Saturday, November 8, 2014

Visa-friendly countries in Asia for Filipinos

Are you dreaming of your next trip abroad? If you are, we’re guessing one of the first things you’ll be checking out is whether the country you plan to visit requires a visa.

Securing a visa, or documentation showing you are authorized to enter the country for which it is issued, can get complicated at times. Requirements and costs vary with each country, and the whole process can involve a bit (or a lot) of waiting. Because of this, many Filipinos usually opt for visa-friendly destinations. According to Henley & Partners, a company that monitors global visa regulations, Philippine passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 58 countries. This was reported in their 2013 Visa Restrictions Index, which ranked countries based on their citizens’ travel freedom. The Philippines came in at number 69. Of the countries that allow Filipinos to enter with no visa or with a visa on arrival, a good chunk of them are in Asia. Leading the pack in this region are the nine other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with which the Philippines shares no-visa travel agreements. 

So we’ll begin Skyscanner's three-part series on visa-friendly countries by first looking at some popular and emerging tourist destinations across Asia.

Read our second and third part of the series here: Visa friendly countries in the Americas for Filipinos and Visa-friendly countries in Africa and Oceania for Filipinos

1. Brunei

Brunei grants Filipinos visa-free access for 14 days. Take the opportunity to discover the cultural and environmental treasures of this oil-rich nation. Visit the majestic mosques and scenic water villages of its capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. And explore one of the most diverse and pristine rain forests on earth, found in the Ulu Temburong National Park.

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Brunei is a beautiful country laden with majestic mosques and scenic views.

2. Cambodia

Cambodia does not require visas for trips fewer than or up to 21 days. So nothing’s stopping you from seeing the iconic Angkor Wat up close, along with the other temple ruins of the Khmer empire. The nation’s capital, Phnom Penh, takes you on a bittersweet journey from Tuol Sleng, a museum chronicling the Khmer Rouge years, to the splendid architecture of the Royal Palace. For some sun, sand and sea, head for the beaches clustered in Sihanoukville.

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Royal Palace at Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

3. Hong Kong

Hong Kong allows visa-free entry for trips not exceeding 14 days. Make the most out of your visit by catching the breathtaking harbor and skyline views, riding the historic Peak Tram and famous Star Ferry, and exploring the vibrant shopping scene—from the luxurious boutiques to the budget-friendly street markets. If you’re traveling with your kids, you might want to spend some time too at Hong Kong’s large world-class theme parks.

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Read more: 6 things to do in Hong Kong

The skyline of Hong Kong is still one of the most beautiful in the world.

4. India

India issues Philippine passport holders a 30-day visa upon arrival at the airports of Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Kochi and Bangalore. This comes with a $60 fee per person. From there, you can go on to explore India’s majestic religious, historic and cultural attractions, experience the lively street markets and colorful festivals, or simply marvel at the Taj Mahal.

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Visit India and discover the magnificent Taj Mahal along with its other beautiful destinations.

5. Indonesia

Visa-free travel to Indonesia covers 30 days. For a relaxing getaway, go straight to Bali and bask in its stunning white-sand beaches and fine resorts. Bali also features dense jungles, volcanic peaks and hot springs, in case you want to see more of the island. Then there’s Lombok, known for its gently rolling hills and great snorkeling and diving sites. Do note, however, that foreign nationals cannot visit the restricted areas of Maluku, Poso and Irian Jaya without special authorization.

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Read more: 6 reasons to visit Bali, Indonesia 

Pura Ulu Danau Lake temple bali

Pura Ulu Danau Lake temple bali 

6. Israel

Filipinos do not need a visa to jet off to Israel, although the length of their stay should be within 90 days. A journey to Israel can bring you from haunting deserts, cliffs and caves to medieval bazaars, castle ruins and even surf-friendly beaches. Along with diverse attractions, the country now has an array of first-rate hotels, resorts and restaurants.

Travel advisory: Observe a high degree of caution when traveling to Israel in light of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Skyscanner advises against travel in the regions of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip as it continues to be affected by the ongoing conflict. This advisory is issued at the time of publication of this article.

