Around the World Trip: Filipina Backpacker Visa Experiences (Visa Free, Visa on Arrival and Visa Required)
I’m planning to do an around-the-world trip, stepping on all continents (including Antarctica), while working-on-the-road, (as a yoga teacher, massage therapist, TEFL teacher and Professional Travel Blogger) before I turn 30. So, here are my backpacking and visa experiences since I started this journey in April 2013! To know more about my story, click HERE. (UPDATED: OCTOBER 29, 2016)
How do we manage our finances? We don't have credit cards- here's the article on how we do it with my Philippines Bank account.
Before you book your flights, it’s a good idea to think about what countries you’ll be traveling to after your initial destination. A badly planned route and expensive visa applications can have a big impact on your trip.
Here I will be summarizing my visa experiences to free visa countries, as well as a list of other countries we can visit without requiring a visa. I’ve been to other countries which do require visas but are easy and inexpensive; I usually applied for my visas abroad, so I don’t have a visa application experience in the Philippines.
Oops! Before I forget, please remember that the Philippine Immigration requires us to show a return ticket. When I left the country, I showed them my return flight for three months later(Never did use that one!). They asked me some questions, so I told them I was going backpacking and that they could check my bag if they wanted to. One other advantage is to have a previous international stamp in your passport, so they won’t think that you’re planning to work illegally abroad as the concept of backpacking is still not that common to many in our culture. So here are my visa experiences towards my main goal of finishing an around-the-world trip before turning 30, funding it by working-on-the-road.
In this article, I will mostly talk about the countries where I’ve been which are Visa Free or Visa on Arrival (now slowly updating it with countries I needed a visa and the process on how I got them). We have other articles on how you can get Schengen Visa or USA Visa. (PS. Do you need help on getting the visa to USA, Australia, Canada, Schengen or UK? I could help you, contact me here.)
I’ve been to over 70 countries around the world as we tend to stay in a place for a little bit longer during this three-year journey. I just got a ten year USA Tourist Visa while on a visit here in Colombia, here’s my Facebook post on how I got it. Hope you’ll follow my crazy journey! Never lose hope! #dreamsdocometrue
COUNTRIES IN ASIA (WHERE I'VE BEEN)
Traveling in Asia and South East Asia is awesome for Filipinos since we’re part of the ASEAN. Westerners tend to pay $30 to $80 per visa in many countries! This is not yet the complete list; I have to start adding some countries I had visited before I became a travel blogger!
Armenia – Visa can be obtained upon arrival for a stay up to 120 days
My first backpacking experience was in Armenia in 2012. The visa is really easy there. You have the option to apply online to get your e-visa or just arrive at the airport. I highly suggest that you apply online to avoid the long queues due to the increasing numbers of tourists in this beautiful country.
The visa rules in Azerbaijan are quite different compared to the other 2 Caucasus countries (Armenia and Georgia), there are two options on getting the visa - from the Embassy or from the accredited inbound tourist agency! We chose the latter; I had to contact the company via email and Skype - sent them our passport copies and paid $55 money via western union. I was a bit hesitant at the beginning, but that's how they work, I finally got a 10-day single entry visa which was sent electronically. The cost of the visa would depend on the processing period; we chose the 8- 9 days waiting time, you can get an urgent visa for up to $200! Oops!
Cambodia – Not Required for stay up to 21 days
This one is great. Just show up, get your stamp and walk in!
Visa can be obtained upon arrival for stay up to 30 days ($60). Please note - you can only go on VOA twice in a year, and you have to pre-apply online! 30 days in India is not enough, so we ended up applying for a tourist visa at the Indian Embassy in Hanoi. The fee is fixed according to your nationality regardless of whether you’ll be staying 1 or 6 months, or whether you want a Single or Multiple Entry visas. The first thing you need to do is apply on their website and print the application form with the required photos and photocopies. Go to the embassy and wait for five days. Remember, they only accept US dollars. - I only paid $69 while Jonathan had to pay $132 for his British passport for the same six months multiple entry visas!
