Visa Requirements for South East Asia

Let me give you one very important piece of advice. Always look into the visa situation before you travel to a new country, whether it’s in the same region or on a whole new continent. Visa regulations vary from country to country, and change depending on how long you want to stay and what you’ll be doing there.

Do not ignore this or assume it won’t apply to you, or you could end up arriving in a foreign country without a proper visa, start crying in front of a queue of people, get taken into a back room for questioning about your intentions in their country and start panicking when you realise they have the right to refuse you entry. Or they might take pity on you and let you in anyway when they decide you’re not a drug smuggling terrorist.

Here is a list of the visas you will need an a British citizen travelling around South East Asia. All this information and more can be found on the gov.co.uk website under Foreign Travel Advice. It’s always worth checking this site for up to date information on security and safety, terrorism, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health, natural disasters and money.


Brunei

British citizens may enter Brunei for up to 90 days without a visa. Those who overstay their visa face strict penalties. Make sure the entry stamp in your passport indicates the validity of your stay. Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Brunei diplomatic mission before you travel.

Burma

You will need to get a visa before you travel. You should apply at the nearest Burmese Embassy or Consulate well in advance of travelling. You can also apply online.

Cambodia

You can get a visa on arrival at most ports of entry. Payment is in $US only. Bring 2 passport photos.

The visa is valid for 30 days from the actual date of entry into Cambodia. Make sure your passport is stamped on arrival, and keep the departure form. If you lose your departure form, you’ll need to contact immigration officials before you leave the country to make alternative arrangements. You can be fined, detained and deported if you overstay your visa.

Indonesia

Since 9 June 2015, British nationals travelling to Indonesia on holiday can enter the country without a visa for up to 30 days at certain ports of entry, including international airports in Jakarta, Bali, Medan, Surabaya and Batam, and sea ports in Batam and Bintan. You won’t be able to extend your stay beyond 30 days if you enter under this visa waiver scheme.

If you’re travelling to Indonesia for purposes other than a holiday, you should apply for a visa before travelling, or get a visa valid for up to 30 days on arrival at a cost of US$35. You can extend this type of visa once for a maximum of 30 days by applying to an immigration office within Indonesia.

Laos

You can get a visa on arrival for around US$35 or Thai Baht 1,500.00. Alternatively, you can get a visa by contacting the Lao Embassy in London. Or if you are in the region, you can get a long-stay visa from the Lao Embassy in Bangkok or Hanoi.

When you enter Laos, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport. Not having a legitimate entry stamp could lead to arrest or a large fine.

Malaysia

British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Malaysia. You will normally be given permission to stay for 3 months on arrival. Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission before you travel.

Philippines

You can enter the Philippines without a visa for an initial period of 30 days. You can also get a tourist visa from the Philippine Embassy before you travel, which will allow an initial 59 day stay.

You can apply to extend your stay at the offices of the Bureau of Immigration Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and can lead to detention pending payment of outstanding fees and fines and voluntary deportation at your own expense.

Singapore

You don’t normally need a visa to enter Singapore for stays of up to 30 days for tourism, business discussions or social visits.

Thailand

British passport holders arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa – this is known as a visa exemption. It’s not possible to extend your stay beyond the 30 days granted by the visa exemption.

If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days, or you intend to work, you must get a visa before you travel. If you have entered Thailand on a visa, it’s possible to apply for an extension of stay but you must do this before your permission to stay expires.

Vietnam

As of 1 July 2015, British passport holders travelling for tourism or business will be able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa.

You’ll still need a visa to enter Vietnam for periods of 15 days and longer and if you wish to re-enter Vietnam within 30 days of your departure. Make sure you get the correct visa for the purpose and destination of your trip.

The safest option is to get a visa from the Vietnamese Embassy before you travel. If you plan to leave Vietnam and re-enter from another country make sure you get a multiple visit visa.


Also keep in mind that the government officials in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vientma are used to people showing up without a clue of what they need and they are more than happy to help you for a price. Don’t stress if you’re in Cambodia and meant to be travelling to Veitnam the next day. We took a bus to a building, found a man sat in a deck chair who took our money and our passports and returned an hour later with visas for all of us.

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