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Israel's development through the years has paved the way for even more beautiful must-see spots in the country.

7. Laos

Laos offers visa-free privileges to those who plan to stay for 30 days, at the most. If you do get to visit this country, make room in your itinerary for its golden Buddhist stupas, centuries-old monasteries and French colonial towns. Ecotourism is big in Laos right now, so you can also go rock climbing, trekking, caving, kayaking, rafting or tubing.

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The Buddha Park is a sculpture park located 25km southeast from Vientiane, Laos. 


8. Malaysia

Filipinos can enjoy a no-visa stay in Malaysia for 30 days. Have fun touring the skyscrapers and colonial buildings in Kuala Lumpur and partying at the hip bars and cafes of Bangsar. Also visit Malaysia’s grand Buddhist temples and explore its ancient rainforests. Don’t forget to try out the hawker stands for a taste of the local favorites.

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Read more: 5 Best places to stay in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city of Malaysia, view with water reflection.

9. Maldives

Filipinos can travel to Maldives without a getting a visa prior to arrival. On arrival to the island nation, a 30-day visa is issued. It is advisable to have a hotel reservation ready when travelling to this breath-taking destination in Asia. White sand beaches, warm weather and turquoise reefs make it an idyllic holiday. It is time to book your tickets now.

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Live the island life in the Maldives

10. Nepal

Known to be one of the world’s most adventurous destinations, Filipinos can avail the visa on arrival facility to visit Nepal, home to world’s largest mountain ranges. Visitors can enjoy the extravagance of the ornate palaces, well-crafted pagodas and monumental stupas in the Kathmandu valley or step into the pristine beauty of Pokhara, with its serene lakes and verdant gardens.  Filipinos’ get visas on arrival for 150 days and their passports must have at least 6 months validity on entry.

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Climb Mt Everest and be a legend forever

11. Myanmar (Burma)

Visa-free travel to Myanmar started in January 2014, for visits of up to 14 days. Although the country is just starting to open up to the world, a host of attractions already awaits tourists, from religious and ancient sites to nature trails and beaches. There’s also much to see and experience in its big cities, namely Yangon and Mandalay.

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Ancient temple in Bagan, Myanmar after sunset.

12. Singapore

Singapore’s travel policy lets Filipinos visit visa-free for up to 30 days. The country has been drawing more and more tourists thanks in large part to recently added attractions such as Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa and Gardens by the Bay. Of course, its diverse dining scene and upscale malls and hotels are still big crowd-pleasers.

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Read more: Things to do in Singapore that Pinoys love

merlion singapore

Merlion is Singapore's symbol located in Marina Bay


13. Sri Lanka

The visa travel arrangement between Sri Lanka and the Philippines allows for a maximum 30-day stay. If you’re looking for a destination that’s rich in cultural and natural wonders but is affordable and uncrowded, dare to venture into Sri Lanka. Small as it is, the country hosts eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, shelters oodles of elephants, and boasts of endless white beaches and world-class surf and dive spots.

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Sunrise in the jungles of Sri Lanka

14. Thailand

Filipinos can fly to Thailand without a visa and visit for a maximum of 30 days. If you enter its borders by land (from Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia), you’re allowed a 15-day stay. Either way, you’re in for a treat. From opulent palaces, gleaning temples and ancient ruins to breathtaking beaches and unique culinary adventures, Thailand has much to offer.

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Read more: 6 Awesome Hangouts in Bangkok

The Temple of Ayuthaya in Thailand is just one of its many wonders.

15. Vietnam

Visa exemption rules in Vietnam permit trips of up to 21 days. During your visit, explore its booming cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, and their colonial architecture. Royal tombs and pagodas and a historic port can be found in the central provinces. Vietnam also boasts stunning karst mountains and limestone islands, so try to catch a glimpse of those as well.

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The Yen stream all the way Huong Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam.

These are just some of the countries in Asia that allow visa-friendly stays for Philippine passport holders. Destinations in Europe and the Americas offering similar privileges will be featured in the second and third parts of this series.

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