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 fund our travels? Here’s the list of jobs we’ve done on the road and here’s the story – basically we Teach English and do Ayurveda Massage Therapy wherever we go!
- 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. (Related article: How to find cheap hostels to stay around the world!)
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
December 2017 Update – I finally accomplished my goal of visiting 100 countries in all 7 continents including Antarctica! YAY! We just bought a sailboat and starting in 2018, we will be sailing full-time.. check out our S/V Empress here.
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.
Related Article: Best Hostels in Armenia
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!
Related Article: Simple Guide to a Quick Trip to Baku, Azerbaijan
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.
Related Articles: Israel Travel Guide for Filipinos with Philippines Passport and Best Hostels in Israel
Laos – Free Visa can be obtained upon arrival for a stay up to 30 days
Related Articles: Border Crossing and Visa Requirements in Laos – Vietnam via Nam Kan Border, 7 Awesome Things to do in Vang Vieng, Laos, 7 Awesome Things to do in Vientiane, Laos and Ultimate List of The Best Hostels in Laos.
Malaysia – Not required for a stay of up to 30 days
Related Articles: 7 Awesome Things To Do in Malacca, Malaysia, Visit Kota Kinabalu, where dreams come true!, 7 Awesome Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Best Hostels in Malaysia and Best Luxury Hotels in Malaysia
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 the State of Palestine. Visa or any Identification card were not asked of 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.
Related Articles: Best Hostels in Vietnam – From $6, Weekend Warrior’s Guide to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Motorbike Trip from Hanoi to Hoi An, Vietnam and Backpacker’s Guide to Hanoi, Vietnam on a Budget
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!
Related Article: Best Hostels in Ecuador – From $8
Chile – Visa Required for Filipinos
I got my Chilean visa twice – one was a 90-day visa that I got in Arequipa, Peru in 2014 (story here) and the other one last week (November 11, 2016) here in London where there were more requirements but I was only able to get a 30-day visa approved. I will be writing more details soon!
Venezuela – Visa Required for Filipinos
Last November 15, I was granted a 1-year multiple entry visa to Venezuela at the Venezuelan Consulate in London! I paid around 60$ 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.
Related Article: USA Visa Application Tips for Filipinos
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)
Related Article: Best Hostels in Guatemala
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.
Related Article: Best Hostels in Honduras
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.
Related Articles: Best Hostels in Nicaragua and Action Sports Resort in Nicaragua – Building Dreams
Panama – $85 for a pre-approved visa at the Embassy.
Related Articles: Best Hostels in Panama and San Blas Sailing – Panama to Cartagena via the San Blas Islands
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.
Related Article: Best Hostels in El Salvador
COUNTRIES IN THE CARIBBEAN FOR FILIPINO PASSPORT HOLDERS
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 if going on a cruise.
Related Article: Best Luxury Hotels in the Bahamas
Turks and Caicos
Visa was not required because of my USA tourist visa if going on a cruise.
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.
Related Article: Share Istria – A Daily Diary of our week in Istria, Croatia
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 for 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 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.
EXTRA TIP: Many visa applications require you to show a full travel itinerary and a verifiable flight reservation in order to process your visa application, but why would you pay for a flight if you’re not sure that you’ll be able to use it? With Visa Reservation you can get a flight itinerary, with an unlimited number of flights.
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.
Related Articles: Best Hostels in Morocco, Best Luxury Hotels in Morocco, Luxury Desert Camping with Sahara Experience, Morocco and 10 Authentic Food and Drinks we tried in Morocco with Marrakech Food Tour
Related Visa Articles:
- How to Apply for US Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for Australian Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for Schengen Visa
- How to Apply for Chinese Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for East African Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for Japanese Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for South Korean Tourist Visa
- How to Apply for South African Tourist Visa
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 is 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 Territories:
- 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
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW!