Many countries covered in this guide require only a valid passport for citizens of the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. For an up-to-date listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the "Foreign Entry Requirement" page of the U.S. State Department at www.travel.state.gov.
Note that Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia require all visitors to have entry visas. Though most international airports offer visas upon arrival, and there are more overland points where you can apply with passport photos and money when you arrive, if you plan to enter Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia from rural overland points, you often need to obtain a visa beforehand (you may even need to specify which entry point).
Bali (Indonesia) -- Visitors from the U.S., Canada, most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are given a visa upon arrival for a fee of $10 (£6.65) for stays of 7 days or less and $25 (£17) for stays of up to 30 days. The only official gateways to Bali are Ngurah Rai Airport or the seaports of Padang Bai and Benoa. If you want to stay longer than 30 days, you must get a tourist or business visa before coming to Indonesia. Tourist visas cannot be extended, while business visas can be extended for 6 months at Indonesian immigration offices.
Cambodia -- All visitors are required to carry a passport and visa. A 1-month visa can be obtained upon entry at the Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports for $20. Applying online (http://evisa.mtaic.gov.kh) for a 1-month e-visa costs $25. The procedure is simple, straightforward, and will save you time and energy. Bring one 4*6-inch passport photo for your application, or be fined. Visa on arrival is available at several land crossings, including Poi Pet (Thailand), the boat-crossing point from Chau Doc (Vietnam), and Dong Kralor (Laos) for $22.
Laos -- Visitors need a valid passport and visa to visit Laos. There are a number of entry sites where visas are granted upon arrival: by air to Vientiane or Luang Prabang, or when crossing from Thailand over the Friendship Bridge between Vientiane and Nong Khai, or between Chiang Khong and Houay Xai in the far north, and Mukdahan and Savannakhet or Chong Mek and Vung Tao (near Pakse) in the far south. A 30-day visa at these arrival points costs $30. You will also need a passport-size photo. When coming from Vietnam, be sure to have a prearranged visa. At an embassy outside of Laos, the going rate for a 30-day visa is $35; you'll have to wait up to 5 days for processing (less in Bangkok). For a fee, travel agents in Thailand and other countries in the region can help you jump over the bureaucratic hurdles and get a visa in 1 day.
Malaysia -- To enter Malaysia, you must have a valid passport. Citizens of the U.S. do not need visas for tourism and business visits. Citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. do not require a visa for tourism or business visits not exceeding 1 month.
Singapore -- To enter Singapore, you'll need a valid passport. Visas are not necessary for citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Upon entry, visitors from these countries will be issued a 30-day pass for a social visit only, except for Americans, who get a 90-day pass.
Thailand -- All visitors to Thailand must carry a passport valid for at least 6 months. Technically, you need proof of onward passage (either a return or through ticket), though this is rarely requested. Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days for citizens of the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the U.K., but 3-month tourist visas can be arranged before arrival.
Vietnam -- Residents of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. need both a passport and a valid visa to enter Vietnam. A tourist visa usually lasts 30 days and costs $65. You need to specify your date of entry and exit. Though there's no official policy, tourist visas can commonly be extended with little hassle. Multiple-entry business visas are available that are valid for up to 3 months; however, you must have a sponsoring agency in Vietnam, and it can take much longer to process. For short business trips, it's less complicated simply to enter as a tourist.
What You Can Bring into Southeast Asia
Allowable amounts of tobacco, alcohol, and currency are comparable in all countries: usually two cartons of cigarettes, up to two bottles of liquor, and between $3,000 and $10,000. Plant material and animals fall under restrictions across the board. For Singapore, there are no duty-free allowances for cigarettes.
What You Can Take Home from Southeast Asia
Restrictions on what you can take out of the various nations of Southeast Asia are loose at best. Expect a red flag if you have any kind of plant materials or animals, but the most notable restriction has to do with antiques. To prevent the kind of wholesale looting of the region's treasures in the recent colonial past, you might be stopped if you are carrying any Buddhist statuary or authentic antiques or religious artifacts. This does not apply to tourist trinkets, however aged and interesting. In fact, despite any salesman's claim of authenticity, you'll be hard-pressed to find authentic antiques.
U.S. Citizens -- For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on "Travel" and then "Know Before You Go! Online Brochure.") Or contact U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667), and request the pamphlet.
Canadian Citizens -- For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens -- For information, contact HM Customs & Excise (tel. 0845/010-9000, or 020/8929-0152 from outside the U.K.; www.hmce.gov.uk).
Australian Citizens -- A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is Know Before You Go. For more information, contact the Australian Customs Service (tel. 1300/363-263; www.customs.gov.au).
New Zealand Citizens -- Most questions are answered in a free pamphlet available at New Zealand consulates and Customs offices: New Zealand Customs Guide for Travellers, Notice no. 4. For more information, contact New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.