This Visa Guide is constantly being updated by the South East Asia Backpacker Team whenever we discover new information. Last updated 23rd January 2020.
As a backpacker in Southeast Asia, crossing borders becomes a regular undertaking! Each country has a different rule of entry and some countries will require you to apply for a visa before you travel. As visa requirements often change, for travellers in Southeast Asia it can be difficult to plan things – like budget and duration of travel. Here, we’ve done our (very) best to compile the latest visa information in Southeast Asia to make it easier for you to plan your trip!
Please be aware that information regarding visas is particularly vulnerable to change. Be sure to get in touch with us if you have new knowledge of a change in border crossing information!
Visa Guide to Southeast Asian Countries A-Z
Visa information for Brunei Darussalam:
The government of Brunei allows visa-free entry for 90 days for nationals of the following countries: All EU countries, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and the United States. Nationals of the following countries get 30 days visa-free: Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE. Nationals of the following countries get only 14 days visa-free: Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Canada, Macau, Thailand, Hong Kong, Maldives, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Japan, Peru. Citizens of the above countries will receive an ‘entry pass’ upon entering Brunei, which is stamped in your passport at the Immigration Checkpoint stating how many days you can stay in Brunei. Nationalities of the following countries can get a visa on arrival at Brunei International Airport: Australia, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China, Taiwan, Kuwait. The cost of the visa on arrival is 20 Brunei Dollars (approx. $14.5o USD) for a single entry visa for 30 days or 30 Brunei Dollars (approx $22 USD) for a multiple entry visa for 30 days. 72-hour transit visas are also available for most nationalities provided that the traveller can show a ticket for an onward destination. Entry and transit is refused to nationals of Israel. Passports must be valid for up to 6 months before entering and the embassy recommends that you travel with at least six unused pages in your passport.
Staying longer in Brunei?
Overstaying your visa: Visa overstaying is a serious crime punishable by jail, fines and even caning – a form of corporal punishment that is still used today in Brunei. Renewal of your visa: Visas can be renewed at embassies in Bandar Seri Bagawan. Travelling to Brunei? Read our travel guide to Brunei here.
Visa information for Cambodia:
Staying longer in Cambodia?Instead of applying for the regular tourist visa (T-Visa), you should apply for an ‘E-Class’ visa which costs $35 USD and is valid for 30 days. The difference between the E-Visa and the T-Visa is that this the E-Visa can be extended indefinitely! At the end of your 30-day stint, you can extend this visa and get one of the four visas: 1) EB visa – business visa. 2) EG visa – those in search of employment. 3) ER visa – retirement visa. 4) ES visa – student visa. For more information on the different types of long-stay visas, Move To Cambodia has a good page that was updated Aug 2017.
Travelling to Cambodia? Find trips, cycle tours, yoga & more in Cambodia here!
Visa information to East Timor (Timor Leste):
Staying longer in East Timor?Visa extensions: You can extend your visa for a total of 90 days by submitting an application to the Department of Immigration. Fees are $35 USD for a 30-day extension and $75 USD for 30-60 day extension. Visit the official Immigration Service of Timor Leste for more info here. Travelling to East Timor? Read our travel guide to East Timor here.
Visa information for Indonesia:
30 Day Visa-Free Entry to Indonesia
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Brunei Darussalam
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominica (Commonwealth)
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- Ivory Coast
- Lao, People’s Democratic Republic
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Puerto Rico
- Russian Federation
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- Timor Leste
- Trinidad and Tobago
- The United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Vatican City State
Staying longer in Indonesia?
The cost to extend your visa 30 days is 355,000 IDR ($25 USD) Alternatively, you can leave the country, return and be granted a further 30 days upon re-entry. With the VOA (visa on arrival), you can also apply for different types of visas, but you will have to have a valid reason for applying.
- Social, Tourist or Cultural Visa (B-211) – This type of visa can be extended 3 times for a period of 30 days each time. It should be issued by an Indonesian Embassy outside of the country. For this type of visa you will need a sponsor letter from an Indonesian citizen.
- Multiple Entry Visa (60 days) – You need to have stayed in Bali already for 90 days and you will need an agent to help you organise this visa as there is a lot of paperwork.
