backpacking South East Asia with a South African passport
01.03.2013 - 05.05.2013 27 °C
...." YOU have thought about it, you are excited about the idea and finaly you have decided upon it: Its destination: South East Asia . As you anticipate the amazing countries you are going to see: the beautiful white sandy beaches you are going to stroll - the amazing cuisines you are going to feast your taste buds on - the numerous bewildering temples you are going to feast your eyes on , not forgeting what we called the picture of the day : 'Monks out an about'. You might be lucky enough to be taking this amazing journey on your own , afterall you might actually find yourself on this journey - It could also be that you are taking it with a loved one ; with a friend or even with a travel buddy you met online.
Suddenly as always you remember your green D' Afrique Du Sud passport . As always obtaining information regarding visa requirements for South Africans is always a scatchy business. I backpacked South East Asia in March- April 2013 and these are the visa requirements for the few countries I visited :
Singapore- No visa is required
As a South African you do not require a tourist visa for Singapore. Please remember to keep your visitors card at hand until you leave Singapore.
Malaysia: No visa required
South African's do not require a tourist visa for Malaysia.
Myanmar/ Burma: Pre-approaved visa required
As a South African you do require an advanced tourist visa prior to travelling to Burma. Do not worry about obtaining your visa well inadvance as you can always obtain your visa in any country in South East Asia e.g Bangkok etc. A fellow tourist informed me that it took him a day for his visa to be issued in Bangkok . Personally I posted my visa application to the Burmese embassy and I received it within 3 working days via post.
NB: some nationals can obtain their visa at the port of entry SADLY this is not true for South Africans, so get your visa before you board the plane!!!!!
Thailand: NO visa required
As I checked in for my flight from Yangoon to Bangkok, I was asked regarding a visa for Thailand ( as always most immigrations officers get slightly confused with my passport). I informed the immigrations officer at Yangoon airport that I do not require a tourist visa for Thailand. As the plane took off, landing cards were issued & there was a section where a visas number was required. I started thinking really hard:' Do I need a visa for Thailand'. I recalled reading on their tourist sites, embassy sites etc. that South African's do not require a tourist visa. Finally as I approached the immigrations officer in Bangkok, I asked her if I needed a visa, she checked my passport & asked if I was staying more than 90 day, of which my response was NO. I was informed that as a tourist you do not require a visa for less than 3 months, passport stamped
Laos : Visa on arrival
As a South African you do require a visa for Laos , the good news is you can obtain your visa at your port of entry. I obtained mine at the Nong Khai Thai - Loa border post. Remeber to have cash with you, either US dollars or Thai Bhat .
FYI: on weekends it costs more.
Cambodia: Visa on arrival
As a South African you do require a visa for Cambodia. You can either obtain your visa inadvance or on arrival. I obtained mine at the Nong Nok Khiene -Trapeang kriel border crossing (south of Laos). As before do have cash at hand. Sadly there are no ATM's or ID photo's booths at this border post.
Vietnam: Pre-approaved visa
As a South African you do require a pre-approaved tourist visa for Vietnam. This can be easily arranged by a travel agent in major cities in SEA or you can apply for it at a Vietnamese embassy in most countries. I obtained mine at the Vietnamese embassy in Vientiane ( Laos). It cost me US$70.00 and it took exactly 3 minutes for my visa to be approaved and issued. NB: if you are asking a travel agent to arrange the visa for you please be careful on the dates and check your visa when you receive it. I met a fellow tourist who received her passport -booked her flight and went straight to the airport only to discover that her visa wasn't valid for the next 7 days. Lets just say she was stuck at Laung Prabang for another week...
To all my South African peeps planning to backpack South East Asia do not fret.. just pack you bags & go for it..........
PS: Ever wondered what happens when your South African passport runs out of pages and you require more visas OR need to travel more ... R_E_A_D my next blog shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh