Visitors should soon be able to trek the highlands of Malaysia, visit the ancient temples of Cambodia and dart through the war-time tunnels in Vietnam, without having to apply for separate visas for each country. ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plans to unify the visa system which could work in a similar way to that of Europe.
With just one visa application travellers could visit the ten countries within the ASEAN economic organization. The 10 countries in Southeast Asia that are part of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
More than 65 million tourists visited the ten countries in 2009 and a one visa system could see the end of reams of paperwork and confusion over costs and validity. ASEAN have admitted that it will probably take more than five years to implement but it would make a multi-country trip in Southeast Asia so much easier to plan and organise.
By Julie Bowman