The Wonderful (read: Terrible)World of Visas

Trip Start May 24, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So in the my first post, I outlined where we are going.  Many of the places we're visiting require visas, which can be a nightmare.  In the interest of being helpful to people that might stumble upon this blog, I'm including some info that friends and relatives might find boring, sorry.....

Egypt - $15 USD for Americans.  Can be obtained at the airport on arrival in Egypt.  Info here.
Jordan - Americans can be issued a visa on arrival at the airport in Amman.  Info here.
United Arab Emirates - No visa required for American citizens.  Info here.
India - Price depends on visa, but approximately $73 + shipping for 6-month visa.  Info here.
Thailand - No visa required for American citizens.
Cambodia - $20, can apply for E-Visa.  Info here.
Laos - $50 for Americans for 30 day visa.  More info here.
Vietnam - $65 for normal service and $85 for expedited service.  Must send with express mail envelope for return.  More information is here.
China - Americans get really screwed and have to pay $130, while other nationals only pay $30.  Can apply at local consulates (Houston in our case).  More info here.

So that is the info that will hopefully help people out.  Most of our visa information was obtained from the U.S. State Department's travel page,, and through the web sites of the individual countries U.S. embassy and/or local consulate. 

Couple of funny stories here:

For the Indian visa, they use a company to adjudicate the visas, it's called Travisa Outsourcing.  So you apply online, and then you can either mail in your passport or bring it into the local office (in Houston in our case).  So we decided (the penny pinchers that we are) that we would mail our passports and applications to his sister (since we're in Austin for finals) and she could take it, pick it up, and mail them back to us.  It would save us the mailing costs and it would be processed in a single day.  So the appointed day (Wednesday) comes along, and it turns out that some work had to be done on the car, so she couldn't take it!  Well luckily we were able to call and have the appointment rescheduled for Friday (so much for saving time).  Well Friday comes along and she arrives to turn in our applications.  Well, they won't take my passport because she isn't related to me, doesn't work with me, and isn't traveling with me.  Ridiculous!  They tell her that she can mail it to them though. 

So it turns out that she mails it in, and i have to pay an extra $21 to get it overnighted (the only option) to me when it's all figured out (arrives Monday and I get it on Wednesday).  So, crisis averted (I guess), but it was certainly a pain.  There was also a point when I called to make sure that the passport had been received, and was told that they had no record of my application.  Turns out there are multiple companies in Houston called Travisa (phew). 

I feel like there are other stories too regarding visas, but I just can't think of them right now, sorry!  That's enough for now.


The Vietnamese Embassy processed our visas VERY quickly.  We overnighted our passports, chose expedited processing, and had it overnighted back (by USPS).  I sent mine in on Monday afternoon, and had it back in hand at 8:00am Thursday.  Pretty efficient!  In hindsight I would have opted for the regular processing which was $20 cheaper.
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