Hong Kong & Singapore Establish “Travel Bubble”

Filed Under: Travel

Hong Kong and Singapore will be forming a reciprocal travel bubble without a quarantine requirement, which Singapore’s Transport Minister suggests is “the first reciprocal travel bubble in the region, and maybe in the world.”

How is this going to work?

Hong Kong & Singapore travel bubble basics

Here’s what we know so far about the Hong Kong & Singapore travel bubble, which will exclusively be open to residents:

  • Both governments have agreed “in principle” on the terms of this travel bubble, and while no exact date has been given for this to launch, it’s expected that it will happen before the end of the year
  • Travelers will need a negative coronavirus test prior to travel, but it’s not yet known with what timeline that needs to be done
  • Dedicated “travel bubble” flights will be set up, so those traveling between Hong Kong and Singapore won’t be sharing flights with transit passengers
  • Beyond that there will be no major restrictions, including no quarantine requirements, no limits on the type of travel allowed, no rules about what can be done at the destination, etc.

There will be dedicated flights for this travel bubble

Both Hong Kong and Singapore have been considering various types of travel bubbles, but this will be the first one to be implemented.

Singapore will be opening to those from Hong Kong

Coronavirus in Hong Kong & Singapore

At this point coronavirus is well under control in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Hong Kong has seen a total of over 5,200 cases and 105 deaths, and is now down to single digit new cases daily. On some days Hong Kong is seeing zero new cases.

Singapore has seen a total of nearly 58,000 cases and 28 deaths. Singapore is down to single digit new cases daily.

As you can see, coronavirus is very much under control in Hong Kong and Singapore, especially compared to other places in the world.

This is a step in the right direction, but…

I’m sure many in Hong Kong and Singapore will be excited about this, and it’s no doubt a step in the right direction for reopening travel in a responsible and objectively low-risk way.

This is probably also a good glimpse of what we should expect as more destinations open to tourists, especially those that have largely kept borders closed. I suspect we’ll see more bilateral agreements like this between low risk places, which are individually negotiated.

I love both Hong Kong and Singapore, and I can’t wait to visit again one day. What I’m not sure of is whether today’s announcements gets us one step closer to these places opening up on a widespread basis at some point in the future, or one step further away.

Hong Kong will be opening to those from Singapore

Bottom line

Hong Kong and Singapore are establishing a travel bubble, allowing travel on specially designated flights in conjunction with a negative coronavirus test. It’s great to see this concept finally come to life, and it’s certainly a cautious and low-risk way to restart travel.

Only time will tell if this is the way that travel reopens for more destinations that largely have coronavirus under control.

What do you make of this new Hong Kong & Singapore travel bubble?

  1. “What I’m not sure of is whether today’s announcements gets us one step closer to these places opening up on a widespread basis at some point in the future, or one step further away.”

    Definitely not a step closer to them opening up to the world. The fact that it has taken them this long to get an agreement worked out between each other–two localities that have their shit together when it comes to dealing with Covid–indicates we’re nowhere close to them allowing in people from places which haven’t dealt as well with the virus.

  2. Morgan – I think “starting to be implemented” is a bit of a reach! New Zealand is not allowing Australians to enter, Australia will shortly let Kiwis visit two states but they will have to hotel quarantine at a cost of $3000 on their return.

    I can’t imagine anything getting close to being a meaningful “bubble” opening until next year.

  3. I think that leisure destinations will only see an increased demand if they reopen without conditions like quarantine or a testing requirement.
    I travelled to several international destinations during the pandemic and only those without such requirements were able to attract tourists.
    I personally would not travel to any countries with testing requirements. There are many beautiful countries without such restrictions in place. In two or three months most countries will have learned that tourists won‘t accept such conditions for travel. Therefore I expect that such travel bubbles will be scrapped and tourists will be allowed to enter from anywhere without a testing requirement.

  4. @Kevin Yes yes we all understand how important you and your countrymen are and the whole world is grovelling for your tourist dollars. How can wealthy Asian cities and states like Hong Kong and Singapore possibly survive without you? /s

    All these destinations have spent tons of money and gone to great lengths to get COVID under control. They don’t care about what you want, they do care about keeping case counts low.

  5. The issue for many expats living in SE Asia is that the bubble is not between paired countries, it is between paired passport holders.