Philippines passport holder used to get the free visa on arrival in Georgia, but they just recently changed it, now we can only enter Georgia if we will apply for an e-visa in advance! But if you have a valid tourist visa with any OECD countries (you can find the list here) and valid residency in any GCC (Middle East) countries, then we are entitled to get the free visa on arrival! Woot, thanks to the USA tourist visa I was able to enter without any hassle!
Israel – 90 days visa-free
Having a Philippines passport should let us travel within Israel for up to 90 days Visa Free. However, there are a lot of Filipinos working in Israel (some of them illegally) which is the reason why they are quite strict when it comes to our nationality.
Laos – Free Visa can be obtained upon arrival for a stay up to 30 days
Malaysia – Not required for a stay of up to 30 days
Maldives – Free Visa can be obtained upon arrival for up to 30 days
They might ask you for hotel booking and the return flight, so please be prepared. If you will be staying in resorts then better to show that you have dollars or credit cards. There are many Filipinos working there, so the Immigration officials are just making sure you won't work there illegally.
Visa can be obtained upon arrival up to 150 days. No hard requirements, at the airport you just have to pay a minimum of $25 for 15 days tourist visa and can go higher depending on the number of days. Don’t forget to bring a passport size picture and dollars!
Palestine - West Bank
While on a trip to Israel, my two blogging friends and I rented a car to drive to the Dead Sea and on our way back to Jerusalem we decided to make a side trip to Jericho which is called the West Bank in State of Palestine. Visa or any Identification card were not asked from us.
Singapore – Not required for a stay of up to 30 days
You know there are many OFWs there, so a return ticket is a must or maybe prepare an itinerary.
Free Visa can be obtained upon arrival for a stay of up to 30 days but must get an Electronic Visa Authorization before departure/arrival
Thailand – Not required for a stay up to 30 days
Been to Thailand thrice, if you're flying in, they will give you 30 days visa while 15 days if you'll travel overland. I was also able to get a three-month Tourist visa in Thailand for FREE thru applying in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (but I haggled for this) The official cost for a three-month visa is $50! It was just luck as I requested if I can only get 45 days. The requirement? Just flight ticket.
Vietnam – Not required for a stay of up to 21 days (This is the funniest visa experience I’ve ever had)
You can also apply for a six-month tourist visa online where you will get a letter you can present at immigration for your visa on arrival. Getting a 3 to 6-month business visa in Vietnam is not hard either. If you decide to live and work there, then just take your passport to most travel agencies, who will make a phone call or two and let you know what the required ‘fee’ will be to make everything happen! You can check this Vietnam visa site for more details.
COUNTRIES IN SOUTH AMERICA
Also here's the article on my visa experiences by crossing Peru, Chile and Bolivia border. I was also able to get my CHILE visa while in Peru and Panama visa while in Costa Rica.
Peru – Not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
According to the list, you can only get 90 days, but in reality, you can get 183 days on arrival. You just need to mention that to the immigration official. They might ask you for a return ticket but if you don’t have one just tell them that you will be traveling by land to Bolivia or Ecuador. In Peru, there’s no Student visa nor Volunteer visa so if you plan to travel here for volunteering purposes then don’t worry, just arrive at the airport, and you’ll be fine. You can also renew it, one quick visa run to Bolivia or Ecuador would be fine!
For work permit in Peru, it's quite a long process (3 to 6 months). First, you have to get a Permiso para pirma de contrata (Permit to sign a contract on a tourist visa) from there you can start discussing with the company the requirements to process your work permit.
Bolivia – Not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
You can only stay a maximum of 90 days per year, although you can apply for a five-year multiple entry tourist visas.
Brazil – Not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
We entered by land from the Colombia (Leticia) - Brazil (Tabatinga) land border. Please prepare your yellow fever vaccine if you will be entering the Amazon region. It's free to enter and no other questions nor requirements!
Colombia – Not required for a stay of up to 180 days.
You can only get 90 days visa on arrival which is also renewable for another 90 days. Yay! This is where we plan to move to start our Central America backpacking trip next year. I got 90 days tourist visa after entering in Cartagena via Ave Maria Sailing boat. You can pay extra $37 if you decide to extend your visa up to 6 months!
