Four countries in the South East Asian sub-region are considering creating one common visa zone in a bid to attract a larger number of international tourists.
Tourism ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar discussed the possibility of creating a unified visa zone for international tourists traveling within the Mekong river sub-region at a conference held in Ho Chi Minh this weekend. The idea is to minimize the large number of visas currently required to a single permit that would allow travelers to tour the countries.
The aim of the project is to attract over 25 million foreign tourists between 2013 and 2015, out of which 4 million are expected to travel within at least two of the four countries.
The four countries received over 12 million international visitors in 2011, a 14.5 percent increase over 2010. The countries calculate that around 2.1 million tourists traveled within the zone.
Thailand is considering joining the program after it settles its bilateral agreement with Cambodia.
Visa requirements differ from country to country
Currently, all visitors to Myanmar are required to obtain an entry visa. The tourist visa allows a stay of 28 days, extendable for 14 days. Visas to Myanmar must be requested at the nearest embassy.
Almost all travelers to Cambodia require a tourist visa except nationals of Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. The tourist visa has a 3-month validity for a stay of up to 30 days. Visa applications can now be done online at www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/.
Citizens of some nations such as the US can obtain a tourist visa for Laos on arrival for approximately $35. Other nationalities need to contact the nearest Laos embassy to apply for a tourist visa. Generally visas for Laos are granted for 30 days and can be extended to 60 days.
Most of the Asian travelers wanting to visit Vietnam do not need a visa if they plan to stay for 30 days or less. Nationals of South Korea, Japan, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland do not need a visa if they plan to stay less than 15 days (applied for both tourist and business travelers). Citizens of other countries are required to obtain an entry visa for Vietnam before departure or an approval letter for a Visa on arrival (the visa is issued on arrival at Vietnam International Airports).
European Schengen Treaty
Remember when touring within Europe required numerous visas? 25 countries in Europe now belong to the Schengen zone, an area where internal border controls are eliminated. Tourists can travel for up to 90 days within the member countries within a period of six months.