Freedom! Sweet sweet freedom. As of this week, the Australian government’s ban on its citizens leaving the country has been lifted, giving us access to the wider world.
Notwithstanding, not the entire wider world, as some countries remain closed to tourists. So here’s an important question: Where can you really go? Where can Australians visit as tourists now and in the near future? And will you enjoy the experience when you get there?
The following is by no means an exhaustive list – it is closer to a snapshot of traditional popular destinations – but it will give an idea of the options available. (Although it’s worth noting that restrictions and conditions are constantly evolving, you should check all relevant government sources before booking a flight.)
Where can you go now
One of Australia’s all-time favorite destinations is open for business, and with direct flights from Darwin to London (as well as Singapore and the Middle East), it’s likely to be popular again. Although travelers will not have any restrictions to consider in the UK, upon arrival Australians will have to take a PCR test at their own expense, and another PCR test to return to Australia. With cases of COVID-19 rising to around 40,000 cases per day in the UK at the moment, the risk of a disruption to return is real.
New York City is ready for visitors (although it can be a bit chilly). Photo: iStock
Do a negative PCR test for COVID-19 before you leave (at your own expense – about $150) and you can sail to the Land of the Free now. The United States is open to tourism, with few restrictions on movement, or basic requirements such as masks etc in the country. Some may see this as a good or bad thing.
Like the USA, Canada is now open to Australian tourists who have been vaccinated twice and tested negative for COVID-19 before departure. Air Canada will resume direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver in December, and Canada’s COVID-19 case numbers are relatively low, meaning a winter flight to Whistler may be up and running. Within Canada, the government has banned non-vaccinated travelers from entering planes and trains.
Australians – those who have been in Australia in the past 21 days, and who have a travel insurance policy covering COVID-19 – can now enter Thailand without quarantine. COVID-19 case numbers in the country are steadily declining, direct flights are available from Australia, and the Land of Smiles is looking to get a boost from visitors. Note that the Australian government’s Smart Traveler website still lists Thailand as a “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” – Warning Level 3. Check that your insurance covers destinations at this warning level.
Spain, Italy, Portugal
I listed these southern European countries together, because their situations are quite similar: Australians who have received a dual vaccine can enter as tourists without the need for quarantine (although there are different testing requirements before departure); COVID-19 case numbers in countries are low, vaccination rates are high, and restrictions on movement are minimal. All are great options for a “new normal” vacation.
You will only need proof of vaccination to enter Germany – or a negative PCR test – if you are traveling from Australia, which is good news. The country is served by a lot of airlines flying through the Middle East and Singapore, although the rising number of COVID-19 cases (18,000 cases per day) could be cause for concern.
It seems strange to keep talking about “bubbles”, but here we go: from next Monday we will have a bubble with Singapore. or “travel corridor”. or something like that. In any case, vaccinated Australians will be able to enter Singapore without quarantine, despite the requirement to take three separate PCR tests – before departure, upon arrival and within 72 hours of arrival – at their own expense, plus another to get home, which means That visit may not be attractive at the moment.
Argentina and Chile
As of this week, Argentina and Chile are open for business (although Chile is still rated “Reconsider” by Smart Traveler). Latin American countries are highly immunized and ready to go, and as long as you too are vaccinated and can submit a negative PCR test when you arrive, you will be allowed access to these amazing countries, with few restrictions on the ground. Flights are limited at this point.
Where can you go before Christmas
If you’re an Australian, you’re probably already familiar with this, given the growing interest in holidays in Fiji. The nature of the island has got itself all over it and will be open to international tourists immunized and PCR tested from December 1, which is great, great news. The downside: To get home, you’ll need to take another PCR test, which currently costs around $225 per test in Fiji.
Australians, desperate to return to Bali, can already enter provided they are in a five-day quarantine. Talks are now underway to open a fortified travel corridor between Australia and Indonesia, so for those who can’t stick to the quarantine period, watch this space. It will likely happen soon.
South Korea is not currently open to Australian tourists, although that is set to change on November 15, when the country opens a “grafted travel corridor” with Singapore – something Australian travelers can use, and enter South Korea for tourism without quarantine. It is not clear at this point if there are restrictions on movement within the country, although you will need a PCR test before leaving.
Where can you go early next year
Japan has been cautious with any plans to reopen to international tourists, after being publicly affected by the COVID-19 wave during the Olympics. Although this wave is well and truly under control and vaccination rates are high, I don’t expect to see entering Japan without quarantine until early 2022.
Here’s another country hit hard by the coronavirus, but steadily recovering (around 15,000 new cases per day in a country of over a billion people), and it looks like it’s ready to restart the international tourism industry in early 2022. Now there’s no easy way to travel to India. But that will change with the easing of restrictions.
Where you won’t go for a while yet
Somewhat odd, given our close relationship and previous bubble arrangement, Australians are unlikely to vacation in New Zealand for some time, with the country announcing a transition to home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals by 2022. Unrestricted access will follow, on Although there is no indication of when.
Despite being the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, China is also one of the few countries still pursuing a COVID-free strategy, meaning that its international borders are closed to tourists and likely to remain so for a long time.
Western part of Australia
Here is another stubborn fiefdom that has yet to issue a plan to open up to the world. The latest intelligence appears to be that Western Australia will ease its border restrictions (both domestic and international) in February next year, although Prime Minister Mark McGowan has yet to confirm this.
Where will you travel next? Are you happy to stay in Australia for a while, or is the temptation to travel too strong? Is there any place on this list that you wouldn’t visit? What are your interests?
SEE ALSO: You Can Travel Abroad Again – But You Probably Shouldn’t
See also: Do you need a vaccination? Compare the new travel rules for each airline