Help! – Obtaining Visas and the Importance of Travel Insurance

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Six weeks out and these are two of the most important things left to finalize on our SEA 2015 trip To Do list. So I thought I would turn to the blogosphere. I have stalled a bit in the Travel Visa department (briefly) and it’s time to get moving!

The embassy websites can be confusing – at times the same website seems to contradict itself. However, E. finally saved us all and decided to call the embassy, learning that we have two options for entering Vietnam through a major airport.

  1. Visa On Arrival – available to citizens of certain specified nationalities. Requires you to get a letter of approval through a third party agency for ~$15 US. At the gate, you present the letter of approval, passport, proof of onward or return flight, evidence of hotel accommodations and $45 US.
  1. Pre-Approved Visa – Send your passport, passport photos, Visa application and $90 by priority post mail to the Vietnamese embassy in Ottawa. In return, you get one, pre-approved visa.

It seems like the option to choose is the VOA, because it costs a heck of a lot less and I don’t have to send my passport away. But I’m wondering if anyone with experience traveling in Vietnam or South East Asia in general can offer advice on the best way to proceed?

The same applies for Indonesia, although the requirements for obtaining a VOA on arrival for Canadian and Chinese citizens seems less strict. You do still need proof of onward flight. Can anyone clarify that you can obtain a 30-day VOA, and then extend it to a 60-day Visa?

Conveniently, Malaysia does not require Canadians to have a visa to enter the country for up to three months, with option for a two month extension. Hopefully, we are able to see a slice of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia before heading onward to Indonesia.

Travel Insurance

Besides obtaining the necessary travel Visas, I am also on the hunt for proper travel insurance. Who do you all use? I need someone that also covers in case of diving accidents. I have been looking at the insurance provided as part of PADI (DAN?) While the credit card I use for travel does have some travel coverage, it only covers for the first 26 days, which is less than half of our anticipated travel time in SEA. I also anticipate doing most of the scuba diving that we do in Indonesia, the second leg of our trip. Good coverage for the entire travel period is important. Accidents happen.

If anyone doubts the need for travel insurance, this story about Dave of The Planet D (a travel blog) breaking his back while on a simple errand is telling enough. Imagine being in that situation and not having insurance. Luckily, it looks as though he is going to pull through. For many of us, travel is about pushing ourselves, exploring and taking risks. Not the frame of mind to be in without insurance!

The countdown to departure is fast approaching – January 18th! With Christmas in the middle I know it is going to come VERY quickly. Getting Visas and travel insurance taken care of means only a few things are left – mainly picking up a few essential items, finalizing our itinerary and packing up! After months of saving, talk, research and planning things are really coming together. Can’t wait!


3 thoughts on “Help! – Obtaining Visas and the Importance of Travel Insurance

  1. Hi
    Can’t comment on the visa but I can easily answer the travel insurance question. Start at
    It compares several companies according to the criteria you enter and then brings up comparisons side by side making it real easy to use. Only get what you need; For Ecuador and Borneo we used Travelex, which is an excellent company with a stellar reputation. The ranges go from cheap to ridiculous. Only get what’s important to you but DO NOT SKIMP on emergency evacuation coverage. Thankfully we’ve never used it but Diane’s co-worker just went to Mexico with his wife; They’re older and she fell and had to be hospitalized. Although it wasn’t critical, the bill was $8,000 and most of it could have been covered with a simple policy

    For about $300 to $500 you should be able to obtain something worthwhile and it covers lots of stuff like flight delays, lost luggage, etc. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind

    Good luck and let us know how it went; happy holidays
    Rob and Diane

    Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to help. Living in Canada spoiled me when it comes to no bullshit forms and fees. But since being back in the USA we’ve enjoyed great employee sponsored healthcare and that will be hard to give up. If we get the malaysian visa they require a year of coverage but it only costs about $400 USD for a plan that would cost about $8,000 or more if we paid in the USA without the employee benefit. So u should use it for peace of mind. If we can help in any other way just ask

        Liked by 1 person

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