How To Prepare For SE Asia: Which Countries Require A Visa Payment?

Travel Visa regulations are constantly changing. That’s precisely why it’s important to stay updated and have access to the correct information.

If you’re thinking about traveling to SE Asia, we have all the information you need. Here you will learn about the specific instructions for Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, and India.

Disclaimer: All information is based on our experiences with US passports. Although many countries share similar exemptions, if you hold a different passport it’s in your best interest to check the websites provided next to each country.

First up, Vietnam! This unique country needs to be included in your SE Asia explorations. It’s home to the famous Ha Long Bay.


Total Cost: $46 per person ($21 processing + $25 stamp fee)

Yes, you will need to purchase a Visa.

Here’s the website we used:

It’s reliable, cheap, and hands down the most professional site out there. On the website you can find exempt countries and the various options for purchase.

We paid a $21 processing fee (1 month single entry visa). Prices are cheaper if you buy in bundles. The best part…if you’re reading this post only a couple hours before your flight, you might be okay! For an extra $25, you will receive your visa in 4 hours.


It’s a simple process that’s professionally explained step by step. In addition, use the Airport Car-Pickup service. When landing in a foreign country, it’s always a breathe of fresh air knowing exactly how you’re arriving at your accommodation. No one wants to carry their bags from taxi to taxi hoping the next one will speak English.

Final tip, no matter the processing fee or website used, you pay a stamp fee of $25 upon arrival. This process takes time! Plan on spending at least an extra hour at immigration, it’s similar to the DMV. Or…utilize the Airport Fast – Track offered by this same Visa service. Either way, bring exact change in perfect condition bills.


30-day Exempt Visa. No payment needed! (Option to extend once for another 30 days, Cost: 1900 baht = $60 USD)

In general, the most common Visa is for 30 days while some countries allow 90 days.

Here’s the link for which countries are exempt: Click here

If you’re one of the lucky few, congratulations! If not, it just requires a little more planning. You will need to secure the proper visa from a Royal Thai Embassy in your country or elsewhere. There are Thai embassies in neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia. These are the most popular options for renewals, border runs, etc.

By Land…here’s the tricky part. If you enter by land (bus, train, etc.) you might receive a stamp for 15 days. Thailand has updated their Visa regulations which I’m sure has complicated many immigrants’ lives. Although the embassy states 15 days, the few times Morgan and I crossed by land we were given 30 days.

Basically, it’s a gamble every time. 

The new immigration rule states that only two land border entries are allowed per calendar year. So, if you’re hopping around SE Asia, plan around entering Thailand by land only twice. It’s the cheapest option. If time is of the essence and money isn’t an issue, then fly wherever your heart desires.

In SE Asia, Thailand is the place to be. If you want any advice, click on these posts: Foodie Guide,Top Things To Do, Marriott Bangkok, Phuket: The Most Popular Island, and Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.


30-day Visa Exemption. It’s FREE!!!

If you’re spending more than 30 days here, you’re doing something right. Here is the website for exempt countries, visa types, etc. Click Here

For other Bali related advice: Best Places To Stay, Places To Eat, Ways To Travel Within Bali, and Top Things To Do.

We had an awful experience at Bali immigration…the last thing you’d expect from this stunning island. We arrived on New Year’s Eve and we were almost sent back to the US an hour later. Indonesia is strict regarding their passport rules, make sure you have two blank pages. Separate post on this later but if you ever confront an irritable immigration officer, realize that you have no power and silence is your friend.


90-day Visa Exemption. FREEEEEEE!!!

Tokyo is possibly the cleanest and most pristine city in the world. Combine that with the most Michelin rated restaurants and you’re set for a vacation of a life time.

Here’s the link for the exempt countries: Click Here

Spend time in Tokyo, but make a point to visit Kyoto! Although it’s relatively expensive, take the bullet train.


90-day Visa Exemption. FREEEEE!!!!

With Singapore…you have to celebrate the money saving opportunities. Morgan and I were the only backpackers in sight while walking through the flawless streets of this city. Be prepared to spend money here. Although we were on a strict budget (we ate instant noodles for at least 3 or 4 meals), we spent a minimum of $100 per day.

Exempt Countries: Click Here

For the budget travelers, if you can swing this trip, you’ll love it. Visit Sentosa Island! It’s the farthest southernmost point of continental Asia…and it has a Universal Studios Theme Park.


Bummer…a purchased 30-day Visa is required. Total Cost: ~$30 at the border (you can pay in Thai baht although Cambodian’s main currency is USD)

If you read Morgan’s last post (you definitely should!), you get a little insight in to this process.

You have two options for a 30-day visa: pre-purchased ($69 using Cambodian eVisa) or at the border ($30 USD). If you’re in a time crunch, like a border hop or last minute plans to see Angkor Wat, you’ll buy at the border.

List of Exempt Countries:Click here (Scroll down to FAQ section, select Visa Exemption option).

There are hundreds of online conversations discussing back and forth whether the Visa at the land border is worth the panic. As long as you follow the instructions of the bus driver, stick with the group of experienced passengers, and don’t succumb to ‘fake Visa agencies’ you will be fine. Just stay mentally sharp, pay attention to price ($30 USD), and only communicate with legitimate officers.


90-day exemption. FREEEE!

Go visit Kuala Lumpur and witness the Petronas Towers. Watch the monkeys and feed the hornbills on Pangkor Island. And, last but not least, enjoy the adventures within the Cameron Highlands.

Malaysia requires Visas from these countries: Click here


Yes, a visa is required. The most popular choice: Double Entry Visa – 60 days. Total Cost: $144 USD ($69 service fee + $75 US citizen fee)

Unfortunately, US citizens are one of the eight countries selected for this fee. In addition, you will need malaria pills so plan accordingly.

A trip to India is a once in a lifetime experience. The Taj Mahal and other historical sites will leave a lasting impression. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll visit during an India vs Pakistan cricket match. Then later watch a Bollywood movie or buy some world renowned silk garments.

Here’s the website our group used:

The service is reliable, responds quickly, and eliminates any potential issues on arrival. Don’t forget to confirm with them throughout the process.

There you have it! Eight SE Asian countries with Visa requirements.

You’re now an expert in the art of SE Asian Visas. Although not all countries were covered, we hope you learned something for your future travels. Refer to the previous post if you need help researching Visas and to learn about the most efficient step-by-step process.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Morgan and I. We want to make sure you have a painless and stress free international experience. Feel free to leave a comment, follow us on Instagram using the links below, and join the #dreambigpacksmall community!

– Kyle

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