How travelling in Asia has gotten a little bit cheaper – for some
There are many things I love about travelling in Asia. Paying for visa is not one of them. From a traveller’s perspective, one of the best things the European Union (or to be more precise, Schengen) gave us, are open borders. Even if your nationality does require a visa, at least you only have to go through the hassle once.
When it comes to visa, Asia is a different story. Some countries require you get a visa before arrival, others will sell you one upon arrival after queueing and some more progressive countries will let you in for free.
Fortunately things have been changing for the better since I first travelled to Asia in 2008. My first destination back then was India and I remember how annoying and expensive it was to send in my passport to the Embassy. Vietnam was just as bad and places like Indonesia charged you around USD25 for the privilege of spending money in their country as a tourist.
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines were far better in this regard. They’d let you in for free, some even without requiring you to fill in any immigration forms.
Over the past couple of months, there have been some positive developments though:
- Vietnam: while they allowed you to eventually purchase a visa-on-arrival (provided you purchased an invitation letter), as of July 1 2015 some European Union countries are finally allowed visa-free entry for up to 15 days – saving of USD30
- Indonesia: while the visa-on-arrival fee was increased to USD35 last year, this year Indonesia decided it was a good idea to let a majority of European Union citizens in for free to become more attractive for tourists (hey, if you’re a family of four, paying USD140 in Indonesia vs. 0 in Thailand/Malaysia could make a difference – especially on a shorter trip)
- India: since late 2014 (and now even more countries in 2015) are able to apply for a visa-on-arrival, saving you the hassle of getting your permit at an embassy overseas. While the price tag of USD60 is still considerable, it is much cheaper than going through an embassy
The above countries have made the right move and become more tourist friendly. Vietnam and Indonesia are now as easily accessible as their competitors such as Malaysia and Thailand. While queues can still be long at immigration, at least you only have to queue once.
Here’s to hoping that other countries follow suit by making it easier to get a visa (I am looking at you, China) or even better, get rid of their visa fees alltogether.