COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on May 20th 2021. We will update this page as frequently as possible.

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“There is no education like adversity.” – Benjamin Disraeli 

TravelBud has been monitoring developments around COVID-19 closely. We are in regular contact with our in-country teams on the ground in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, South Korea, Japan and Costa Rica.

We would like to share some important information about what we are doing to support the global effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 while also doing our best to minimize disruption to the programs we offer.

Before we do so we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to those who have sent messages of support during this difficult time. As a small company we truly value your understanding and continued support. Together we will overcome the challenges that we face today.

Program Updates and Intake statuses

It is difficult to predict how long containment measures will be in place globally, or what further restrictions may be imposed.

In what follows we do our best to answer what we believe are likely to be the most common questions. We also have FAQs further down the page. If you don’t see an answer to your question you can contact us at or via the contact details in the sidebar and we will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible.

What is the current status of programs?

Across nearly all of our program countries, second waves of COVID-19 outbreaks are coming under greater control, and we are starting to see things open up. We’ve updated the conditions and short-term outlook for each of our main program countries:


Strong Future Outlook, Ease of Travel, Quick Placement and High Demand for Teachers

There is a still a mandatory quarantine in Thailand which was dropped from 14 days to 7-10 days, but has recently been reinstated to 14 days due to an uptick in cases (they just had their Thai New Year over April so it lead to higher volumes of people travelling etc similar to Christmas time for us). This is however on the downturn and we expect that the 7 day quarantine for vaccinated travellers will be reinstated and 10 days for everyone (even if you’re not vaccinated).

This may not apply for South Africans, who may still be required to quarantine for 14 days due to concern about COVID strains.

Not many people in Thailand have been vaccinated at this point. The government continues its plans to be quarantine free (country-wide) from January 1, 2022 and from October 1 for places such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, and other tourist hotspots. There has been a recent (just in the past few days) small uptick in cases of COVID in Bangkok and surrounding areas. The government is taking aggressive measures to combat it including shutting down all bars and restaurants in Bangkok after 9PM.

School demand for teachers remains healthy.

There have been positive developments for Visa documentation processing namely a reduction in the number of steps to complete the documentation. Going forward, visa paperwork will only take approximately three weeks to process. Given the likelihood of much shorter quarantines, especially for vaccinated travelers, we plan to initiate a scaled down version of our summer teach program.

Not many people in Thailand have been vaccinated at this point. The government has announced a plan for opening the country that includes a target of quarantine-free travel by October 1!


May 31 and June 28 Intakes: We have decided to make the May 31 and June 28 intakes TESOL Extra. The reason for this is that we have run into some challenges transferring tourist visas to Non-b work visas once the participant is in Thailand. The inability to do that makes it difficult to hold full TESOL courses in country due to the fact that, even with the shorter quarantine times, participants still can’t arrive at the same time. Instead, the plan is to do what we have been doing to-date and have participants arrive and start their TESOL Extra once they finish quarantine and only after they have a confirmed placement (pre-placement).

Our March 29 and May 3 intakes have switched over to TESOL Extra with four weeks online and two weeks in Hua Hin for those taking the TESOL course.

For those arriving in April, they may fall into three groups:

  • School contract in hand and Non-B prior to arrival
  • School contract in hand but arriving on a tourist visa and switching over
  • No confirmed placement before arrival and come over on a tourist visa, and placement once in country


Strong Outlook for Teachers and High Teacher Demand with Fast Placement

Quarantine requirements are still pretty strict, and there are some new regulations and document requirements that cause headaches, but over time these will be reduced back to the pre-COVID level. Even despite the regulations and documentation requirements, teacher demand and school demand in Vietnam remains very strong.

The good news is that many of our schools are supporting some or all of the cost of quarantine.

The rollout of a vaccination campaign in Vietnam is slow going and it is not clear if the government will be open to travelers with vaccinations bypassing quarantine regulations.

Recently Vietnam has seen a slight uptick in new Covid cases, mostly in the Northern regions of the country. A handful of these cases appeared after the completion of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period – with the tests being positive for a new strain of Covid-19. As such, the Vietnamese government has decided to update their quarantine regulations. Until further notice, everyone will be required to quarantine in a hotel in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for 21 days, after which you will need to self-isolate at home for an additional 7 days.
This decision was a recent one and a response to the recent outbreak of the virus after the completion of the 14-day quarantine period.
We are hoping after this wave starts to decline, and cases tend to decline fairly quickly due to the government’s swift actions in response to these situations, that the quarantine time will be reduced to 14-days again.

We have made the tough decision to change our August 23rd TESOL course to be TESOL Extra, which would include four weeks online and one week in class in HCMC. The reason for this decision is that it is nearly impossible to bring everyone to Vietnam at the same time due to differing timelines for visa paperwork, schedules for relief flights, etc.

