Malaysians Can Now Travel To Japan Without A Guided Tour, But There Are Some Restrictions
Previously, visitors to Japan had to be escorted by a tour guide at all times.
Yesterday, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that the country will start allowing non-guided package tours from 7 September onwards
According to Bloomberg, Japan will also be increasing its daily tourist cap from 20,000 to 50,000.
Besides that, travellers who are fully vaccinated (with three doses of vaccine recognised by Japan) will no longer require to take a pre-departure PCR test.
Prior to this, Malaysians wanting to visit Japan could only do so by being part of a strict guided package tour, escorted by a local tour guide at all times
However, before you get all excited, free and easy travel in Japan is not yet allowed.
As outlined by travel booking platform, Klook, the move by Japan allows more flexibility for individual travellers, but Malaysian tourists will "still be required to arrange their visit through a travel agency".
So, can you actually travel to Japan or not leh?
Here are a few things you should know before planning your trip:
1. You can visit Japan without a guided tour, but you still need to book a package tour from a travel agency
According to The Japan Times, the Japan government will be releasing guidelines on what constitutes a package tour in the coming days. However, every tourist will need to have 'sponsors', a.k.a. a travel agency in Japan they can contact if they get infected with COVID-19.
This means you will likely have to book a packaged tour from a verified travel agency in Malaysia.
Here's a list of travel agencies that currently organise tours to Japan.
2. You will probably still need to get a travel visa to enter Japan
As of now, foreign tourists are required to apply for a one-time travel visa to visit Japan.
This can be done by making an appointment with the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia. Do take note of the waiting time to get a visa — the website currently says that it will take around three weeks to obtain one. However, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, it may take longer, especially once travel restrictions begin to loosen.
Malaysians are advised to secure a visa and approved travel dates before booking flight tickets and accommodation.
3. Not every type of vaccination is recognised in Japan
From 7 September onwards, visitors can enter Japan upon being fully vaccinated (with three doses), without having to take a pre-departure test.
The following vaccines are recognised by Japan:
First two doses: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Bharat Biotech, Novavax
Booster shot: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novavax
This means that Malaysians with the Sinovac vaccine are not considered "fully vaccinated". However, you can still enter Japan for travel by presenting a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival.