Visas and Travel Insurance 101

Hey everyone!

As I write this we are now 52 days away from peacing out on life and travelling 29 or so hours to the other side of the world! Less than two months you guys!! And believe it or not, I’m actually all ready to go. Everything is now booked (hotels, flights, train rides, day trips); the only thing I haven’t booked is our ferry rides as I hear it’s cheaper to just buy them at the piers. I have been doing some online shopping and my pile of “things to bring” in our spare room is getting bigger and bigger every day. Packing is going to be a huge challenge. I plan on doing a very detailed blog post (maybe even a video!?!?) on my packing day when that time comes. I am not sure if my travel partner is ready to go yet, but I’m sure my dad  mom will have everything prepared soon. 🙂

I want to share my personal success about buying travel insurance for this journey. I gathered some quotes here and there and my price range was looking between $150 – $250 for a 27 day package for this trip. Now, I’m talking emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation, baggage delay or loss, the whole shebang. I am not cheaping out on a potential accident or backpack loss (please universe: save us from this hassle). Anyways, positive vibes only ✌… Andrew’s mom suggested I look into my credit card travel insurance and boy am I glad I did! Long story short I have amazing travel coverage already for everything that I need. Thankfully I used my American Express to book absolutely everything for our trip and it will all be covered in case something happens. My insurance covers me for 25 days max, so I only had to purchase a 2 day top up as my trip is 2 extra days of travelling (Thunder Bay to Winnipeg and back). Guess how much those two extra days were!? $6.96 !!! Sold!! I’m so glad that Heather suggested this as it saved me about $200. This credit card has been a life saver for this trip as it’s also saved me about $450 in free travel rewards so far. Success! Find out more here.

My dad, Corey, relaxing at camp

Next I want to talk about the process for acquiring our visas. I found that when researching about them that there wasn’t a whole lot of information online for Canadian passport holders. So, hopefully this will help you out if you are planning a trip to Asia in the future. The process for Thailand and Cambodia is quite simple, but Vietnam is a bit more complicated.

THAILAND VISAS

Thailand Visas are easy and free. Thais want you to spend money in their country, which is good because that’s what I plan on doing! 🙂 If you are staying less than 30 days, you do not have to do anything, really. All you need is a Canadian passport with at least 6 months validity and proof of an airline ticket leaving the country within 30 days. When you land in Thailand (in our case, Bangkok), you obtain a Visa-on-arrival which grants you 30 days in the country, and this resets every time you re-enter Thailand. You may be asked to prove that you have enough money for living expenses (10,000 Thai Baht, or about $375 CAD per person), but I don’t think that is a normal occurrence. If you wish to stay longer than 30 days, you can apply for a tourist visa which is $40 CAD. Find more information about that here.

CAMBODIA VISAS

Cambodia visas are quite simple as well, they just cost you a bit. When flying into Cambodia (Phnom Penh or Siem Reap), you can obtain a 30 day tourist visa. You have to bring with you two 2×2 passport photos (which we needed to get for our Vietnam visas anyway- see below). You can pay extra to get these pictures taken at the airport, but you can be proactive like us and have them ready to go. The cost for the Cambodia visa is $35 US, not too bad. Unfortunately, we are only going to be in Cambodia for a total of 3 days. I wish we could make better use of this 30 day visa! If you wish to stay in Cambodia for more than 30 days, the visa must be renewed and this can only be extended once. While reading various blogs and researching online about this, I have gathered that when entering Cambodia via land at a border crossing, there is the potential to be scammed and charged way more than the set $35 US price, so be aware of this! For more information, go to this website.

Very exciting piece of mail!

VIETNAM VISAS

Now, Vietnam is the hardest visa to get and also the priciest. I’m a little bitter inside about this one, but I assure you I will get over it when we are relaxing on our cruise ship on Halong Bay. So, first of all, Vietnam visas need to be processed and obtained before entering the country. You technically can get one there, but it is for emergency situations only, and why do it the hard way when you can just do it the right way! If you type in “vietnam visa” into Google tons of pages come up that will process your visa for you (called an e-visa), but I suggest that you just go right through the Vietnam Embassy. The E-visas end up costing you more because these companies charge you a fee to process it. The official place is the Embassy of Vietnam. You can apply for a Vietnamese visa by mail, in person, or by email. If you do it in person, you have to go to the actual Embassy in Ottawa; if you do it by mail, you actually have to mail them your physical Canadian passport. I did it by email and it was very easy! You fill out an application form and a payment form, send a scan of your Canadian passport, and send a scan of your 2×2 passport photo (which we need to bring for our Cambodia visas anyway). I received our visas by Express Post 5 days later! A pretty quick process, but it took us a tiny bit longer because my mom had to scan things and send them to me first…something you get used to after living 9 hours away for 6 years. The WORST part about the Vietnam visas was the price. For our single entry visa, it is $75 US each plus $25 US for shipping, and also a 3% fee for credit card processing. All together it was $229.46 CAD, or $115 CAD each and the greatest part is that we will be in Vietnam for just 3 nights. 😦

Our Vietnam Visas! (very flattering)

Vietnam is definitely going to be the most expensive piece of our trip with the visa cost and the cost of our cruise. We could have planned this differently, but we are doing more of a “luxury backpacking” trip and staying in some pretty nice hotels. Every hotel that we have booked has a pool, all have air conditioning, all have two beds, and most include breakfast and airport transportation. We are not roughing it in hostels like most backpackers do. For the price of hotels in Asia, it was worth it for us to pay the extra $20-30 CAD per night for all of these amenities. My dad also has a sleep machine for obstructive sleep apnea so a power outlet beside the bed is a must in our case.

That’s about it for today! If you want to be notified when there is a new post, go here to the bottom right of the page and click on “Follow Us!“. Once we are actually on our trip, I plan on doing a post every 1-2 days to keep our family and friends in the loop. Also, my sister has made me a travel journal which I am soooo excited about! You can see it here on her blog!

Thanks so much for reading!

xoxo Hales

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