We strongly encourage participants to move forward with the TESOL Extra as we are not overly confident about doing full in-class TESOL courses in Vietnam for the next few intake dates.

All 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications including:

  • November 29, 2021
  • February 21, 2022
  • 2 May 2022


Temporary Setbacks for UK and SA Teachers, Still Strong Teacher Demand

South Korea continues to experience strong teacher demand and school demand. Our network locally and capacity has never been stronger. However, COVID numbers continue to hover around 400 a day, and restrictions of gatherings of more than five continue to preclude us from hosting orientation weekends.

The good news is that schools are open at all levels and types and school life is back to normal. The Korean government has officially reopened travel and visa processing for UK and South African travelers as of 18 April 2021, so there are no longer delays for UK and South African applicants.

The Korean government has started an ambitious vaccination program and plans to achieve herd immunity by mid-September.

All foreign international arrivals now required to provide a negative PCR COVID test no older than 48-hours prior to boarding their flight to Korea.

To date, it has been difficult to run in-country TESOL courses in Korea due to restrictions on quarantine, the “no cost quarantine, which is a huge advantage to teachers”, and the current impossibility of visa trips to neighboring countries.

The good news is that schools are allowed to operate online or with a limited number of in-class students. We have also placed close to 100 teachers in South Korea in the past 12 months so despite the difficulties during this COVID pandemic, Korea has remained a great option for new teachers.


July 26, 2021 and September 27, 2021 intakes: We strongly encourage participants to move forward with the Online TESOL + Placement as we are not overly confident about the ability to do a full in-class TESOL course in July.


Major Setback for the Country and Mid-Year as Soonest Expectation for Opening Borders

Myanmar has slipped deeper into dictatorship with frequent crackdowns that leave dozens of protestors dead. Several reports claim that more than 500 civilians have died since the Junta took power on February 1st from the popular, democratic government. Ethnic minority tribal militias in the east and northeast, which make up a sizable portion of Myanmar’s population, have mobilized against the junta and there is a strong possibility of a renewed civil war.

Most teachers have evacuated to Thailand or returned home. There are no immediate dangers to English teachers and we keep in regular touch with the handful that are still in Myanmar to update them on developments and offer all forms of support should they decide to leave the country.

We are uncertain and pessimistic about our teach program resuming anytime soon.

We will monitor both the security situation and the prospects for a return of English teachers closely.


We’ve made the tough decision to cancel our April 26 TESOL In-Country TESOL Course. The next intake will be June 28. Participants will have the option of pushing back to later intake dates or switching to a different program.


Still Closed with Little Hope of Teachers Starting in 2021

Japan lifted its state of emergency two weeks ago. Since the day after the State of Emergency was fully lifted in Japan on March 21st, Japanese consulates and embassies around the world were told to start processing visa applications again but they require some extra documentation. After some trial and error, schools have been able to get the correct paperwork stamped and signed by the Board of Education. Things are slowly moving towards reopening, but Japan is not quite there yet. As soon as we see visas start to be issued on a broader scale, we expect the market recovery in Japan to begin.

Japan has been largely closed to all travel over the past many months but schools have still been hiring in a very limited capacity for later in the year or 2022.

We’ve seen encouraging signs that the country is about to open to travel and will report on those once they are 100% confirmed.

We will continue to assess things as we see what happens in regards to borders and schools working through the backlog of applicants they have waiting to come.


Due to the uncertainty surrounding borders reopening and long visa processing times, it would be best for new signups to prepare to move over in early 2022.

Participants also have the option to complete their TEFL/TESOL certification online with TravelBud and will have their job placements confirmed from the comfort of their home, allowing them the flexibility to head over to start their teaching adventure as soon as it’s possible and safe to do so.

We will aim to continue to support current participants in moving forward with their initial timeframes as far as the situation will allow.

All 2022 intakes are currently open for applications.


Wide Open for Travelers but with Low Teacher Demand and Schools Still Closed

Costa Rica has a very open policy on travel. They allow travel to the country without quarantine or proof of a negative COVID test. COVID cases are declining.

Costa Rica is open to all nationalities and we have successfully been running TESOL courses and placement there with safety measures in place.

The majority of schools are currently holding their classes online as a precaution and are considering April as a timeframe for reverting back to face to face lessons.

Teachers are continuing to train and teach but the majority are doing so online whilst in-class lessons are not taking place. New teachers will need to be very flexible with placements and expect to teach online initially after the course whilst going through the process to secure an academy position.


All 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications.

