I am traveling to Southeast Asia for 3 months. I have only booked an arrival flight (Singapore) and departure flight (Bangkok), and plan to see Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I am hoping to keep my itinerary somewhat flexible so I can stay longer in places I enjoy and move on from places that I don't enjoy as much.
I have been reading about Visas and understand countries ask for proof of departure - either the airline that you are flying in on, or else at the border when crossing into a new country. It seems like they don't always ask, but do sometimes so I want to be prepared. How do people handle this? Should I just book flights now, and then worse case scenario can pay a change fee? What happens if I am traveling overland, how do I prove that I am going to do so? Buy a train/bus/ferry ticket in advance? I would rather not do any of this and keep my itinerary very flexible, but also do not want to be refused entry upon arrival.
This is all new to me, appreciate any advice or thoughts you can provide!
#1 adaminasia has been a member since 22/7/2013. Posts: 20
I don't think most countries ask. For example at any of the border crossings or customs desks I was at they asked how long I was going to be in the country and where I was going but never asked for proof of onward travel.
My airline company never asked either although I have heard of the odd airline doing so. A person that I talked to who got caught in such a situation found a ticket he could purchase then later easily refund for only a small fee. I find it ridiculous that an airline takes this responsibility as imo it is none of their business but it does happen on occasion.
I wouldn't worry about it if I were you just know you might have to purchase some sort of proof if the odd moron working a desk decides they want to give you grief.
Thanks Geer1, appreciate your response. How would you purchase a flight in that situation if you were standing at the customs desk? From a smart phone? I just wouldn't want to be forced to book a ticket back to the country I was coming from.
Anyone else have any other thoughts on this topic?
#3 adaminasia has been a member since 22/7/2013. Posts: 20
I very highly doubt you would get rejected at customs or border unless you are a known terrorist or something like that lol. These countries have tons of travellers that leave overland and travel with a loose itinerary and they also want the tourism income so it is very unlikely they will turn you away. I haven't actually heard of this happening to anyone although I have heard of airlines creating a fuss.
Just tell them the truth on how you plan on leaving the country(overland to such and such for example) and you won't have any issues at customs or the border.
I'm with Greer. I know it's hard for people to get their heads around coming from the Lands of Rules. But SEA is a get along kind of place. Smile, be friendly to the officials, say your sorry if confronted with a mistake and that you didn't know, and as Greer says, just tell the truth. They are looking for an excuse to cut you some slack if you are nice and respectful to them. Rules here are made to be bent and broken, just don't hurt anyone and don't be obnoxious about it.
In all the border crossings I have made here officials have never done anything other than stamp my passport. Never asked nothing about nothing. They don't care. They want your visa fee and they want to get to the next guy. A quick passport scan to make sure you're not a known psycho and on your way.
Off topic but MADMAC my login is Geer1 not Greer(not sure where you got the other r from). I figured you would notice eventually but it has been a while so figured I might as well mention it lol.
I've read on a few forums that the Airlines have rejected passengers due to them not having a return ticket within 30 days, rather than it being anything to do with Thai customs. I don't want the hassle of sorting out getting a refund when I get to SEA so I'm going to risk it and just bring with me a print out of my itinerary, proof of funds and a winning smile. Hopefully I won't have any problems!
Thanks for your comments! Following up...
What do you mean by "sort that out prior to departure with the ticket agent." My first flight over will be from the USA to Singapore. Are you saying that I should book a flight out from Singapore? Will a train/bus/ferry suffice?
Also, can you address what is meant by "proof of funds"? Should I print out a copy of my bank statement? Take out and display a bunch of cash? Show them my ATM card?
#10 adaminasia has been a member since 22/7/2013. Posts: 20
I figure proof of funds is a print out of what's in my accounts that I'll have access to when I'm away. I've heard that booking onward overland travel won't suffice, that they want you to have an onward flight booked. But maybe someone that has done this all before can clarify. As I'll be travelling from Sri Lanka I'm hoping they won't be so strict on "the rules".
