Malaysia has partially reopened its borders to foreign tourists today, allowing vaccinated visitors to travel to the islands of Langkawi ahead of Malaysia opening up the entire country to tourism in January 2022

As Malaysia eases restrictions in most states, it's also preparing to welcome tourists again. This month, the government is gradually reopening borders to visitors now that infection rates are steadily decreasing across the country and vaccination rates are increasing, with more than 76% of Malaysia's 32 million population now fully vaccinated.

On Monday, Malaysia opened the tropical archipelago of Langkawi to fully vaccinated international tourists for quarantine-free travel. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement on Friday that visitors must be fully vaccinated, among other requirements, and stay in Langkawi for at least seven days before traveling to other parts of Malaysia.

Beach bar on Pantai Cenang beach on the Langkawi island in Malaysia.
The Langkawi gateway is the first phase in Malaysia's border reopening plans ©AsianDream/Getty Images

Malaysia then plans to launch a travel bubble with Singapore on November 29, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two countries for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A similar travel arrangement with Indonesia will also be created, before Malaysia's big return to tourism on January 1—when the country's borders will open to international travelers from elsewhere, according to Reuters.

Currently, most international travelers are banned from entering Malaysia for non-essential reasons (if they're not part of the Langkawi program) and even fully vaccinated arrivals are required to test negative for COVID-19 before travel and quarantine for at least seven days when arriving into the country.

Young asian girl using phone
Young asian girl using phone at street and she is wearing brown hijab with yellow shirt. She is waiting for friend or uber or grab at road side. Getty Images

It's likely that arrivals will have to be vaccinated when borders reopen in January given that it's a requirement of the travel plan for Langkawi and the upcoming travel bubble arrangements with Singapore and Indonesia, but the government has yet to specify what entry requirements will look like in January. We will update this article when more information is available.

To be considered fully vaccinated to travel to Malaysia at present, 14 days must have passed since the second dose of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Sinovac vaccines; or 28 days after one dose of Johnson & Johnson or Cansino, confirms the US Embassy in Malaysia.

Read more: What to know about traveling with unvaccinated kids

Malaysia Hawker Culture, Clay pot Chicken Rice stock photo
Most businesses including markets and restaurants are operating at full capacity © Getty Images/iStockphoto

At a government meeting on Thursday, Reuters reports that the head of Malaysia's recovery taskforce, Muhyiddin Yassin, said measures such as "COVID-19 tests will remain in place, with authorities to determine entry based on the COVID-19 situation in originating countries, and other factors" in January.

Most states in Malaysia are at phase four (the least restrictive) of the National Recovery Plan, which means that most businesses can operate at full capacity with health protocols in place. However, entertainment venues such as nightclubs and bars remain closed for now.

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This article was first published November 2021 and updated November 2021

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