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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia forum

One way travel to SE Asia

Posted by ruthytunes on 1/6/2018 at 03:24

My partner and I are soon to be setting off from the UK for long term travel round SE Asia, with the ultimate goal being to find somewhere to settle and become residents.
With that in mind we will only be getting one way flights and our travel plans will be very flexible, not entirely sure how long we will spend in each country, or even where we will travel to!
I'm after advice/experiences regarding one way travel and the requirements regarding onward travel, as I understand it many countries require proof of onward travel on arrival. Given the flexible nature of our plans we won't have necessarily planned our exit from a country before we even arrive, so wouldn't want to potentially waste a load of money buying onward air tickets that we never intend to use.

#1 ruthytunes has been a member since 1/6/2018. Posts: 4

Posted by somtam2000 on 1/6/2018 at 07:27 admin

Unfortunately there isn’t a clear and straightforward answer to this question.

There are two primary aspects to consider; the rules of the country concerned and the approach the inbound airline takes.

Using Thailand as an example, officially the country requires an onwards ticket. In practise, it is often not asked for—especially of those who could be described as “legitimate tourists” (ie., those without 15 entry and exit stamps over the last three years). Thailand generally (broad strokes here, and there are exceptions) uses the onwards ticket rule to deny entry to people who the immigration officer feels are not a legitimate tourist.

In your case, I would suggest this is unlikely to be an issue.

The airlines however can be a stickler for rules and, when you are checking in, they may ask why don’t you have an onwards ticket and they can refuse to let you board without one. They do this because (I think) they get fined or something, if Thailand doesn’t let you in. But this is very dependent on the airline, and random stuff like if the check-in crew are grumpy and hungover.

The easiest way to get around all this is to buy a single onwards ticket which you can wave in a custom officer’s face should the question arise. A quick search has AirAsia selling tickets from Hat Yai (in southern Thailand) to Kuala Lumpur (in Malaysia) for around $30—that seems like a fairly affordable bit of piece of mind (assuming you were flying into Thailand of course!).

In the scheme of things, in 20 years of flying around in Southeast Asia in circles, I’ve been asked for an onwards ticket once (upon arrival in Thailand). I that particular case, I actually had one, but I often don’t. Worse case, they turn you away and you go buy a $30 ticket as mentioned above.

More questions, ask away.


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,065

Posted by amnicoll on 1/6/2018 at 07:48

Best to look at each country individually and also if you are getting a visa in advance or on arrival may vary (remember also thailand only allows two entries a year by land with visa exemptions). I am sure I have been asked for onward travel details when applying for a visa to Indonesia at the embassy and also when extending one in the Philippines

Airlines as Somtam says are more of a problem but in my experience will accept a visa if no onward travel ticket.Last time I flew into Thailand for 58 days the were happy enough to accept my evisa for Cambodia

if in doubt make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time and before hand use search on Skyscanner and enter in "From" the country you are heading to and in in the "to" Everywhere and the current or next month and this will show the cheapest throw away ticket

have a great trip and remember there is a big difference between enjoying a short visit and living somewhere

#3 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by ruthytunes on 1/6/2018 at 08:32

Thankyou both for your quick responses, this seems to mirror the information I had already come across, as in it's the airlines in the departing country and more specifically the staff I deal with that will determine any need for an onward ticket.
If a visa is likely to do it then that would be a lot more practical as we will most likely have a plan of where we want to travel to next.
And yes I'm aware that we will quickly have to get ourselves out of holiday mode and do more delving deeper into actual community life. I've spent a few months at a time in Asia, but always had a date to return home, this trip will certainly be a very different animal ;)

#4 ruthytunes has been a member since 1/6/2018. Posts: 4

Posted by daawgon on 3/6/2018 at 04:18

I can tell you that Vietnam does not require proof of onward travel, but the Philippines requires the proof.

#5 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159

Posted by DLuek on 4/6/2018 at 05:20 TF writer

Out of roughly 12 flights (a few years back and beyond, before I had a long-term Thai visa) out of New York and San Francisco, I was asked by the long-haul airline for proof of onward transport or proof of residency, three times. I've never been asked for it while flying within SE Asia. Been asked for it once when applying for a Thai tourist visa -- in Kuala Lumpur years ago. Never been asked for it at a border crossing in the region.

The airlines that did check were Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and China Eastern. And actually, Cathay asked for proof of onward transport before a one-way flight from New York to Bangkok even though I had a tourist visa issued from Thai embassy New York. So while it may often be true that a visa will get you through airlines, it's not always the case. Other times Cathay has waved me through with barely a look at my passport -- definitely seems to depend on check-in staff, how busy they are, the weather, etc.

My advice is to just buy a cheap flight from your initial country of entry to a surrounding country, and actually plan to use it... For ex., fly from UK to Bangkok then hop to Phnom Penh, Hanoi, HCMC, KL, wherever, on Air Asia, Jetstar, Tiger, etc., and then start working your way around overland from whichever "second city" you choose. You could plan it for, say, three weeks after your arrival in Bangkok, giving you some time to check out Thailand. You can always make it back to Thailand (or wherever you choose) later in the trip.

#6 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,345

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