COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on November 16th 2020. We will update this page as frequently as possible.

Quick links to sections on this page:

“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 virtually COVID free.

Participants are arriving now and everyone is being granted their visas and travel authorization. However, getting the teacher visa authorization from the government is taking longer than expected. The process is averaging around four weeks. Despite the delays, more than 60% of our teachers have received their visas and are now in the process of heading over to Thailand.

The new Special Tourist Visa (STV) is still on offer but quite hard to obtain. Only a handful of tourist, mainly high rollers, can currently get the visa and the visa type states clearly that it cannot be changed to another type, such as a work permit, once in country.

One piece of good news is that Thai government has approved a reduction in the quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days, but this policy change has not yet been implemented.

All degree holders WILL be able to arrive on the March 29 intake and do the full in-country TESOL/TEFL course after a quarantine.


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.

The December 28 intake has been cancelled. We recommend pushing back to March 29 2021

The January 25 intake has been cancelled. Again, we recommend those on that intake push back to March 29 2021

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 2021/2022 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 is definitely opening up to English teachers.

The requirements are similar to Thailand, and include a two week quarantine and extensive paperwork.

One of the challenges that exists in Vietnam is that most schools there require an in-country TESOL/TEFL course.

Online courses are not typically accepted at the better schools in Vietnam.

We are working with schools to set aside that requirement to enable us to get more teachers into the country now.

We will update this page as we make progress.


September 7th, October 12th and November 16th intakes have been cancelled.

All participants have received updates on the numerous options available to them and we remain in regular contact with them.

All 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications.


Korea has gotten a handle on their COVID situation and things are pretty much back to normal.

Teachers are entering the country regularly and the ESL industry and school demand for teachers has bounced back.

We are still confronting challenges in holding an in-country TESOL/TEFL course due to the high expense of quarantine (there is zero cost for quarantine for placement only due to the teacher quarantining at their residence provided by the school) and other factors.


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

October 26: has been cancelled and communicated to all participants along with their options.

All 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications.


Cases in Myanmar are still quite high at over 1,000 per day and holding steady.

The country’s lockdown has been extended through the month of November.

Schools are shut and foreigners cannot come into the country.

The country will emerge slowly from this current lockdown, making the chances of an open immigration and healthy school recruitment environment by January very unlikely.

Therefore, we are making the difficult decision to cancel the January 18 intake.


September 28 intake has been cancelled.

The January 18 intake is cancelled.

We recommend pushing back to April 26 2021. We believe that the April intake will give plenty of time for the country to put down the recent COVID outbreak and also for the language teaching industry to rebuild expat hiring capacity.

We are discussing putting in place a contingency intake perhaps at the end of March to run a course a bit earlier if entry requirements open up and the industry recovers on a quicker timeline than expected.

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. April 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 April 26, 2021

All other 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications.


Japan has its COVID cases largely under control.

The country has begun opening its border to teachers.

The government is now beginning to process visa paperwork and our teachers are getting interviews and job offers. However, we are informing teachers that they should not expect to get over to Japan any earlier than May 2021 due to the significant backlog of teachers waiting to go over and the slowness of government visa processing.

There is a major backlog in teachers waiting to come to Japan through our partner schools and we are advising participants to look to come over for March and April 2021. This coincides with the biggest hiring time of year.


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 2021/20222 intakes are currently open for applications.


Costa Rica is managing their COVID-19 situation relatively well.

The country is nearly completely open at this time with no quarantine requirement.

We are running our course at the end of November and the ESL industry is bouncing back. We are also lining up online teaching as a Plan B.

Requirements for entry are available here.

These include a negative COVID-19 certificate obtained 72 hours prior to departure, purchase of an insurance product with specific cover requirements and online completion of an advance epidemiological information form.


Our November 23rd intake remains open and will still go ahead as planned.

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 accepted applicants updated with relevant information, options and updates.



Teach English in Thailand


29 March 2021
3 May 2021
31 May 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021
1 November 2021
27 December 2020


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
28 June 2021


6 June 2022
27 June 2022

Teach English in Vietnam


22 February 2021
31 May 2021
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


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


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

Teach English in Myanmar


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


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

Teach English in Japan


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


28 February 2022
30 May 2022
25 July 2022
24 October 2022

Teach English in Costa Rica


15 February 2021
10 May 2021
28 June 2021
22 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.


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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