October 22, 2013

SE Asia Visa Guide

If you're planning on visiting SE Asia, you have to make sure you know the regulations of each country. It's so easy to jump on a bus and cross the border into the next country, but be sure you have the right currency to get your new visa. If you are not prepared, you could be charged huge premiums or simply not have enough cash on you to cross the border. You do not want to be forced to buy a plane ticket or be sent away.

At border crossings, you are an easy target for scams, having all your worldly possessions stolen, or being beaten up. Don't trust people in uniforms who claim to be officials. Keep your head down. At border checkpoints, smile but don't give more information than necessary. Keep responses short and know what the border guards need to hear. Your best source of information regarding border crossings are from other travelers in hostels.

Arrive by air - 30 days free
Arrive by land - 15 days free for most countries, 30 days for G7 countries
Overstay fine: 500B ($16) per day (jail possible if you can't pay)
How to extend visa: Must leave Thailand
Long term stay: 60 days double entry visa, then inside Thailand you can extend another 30 days; cross the Thai border after 90 days, and you get another 60 days with the option to extend 30 days more within Thailand

Visa on arrival - 30 days ($20 visa, do not buy the visa until you've been stamped out of the previous country you were in)
Overstay fine: $5-$6/day
How to extend visa: Within Cambodia, for those with a tourist visa, a 30 day extension is possible ($45)
Long term stay: 1 year multiple entry ($280)

Apply in advance - 30 day tourist visa
Overstay fine: 500,000VND ($25) for 1 day overstay, longer overstays and you are in legal trouble
How to extend visa: 30 day extension is possible inside Vietnam
Long term stay: 3mo, 6mo, 1yr visas are available but the rules constantly change

No visa required - 90 days free
Overstay fine: RM30 ($10) per day
How to extend visa: the easiest option is to cross the border to Thailand/Singapore to get 90 days more

No visa required - 90 days free
Overstay fine: S$100 for short overstay, 90 day overstay or longer leads to caning, jail, and ~S$5000 fine
How to extend visa: the easiest option is to cross the border into Malaysia to get 90 days more

Apply in advance - 28 day tourist visa, 70 day business visa (w/ real business contacts in Burma)
Overstay fine: $3/day, no trouble with immigration
How to extend visa: you must leave the country to get a new visa, most people just overstay as there are no legal repercussions
Long term stay: 1yr visas are available for those with an actual business in Burma

No visa required - 30 days free (but must have a return flight)
Overstay fine: 500P ($12) fine per day plus payment for all of the visa extension fees you would have paid had you stayed in legal visa status
How to extend visa: extensions can be done within the Philippines, expect to spend approximately 100P ($2.50) per day as long as you want to stay in the country (details at How to stay in the greatest country on Earth forever)

Visa on arrival - $10 for 7 days, $25 for 30 days (must have a return flight)
Overstay fine: Rp 200,000 ($20) per day, long overstays can lead to jail time
How to extend visa: One 30 day extension is possible for those w/ 30 day visas. After 60 days, you are expected to leave the country. However, for $130 an Indonesian visa agent can get you a new visa. This is not possible for foreigners to do on their own.
Long term stay: Social-Cultural Visa (SosBud Visa) provides 60 days plus the option to extend up to 4mo longer in 30 day increments


  1. Is this only for Americans? Or for other nationalities as well?

  2. Great question! This post applies to most Westerners. I recommend googling "Visa requirements for (insert your country) citizens wiki." Here's the site for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Filipino_citizens

    You've got free access to most of the ASEAN region, whereas I have to pay for a visa in places like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia to name a few. However, you get less time than I do in Malaysia or Singapore. In general, a passport from a rich country gives more access to visa-free travel. We don't get to choose our citizenship at birth, but with some planning, it is possible to obtain a second citizenship for better travel access or political reasons. I explain how to get another passport at http://freemancarter.blogspot.com/2013/10/citizenship-hacking_7603.html.