Travelling to Indonesia? Find trips, tours, surfing, yoga, campervan hire & more in Indonesia here!
Visa information for Laos:
Staying longer in Laos?A 60-day tourist visa for Laos can be obtained in advance of your visit at a Laos Embassy. Visa extension: Visa extensions can be applied for at the Vientiane Immigration Office, which costs US$2 / day for 30 days. If you’re not in Vientiane, extensions can also be obtained from some travel agents for US$3-4 day. Shop around for the best price. Border runs: If your visa is about to run out, you can also leave the country and re-enter by air or land granting you with another 30 days. Penalties for overstay: Travellers who overstay their visa in Laos will be fined $10 for each day of overstay before leaving the country. (It’s not a good idea – long overstays can lead to arrest and imprisonment.) Travelling to Laos? Read our travel guides to places to visit in Laos here.
Visa information for Malaysia:
Staying longer in Malaysia?Visa extensions: The easiest way to extend your stay in Malaysia is to simply cross the border and come back again. You can do this, in theory, twice per year. If you’re in Peninsular Malaysia, this can be done in neighbouring Thailand and Singapore. If you’re in Malaysian Borneo, crossing the border into Indonesian Kalimantan could be more of a hassle. Penalties for overstay: The cost for overstay is apparently 50 MYR/day. However long overstays are punishable by fines (no less than 10,000 MYR) and/or imprisonment. If you discover that you have accidentally overstayed your visa, head to the Immigration Office immediately to explain your situation. The official portal for the Immigration Department for Malaysia can be found here. Travelling to Malaysia? See our travel guides to places to visit in Malaysia here.
Visa information for Myanmar:
Staying longer in Myanmar?Overstay fees and visa extensions: There seems to be no official way of extending your visa once you are in Myanmar and the official overstay rules are a bit up in the air. Forum advice seems to suggest that if you want to stay longer in Myanmar, you can just overstay your visa. The costs (clearly stated at Yangon Airport) are $3 USD / day up to 90 days and then $5 USD after that. However, what is accepted as a valid number of days overstay will depend on the discretion of the Immigration Official who lets you out of the country. We usually strongly advise against overstaying your visa unofficially in all countries in Southeast Asia. Possible complications are the following: 1) Your passport can be checked at any time by Immigration Officials and if your visa has run out, you could be in trouble (this would be up to the guard and what they want to do). If you’re travelling through areas where military checkpoints are common, this is particularly likely and you could simply be sent back to Yangon to fly out! 2) Guesthouses (who require details from your passport upon check-in) can refuse to let you stay if your visa has run out. 3) If you are getting flights around the country, you can be denied boarding if your visa has expired. 4) There is a chance that you will not be allowed back into Myanmar if you overstay too long. Read this blog from Dec 2016 for a personal experience on this complicated matter and assess the risks yourself! One option to extend your visa would be to leave the country and apply for the eVisa again. *Visa runs from Thailand: Many people who want to extend their stay in Thailand make visa runs to neighbouring Myanmar. For the visa runs, you do not need to obtain a Myanmar Visa in advance. The cost for the visa to enter Myanmar this way is $10 USD (make sure you have the correct change in USD) and many companies in Thailand will arrange a minivan for tourists to make this trip. Foreigners can stay up to 10 days with this ‘in-out’ visa. Thai nationals can stay 7 days with the same visa which costs 30 Thai Baht. Travelling to Myanmar? See our travel guides to places to visit in Myanmar here.
Visa information for The Philippines:
Staying longer in the Philippines?Visa extensions: Once your visa-free period has expired (or your tourist visa has run out) you can extend your stay in the Philippines for another 60 days by visiting a Philippine Embassy. You can download application forms through the official Bureau of Immigration, Philippines Official Website, but you will need to visit an embassy in person in order to extend the visa. Here is a map of locations of the Immigration Offices in the Philippines who can process a visa extension and here is a breakdown of the costs of the extension (last updated February 2015 on the official government website). The cost is between 2,000 and 4,000 PHP ($40-80 USD) depending on your nationality and how many days extra you would like to stay. As long as you keep extending your visa this way at an official embassy, you can extend your stay in the Philippines up to 36 months! Overstay penalties: With rules like the above, there really is no need to overstay your visa, however, if you do so by accident you will have to pay a fine at the airport upon leaving the country. The cost is 4,000 PHP from 1-30 days overstay. We strongly advise against overstaying your visa as you can be blacklisted from ever visiting the country again. Travelling to the Philippines? See our travel guides to places to visit in the Philippines here. Don’t want to backpack the Philippines alone? Check out this 10-day group adventure!
