Saturday, 15 November 2008

Southeast Asia Travel Could Get Way Easier


November 14, 2008

The strong pros for visiting Southeast Asia (awesome food, beautiful countries, kind people, cheap) balance out its hardy cons (killer language barrier, suffocating climate, pricey plane travel). Soon, a coalition of countries will tip the scales in the favor of travelers--and we'll be booking our flights right quick.

Last week, delegates from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam came together in Hanoi to talk about creating a five-country, single-visa tourism scheme. The reduction in costs and headaches for travelers will be close to immeasurable--and it's a savvy move for leaders who want to boost their tourism revenues. This means one price, one stamp and we can pass through all five countries with ease, no shady border crossings, no bribes and no giving up valuable passport space for stamps from other cool places.

The Cambodian and Vietnamese reps agreed to allow 14-day, cross-border travel for any of their citizens holding a passport. This part of the pact goes into effect December 4. Summit attendees also suggested a "travel card" that Southeast Asian businesspeople could use to travel, without needing any visa, to all five countries. Those of us not lucky enough to come from SEA may have to wait a little longer to collect our pass, but the Cambodia-Vietnam agreement is a show of good faith and an indication this plan has serious potential.

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