It isn’t All Bad if You’re Stuck in Southeast Asia Because of COVID-19

It’s a surprisingly splendid time to travel domestically.

Mar 3, 2020

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as stressed out and paranoid about COVID-19 as anyone else. Yes, people are sick, but the whole world’s heightened anxiety levels, coupled with a plummeting economy, makes everything feel a little grimmer (and my hands are very, very dry from all the washing). It’s certainly a time where we could all use a little comfort and positive thinking, so allow me to share with you a few positive outcomes of the virus during this impossibly bleak —though, not doomed!—time. 

Michelin-Starred Restaurants without the Queues

VEA Restaurant, Hong Kong.

If you’ve ever attempted to eat at Bangkok’s Jay Fai, the city’s one-and-only street food restaurant with a Michelin star, you already know how ungodly long the lines are to get a seat. Just as coveted is a spot at Gaggan Anand‘s G’s-Spot chefs table, or Hong Kong’s VEA. Good news, with a lack of visiting tourists, it should be pretty easy to eat at most of the heavily accoladed restaurants across the region. Bucket list-worthy Zén and Odette in Singapore have tables for the rest of the month. The food and beverage industry has felt the impact of the virus more than most and could really use the support right now. So, if you needed an excuse to finally try that restaurant, or eat that renowned crab-stuffed omelet, corona is it. 

Travel Deals for Days

The Cabochon Hotel, Bangkok.

I’m not advocating for the whole world to go mobile at a time like this, but in places like Thailand and Australia, domestic travel is at an all-time low. If you’re in good health and haven’t recently come back from a red zone, we suggest you take full advantage of cheap flights and accommodations. Many hotels are even coming up with special deals and staycation packages, like Bangkok’s darling boutique stay The Cabochon Hotel, which is offering room and dinner sets starting at THB2,900 for Thai residents and expats. The Mandarin Oriental Singapore has an “Out and About” package that includes accommodations, breakfast for two adults and a child, parking, a room upgrade, and late checkout all starting at S$308 a night. 

Crowd-less Streets and Immigration Lines

Finally, you can get that shot of the colorful stairs at Kuala Lumpur’s Batu Cave, without the tourists in the background. Or take in Chiang Mai’s temples practically by yourself. Personally, I’m most excited about a traffic-less Bangkok and open seats on the train (which I’ll be riding fully equipped with hand sanitizer). Though, something that can benefit everyone is the speedy security and immigration lines at the airport. Running late to catch your flight? There’s a good chance you’ll zoom right to the gate. 

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