Next available intake dates open for applications:

The commencement dates for the programs which have spots available and which are, unless otherwise advised, proceeding as normal are set out below:

Please note: Our support team will keep all 2020/2021 accepted applicants updated with relevant information, options and updates.



Teach English in Thailand


April/May intake TESOL Extra/ Pre-placement process
31 May 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021
1 November 2021
27 December 2021


24 January 2022
28 March 2022
2 May 2022
30 May 2022
27 June 2022
26 September 2022
31 October 2022

Thailand Summer Teach


7 June 2021 (can only go ahead if tourist visas are issued)
28 June 2021 (can only go ahead if tourist visas are issued)


6 June 2022
27 June 2022

Teach English in Vietnam


26 July 2021
23 August 2021
29 November 2021


21 February 2022
2 May 2022
30 May 2022
25 July 2022
22 August 2022
28 November 2022

Teach English in South Korea


26 July 2021
27 September 2021


24 January 2022
25 April 2022
25 July 2022
26 September 2022

Teach English in Myanmar


28 June 2021
27 September 2021


17 January 2022
25 April 2022
27 June 2022
26 September 2022

Teach English in Japan


All in-country TEFL/TESOL courses have been cancelled.
Online TEFL/TESOL courses start on the First Monday of every month.


Online TEFL/TESOL courses start on the First Monday of every month.
28 February 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
30 May 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
25 July 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
24 October 2022 (In-country TEFL course)

Teach English in Costa Rica


30 August 2021 (Degree holders only)
29 November 2021


14 February 2022
9 May 2022
27 June 2022
21 November 2022

Online TEFL Course


First Monday of every month.


First Monday of every month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be vaccinated in order to travel?

You currently do not need to be vaccinated in order to travel. You may need to present negative PCR tests within 48 hours of travel and/or complete a mandatory quarantine period upon your arrival. There is talk and encouragement from some countries, such as the Thai tourism sector, to allow entry without quarantine to vaccinated travelers, but this is just proposed at the moment and a far way off from being approved.

What is TravelBud’s advice for participants wanting to teach and travel abroad within the next 3 months?

During this time of uncertainty we are advising all participants to choose intake dates from March 2021 onwards.

We have published these intake dates above and on each program page on our website. There is no additional fee to switch between intake dates.

What happens if I am unable to travel to my selected program country for my intake due to COVID-19?

If you are unable to head over for your intended start date due to COVID-19 you will have options such as choosing a later intake start date at no additional cost.

Can I switch to a different program to that which I originally signed up for?

Yes, provided that you meet the requirements for the program to which you want to switch, we can assist you to do so.  There may be a slight difference in the cost which we will communicate to you in advance.

Will I need to arrive two weeks prior to my intake start date if there is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation regulation in place?

No. You will still need to arrive during the three days leading up to your intake start date. Chat to your enrollments coordinator for the latest up to date information.

What happens in the event that I need to self-isolate upon arrival?

First of all, don’t panic. Our Support team and our team on the ground will guide you through the whole process, assist you with arrangements and ensure your safety and wellbeing throughout your program.

How will a 14-day self-isolation period work? How will I be fed etc.?

The team on the ground will be there to ensure that you are taken care of in terms of grocery shopping, WIFI and check-ins during your 14-days of isolation. They will communicate everything with you clearly before and during your self-isolation and will be available to assist you should you require it.

Will I need to purchase a specific or special COVID-19 travel insurance policy?

You will need to purchase a travel insurance policy covering treatment and medical expenses with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD.

What are TravelBud’s in-country team doing on the ground to assist with containment?

In response to the spread of COVID-19, our in-country teams have put in place a comprehensive plan to support teachers on the ground, keep participants on our programs safe, and advise in-bound participants on how to travel safely.

They are collecting information from a wide variety of sources, collating it and sending it out to our teacher communities in each country regularly.

They obtain relevant information from speaking to schools, embassies, and teachers in the field, monitoring local language and international news sources, and speaking to local partners, all in an effort to better understand the situation each day and keep our teachers informed and safe.

They have also set up hotlines and designated staff members in all of our countries for participants to contact directly at any time if they have any questions or concerns, or need advice.

Our in-country teams have also put in place procedures at our offices and programs to ensure participant and staff safety. This includes closely monitoring the health of each participant from the moment they arrive on our programs.

Finally, we’re reaching out to participants who are in the preparation phase of traveling to our programs and informing them on how to maintain hygiene and safety during travel.

This plan is evolving daily to meet changing circumstances and is informed by the travel regulations, restrictions, and advice of those countries who are sending and receiving our participants.

What is TravelBud’s refund policy?

TravelBud’s enrollment and final fees are non-refundable. However, we are now offering all those participants whose programs are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the flexibility of a free date change to a later program date within 12-months from the original program date.

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