to travel to Tajikistan for tourism now, depending on which country you are from and where you’ve recently been. However, there is a 14 day quarantine program in place for most people.
  • Uzbekistan – Anyone can now visit Uzbekistan, but with some restrictions. Depending on where you’re coming from you may need to have a negative PCR test before arriving. If you test positive on arrival you’ll need to self-fund a 14 day quarantine for $3200USD. Click here for more details.

Which countries are expected to open for tourism soon?

Eastern Europe

  • Chernobyl and Transnistria– the latest news is that Transnistria is considering opening up from early December, just in time for our New Year’s tour.

What future tours need to be booked in advance?

Antarctica

  • Antarctica – Antarctica is currently not open for tourists. We have arranged our group tour far enough in advance that hopefully COVID-19 will be a thing of the past. We are taking bookings for our Antarctica Expedition in December 2021. This is the cheapest trip to Antarctica, ever.

Asia

  • North Korea – North Korea remains closed to tourists. Our North Korea 2021 tour program is available for bookings. You can read more about our North Korean travel updates. We are confidently looking at tourism resuming in North Korea by summer 2021.

Nordic

  • Svalbard – Svalbard is currently not open for tourism, but on the same theme, our Svalbard cruise which was postponed this year is planned to run in 2021. Places are now very limited, so we advise booking now.

Popular travel destinations Covid-19 travel updates

Central Asia

  • Turkmenistan – like North Korea, this is one of the few countries least afraid to shut its borders to the outside world. All Turkmenistan Airlines flights have been cancelled for 2020. It’s a fairly safe assumption that borders will not be opened until at least early 2021.

Middle East

  • Syria – Syria is still closed for all tourism, and although there have been various dates floated around for this to end, there is no real indication of when we might be allowed back in again.

Western Asia

  • Iran – whereas Iran would like to welcome tourists back, the country is in its 3rd wave of COVID-19 and has suffered worse than most, we don’t expect tours to open until the spring of 2021 at the earliest

Global Covid-19 Travel Updates

Africa

  • Angola – Totally restricted to tourists. Only Angolans are allowed to enter the country. Although flights to and from Angola have restarted again.
  • Sao Tome – Flights have resumed to Sao Tome. Tourists must prepare a negative PCR test within 72 hours before departing on their flight to Sao Tome.

Central America

  • Belize – Belize airport opened to international travellers on October 1st, but with understanding they stay in certain hotels. Land borders remain closed, as does renting our private island.

Central Asia

  • Kazakhstan Although there are some exceptions for people on work or residency visas, it is still not possible to visit Kazakhstan as a tourist. Click here for more details.
  • Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan is still closed to tourists from all countries.

Southeast Asia

  • Cambodia Cambodia is not currently open to tourists as the e-visa and visa on arrival program were suspended indefinitely in March 2020. If you would like to travel to Cambodia at the moment, you need to currently hold a valid visa or visit a Cambodian embassy in your country where it is possible to have business, work or family reunion visa issued if you have the correct supporting documents. Prior to travelling to Cambodia, you will need to take a COVID-19 test no longer than 72 hours before departure, proving you are negative for the virus. Upon arrival in Cambodia, you will need to hand over a $2000 deposit payable in cash or via credit card. Another COVID-19 test will be administered on arrival, and you will need to quarantine in a hotel until the results come back negative, which can take up to 72 hours. Provided the results come back negative, you are free to travel onwards to your accommodation, where you are expected to complete a 14 day isolation period. YPT can arrange independent tours, as well offer other relevant assistance if you are able to make your way to the country.
  • Philippines – The Philippines is currently only allowing returning nationals and spouses of nationals to enter the country. The Philippines have announced that they will not open until the second half of 2021.

Oceania

  • Fiji – Fiji which acts as a gateway for travel to much of the Pacific Islands is currently closed to tourism.
  • Nauru After North Korea, Nauru was one of the first countries to lockdown. There has been a travel corridor opened with Australia, but for all intents Nauru is closed to tourism.
  • Tonga – Tonga is completely closed to inbound travel to all but returning nationals.
  • Tuvalu – Tuvalu only has flights to Fiji and Kiribati, both of which are closed to tourism. Tuvalu is therefore not open for tourism.
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