What’s up Guys!
There are many places in the world that can be considered Single Man’s Paradise. Of course, I prefer to live in South East Asia. Warm weather, low cost of living, delicious food, nice people, generally safe, sexy girls, interesting cultures and some of the most beautiful surroundings on the planet.
South East Asia is a very special place for me. There is so much to see in this small corner of the world. Each country has it’s own culture and vibe. Whatever you are looking for, there is a country here that will make you happy.
The one issue with being a long term traveler is Visas. Unless you work, study or start a business, you will probably be traveling on tourist visas… This can be aggravating if you want to stay in one location for a while without flying out every few months on visa runs.
Thailand Visa Issues
One good example of a pain in the ass visa is Thailand. (Please keep in mind that I’m American and I don’t know what the rules are for you.) If I fly into Thailand I get a 30 day visa on arrival. Or is it a visa exemption? Who fuckin knows, but I can stay in Thailand for 30 days.
I usually get a tourist visa from a Thai consulate before going to Thailand. This gives me 60 days. Before my 60 days are up I can go to immigration and pay 1,000 baht to extend for another 30 days. This process takes up a whole afternoon and I fuckin hate it.
Then when my 90 days is up I must fly out of the country, go to a Thai consulate and apply for another tourist visa.
This means a round trip plane ticket to a neighboring country, several nights in a hotel and a new visa fee. Then I get to start the process all over again… This can easily cost over $1,000 per year. PLUS the hassle of constantly moving around and sitting at government offices. Be sure to bring a good book because that shit is boring!
There are some people who will say, ohh well just get an education visa and study! That’s a good idea if you want to study Thai and spend the $1,000 for a course… But then we are back to spending money. And now I have a class I must attend! No thanks…
Now Thailand is cracking down on their tourist visas. If you are living in Thailand on back to back tourist visas it’s possible that you could get refused entry into the country! I’ve never had this problem, but I have heard reports of it happening. It’s best to leave the country for a few weeks. If you go out and come right back in they might turn you away.
Imagine you are renting an apartment and then you can’t get back into the country. It’s just a hassle and that’s why I haven’t put any “roots” down anywhere yet. I’m not going to buy a motorbike or sign a one year lease if I can’t easily come and go from the country. If you don’t mind traveling a lot and jumping through hoops to live part time in Thailand then go for it. Just know that there are easier options in the region.
The Three Easiest Visas in South East Asia
To get a Visa on arrival in Vietnam, I must first apply for a visa approval letter. This is very quick and easy to obtain online. YES you can get this online!
No trips to the Vietnam embassy and no mailing your passport. Simply go to a trusted travel agency online such as http://www.hotels-in-vietnam.com/ and click on visa services. You can choose between one month or three month visas. Single entry or multi entry. A single entry three month visa costs $21 and they email you the approval letter in a few days.
At the airport you will need this approval letter and a filled out visa application along with a small photo and $45. Hand that in at the airport and they will put your Vietnam visa in your passport in about ten minutes. Then you are good to go!
You are allowed to stay in the country for three months. Before your visa expires just stroll into any travel agency in the major cities. Tell them you want to extend your visa and pay the $30 fee. They will handle everything for you and get you another three months! No long lines at immigration and no visa runs out of the country.
I believe you can only extend one time… But I’ve heard stories of people staying for over a year by extending. In a place like Vietnam there are no real rules… If you have the cash, they have the stamp. If you must leave, just take a bus ride into Phnom Penh and apply for another Vietnam Visa online. Get a new letter and fly back in. Easy!
I haven’t been to the Philippines yet, but it’s very high on my list of places to visit. In fact, you might be seeing some posts about life in the Philippines very, very soon. Subscribe and stay tuned!
From what I understand, you can just fly to the Philippines and you get 21 days on arrival. You can go down to the immigration office before your visa expires, pay a little money and extend. You can keep extending your tourist visa for over a year! Doesn’t get much better then that!
They really make it easy on you in the Philippines. Then when your year is up, just fly out for a few days and start all over again!
The only issue is, I’ve read that you can’t fly into the Philippines without an outbound plane ticket. Meaning, they want proof that you will be leaving the Philippines. Obviously if you plan on staying for six months or so you might need to buy a throw away ticket. I’ve had to do this several times. Luckily, there are a lot of cheap Air Asia flights to neighboring countries that you can buy just to keep immigration happy. It sucks! But that’s part of traveling long term.
Cambodia probably has the easiest visa situation in the region. Many expats who are looking to settle down are now considering Cambodia due to the easy visas and low cost of living.
When you fly into Cambodia you will get a visa on arrival. You can get a tourist visa or a business visa that are good for 30 days. A business visa can be extended for up to 12 months! Just take your passport to a local travel agency in any major city. $280 will get you a 12 month, multi entry business visa. That is fantastic! You can come and go all you want for a year.
Also, you don’t need any proof of employment. It’s a business visa but you can do whatever the hell you want. You are not obligated to start any kind of business if you don’t want.
When your year is up, just apply for a new visa! If you want to live in Cambodia long term, just pay $280 a year and you’re done with it. No visa runs, no extension fees every few months and you will never see the inside of an immigration office. Can you see why Cambodia is becoming such a popular retirement destination? They sure do make it easy on us foreigners.
If you want to settle down somewhere long term, you will have to consider the visa situation. Traveling every three months is fun for a while but it becomes a pain if you want to settle down, do some work and save money. These are the three easiest Visas I know of in South East Asia. Cheers!