Ecuador – Not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
I've been to Cuenca, Ecuador whereas we crossed the border at 2 AM and luckily, the immigration office is open 24 hours. It's quite cold here compared to the coast of Peru. They only use US Dollars as their currency, and they'll give you 90 days free visa on arrival!
Chile – Visa Required for Filipinos
I got my Chilean visa twice - one was a 90-day visa that I got in Arequipa, Peru in 2014 (story here) and the other one last week (November 11, 2016) here in London where there were more requirements but I was only able to get a 30-day visa approved. I will be writing more details soon!
Venezuela - Visa Required for Filipinos
Last November 15, I was granted a 1-year multiple entry visas to Venezuela at the Venezuelan Consulate in London! I paid around 60$ and some basic requirements! My visa got approved within a day!
Argentina - Visa Required for Filipinos
The most expensive visa ever, it cost me 190$ for the visa fees + expedite cost! I had to do an interview with the Consul and submit all the required documents and bank statement copies from the bank (online statements weren't accepted). I was granted a 30-day visa!
COUNTRIES IN NORTH & CENTRAL AMERICA
Belize – Visa required
Filipino passport holders are required to have a visa to enter Belize, but if you have a valid UK visa or USA residency, then you can enter Belize.
USA – Visa required
A lot of people were asking me how I got my USA Tourist Visa while on a long-term around the world journey. I got mine while on a tourist stamp in Bogota, Colombia, not in my home country (Philippines) and it was a smooth process. But I had to justify to the Consul why I was applying in South America and why I needed the USA visa. I was granted a 10-year of multiple entry visas after the interview! Now, I'm enjoying our USA travels, and it opened a lot of opportunities for me and our travel blog.
Guatemala – Visa required
The immigration gave us a three-month visa (I have a Philippines passport with USA visa, so I was no longer required to have a Guatemala visa)
Honduras – Visa required
We crossed the border by land, and the Immigration official gave us two months visa (we paid $3 to enter, though!). Philippines passport holders have required a visa unless you have valid USA/Schengen visa.
Mexico – Visa-free for holders of valid USA visa entering Mexico through the USA
I have a Philippines passport with a valid US Tourist visa, so when we arrived, the immigration official gave me 180 days free passport stamp!
Costa Rica – Not required for a stay of up to 30 days
I got a 90 days visa on arrival, but you will need to show your Yellow Fever vaccine stamp booklet!
Nicaragua – $50 for a 30-day Visa-on-arrival
Here's my personal story account on my facebook page.
Panama – $85 for a pre-approved visa at the Embassy.
El Salvador - Visa Required
We entered El Salvador by land from Guatemala and since I have my USA tourist visa on my Philippines passport then visa not required. The odd thing, they won't stamp your passport by land border crossing, they'll only do it if you arrive at the airport.
COUNTRIES IN THE CARIBBEAN
Cuba – Visa or Tourist Card is required
Philippines passport holders are required to get an entry tourist visa. A tourist card is necessary for you to enter Cuba. All foreign tourists traveling to Cuba require a Cuba Visa or Cuba tourist card, with the exception of a select few countries, such as Russia, who are historically ‘politically friendly’ with Cuba.
Read this article on how I got my Cuba Tourist Card - Cuba Travel Guide for Filipinos and British Passport Holders
Visa was not required because of my USA tourist visa.
Turks and Caicos
Visa was not required because of my USA tourist visa.
US Virgin Island
Visa was not required because of my USA tourist visa.
COUNTRIES IN EUROPE
I've been to Turkey on four different trips! One time was when I had to submit all the documents at the Turkish Embassy in Kuwait and the other three times was when I applied for my visa online, I was eligible for the e-visa service because of my valid USA tourist visa. I only paid $15, and it's already valid for 30 days Single Entry.
I applied for my Croatia visa while we were in Los Angeles, California and had to submit the following documents: photocopy of my passport, photocopy of important visa (UK Visa, US Visa), hotel reservation booking in Croatia, flight booking, travel insurance and bank statement (I had to submit my Paypal account too to prove my regular income stream). After that I had to wait for 2 weeks before I got my a call that my 15 day visa was approved for a fixed period of date (May 21, 2016, to June 5, 2016), after that call, I returned to the Consulate with my passport, and they stamped it within 10 minutes.
