Planning a trip through the culturally rich and diverse countries of Southeast Asia also means familiarizing yourself with all of the different entry requirements and visa policies for each individual nation. For many travelers, the process is relatively painless regardless of where you're going. Six of the 10 countries in the region allow for visa-free entry for tourists from the U.S. and many other countries, while the remaining four allow many visitors to apply for an e-visa online or pay for a visa on arrival. So you don't have to worry about visiting consulates or gathering documents and can focus on planning your dream trip.
Whether you plan to take a motorbike tour around Vietnam, lounge on the tropical islands of Thailand, explore the rice terraces of Bali in Indonesia, eat your way across Singapore, or visit any one of the other incredible countries that make up Southeast Asia, don't let visa problems get in the way of enjoying your vacation.
|Visa Requirements for Southeast Asia|
|Country||Visa Required?||Visa Type||How Long Is It Valid?||Application Fees|
|Brunei||Visa-free travel permitted for travelers from U.S., Canada, U.K., EU, and many other nations; Visa on arrival for Australia, Taiwan, and few others||Non-exempt travelers must apply at a local Brunei consulate||Up to 90 days, depending on nationality||No fee for visa-free travelers|
|Cambodia||Visa required for almost all foreign nationals||You can apply for an e-visa online or a visa on arrival||30 days||$36 for e-visa; $30 for visa on arrival|
|Indonesia||Visa-free travel permitted for almost all tourists||Visa on arrival available if you need to stay longer than 30 days||30 days for visa-free entry that cannot be extended; 30 days for visa on arrival that can be extended||$35 for visa on arrival if needed|
|Laos||Visa required for almost all foreign nationals||You can apply for an e-visa online or a visa on arrival||30 days||$50|
|Malaysia||Visa-free travel permitted for almost all tourists||E-visa required for some countries, including China and India||Up to 90 days for travelers from U.S., Canada, EU, and many other nations||No fee for visa-free travelers; others vary by nationality|
|Myanmar||Visa required for almost all foreign nationals||You can apply for an e-visa online||28 days||$50|
|Philippines||Visa-free travel permitted for almost all tourists||Non-exempt travelers must apply at a local Filipino Consulate||Up to 30 days for nearly all travelers||No fee for visa-free travelers|
|Singapore||Visa-free travel permitted for almost all tourists||For non-exempt travelers, an e-visa is available||Up to 90 days for nearly all travelers||No fee for visa-free travelers|
|Thailand||None required for citizens of the U.S., Canada, EU, U.K., and several other nations||For non-exempt travelers, a visa on arrival is available||Between 30–90 days||$40 for single entry|
|Vietnam||Most foreign nationals need a visa, but certain countries are exempt including the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Chile, Japan, and others||For non-exempt travelers, you can apply for an e-visa or a visa on arrival||30 days for e-visa; Up to 90 days for visa on arrival||$25 for e-visa; $25 plus processing fees for visa on arrival|
Although the exact consequences for overstaying your visa vary from country to country, it is uniformly a bad idea and should be avoided at all costs. Many of the countries officially charge a fee for each day you exceed the duration of your visa, which are relatively inexpensive (in Myanmar it's $3 per day for the first 30 days, while in Cambodia and Laos it's $10 per day). If you just want to overstay by a few days, it may seem worth the extra cost.
However, immigration officials have been known to abuse their power and require significantly higher payments, even threatening to detain the traveler if they don't pay it. Some countries even have more severe punishments officially on the books, including being caned in Singapore for overstays of longer than 90 days. Don't risk anything and leave the country before your visa expires or—if necessary and possible—request an extension before that happens.
Extending Your Visa
If you need to stay longer in a country than you're allowed, you should always request an extension before your current visa expires, if possible. Some countries, such as Myanmar, don't allow tourists to extend their visa under any circumstances. Similarly, if you enter Indonesia as a visa-free tourist, you also can't extend your stay (although if you know when you arrive you may stay longer, you can pay for a visa on arrival which can be extended).
Several countries have official processes set-up to request an extension, including Vietnam (up to three months), Thailand (30 days), Cambodia (30 days), and Laos (60 days). All of these must be requested at a local immigration office.
Be sure to research the maximum time you're allowed to stay in each individual country before you visit and if it's possible to extend your visa. If you overstay by accident and don't ask for an extension beforehand, an immigration official isn't likely to be sympathetic.