There are so many different rules for visas and we could never find the information all in one place, so below we’ve listed our experiences with each of the countries we have visited so far.
(This applies to UK passport holders, other countries may be different).
UPDATE: From 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, all British passport holders travelling for tourism or business can enter Vietnam for a maximum of 15 days without a visa. You’ll still need a visa to enter Vietnam for periods of longer than 15 days and if you wish to re-enter Vietnam within 30 days of your departure. (FCO)
Option 1: Apply with the Vietnam embassy before you go. This ends up being very costly. A one month single entry visa will set you back between £70 and £100.
Option 2: Apply for a Visa on Arrival before you go. We couldn’t find a lot of information on this and the official embassy website tells you not to go down this route (they obviously want you to pay the full fee.) There are lots of websites offering this service but we used vietnamvisapro.net which we had seen positive reviews of. Apply online for your approval to receive a visa on arrival. It only costs $10 US (or $9 if applying for more than one person) and they will email you a letter with your name on confirming you are approved.
Don’t be alarmed if there are other names and passport numbers on the letter, this is just because the companies apply in bulk.
This doesn’t mean you have a visa. You will need to show this approval letter to board your plane to Vietnam. Once in Vietnam, at the airport you hand in this letter, with a visa application form (which can be downloaded from the same site and filled in beforehand to save time), passport photo, your passport and the visa fee of $45 US (for single entry).
It’s all a bit manic and confusing but eventually your passport is passed back through the window with your visa in place!
Note: Make sure when you apply for the approval letter you fill out your name exactly as it is on your passport. I missed out my middle name and they can’t alter it so I had to pay the fee again.
You can get a visa on arrival for $30 US.
We arrived by boat from Vietnam and the organisers will always ask for more than the cost of the visa, they call it a processing fee. (Sometimes they don’t say anything at all).
This extra 3-5 dollars will go in their back pocket. We were near the beginning of our trip at this point and weren’t as confident in arguing, plus we had heard stories of travellers who had refused the pay the extra money and their passports were mysteriously “forgotten” to be stamped out of Vietnam, so they had to go back and caused long delays for the rest of the boat.
For stays of 30 days or less, UK citizens can get a visa-free entry stamp on arrival.
If you want to stay longer than 30 days but less than 60 you can apply for a Tourist Visa through the Thai Embassy in the UK. We used this option on one trip and it worked out fine, applying in person at the Royal Thai Consulate in Birmingham.
The visa fee is £25 and you need to take a valid passport (with at least 6 months left on it), a completed application form and 2 passport photos. They will paste the visa in your passport on the same day and you have to enter Thailand within 3 months of the visa being issued.
This was a confusing one, lots of stories of hellishly long queues at the embassy. We applied for our visa in Bangkok, 5 days before we were due to fly. You have to have a flight booked in order to get the visa and you need an address you will be staying at (just put your hotel).
We turned up at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok at 8:30am (It is open from 9:00-12:00 for visa applications). You first need to fill in a visa application form and queue at the window on the far left where they will check your form and give you a ticket number. You can use the desks at the back to fill in the form and attach 2 passport photos.
When your number is called, go to the window and hand in your form, passport and pay the visa fee. We used the three day visa which was 810 Thai Baht (£15) in July 2014. You could get a next-day visa for 1000 Thai Baht (£19) and we heard there was a same day one for 1260 Thai Baht (£23) but that these were notoriously difficult to obtain.
There was a lot of queuing and waiting around, we were probably there for about 3 hours in total.
We received a yellow receipt to bring back 3 days later. Visa pick up time is only between 3:30-4:30PM. Stand in line at the appropriate window, hand in the receipt and pick up your passport with visa stamped in!
This was an easy one, UK citizens get a 90 day visa-free stamp on arrival!
Also an easy one, UK citizens can enter for up to 90 days without a visa. They often want proof of an onward or return ticket.
UK citizens can enter for up to 30 days without a visa.
We entered Singapore by bus from Kuala Lumpar and still have no idea what the process was! We stupidly went for the cheapest option from KL which involved changing buses about 4 times, with no one telling us what was going on or where to go. I know we got stamped out of Malaysia and into Singapore but we just followed a crowd and am still not quite sure how it works!
Our advice if you are travelling by bus would be to pay a little extra and go with one of the VIP bus services, which sort everything out for you.
We entered Indonesia in Bali and this was the longest queue we had to get into a country.
UK citizens can apply for a Visa on Arrival at $35 US for stays of no more than 30 days.
On landing in Bali, head to the VOA counter and pay the fee. Keep your receipt and head to the queue for the immigration counter. Fill your arrival form in while you are in the queue. We queued for about 3 hours (nightmare) until getting to the counter. Hand in your form, passport and receipt and the officer will stick the visa in your passport. They will often ask which date you are leaving Indonesia and sometimes for proof of an onward journey.
UPDATE: We have read reports that the arrival form has been scrapped since April 2015 and now you only need to show your boarding pass to the immigration official.
You need to apply online and be approved for an eVisitor visa before entering Australia. This is a free service and can be done through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
This was a great one, UK passport holders can enter New Zealand as a visitor for up to 6 months on arrival without a visa! No pre-authorisation required but you need to show proof of onward travel – although we never had to do this.