United Kingdom - Tourist and Marriage Visa
My Tourist Visa (6 months) - I was able to get my UK Tourist Visa even though I didn’t apply it in my home country (The Philippines), doesn’t have a “stable” job as I was backpacking and on a 3- month Business Visa in Vietnam which will expire in a month’s time when I applied for my UK Tourist Visa, and all application must be sent to Bangkok for processing and approval. Here are the requirements and process on how I got my first UK tourist visa in Hanoi.
My Marriage Visa (6 months) - After submitting all the requirements in Los Angeles, we paid extra to have my application a “Priority Service” because normal application takes around 2 to 3 weeks and we only have three weeks in California before our Caribbean cruise. I think we ended up paying almost $500 for my Marriage visa application, but the good news is that, after two days of waiting. I got an email notifying me that my visa application was approved and on Friday (March 18), my Passport with my 6 Months UK MARRIAGE VISA was delivered to our friends’ house in Santa Barbara, California. I'll be writing a detailed article about this soon.
I applied for my Schengen visa at the Netherlands Embassy in London, and it took us 3-weeks of waiting to learn that I was only granted for a month-long visa instead of the 90-day that we requested. I applied as a spouse of an EU citizen because I applied two days after our wedding, it didn't cost me anything.
COUNTRIES IN AFRICA
Morocco - Visa Free for 30 Days
We arrived in Morocco from Georgia via Germany, and when we arrived at the immigration, no question was asked, and I was already granted 30 Days of Entry Stamp.
For regular/ordinary Filipino passport holders, you may refer to the visa policy below. It’s a compilation of both visa-free and visa-requiring countries. Haven’t been to all these countries yet but hoping to cross them ALL out soon! Please don’t forget to check the Embassy websites as well before traveling to make sure the information are correct and up to date.
Afghanistan – Visa required
Angola – Visa required
Antigua and Barbuda – Visa required
Argentina – Visa required
Armenia – Visa required
Aruba – Visa required
Australia – Visa required
Austria – Schengen visa required
Azerbaijan – Visa required
Bahamas – Visa required
Bahrain – Visa required [visa on arrival may be obtained by foreign nationals, including Filipinos, residing in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States]
Bangladesh – Visa required
Barbados – Visa required
Belarus – Visa required
Belgium – Schengen visa required
Belize – Visa required
Benin – Visa required
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Visa required
Botswana – Visa required
Bulgaria – Visa required
Burkina Faso – Visa required
Cameroon – Visa required
Canada – Visa required
Cape Verde – Visa required
Central African Republic – Visa required
Chile – Visa required
China – Visa required
Cote d’Ivoire – Visa required
Croatia – Visa required
Cuba – Visa required
Cyprus – Visa required
Czech Republic – Schengen visa required (multiple entry if traveling to other Schengen-member countries)
Denmark – Schengen visa required
Djibouti – Visa required
Dominica – Visa required
Dominican Republic – Visa required
Egypt – Visa required
El Salvador – Visa required
Equatorial Guinea – Visa required
Eritrea – Visa required
Estonia – Visa required
Ethiopia – Visa required
Finland – Schengen visa required
France – Visa required
French Polynesia – Visa required
New Caledonia – Visa required
Wallis and Futuna – Visa required
Saint Pierre and Miquelon – Visa required
Mayotte – Visa required
French Southern and Antarctic Territories – Visa required
French Overseas Departments:
Réunion – Visa required
French Guiana – Visa required
Guadeloupe – Visa required
Martinique – Visa required
Gabon – Visa required
Gambia – Visa required
Georgia – Visa upon arrival for stay up to 90 days
Germany – Schengen visa required
Ghana – Visa required
Greece – Schengen or national visa required
Grenada – Visa required
Guam – US visa required / Visa required
Guatemala – Visa-free for holders of valid USA, Canadian, and Schengen visa
Guinea – Visa required
Guinea-Bissau – Visa required
Guyana – Visa required
Holy See (Vatican) – Visa-free (for Filipinos who are already in the Italian territory, otherwise a Schengen visa must be applied first in order to enter Italy)
Honduras – Visa required
Hungary – Schengen visa required
Iceland – Schengen visa required
India – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days, you need to pre-apply online (limited only to New Delhi and Mumbai airports)
Iran – Visa upon arrival valid for seven days (Filipinos must have with them copy of their hotel booking and contact number of their hotel; must be able to provide the name and contact number of the person inviting them for a visit)
Ireland – Visa required
Italy – Schengen visa required
Jamaica – Visa required
Japan – Visa required
Jordan – Visa required
Kazakhstan – Visa required
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of – Visa required
Korea, Republic of – Visa required (Visa-free to Jeju Island only)
Kosovo – Filipinos are discouraged from visiting Kosovo as PH does not recognize said country.
