Aside from the fun planning of looking at all the different things to see and do in each country there are also the boring bits you have to plan in order to make sure the trip goes smoothly. If you are a bit daunted by ALL of the things you need to plan I found a great book written by Lonely Planet guides called ‘The big trip’ which is full of useful tips for where to start.
So I have spent the majority of my week’s holiday off looking into the essential information, visas and immunisations for each county. Lonely Planet website have destination guides on their website for every country which includes essential information on: budget, visas, health, getting there and getting around, etiquette, toilets etc. It only gives you basic information but it is a start. I then looked further into types of visas that you can get for each country. It is important to check this as it varies for which nationality you are. I used STA travel visa machine as a guide, this is also somewhere you can buy visas however they charge a consultancy fee which is normally the same cost as the visa itself! As British Citizens I also checked the government website for information regarding visas. This website also can give the latest safety advise as well as basic information.
There are many different options for visa types depending on how long you want to visit a country and the purpose of the visit. For us we will only be getting tourist visas. We will using the following entry requirements (if still the same at the time of our trip), this may be useful information for you if you are a British Citizen looking at doing a similar trip:
- Thailand- visa exemption up to 30 days (no need for a visa just proof of onwards travel)
- Laos- single entry tourist visa granted on arrival for 30 days
- Vietnam– single entry tourist visa (have to get in advance which we will do probably from Laos and can take a couple of days)
- Cambodia– single entry tourist visa granted on arrival for 30 days
- Malaysia– visa exemption up to 3 months (no need for a visa due to nationality)
- Singapore-visa exemption up to 30 days (no need for a visa due to nationality)
- Indonesia– visa exemption for up to 30 days however you cannot extend this or 30 day tourist visa on arrival with extension in immigration office in Indonesia or 60 day tourist visa applied for in advance. Due to the size of the place we potentially want to spend up to 2 months there spending one month travelling around the bulk of the country and the second month in Bali. To keep costs down it would be ideal to do visa exemption for the month, fly back to singapore and come in again for another 30 days visa exempt, however I don’t know how possible this is. If not we will get a visa and extend it in the country probably. If anyone has any experience with this please let us know. I don’t want to travel round the rest of the country leave to go back to Singapore and not be allowed back into Indonesia (where our flight is from Bali).
- Phillipines– visa exemption up to 30 days (no need for visa due to nationality)
- Japan– visa exemption up to 3 months (no need for visa due to nationality just proof of onwards travel)
- Hong Kong– visa exemption up to 6 months (no need for visa due to nationality)
- China– single entry tourist visa up to 30 days (have to get this in advance- you need to know exactly where you are staying and when. You also often need a letter of invitation from the hotel etc for you to get. As we are attending a tour there they will provide us with a specific itinerary and letter of invitation.)
When you apply for a visa often they only have a validity of up to 3 months this means that for places we need to get a visa in advance i.e. China we will have to apply for this through a Chinese embassy when we are already abroad otherwise it will run out. For the majority of visas they will only be granted if you have proof of onwards travel and your passport is valid for 6 months after you enter a country. So double check that you have that time left on your passport.
In terms of immunisations you can search destinations on the Centre for disease control website for lists of recommended vaccinations. The essential information sections in Lonely Planet’s destinations guide also gives some guidance. I plan to go to the doctors in the near future to have a travel vaccinations appointment to discuss what they think I need. You need to give yourself time to get these vaccinations as ones such as Hepititus A are two vaccinations done 6 months apart and this is one recommended for people travelling to South East Asia.
We will also have to organise travel insurance too at somepoint to cover any medical issues and valueable items too. This will be covered in a later post when we have explored some options. We have been quoted by STA travel approximately £500 for travel insurance with them each for the year.
So Step 3 to your big trip- make sure you have time to get your immunisations and check what sort of visas you require so that you can actually be let into the country!