COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on August 4th 2020. 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.

At this stage, TravelBud will only be enrolling new participants in programs which commence from January 2021.

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 [email protected] 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, this wave of COVID-19 outbreak is 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:


Thailand is currently allowing entry to people with secured jobs and Non-B visas.

The process of allowing teachers to enter Thailand is moving forward, albeit slower than we would like. We expect the Thai government to allow the flow of teachers to pick up over time, and to see a shortening of the current timeline of 4-6 weeks for acquiring permission to enter Thailand.

In sending countries, particularly the United States, we’ve heard of longer processing times for diploma legalizations, applications for copies of diplomas from universities, and criminal background checks.

Though not official it is widely reported that the visa amnesty for foreigners currently in Thailand, which was set to expire on July 31st, will be extended in a modified version a further 1 – 2 months.

We have been in regular contact with our teacher community in Thailand to share the latest information we have on the visa amnesty and discuss options with them.


Due to the new visa requirements and flight and accommodation booking process, it has become challenging to host a specific 2020 program start date around which everyone can converge on Thailand.

Our support team has provided detailed information and options for those enrolled in 2020 programs which include:

  1. Defer their start date to an intake in 2021 free of charge
  2. Complete our internationally accredited online TEFL/TESOL course where a job placement will be secured for you before arriving in Thailand. Participants can join an intake and receive their 1-week cultural orientation before heading to their school to start teaching
  3. Switch to our new 160-hour hybrid TEFL/TESOL course which provides the best of both worlds – earning your 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification from the comfort of your home while receiving an additional week of in-person training and cultural orientation in Thailand before heading to their school placements

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

School Term in Thailand going forward:

Future school terms dates for Thailand do not seem to be too greatly affected by the late start to the school term. Here is the latest on school terms from now until next May 2021. Since the changes are minimal, we have not changed any of our intake dates for 2021. We may see some changes in the future but this is where things stand at the moment.

  • First Term 2020
    • 7th July – 13th November
    • School Break: 14 – 30 Nov (total 17 days)
  • Second Term 2020
    • 1st December – 9th April
    • School Break: 10 April 2021 – 16 May 2021 (Start of the first term 2021-2022 school year, total 37 days)
  • First Term 2021
    • May 17 (back to pre-COVID schedule)


Vietnam has not given any indication of when they will reopen borders. They have been allowing a very limited number of foreigners to enter the country. These have been people with exceptional circumstances (e.g with Vietnamese families) or high-level workers that are experts linked to Vietnamese companies. There has been no indication of when they will reopen on a broader scale.

Vietnam has taken a very cautious approach to opening things, more cautious than any other country in which we operate. Right now only a handful of businesspeople are able to enter the country and there are no firm announcements regarding the loosening of entry requirements.

Our optimistic outlook for Vietnam is that we would only realistically be able to send teachers over in the fourth quarter of the year.


September 7th intake has been cancelled. All participants have received updates on the numerous options available to them and we remain in regular contact with them.

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.


South Korea has continued to allow foreigners to enter the country. The great news is that this has enabled online and ‘Placement Only’ participants to continue their program with minimal disruption.

It remains the best program option for people looking to travel to start teaching this year.

South Korea has established a strict quarantine process, which has been in place for several months. They have identified many COVID-19 cases amongst new arrivals. For this reason, it seems unlikely that they will ease or reduce the quarantine measures in the near future.


August 31 has been cancelled and participants have been recommended to move over to online TEFL/TESOL and placement.

October 26: A decision will be made by September 14 and communicated to all participants.

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.


To date, Myanmar has made minimal progress in opening up to foreigners. The government has still mandated that all schools for children remain closed. We expect that policy to change sometime in August but it is uncertain. Therefore, schools are either on a reduced online format or completely shut and are not currently hiring foreigners.

We expect students to have the option to go back to school sometime in August and then in September/October, things will begin opening up more.


September 28 intake has been cancelled.

We recommend that participants opt for either:

  1. The TEFL/TESOL Extra program for Myanmar.
  2. Move forward with “Placement Only” on a rolling basis once the country and schools open up (est. October timeframe). Participants may have a contract in hand when they travel or we can provide the paperwork for travel and then place them when they arrive.
  3. Defer to January 18, 2021

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.


Japan has not made any announcements regarding reopening. There has been speculation that they will open up a travel bubble first. Visa processing has been put on hold until further announcements are made regarding borders reopening. Once visa processing resumes, the wait time will be longer than normal.


Due to the uncertainty surrounding borders reopening and long visa processing times, it would be best for new signups to prepare to move over to the beginning of 2021 and later.

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 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.


Costa Rica has announced opening its borders up from August 1.

The details of how it will be managed have not been finalized but it has been proposed allowing visitors from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada.

It also looks as if there will not be a quarantine requirement, but we are still waiting for details.


Currently, our November 23rd intake remains open and we are hopeful this will still go ahead as planned.

All 2021 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: The 2020 intakes for those who have been accepted will still continue. Our support team will keep you posted with relevant updates.



Teach English in Thailand


28 December 2020


25 January 2021
29 March 2021
3 May 2021
31 May 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021
1 November 2021

Thailand Summer Teach


7 June 2021
28 June 2021

Teach English in Vietnam


22 February 2021
31 May 2021
26 July 2021
23 August 2021
29 November 2021

Teach English in South Korea


25 January 2021
26 April 2021
26 July 2021
27 September 2021

Teach English in Myanmar


18 January 2021
26 April 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021

Teach English in Japan


1 March 2021
31 May 2021
30 August 2021
25 October 2021

Teach English in Costa Rica


15 February 2021
10 May 2021
28 June 2021
22 November 2021

Online TEFL Course


First Monday of every month.


First Monday of every month.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 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.

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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