  6. @Kevin Those wealthy Asian countries spending tons of money to keep their people stay safe from covid, they don’t need your tourist money

  7. @Kevin, not sure where you are from, but I am American and do not blame in the least those countries whose restrictions are stringent for crossing their borders. As well publicized everywhere, Infections rates in America and many parts of Europe are not under control, in sharp contrast to many Pacific rim nations. Rightfully so, they should restrict entry or deny it entirely until we can get the virus under control. Tourist dollars are important but not at the expense of public health. Heck, right now we Americans cannot even travel to Canada. And who can blame them? Two nations side by side, very different governmental leaders and the results speak for themselves.

  8. @JRL that you are wrong. The article explicitly says residents of both countries, resident meaning whoever who holds a valid visa to be in that particular country. And don’t try arguing, I live in Singapore.

  9. Hey, don’t worry. We will be enjoying all the benefits of Herd Mentality for a long, long time. That’s better than bubbles, and you never have to wear a mask.

    Thank you, brilliant Republicans!

  10. Even singapore and china & MY have travel lanes before today for biz travelers. Soon korea and japan will follow suit.

  11. (To be less cryptic: I expect far more people fleeing HKG for SIN than making the trip the other way. Think Berlin in the early 1960s. And, eventually, Beijing will notice and shut it down.)

  12. @Hal of course you had to bring propaganda into this. Entry into Singapore fro HK has been permitted for a while, just with mandatory quarantine. Do you really think that a quarantine would stop somebody from leaving a place they’re trying to “escape”?

    I don’t agree a bit with what’s happening in Hong kong, but I look at facts, not at politician’s lies. Singapore limits the number of visas it gives, that’s what’s holding people back, not the lack of quarantine-free travel! If it doesn’t lead to a resurgence of COVID-19, this arrangement will only grow in size. Let’s hope it’s the case.

  13. Add a few more Asia-Pacific countries like Taiwan and Thailand, and maybe Japan + S.Korea (when they stop failing, compared to their peers), and I will seriously consider isolating in Hong Kong for 14 days, and then staying in Asia for the foreseeable future.

    Sick of the selfish individuals in the West ruining it for everyone else.

  14. Readers should note that any travel bubbles are predicated on reciprocal, almost zero infections/deaths, to work.
    It should be blindingly obvious that no sane country would even remotely consider the US for the establishment of a bubble, with all its benefits, for the foreseeable future.
    Never mind, you still have your FREEDOM! to stay at home instead. And for some placard wavers nothing trumps that! I do imagine that many of the aforesaid don’t venture too far from their trailer-parks though.

  15. @JRL Justin Ross Lee
    The travel bubble is open to all residents residing in both Hong Kong and Singapore regardless of nationalities.
    In fact, according to the published article in our local newspapers, it’s even open to anyone lived in either place for at least 14 days even if they are not a resident.

  16. I am looking forward to more of these travel bubbles. Australian PM is talking to Pacific Islands, Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Hopefully soon Australians can travel to these countries and spend our money, with our case numbers continue to go down. There is no way in hell I’m going to travel to the US or Europe any time soon. The infection rates are out of control!

  17. Ironically these are not the most well-controlled places in Asia. Vietnam and Taiwan are better controlled.
    Taiwan has had 15 new cases in the past 2 weeks. It has a population of 24 million. Singapore’s population doesn’t reach 6 million. Hong Kong’s population is 7.5 million. And guess what? Singapore and Hong Kong have way more new cases.
    I guess the reality is that somewhat well-controlled places will establish travel bubbles while the truly well-controlled places won’t.

  18. @james
    Although I agree with you that Vietnam & Taiwan have done a great job in controlling the virus, but overall many asian countries had been doing pretty well comparing to the rest of the world, not only the government but their people are taking it seriously. It is not totally fair to compare just the numbers of cases, but you need to consider the exposure. Singapore & HK are international cities… they have exposure with many countries having expats working in their cities, aviation hub, one of the top ports for shipping containers, etc… All these can cause traffic of people in and out of their country comparing to Vietnam and Taiwan. Also, Taiwan hasn’t tested enough people (only 98,000 tests). HK had almost done 3.6 million tests (that’s about half of their population) and SG had done 3.3 million tests. Recently Taiwan had been exporting virus to many countries such as Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, etc… so I am pretty sure they have some asymptomatic cases that haven’t been tested or counted.

    The idea is to slowly setting up travel bubble with enough testing and protocols in between countries.

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