How to Apply Visas for Thailand and Vietnam Tour
A combined trip to Thailand and Vietnam is the ultimate way to tour around these two popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. For decades, Thailand has been the most popular tourist hotspot in this region of Asia, and has a tourism industry that includes some of the most outstanding locations in the world. Vietnam, on the other hand, may not have the history in tourism that Thailand has built up, but is still one of the best places to visit in Indochina. With a varying climate that allows year-round travel and a wealth of stunning sites to visit, Vietnam is the fastest-growing tourist destination in Asia today. Or anyone planning a combined trip to these two awesome destinations, the main concern is making sure that you can get the visa you need to enter each country.
Types of Thailand visa and how to apply for it?
Thailand currently offers visa-free travel for around 64 nations across the globe, with visa-free periods of 14 days to as long as 90 days, depending on your nationality. Also, the nationals of around 18 countries are eligible to obtain their visa on arrival at certain airports and land borders.
Embassy Pre-approved Visa
If you are not able to travel to Thailand without a visa, or are not in the list for the Visa on Arrival service, then the embassy is the only way to obtain a visa for Thailand. Visa applications at Thai Embassies around the world must be done in person, with completed requirements, or the application will be declined. The standard requirements for a Thai Entry Visa from the embassy are:
● Completed application form
● Valid passport with six months validity and two blank visa pages
● One recent passport-sized photos
● Proof of round-trip air ticket, or inbound and onward travel
● Proof of financial means, minimum of 20,000 baht per person/40,000 per family
● Visa fee of US$30 or equivalent in local currency
The pre-approved visa is valid for either three or six months, and is generally for a period of either 15 or 30 days. Thailand does not have visa extensions, and you will need to exit the country once your visa is expiring. However, if you obtain a new visa immediately, you can re-enter the country without any delay.
Visa on Arrival
Unlike most countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has a limited permission for Visa on Arrival applicants, and only the citizens of 18 countries can apply for their entry visa on arrival. However, the visa is valid for only 15 days, and cannot be extended without doing a “visa run” to another country and coming back again the next day.
Thailand visa on arrival
The Visa on Arrival has the same requirements as the pre-approved visa, and the visa fee of US$30 must be paid in US dollars or Thai baht. However, according to the Thai government, there is currently a visa-fee waiver on all eligible Visa on Arrival applicants in order to promote tourism more in the country. The waiver was originally announced in December 2018, and has been extended to currently run until 30 April 2020. The Visa on Arrival service is available for eligible nationals at 48 airports and border crossings around the country.
Thailand does not have an actual E-visa, but instead provides an E-visa on Arrival to facilitate a faster approval process for the Visa on Arrival service. The application is easily done online to complete the application and get the visa at https://application.thailandvisa.net/application. You simply need to complete the application for with all details required, and upload your digital photo, proof of flights, and proof of means. Once approved, the visa will be sent to your email address as a .PDF file, for you to download and print. The visa is only valid for trips up to 15 days in Thailand, and you can apply from 24 hours to 30 days ahead of your planned travel date. The E-visa in Arrival is also included in the fee waiver that runs until April 2020, and is valid for use by the nationals of 21 countries.
Types of Vietnam visa and how to apply for it?
Vietnam has simplified their visa application process over the years, to make it easier for tourists to get in. However, they are still not accepting Visa on Arrival applicants without the pre-approved visa being completed. Currently, there is a visa exemption for the nationals of 24 countries, mostly across Asia, for 15-90 days, depending on your home country. The exemption includes Chile in South America for 90 days, and several European countries, including the UK, for up to 15 days.
Embassy Pre-approved Visa
As with most countries, getting a visa for Vietnam from the embassy requires a personal visit. You need to have all of your relevant documetns complete, and have a completed application form with no edits or erasures. The application process in non-Asian countries can be slow, though, and you ca expect it to take up to a week.
Requirements for the visa from the Vietnam embassy are:
● Completed application form with no edits or erasures
● Original passport with at least six months validity and two blank visa pages
● Two recent 2”x2” visa photos (taken within the last six months)
● Proof of onward or return travel
● Visa fee paid in full
The visa fee for embassy applications is generally higher than for other visa application types, and at the last check, was around 30-35 US dollars or the equivalent in your local currency. This fee changes often, so it is best to check with your local Vietnamese Embassy before applying.
Visa on Arrival
The Vietnamese Visa on Arrival is more of a pre-approved visa letter than an actual VoA service. The visa application must be made online through approved agencies in advance of traveling, and the process gives you an approval letter to show to immigration when you arrive. The unfortunate part of this process is that you will pay the agency a fee to arrange the visa.
Vietnam Visa on arrival
Once you make the application for the visa through the agency, and pay their fee, you will receive your Approval Letter by email, to print and show to the immigration officers. Agency fees are usually around US$20 per person, and when you arrive at the airport, you will pay the actual visa stamp fee of US$25 as well. While there are hundreds of agencies that offer to get your visa for the VoA service, several are known scammers, and it is best to stick to approved agencies. The visa can also only be used at the six airports in Vietnam, and is not valid for land travel across the border.
Vietnam actually has a fully-functional E-visa system, and you can apply for the visa online at https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn, the official visa site offered by the Vietnamese government. Citizens from 80 countries are eligible to use the E-visa system, and processing normally takes three working days from the received payment. The E-visa is valid for up to 30 days, and cannot be extended online. Once you have completed the application form, you will need to upload two passport photos, and scan and upload the data pages of your passport, including photo, personal information and ICAO lines.
The fee for the online application of the E-visa is US$25, and is non-refundable if your application is declined. The payment of the fee can be done online through a secure payment portal or into the bank account given when making the application. Once your visa is approved, which takes three working days, you will be able to log into the website and download the .PDF copy of the E-visa for printing. E-visas are also only eligible for use at the airports in Vietnam.
Phu Quoc Island
For anyone traveling to Phu Quoc, the largest island off the coast of Vietnam, whether you have a visa exemption or not, can travel visa-free to the island for a period of up to 30 days. However, in order to avail of this, you must arrive at the airport on the island direct from a separate country, or via Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, where your clearance will be completed before transiting to the flight to the island. You will not be allowed to leave the airports.
Phu Quoc Island
Useful Tips for visa application
The E-visa on Arrival is only available through registered travel agencies, and it is important to make sure that your agency is reputable first. However, with the added fees, it is actually cheaper and easier to apply at an embassy or online if you are able to.
There have been several reports of errors on the online E-visa application system, and it is important to make sure your details and photos meet all the requirements and are 100% accurate. Incorrect data matching the passport and photos that are not perfect may cause rejection of the application. Spelling errors on the application, where the visa has been approved, have also resulted in tourists being refused entry at the airports by the immigration officials.
Extensions of stay for visa-exempt tourists to Thailand can be done for an additional 30 days for certain eligible nationals. However, this has had some issues, and applicants are often charged a fee for a new visa. The best option is to leave and return, as the exception can be granted twice in one year when entering over the land borders, but there is no limit to the number of times you can re-enter on the exemption if you enter through the airports.
A trip to Thailand and Vietnam together is an amazing experience, and as long as you follow the guidelines for making your visa applications, then you should have no problems with applying for the visas. For most travelers, the pre-approved visa option is the best for Thailand and Vietnam, especially if you do not have an exemption.
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