The ULTIMATE Backpacker Visa Guide to Southeast Asia

Passport-stamps-visas

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. Visa requirements change often which makes it difficult for travellers in Southeast Asia to plan things like budget and duration of travel. 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.

This guide contains a short overview of the current rules and entry requirements for each country in Southeast Asia. After each of these overviews, there is a link to a more detailed guide to the rules for that specific country. Follow the links and read the in-depth guide for any country you plan to visit.


Visa Guide to Southeast Asian Countries A-Z

Disclaimer: The following information reflects South East Asia Backpacker’s understanding of the visa rules. While this article has been extensively researched and is updated regularly to ensure the information is as current as it can be, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. If you believe any of the information on this page to be out of date, please let us know in the comments.


Visa Information for Brunei Darussalam:

Travelling to Brunei?Read our travel guide to Brunei here.

  • Do I need special permission to enter Brunei? The only requirement, besides getting a visa or visa exemption stamp, is to complete the E-Arrival Card. This is mandatory for all foreign nationals entering Brunei.
  • Do I need a visa to enter Brunei? Visa exemption is offered to citizens of certain countries. EU, UK and US citizens are exempt. Find out whether you need a visa here. Nationalities that are not visa-exempt will need to apply for a visa at the nearest Brunei consulate or office. 
  • Do I need proof of onward travel? No, you are unlikely to be asked about proof of onward travel when you enter Brunei.
  • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No.
  • Do I need travel insurance? No, visitors are not required to show proof of travel insurance, however, holding a policy can offer peace of mind. See popular insurers here.
  • Read more about visas in Brunei here.


    Visa Information for Cambodia:

    Travelling to Cambodia? See our Cambodia Backpacking Guide here.

  • Do I need special permission to enter Cambodia? Almost everyone is required to apply for an eVisa or Visa on Arrival (VOA). 
  • Do I need a visa to enter Cambodia? Only very few nationalities are visa exempt. The vast majority will need to apply for an eVisa or Visa on Arrival (VOA).
  • Do I need proof of onward travel? No.
  • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No.
  • Do I need travel insurance? No, but having a policy is strongly advised. Read about some of the most popular travel insurers here.
  • Read more about visas in Cambodia here.


    Visa Information to East Timor (Timor Leste):

    • Do I need special permission to enter Timor-Leste? No, citizens of most countries do not need special permission to enter Timor-Leste. Only proof of funds is required. ($100USD for each entry & $50USD for each day you remain in the country.)
    • Do I need a visa to enter Timor-Leste? Unless you are a Portuguese passport holder, you will need a visa. The majority of citizens can obtain their tourist visa online (90 days) or upon arrival (30 days). If you are entering by land you must complete the visa form ahead of time. If you are entering by sea or air, you must obtain a visa on arrival. More details can be found here.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? Yes, you will be asked to show proof of onward travel, or that you have the necessary funds to cover your departure when you enter Timor-Leste. 
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No, visitors are not required to show proof of a travel insurance policy. If you wanted to take out cover anyway, you can see popular insurers here.

    Travelling to East Timor? Read our travel guide to East Timor here.


    Visa Information for Indonesia:

    Travelling to Indonesia? See our travel guide to Indonesia here.

    • Do I need special permission to enter Indonesia? Yes, only passport holders from the majority of Southeast Asian countries are visa exempt. All other countries require a visa to enter Indonesia.
    • Do I need a visa to enter Indonesia? Citizens from 87 countries can enter Indonesia via the Visa on Arrival scheme (VOA) for a period of 30 days (plus 30 days extension). It is available online here and upon arrival. A single-entry Visitor Visa (official website here) is available online for most foreign citizens for a period of 60-180 days. The previous multi-entry visa has not been reinstated since it was postponed because of COVID-19.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? Yes, you are required to provide an onward ticket out of Indonesia.
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No, proof of vaccination status is not needed.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No, but visitors who have it can cover unexpected in-country medical treatment costs. Read about popular travel insurers here.

    Read more about visas in Indonesia here.


    Visa Information for Laos:

    Travelling to Laos?Read our travel guide to Laos here.

    • Do I need special permission to enter Laos? Almost everyone is required to apply for an eVisa or Visa on Arrival (VOA). 
    • Do I need a visa to enter Laos? The majority of nationalities need to obtain an eVisa or Visa on Arrival. This list specifies the countries that can enter under visa exemption. If you see ‘not available’ written in the ‘Ordinary Passport’ section for your country, you need to get a visa.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? No.
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No, but having a policy is strongly advised. Read about some of the most popular travel insurers here.

    Read more about visas in Laos here.


    Visa Information for Malaysia:

    Travelling to Malaysia? – See our travel guide to Malaysia here.