Kuwait – Visa required
Kyrgyzstan – Visa required
Laos – Visa-free for 30 days
Latvia – Visa required
Lebanon – Visa required
Lesotho – Visa required
Liberia – Visa required
Liechtenstein – Schengen visa required
Lithuania – Visa required
Luxembourg – Schengen visa required
Macedonia (former Yugoslav Republic) – Visa required(national visa or a Schengen C visa)
Maldives – Visa upon arrival for 30 days(provided that the Filipino national has a valid passport, return/onward plane ticket, and enough funds to cover the expenses for duration of stay)
Mexico, the Federated States of – Visa required (Visa-free for holders of valid USA visa entering Mexico through the USA)
Moldova – Visa required
Monaco – Visa required
Montenegro – Visa required
Morocco – Visa-free for 90 days(for temporary visit)
Mozambique – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days
Namibia – Visa required
Nauru – Visa upon arrival(provided the applicant has a visa for his/her next destination)
Netherlands – Schengen visa required
New Zealand – Visa required
Nicaragua – Visa required
Nigeria – Visa required
Northern Mariana Islands – US visa required
Norway – Schengen visa required
Oman – Visa required
Pakistan – Visa required
Palau – Visa upon arrival for 30 days(provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
Palestine – Filipinos who wish to travel to the State of Palestine should seek clearance from the Israeli Government (due to the Israeli occupation, the State of Palestine does not control borders, therefore does not control visa applications and entry requirements)
Panama – Visa required
Paraguay – Visa required
Poland – Schengen visa required
Portugal – Schengen visa required
Puerto Rico – Visa required
Qatar – Visa required
Romania – Visa required
Russia – Visa required
Saint Kitts and Nevis – Visa required
Saint Lucia – Visa required
Samoa – Visa-free for 60 days
Sao Tome and Principe – Visa required
Saudi Arabia – Visa required
Senegal – Visa required
Serbia – Visa required
Sierra Leone – Visa required
Slovak Republic – Visa required
Slovenia – Visa required
Solomon Islands – Visa required
South Africa – Visa required
Spain – Schengen visa required
Sri Lanka – Visa required
Sudan – Visa required
Swaziland – Visa required
Sweden – Visa required
Switzerland – Schengen visa required
Taiwan – Visa-free for 30 days Provided that: (1) The Filipino national has never worked in Taiwan as a blue collar worker; and (2) Currently holding valid visas or permanent resident cards of U.S.A., Canada, Japan, U.K., Schengen, Australia and New Zealand.”
Tajikistan – Visa required
Thailand – Visa-free for valid 30 days
Timor-Leste – Visa required
Togo – Visa required
Tonga – Visa required
Trinidad and Tobago – Visa required
Tunisia – Visa required
Turkey – Visa required
Turkmenistan – Visa required
Tuvalu – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
Ukraine – Visa required
United Arab Emirates – Visa required
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Visa required
British overseas territories
Anguilla – Visa required
British Virgin Islands – Visa required
Cayman Islands – Visa required
Gibraltar – Visa required
Montserrat – Visa required
Pitcairn Islands – Visa required
Helena – Visa required
Bermuda – Visa required
United States of America (USA) – Visa required
Uruguay – Visa required
S. Virgin Islands – Visa required
Uzbekistan – Visa required
Vanuatu – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
Venezuela – Visa required
Zambia – Visa upon arrival valid for three months (tourism)Visa upon arrival valid for one month (business)
Zimbabwe – Visa required
Compiled by: Visa Division, Office of Consular Affairs
If you have any questions, feel free to comment!
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