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 as 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.
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.
Tourist visas are available on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports. If you wish to get a visa on arrival you should arrive with a passport photograph. You can also get an eVisa online before you travel.
If you’re travelling on a British Citizen passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Indonesia for visits of up to 30 days, calculated to include your date of arrival and date of departure. Visa-free visits can’t be extended or transferred to another type of visa.
If you’re travelling to Indonesia and intend to stay for more than 30 days (up to a maximum of 60 days), you should apply for a visa before you travel, or apply for a visa on arrival at a cost of US$35, or the equivalent in Indonesian rupiah, at the visa on arrival desk within the airport. These types of visa are valid for 30 days, and can be extended once (for a maximum of 30 days) by making an application for an extension to an immigration office within Indonesia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You don’t normally need a visa to enter Singapore for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, business or social visits.
British passport holders arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa (a ‘visa exemption’). If you need to stay longer, it’s possible to extend your stay once for up to 30 days.
If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days, are going to work, or use land borders regularly you must get the appropriate visa before you travel. The only legal way of getting a new visa, entry permit or extension of stay is from a Thai Embassy or Consulate, an Immigration Officer at a point of entry into Thailand, or one of the Immigration Offices around the country.
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.