So you're heading to Asia. Hold on, not so fast - do you need a Visa? It's the most important question to answer before you head off on your journey. The answer is straightforward - yes. You will probably need a visa, for every country in Asia you plan on visiting - no matter what your nationality. Unlike Europe, where a one-size-fits all visa gets you in to most of the continent, each country in Asia has it's own Visa system. It can be a daunting maze of information and options - but it doesn't need to be. Do I have your attention? Read on, we'll slice and dice the different visa options, and help you claim the coveted visa's you need.
It seems like such a simple question, but the answer isn't so simple. Unfortunately, you would need to scan through a huge array of sources to get an up-to-date answer. Regulations change often in this part of the world. As for the "official" online sources, well the truth is they're often not documented correctly and can actually be out of date. Not to mention, they may not be in your language.
Every day, tourists and travelers get denied entry to Asian countries, due to visa issues. It's the ultimate travel nightmare. Figuring out how to get your visa, stress free and in good time, is probably the most uneasy aspect of any Asian travel planning. Receiving a visa can often be a really tedious process - the rules change, you may not have an embassy near you, and rip offs are not uncommon. Multiply this for all the Asian countries you are planning on visiting and you can start to see the potential for sleepless nights.
But it doesn't need to be this way.
In general, there are four ways to apply for a visa in Asia - an electronic visa, get an approval letter, apply direct through embassy, or for some nations - a visa on arrival. Lets break down the application options, explore the possibilities, and give you a first step in getting your Asian-nation visa's.
The Cambodian, Sri Lankan and Australian governments all issue electronic visas. Good news for you - this certainly is the easiest way to get a visa for these nations. Conveniently, applications can be made from your home country or from wherever you happen to be in the world. It's simple - apply online, and receive the visa straight to your email inbox.
Big benefits of the eVisa include not having to ever visit an embassy, and not needing to send your passport away. You normally won't need any passport photos during the application process - but if you do, your photo can simply be uploaded online. Usually, approval is fast - normally taking less than 3 days in total. On arrival, simply head straight to customs with a print out of your e-Visa. It couldn't be easier.
Due to the nature of this application, you should apply for your eVisa about two weeks before you plan on visiting Cambodia, Sri Lanka, or Australia. A fixed entry date isn't required.
At this point in time, Vietnam and Myanmar do not have an electronic visa service. For these nations, an approval letter is the best way to go. The process is to apply for an approval letter, and when you arrive in Vietnam or Myanmar, this letter will be exchanged for a Visa. As with e-Visa's, the application process for an approval letter can be completed entirely online. Also, the letter can be applied for whether you are home or abroad.
Conveniently, you won't need to visit an embassy, and you won't need to send your passport anywhere. You will receive the approval letter straight to your email inbox, and when you arrive at your destination, head to the Visa counter, and swap it for a visa.
For Myanmar and Vietnam, the Approval Letter process can take up to two weeks. So give yourself a little more time than an e-Visa, and begin the application process about a month before you're planning on visiting either of these nations. Additionally, you will need a specific entry date, and you will need to supply a passport photo when you arrive.
Ah, the dreaded visit to the embassy. Countries such as China, Japan, India and Russia all require you to visit an embassy at some point to get your Visa. You will need to front up at the embassy counter with your passport, before you receive your Visa. And, you will need to leave your passport with the embassy for processing. But once you have been approved, come back to the embassy, and collect your passport with a shiny new Visa inside.
During this application, you may require a fixed entry date for your arrival. Given the potential for delays, apply at least a month before you fly. At the very least, you will be required to supply a passport photo, but you may be asked to provide other supporting documents, and you will need at least one blank page in your passport (that shiny new visa has to go somewhere).
For the last-minute travelers among us, it's good to know that some Asian nations provide a VOA - Visa on Arrival service. Just as it sounds, you arrive at the destination, and apply and pay for your Visa when you land. Sounds easy - but is this the best way to get your visa? Indonesia and Laos have a visa on arrival facility - and normally the process is easy - but the big risk is you will be deported if your visa application is rejected. Not to mention those eye-wateringly long Visa queues at the airport.
Don't forget, you will need a passport photo (pro travel tip - always keep a stash of passport photos on you at all times). So be aware that things can, and do, go wrong.
Receiving an Asian Visa is definitely not always easy or simple. There's a multitude of rules, regulations, and options. And the thing is, the requirements differ for different nationalities. To get your visa, use these steps.
1) Check out whether citizens of your country, need a Visa to visit the Asian country you are headed for. The visa requirements will vary depending on where you are from.
2) Look at the various options presented in this article to see what the suggested Visa application process is - for example Cambodia = eVisa, Myanmar = Approval Letter.
3) If you need further assistance, consult an expert.
Hopefully this article will help put your mind at ease. Millions of tourists head to Asia each year, and for good reason. Don't let the Visa-maze put you off - big city lights, tropical getaways, delicious food, friendly people, and the entire array of famous Asian tourist attractions await.
PS, another tip no matter where you are headed - always travel to Asia with at least 3 months validity in your passport, and a few blank pages - those shiny Visa stamps and stickers have to go somewhere!Tagged Embassy, Visa, Cambodia, Travel, Asian, Travel Nightmare, Trip Planning, Visa Online, VOA, Consulates, Requirement, Asia