Visa information for Singapore:
Staying longer in Singapore?Visa extension: You can extend your stay in Singapore (up to 89 days from the date of entry to Singapore) online via the Singapore Government Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). There is a particular section of the website called e-XTEND, for the extension of Short Term Visit Passes. Overstaying your visa: On the ICA website, it says: ‘Overstaying is an Immigration offence. If you overstay, you may be subjected to a composition fine or prosecution in Court.’ – Just don’t do it! Travelling to Singapore? Read our Singapore travel guide here.
Visa information for Thailand:
30 Day Visa-Free Entry to Thailand
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Getting a 60-day Tourist Visa before you travel: For those who know that they want to stay longer in Thailand, this is probably your best option. The cost for a 60-day Tourist Visa is $40 USD and you should apply for it, in person, at a Thai Embassy before you travel (at any Thai Embassy in any country that is not Thailand). As you do not need to apply for the Thai visa in your home country, if you enter Thailand on a 30-day free pass, you could always leave and travel to a neighbouring Asian country and get yourself a 60-day Tourist Visa to Thailand while you’re there! (You can also extend this visa within Thailand – see below.)
Staying longer in Thailand?
Extending your visa within Thailand: You can extend your visa once at a Thai Immigration Office – one of which can be found in every province in Thailand. (We did this in Mae Hong Son, July 2017 and it took about 10 minutes!) The Immigration Offices in areas where there’s a high concentration of travellers and expats, like Chiang Mai, can have big queues, so go early in the morning to avoid this. The cost to extend your visa is 1900 Thai Baht and you will need to fill out an application form, take photocopies of your passport and visa page, and provide one passport photo. Whether you have the 30-day stamp that you received upon arrival, or you have the 60-day tourist visa, you can extend for a further 30 days.Border Runs or ‘Visa Runs’: Many travel agents in Thailand can arrange a ‘visa run’ for you to the neighbouring countries of Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia or Malaysia. The cost depends on your current location in Thailand. Upon re-entering the country, you will be granted a new 14, 30, or 90-day entry pass into Thailand (depending on your nationality above). Read more information on border runs here in our article. Limits on the number of border runs/visa extensions: There is a lot of confusion about how many times you can extend your visa or make a border crossing and re-enter Thailand to renew your visa. There are many stories of farang (foreign) expats living in Thailand who have been doing border-runs for years! However, there are also stories of people having too many Thai stamps in their passports and not being allowed to re-enter the country. The official rules are that you can make a land or sea border crossing only twice in a calendar year – for the purpose of renewing your visa. However, when flying into Thailand by air, there is currently no limit on the number of times you can re-enter. Different types of visas (12 months): There are a few types of visas that you can apply for that allow you to stay in Thailand for a period of 12 months, for example, the Marriage Visa, Business Visa or the Retirement Visa. All of these require proof, i.e. marriage certificate, proof of employment letter, or in the case of retirement – proof of funds! Like the Tourist Visa, they must be obtained outside of Thailand. The Education (ED) Visa (9 months): One visa, which is popular amongst travellers who decide to stay in Thailand for 6 months or more, is the Education Visa. The ED Visa can be granted for those you want to ‘study, participate in seminars, learn Thai or study as a foreign Buddhist monk’. (This can include Muay Thai training, yoga, Thai language and other cultural activities.) With the ED Visa, you have to “check-in” every 90 days at an official Immigration Office. At this time (though this could change), the ED visa is the easiest visa to obtain for those who do not have a more serious reason to stay in Thailand – other than they love Pad Thai!Penalties for overstay: 500 baht/day, paid at the airport upon departure. The maximum fine for overstay that you can pay is 20,000 baht after this you may face deportation at your own cost or imprisonment. We don’t recommend overstaying at all, as at any time whilst you are travelling it is legal for a police officer to ask for your passport and visa and check whether your visa is still valid. You can get in trouble or be made to pay a fine if this is not the case. Rumours are that Thailand plans to introduce electronic visas in 2019! The official government page for Thailand Visa Information & FAQs can be found here.(And yes, you are an alien!)
