Digital Nomad VISA Options: Thailand, Bali Indonesia, Vietnam – 2019

This one is long time comin! As always, this is meant to be a discussion, not a lecture so, share your tips & tricks!

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And of course, this video applies for USA Passports and other major countries like Canada, Singapore Australia, UK, nearly all European countries, Korea, Japan, etc.

Check which countries your Passport gets Visa free on arrival on the Passport Index. 

The main two philosophical points I want people who ask me to understand is: 1) there is NO limit to the amount of time you can be a tourist in this world, and 2) there is no limit to the number of times you can visit a country as a tourist (that I know of).

So, as a digital nomad, or someone who "slow-travels" a lot, its just a matter of renewing the tourist visa when it comes time. This can be done via a flight or bus to another country, then go back if you want.

Here are the 10 Points I make in the video:

A few things to know first...

1 - There’s no limit to travel! There's no law against being a full-time tourist. Ano no limit to the # of times you can visit a country.

2 - There’s no laws against working remotely! As long as ur not working for a local company, aka doing business there - ur not technically working in that country. Working remotely is just working virtually in another place.

3 - Thailand:

  • You get 30 days free on arrival without having to do anything. To extend by another 30 days, bring $60 (1,900 THB) with your passport to the immigration office, take a queue number, and they stamp you in a matter of hours. Located here in Chiang Mai and here in Bangkok. The Extension forms are there, as well as a place to make 1 copy of your passport, and take passport head photos. So you just need bring your passport and money (or ATM card).
  • After the 60 days, you do Border runs and come back.
    • Cheapest: Day Bus to Myanmar from BKK or CM
    • Or Flights relatively cheap to anywhere in the region, like Saigon, KL, Penang, Malaysia, or anywhere. I usually make at least a weekend trip out of it.
  • Update Q1 2019:  Denied for too many visa-exempt entries – I've heard of 2 people I know get DENIED on entry with visa-exempt, and sent back on the plane to Malaysia/Vietnam, where they were flying in form, because of too many entries on exempt. One of them was already given a last warning about this on the bus-run back from the Laos border. So on your 'last warning', there must be a mark in your passport indicating No More visa-exempt entries.
  • Another friend also arriving at BKK got pulled aside and was given a last warning. Basically they say that if you want to stay longer, you must apply for a longer-term visa.
  • Someone's also told me they asked for proof of 20,000 baht cash on arrival ($630), so if you want to be extra safe, withdraw this at the ATMs before going in.
  • Tip: "I have money and I like to travel".. No need to explain in detail what you do etc. You definitely aren't 'working' in the country if you do work remotely.  Someone said they say "I have money and I like to travel", which makes sense because this is perfectly legal. If you have money, you can largely do what you like in this world.

Longer term Thailand visa options:

  • Extended Tourist Visa: Can pre apply for 3 or 6 mo tourist visa, at a Thai Embassy outside of Thailand. I did this when I first came in 2014.
  • Education Visa (apply to Study Thai)
    • Can get 1 year - look into it
  • Combat Visa (apply to Train Muay Thai)
    • Can get 1 year - look into it

4 - Indonesia (Bali)

  • You get 30 days visa-exempt, free on arrival without having to do anything. Do this if you plan on not staying more than 30 days.
  • If you want 60 days, you must go to the Visa On Arrival booth upon arrival, before walking thru immigration, and pay $35 (500k IDR). They take any currency, and there's an ATM next to it. Then they give you a large actual Visa sticker in your passport.
  • Now your 30-day actual Visa is now extendable by 30 more days. Do this at least 10 days before it expires. The agency I went do (visaagentbali.com - in Berawa Canggu) handles this for a 1.0M IDR ($70) fee, and you just have to go down to the Denpasar Immigration once, instead of 3 times if you do it yourself.

The other 2 Visa Options:

  • Social Visa
    • Gets you 6-months single-entry.
    • The Agency I went to (visaagentbali.com - in Berawa Canggu) handles this for a 3.2M ($225) service fee, including 400k sponsor. It’s technically 60 days, extendable 4 times by 30 days. Just the 1st extension you go to immigration office.
    • After arranging it with the Visa agency in Bali, you go to the Indonesian Embassy in SG or KL (or elsewhere but these are the quickest they say) and pay $180 Singapore dollars ($132 usd) for the Social Visa application. Same 1 day service. Fly to Singapore in morning. Finish in afternoon.
  • “Business Exploration"
      • 1 year multiple entry. Max 60 day at a time.
      • 5.0M service fee ($350) at this agency.
      • Provide business bank statement - from last 3 months. No minimum balance.  Show a RT ticket. Plus Embassy fee, they’re not sure amount.
      • Bali Agency arranges the paperwork, then you go to the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore or KL or elsewhere to apply for it.
      • The concept is you are exploring business opportunities in Indonesia. The agency called it a Business Visa but I'm calling it a "Business Exploration" visa, because it has nothing to do with you having or doing business here already.

5 - Vietnam.

  • Before going, you MUST Pre-Apply Online for the 30 or 60 days Tourist Visa on Arrival, and pay a small fee online, like under $100. I've used Visa4Vietnam.com multiple times.
  • Not extendable. If you want to stay more, do visa runs.

6 - VISA RUNS! The day before your visa is up, I usually FLY to some country. Or you you BUS to nearest border (I call this a 'border run').  

7 - Places to Fly: Round trip flights around Southeast Asia can be around $200 or less. To places like Saigon, Bangkok, Laos, Penang Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bali. Even Korea or Tokyo for not that much.

8 - Where to Bus: Round trip day busses around Southeast Asia between Vietnam, Camboda, Thailand , Myanmar and Laos for as cheap as $100 round trip, including any arrival Visa fees such as the small fee on arrival at Myanmar and Cambodia.

  • Bangkok: Day bus to Myanmar
  • Chiang Mai: Day bus to Myanmar

9 - The details can change from time to time , and can be slightly different depending on your passport. So do your own research, but it’s not rocket science.

10 - Check below for a more tips & recommended resources!

Share your tips in the comments & I'll add them!

Extra points to consider:

- Immigration does have the right to refuse tourists on arrival who they suspect as 'having no money and may be seeking work'. (Beg-backers?) I believe this is the main concern of most countries.Same situation as tourists visiting the US. Even when pre-applying for 3-month or 6-month tourist visas for Thailand, proof of a bank statement at least $1000 is required (I think thats the #, could be more). Tip: carry 20,000 baht cash.

An world traveler once told me in the comments... "If some immigration asks me why I travel so much, I tell them: Because I have money and I like to Travel!" ... Simple as that! I found that refreshing.. It's key to understand the philosophy that there's no limit to amount you can travel, as long as you have money.

- Tip: Keep proof of having at least $1000 in your bank account, like on your mobile app. I have heard of only ONE singular first hand story of immigration randomly asking someone to show proof of $ in his bank account upon arrival at the airport back from a visa run. For whatever reason, he wasn't able to show this, and they sent him back on a flight to Malaysia.

- Pre-applying for tourist visas: This is done by bringing (or mailing) your passport to a Thai (or Vietnam or Indonesia etc) embassy, along with the application form for an extended Tourist Visa. For example, before initially coming to Chiang Mai in 2014 we sent our passports in the mail with the filled out application for 6-month tourist visa to the LA Thai Embassy. They process it and mail it back to you in a couple weeks. This is an option that will basically require you to do less visa runs. Same basic process for most countries.

More to come! Share your tips & I'll add them!

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