Visas for SE Asia – Summary

Emma - 06 November 2016

UK citizens are lucky. When working out visas for SE Asia, in many cases we are allowed into the country for a month of visa-free travel. For a region with such a large flow of backpackers through it, SE Asia’s borders are often troublesome and difficult to navigate. Some general advice:

  • Border crossings are where corruption tends to reach its peak in any SE Asian country. Be prepared and talk to other travellers about what to expect
  • You MUST have US Dollars with you. For some reason this is the currency of any border crossing in Asia. Often there will not be an ATM, so have the cash ready
  • You’ll often be charged ‘additional fees’ for medical checks, or stamping costs, or other such rubbish. Sometimes it’s worth kicking up a fuss, but sometimes the $1 isn’t worth the 40 minute argument.
  • Carry loads of passport pictures with you, as you’ll be expected to have them when your visa is issued
  • Some countries need proof of onward travel, which can be tricky when you’re travelling by land
  • Similarly, some countries need proof of funds. A band statement print out usually suffices.

These are visas requirements for SE Asian countries from a UK citizen’s point of view. Other countries may have to jump through different hoops, and I suggest you check your government’s website for advice. This is largely from the point of view of someone travelling by land. Some countries offer different visas for those travelling by air.

Visas for SE Asia – Country Breakdown

Thailand Visa

UK citizens can enter Thailand without a visa for up to 30 days. Jackpot! I’ve read that sometimes if you arrive by land it can be a 15-day Thailand visa instead, but this doesn’t seem to happen very often. Be aware that proof of onward travel is technically required. While you are unlikely to be asked for this by Thai officials, your departing airline might ask to see it.

Visas for SE Asia - Thailand VisaVisas for SE Asia – Thailand

Cambodia Visa

A Cambodian visa is $30 for 30 days. While you can get a visa on arrival, it’s easiest to do this online. Simply print out two copies of the visa, and give one to immigration on arrival, and one on departure.

Visas for SE Asia - Cambodia VisaVisas for SE Asia – Cambodia

Vietnam Visa

Ahh, Vietnam. Of all the visas for SE Asia, this is the trickiest of the lot! You cannot get a Vietnam visa on arrival. You need to either get a Vietnam visa at a Vietnamese embassy in your home country, or when you pass by a Vietnamese embassy in another part of SE Asia. It’s usually much cheaper in SE Asia than it is at home. It sounds like I can expect to pay $60 if I buy a Vietnam visa in London, but $30 if I buy it in Bangkok. Usually you’ll have to wait 3 days or so to pick it up though, so ensure you’re in town long enough. Once you have the visa, it will give you 30 days in the country.

It’s also worth noting that nationals from the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain can have 15 days of visa-free travel, which is a bonus for people on short trips!

EDIT: Apparently it is now $25. The Vietnamese government is trying to encourage further tourism and has dropped the price.

Visas for SE Asia - Vietnam VisaVisas for SE Asia – Vietnam

Laos Visa

A Laos visa costs $35, although this price varies slightly depending on which border you’re going through. Pretty much any border crossing will give you a visa on arrival. As in most cases, the Laos visa entitles you to 30 days in the country.

Visas for SE Asia - Laos VisaVisas for SE Asia – Laos

Malaysia Visa

Amazing Malaysia gives 90 days visa-free travel!

Visas for SE Asia - Malaysia VisaVisas for SE Asia – Malaysia

Indonesia Visa

An Indonesian visa is $35 for 30 days (this is starting to be a theme…)

Visas for SE Asia - Indonesia VisaVisas for SE Asia – Indonesia

Philippines Visa

You will be given a shiny new Philippines visa for free on arrival. As usual, this will give you 30 days.

Visas for SE Asia - Philippines VisaVisas for SE Asia – Philippines

Taiwan Visa

Like Malaysia, Taiwan gives a generous 90 days without needing a visa

Visas for SE Asia - Taiwan VisaVisas for SE Asia – Taiwan

Singapore Visa

No visa is needed for up to 30 days in Singapore (which we couldn’t afford to do anyway!)

Visas for SE Asia - Singapore VisaVisas for SE Asia – Singapore

So for us, the total cost of visas for SE Asia will hover around the $140 mark, which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.

Let us know in the comments if you have any more information to add, or if you’ve been to a particularly troublesome border crossing! Have you had any difficulty getting hold of visas for SE Asia?