    • Do I need special permission to enter Malaysia? Only if you hold a passport that is included in this list. If you are a citizen of the countries listed at the bottom of this page, you are required to present a yellow fever certificate as well.
    • Do I need a visa to enter Malaysia? Apart from the 38 countries listed above, all other travellers are visa-exempt.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? While this is not a legal requirement, the immigration officer reserves the right to check.  Read more about onward travel out of Malaysia here
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No, travellers do not need
    • to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No, but visitors are strongly advised to have it. Read about popular travel insurers here.

    Read more about visas in Malaysia here.


    Visa Information for Myanmar:

    Travelling to Myanmar? See our travel guide to Myanmar here.

  • Do I need special permission to enter Myanmar? No, citizens of most countries do not need special permission to enter Myanmar. Countries eligible for an eVisa and/or visa exemption can be found here.
  • Do I need a visa to enter Myanmar? Citizens from eight countries can enter Myanmar on the visa exemption scheme for a period ranging from 15-30 days. A single-entry eVisa (official website here) is now available online for most foreign citizens for a period of 28 days. 
  • Do I need proof of onward travel? Yes, you will be asked to show proof of onward travel when you enter Myanmar – prepare accordingly.
  • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No, but a thermal screening device will be used to take your temperature when you arrive. If the result could indicate a COVID-19 case, the authorities will perform an official COVID-19 test. See this update from the official website for more details.
  • Do I need travel insurance? Yes, visitors are required to show proof of travel insurance including cover for COVID-19. See popular insurers here. If the traveller is not able to show proof of insurance they will need to purchase insurance from the recommended domestic insurer through this website.
  • Read more about visas in Myanmar here.


    Visa Information for The Philippines:

    Travelling to the Philippines? – See our travel guide to the Philippines here.

    • Do I need special permission to enter the Philippines? Everyone is required to complete an electronic travel declaration online no earlier than 72 hours before arrival and upon exiting the country from April 15th 2023.
    • Do I need a visa to enter the Philippines? The majority of nationalities are visa exempt for 30 days. If you are a citizen of any of the countries NOT listed here, you require a visa.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? Yes, the Filipino authorities reserve the right to request proof of exiting the country. For more information, read about onward travel out of the Philippines here
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? You either need proof of vaccination or a laboratory antigen test.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No. Read about some of the most popular travel insurers here.

    Read more about visas in The Philippines here.


    Visa Information for Singapore:

    Travelling to Singapore? Read our Singapore travel guide here.

  • Do I need special permission to enter Singapore? Yes, all travellers, regardless of their citizenship, are required to complete the SG Arrival Card three days before their intended arrival to receive a STVP (Short-Term-Visit-Pass).
  • Do I need a visa to enter Singapore? The majority of travellers can enter without the need for a visa.
  • Do I need proof of onward travel? No, but you must provide an exit date on the declaration form.
  • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No.
  • Do I need travel insurance? No, but having a policy is strongly advised. Read about some of the most popular travel insurers here.
  • Read more about visas in Singapore here.


    Visa Information for Thailand:

    Travelling to Thailand? Read our Thailand backpacking guide.

    • Do I need special permission to enter Thailand? Since 1st July 2022, travellers do not need to apply for special permission (e.g. the Thai Pass) to enter Thailand.
    • Do I need a visa to enter Thailand? Citizens of most countries do not need to arrange a visa in advance for Thailand as they will receive a 30-day VOA upon arrival in Thailand by air, sea, or land.
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? Proof of onward travel is recommended because it is sometimes checked at various border crossings.
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No. There was news about reinstating the requirement after China opened its borders but it was withdrawn a few days later.
    • Do I need travel insurance? The $10,000USD travel insurance requirement for travel to Thailand was dropped by authorities in July 2022. See popular travel insurers here.

    Read more about Thailand visas here.


    Visa Information for Vietnam:

    Travelling to Vietnam? Read our Vietnam travel guide here.

    • Do I need special permission to enter Vietnam? No, citizens of most countries do not need special permission to enter Vietnam. Countries eligible for eVisa can be found here and Visa exempt here.
    • Do I need a visa to enter Vietnam? Citizens from 25 countries can enter Vietnam via the visa exemption scheme for a period ranging from 15-90 days. A single-entry eVisa (official website here) is available online for most foreign citizens for a period of 90 days. This number increased from 30 days on 15th of August 2023
    • Do I need proof of onward travel? You could be asked to show proof of onward travel when you enter Vietnam, especially if you are entering on a visa exemption. If you have an eVisa, it’s unlikely you will be asked, however, there is always a chance. 
    • Do I need proof of COVID-19 vaccination? No, Vietnam no longer requires foreign travellers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to enter the country. Entry requirements are the same regardless of vaccination status.
    • Do I need travel insurance? No, but visitors may want travel insurance to cover unexpected in-country medical treatment costs. See popular insurers here.