Travelling to Thailand? Find Thailand group tours, yoga retreats, cooking classes, diving course & more here!
Visa information for Vietnam:
The Vietnam E-Visa:Should you wish to stay longer than your allocated time, you can apply for an eVisa in advance of your travels on the official Vietnam Portal of Immigration. The eVisa is valid for a maximum of 30 days, single entry. The cost is $25 USD. This is highly recommended for travellers as many people enter Vietnam on the 15-day visa free entry pass and then regret it when they want to stay longer. (The 15-day entry pass can be costly to extend!) You can apply online for the eVisa online here. (This is the official Vietnamese Government Page.) You will need to upload a copy of your passport and receive a registration code. After that, you pay the $25 USD fee by credit or debit card and wait for 3-days for the visa to be processed. Once you have your eVisa you should print out and bring it with you to show to the Immigration Officials upon entry to Vietnam. Note: Not all border crossings accept the eVisa, so you will need to check if the border where you plan to enter Vietnam supports the eVisa. You can check by clicking “List of Ports” on this page. For longer tourist visas (90 days): It is possible to get a three-month single entry visa or multiple-entry visa to Vietnam if you apply at a Vietnamese Embassy in your home country before you travel. Or, if you cannot get to an embassy, there are many online agencies who can arrange this for you without sending your passport anywhere.
- Try Vietnam Visa Center (as recommended in the LP, Lonely Planet). The price on their website states $35 US for a 3 month single entry visa or $70 US for a 3-month multiple entry visa.
- We also recently used My Vietnam Visa and found the service efficient and easy. The price for a 3-month single entry is $28 US service fee plus $25 US stamping fee, to be paid at the airport in Vietnam. Or, the price for a 30month multiple entry is $43 US plus $50 US stamping fee.
Staying longer in Vietnam?Visa extension: Once you are in Vietnam, 30-day (or a maximum of 90-day) extensions can be obtained from travel agents in most major tourist hubs and can take up to 7-10 working days to process. With other Southeast Asian countries, we suggest going to the embassy direct to extend your visa, but with the case of Vietnam, it is probably easier to get a travel agent to sort it out for you. Prices vary dramatically so shop around (we’ve seen $330 USD for three months quoted online!). Alternatively, you can leave Vietnam and re-enter the country with an eVisa to get another 30-days stay. Penalty for overstaying: We can’t find an official figure, but people have been charges $25 USD for one day, or $100 USD for 3 days. On some forums, people have quoted up to $800 USD for two people for 4 days overstay (Dirty Pierre on Tour seems to be a bit of an expert on these Vietnam Visa Forums!) In conclusion, if you’ve overstayed your visa, you are essentially breaking the law and that leaves your fate in the hands of the Vietnamese Police and Immigration Officials. It seems that the Immigration Officer can ask for whatever price he/she wants! Our advice? You know it by now… DON’T DO IT!
Travelling to Vietnam? Find Vietnam group tours, Halong Bay trips, diving, cycling, cooking classes & more in Vietnam here!
If you are considering volunteering in Southeast Asia, read our Visa Guide For Volunteers, WWOOFERs and HelpStayers.
P.S. If you have ANY updates or personal experiences of border crossings, please comment below so that other travellers can take advantage of your advice. Thanks a lot, and HAPPY BORDER CROSSINGS!
Disclaimer: We researched the following information online (over a gruelling few weeks!) using the most up to date information on Embassy websites that we could find, as well as recent travel forum advice and posts in the South East Asia Backpacker Community. Please remember that visa laws change constantly and also depend on the individual and the individual Immigration Official. For this reason we cannot 100% guarantee that this information will be up to date at the time of reading. We encourage you to do your own research, ask in the South East Asia Backpacker Community and speak to the relevant embassy if in doubt. However, this info is as good as it can be and we hope it helps!