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Organising your visas for travel in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian countries visas regulations

For travellers booking a tour to Southeast Asia, sorting out visas is one of the necessary steps that must be tackled before travelling to this stunning region.

In order to help you ensure the correct paperwork is obtained from the appropriate embassies with time to spare, we’ve compiled some tips on what is required for most UK, US and EU travellers going to different parts of the sub-region.

Often this will need to be done in advance, but this is not a prerequisite for travel to all countries in Southeast Asia. Either way, it is worth ensuring you know which these are with plenty of time to spare.

Advance visas

Visitors to Vietnam, Burma, China and Sri Lanka must organise their visas in advance. It is recommended that this is done through the appropriate embassies around a month before departure so that the passport and visa are returned well before you are due to travel.

A Vietnam single entry visa for one person lasts up to 30 days and will cost £40, but there must be a blank page in your passport so that the documentation can be affixed.

Burma has been known to change its visa requirements on a regular basis, but currently travellers should apply to the embassy in advance with three passport photos and a fee of US$20 (£13).

A single entry visa lasts 28 days from the date of entry into the country, but expires 90 days after it has been issued, so the most organised people must ensure they do not apply for the travel document too far in advance.

The Chinese embassy issues single entry visas valid for 30 days at a cost of US$30 (£19.60), which cover the majority of China with the exception of restricted areas such as Tibet.

While those travelling to Sri Lanka must also apply for a visa in advance at a cost of US$30, which can be done through the country’s Electronic Travel Authorization website.

Some embassies will require additional travel information, including the point of entry and/or the name of the main accommodation you intend to use in the country, which can be obtained from All Points East.

As embassies are liable to change their policies on visa application processes at short notice, we recommend you always check before travelling.

Visas on arrival

Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia if you are a citizen of the EU or US.

These visas last for a standard 30 days if entering via an airport for all of these countries bar Malaysia, where travellers can stay for up to 90 days without having to apply for a different type of entry document.

Visitors to Thailand arriving from a neighbouring country over land or by boat should be aware that they will only be issued with a 15-day visa.

Thirty days is more than adequate for the tours offered by All Points East, but anyone planning to extend their trip should take this into consideration.

While Thailand and Malaysia issue these visas free of charge, Laos and Cambodia require fees of US$35 (£23) and US$20 (£13) respectively.

In order for these visas to be processed, we suggest you bring passport sized photos with you to avoid queuing.