    Read more about visas 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!

    Nikki Scott - Founder South East Asia Backpacker
    Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor

    Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker and The Backpacker Network. In her early twenties, she left her home in the North of England on a solo backpacking adventure and never returned! After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine that became legendary on the Banana Pancake Trail. The rest is history.

    Find me: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    48 thoughts on “The ULTIMATE Backpacker Visa Guide to Southeast Asia”

    1. Hello,

      Sorry I forgot to ask my other question 😉

      From the stories of other backpackers I heard that is easily to get scammed when buying your visas at the boarder. But if I read all information above, this is the only and best way? Just go with the flow at the boarder, think for how long you want to stay in the country and sometimes you need to plan your trip onward to another country? And the last question: is a flight back home from Bangkok to Amsterdam enough to show, for example in Vietnam, as an onward travel?

      With kind regards,
      Jip 🙂

      1. Sheree Hooker

        Hi Jip! I recommend you take a read of the following articles:
        https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/onward-travel/ You are very likely to be asked for onward travel if you are arriving by air. A flight ticket is universally accepted as proof however, some may accept bus/boat reservations. It is down to the discretion of the official. I’d always recommend making sure you have a ticket to avoid being caught out. You don’t necessarily need to book a flight though, see this article for details about onward ticketing websites.
        – As for scams, check this post: https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/10-scams-to-avoid-in-south-east-asia/
        – For visas, the situation of whether you can get visa on arrival will depend on your nationality. Make sure to double check everything on your own gov website to be sure of the process.
        Have a great trip! 🙂

    2. Hello good morning,

      Thank you for all the information. I have a question about the visas, because I already booked my flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok and also the flight back home from Bangkok 101 days later.
      I will travel to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and then back to Thailand. Do you think I will need to show some proof of onward traveling to another country? Otherwise they probably think I will stay for those 101 days in Thailand. The problem is that I’m not sure of my route yet. I simply don’t know when, to where and which bus/train I will take to leave Bangkok/Thailand, yet. Do you maybe have an idea or experience with this?

      Thank you on beforehand!

      With kind regards,
      Jip

    3. Hello Nikki,
      Firstly thank you very much for putting together all of that very useful information. For a first-time traveler, it was so handy to have all of the facts in one place! I’ve taken notes as much as possible.
      Secondly, I am going traveling for the first time starting in October. I will be meeting a friend first in Hong Kong and from there I am hoping to do SE Asia, down to Indonesia in about 2 months. I have no rigid plan but what ‘order’ of countries would you suggest, in terms of ease of travel, event/festival timings?
      Thank you very much, Ellie x

      1. Hi Ellie,
        I’m glad that the guide has been helpful to you!
        Regarding your itinerary, do you plan to travel entirely overland or will you take budget airlines?
        To avoid having to get a visa to China, I would maybe consider taking a flight to Hanoi and then travelling down Vietnam following this itinerary – https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/vietnam-itinerary/. You can then travel through Cambodia and then into Thailand. You can explore Central Thailand, then South Thailand then make your way South to Malaysia and then Indonesia! We have lots of itineraries on our website if you search in the top bar you can get some ideas. Also, our festival guide month by month will help you to pick out some events not to miss – https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/festivals-events-southeast-asia/
        Best of luck! My one tip would be: try not to do too much in too short a time period. Slow travel is the best!

        1. Ok thank you very much for your tips and advice. Yes mostly overland I think but I don’t really know to be honest! So can I fly to Hong Kong without a visa? I am definitely going there first for a few days to see my sister and then moving on.
          x

          1. Most nationalities do not need a visa for Hong Kong (I am from the UK so I know that I can fly to HK without a visa, but check as it depends on your nationality). Any more tips needed, just let me know! 🙂

    4. Hi,

      Hopefully you can help me.

      We will be entering Thailand on the 22nd September 2018 for 2 days before flying straight out to Vietnam, then onto Camboida and Laos. We will then be coming back to Thailand via a land border for around 30 days.

      How would this work with regards to visas as we will be in the country for two days and then 30 days after nearly 2 months out of the country.

      1. Hi Stephen,

        You shouldn’t have any problems with this. You’ll get 30 days on your way in (for free), the fact that you’ll only use two of them doesn’t matter. When you come back via land, you’ll be given another 30 days for free (starting the day you enter). If on this second entry you want anything more than 30 days, you’ll have to visit an immigration office and pay for an extension, which will be for another 30 days. This extension, though, you will have to pay for (1900 baht if nothing’s changed by then. 60 USD more or less).

        Hope this helps!

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