The only time I was asked was when flying from Sabah to Singapore so I'd suggest you do check this out with the airline you are flying to Singapore with in advance. You may need to book a cheap flight out. We managed to talk them round, but it took a while and was no means guaranteed.
I highly doubt they will ask you for proof of funds unless you look like a hobo.
Pretty sure what MADMAC meant was to contact the airline you are flying with and get them to confirm whether or not you need proof of onward travel. If they say you do not make sure you get it in writing somehow.
Yes, I should have been more specific. Contact the airline. My mother had this problem. She went to check in and the lady said "Oh, your return flight is 33 days latter - they won't let you in country."
My mother said "Oh, I am going to go to Laos while there to get 15 more days."
"Well we had better make sure you have a fake ticket showing an earlier return date just in case."
I thought that was funny. Of course Thai immigration never asked for a return ticket and didn't care.
A similar incident happened to us while leaving Manila. We wanted to go on a Cambodia-Thailand-Burma-Laos-Vietnam-Manila route and so wanted to keep our itinerary loose and hadn't purchased a return ticket except for an onward ticket from Bangkok to Yangon. While in the Immigration booth at the airport, we were asked for a return ticket and of course couldn't produce one. We were held for questioning and were able to present our itinerary and onward ticket for Burma. We were however required to purchase a return ticket to Manila in case the immigration officer in Siem Reap will ask for it. We paid a princely sum (compared to the promo fare we got online) for the return flight, and while the officer in Siem Reap did not ask for it, we will likely be able to use the return ticket when we cross the border to Thailand.
#15 redpirate427 has been a member since 2/6/2014. Posts: 11
In your case where you were told to buy a ticket "in case" the imimgration people in SR asked for it - couldn't you have said, "Well, I'll wait to I get to SR and see what they say"?
If you are forced to buy a ticket, then it might be worth paying more for a flexible ticket that allows free cancellation, rather than wrangling for the cheapest one you can find - which probably won't be that cheap anyhow!.
The other thing that you can do is to have a typed up itinerary (fictitious or otherwise) that shows that you plan to leave the country on specific dates, and how (bus/train/boat). It's not "official", obviously, but it shows your intention. And I've heard that it was worked for some people.
I have yet to be asked for proof of exit ticket in SEA, other than on one flight from NZ into SEA. Occasionally I'll buy a $20 Air Asia throwaway ticket when I know that I want to apply for a 2-month visa in Indonesia (they ask for proof then) - but that's usually far enough in advance that I can find a cheap one.
If you are game, I believe there are websites that let you create fake tickets - although I haven't heard if anyone has been successful with them!
Actually I had documents with me: our onward ticket, our 3 versions of itinerary, our email correspondence with all the hotels we were intending to stay in, even the ATM receipt I got at the airport to show proof of funds. But we were held at the immigration control nonetheless and were not allowed to board our flight unless we buy a return ticket. So it was return tickets or miss the flight. So my boyfriend dashed to the ticket counter and bought a year-round ticket that thankfully we could cancel and exchange for a ticket with our actual flight date. When we arrived here in SR, we were stamped through without further questioning. Anyway, I figure we will be able to use the return ticket anyway when we cross the border to Thailand and back to Thailand from Myanmar (after which we will perhaps store it in a travel fund and wait for new promo tickets back home to come up). And I think it was worth the ticket splurge after having read from Travelfish forum that Thai authorities are going to be stricter with entry.
#17 redpirate427 has been a member since 2/6/2014. Posts: 11
P.S. I second Madmac and Geer1 about telling the truth and being respectful. When the authorities in Manila told us that it was the first time they encountered people wanting to travel to several countries on their first trip out, we got scared, but of course we wanted to travel as I wanted to be a proper travel writer and my boyfriend a proper travel photographer (we work online and that's how we funded this trip). So we looked them in the eye, told them the truth, and respected the whole process with meekness that I didn't know I had. We had to make the authorities feel that indeed they had authority over us, that we were at their mercy. It's either that (at least here in Manila) or we would have been further interrogated until we missed the flight.
#18 redpirate427 has been a member since 2/6/2014. Posts: 11