Posted by: adventuressetravels | July 13, 2012

Traveler’s Flypaper

I hate visas.  They are flypaper for the where-the-wind-blows traveler.

In South America it is relatively easy to avoid visas.  Sure there are a few countries that require visas, but those are easily circumvented.  I didn’t really have any desire to visit Venezuela while the murder and crime rates were so high and the government loathed the United States.  I had had too many friends robbed in Bolivia to want to visit that country while carrying my laptop.  And though I certainly want to visit Brazil, I don’t want to attempt Portuguese until my Spanish has improved significantly.  So other than Chile’s reciprocity tax, which is easily obtained at the airport (from what I understand Argentina has one now too), I avoided the visa red-tape and money that goes along with it.

Asia, on the other hand, was a different story altogether.  US citizens need a visa for almost every country in SE Asia.  I have a deep abiding hatred of red tape and paperwork so this made coming to Asia quite intimidating.  Still, I wanted to see the world to my surprise

India I got my visa to India before I left the US which, though annoying, wasn’t a huge problem.  The whole process is outsourced so rather than going to the consulate, I had to send my passport to the agency that handled the visa and have them mail it back to me.  The 10-year visa for $150 was painful but I gritted my teeth, sent in the check and pictures, and got my visa without a problem.

Thailand does not require a visa for US citizens flying in if they are planning to stay less than 30 days.  Crossing the border by bus US citizens are only allowed 15 days though.  That wasn’t a problem because I didn’t plan on staying in Thailand for over the allotted time.

Wat Phu, Laos

Malaysia does not require visas for US citizens visiting for under 90 days.  Now this was my type of country.  Not only could I avoid the hassle of going through getting a visa, I didn’t have to feel rushed through the country or worry about my visa running out.

Singapore offers 90 days for US citizens as well.

Vietnam was the first country I visited to require a visa in advance for US citizens.  If you are flying in you can prearrange a visa as I did the first time I went to the country:

Getting my visa to Vietnam in Phnom Penh was relatively easy.  I paid a travel agent $35 for a 30-day single entry visa and had it in a matter of days.

Getting your Vietnam visa extended takes a few more days.  It is $25-30 from a travel agent in Hanoi ($10 if you can get it at an embassy yourself) and takes about 4 working days (at least from an agent).

On the whole visas in SE Asia were not complicated.  Annoying, time and money consuming, troublesome, but not hard to get, but completely worth it.  If navigating visas was this easy, then what had I been worried about?

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