I don’t know about you, but I dream of a place where Filipinos can enjoy the freedom to travel whenever, wherever. For now, though, we only have visa-free access to approximately 30 countries and territories. Others still require a visa-on-arrival. That’s not too bad though, right? But to those fellow Filipino travellers who aim to experience certain places sans applying for full-blown visas, here’s a cool fact for you — there are visa-required countries where you can tour on transit without visa, or at least by getting one for free!
1. South Korea
From year to year, the South Korea visa application for Filipinos only gets easier — for some more than others. As of now, the only way to experience the land of K-dramas visa-free is through Jeju Island. Good news, though, for those travelling to the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand via South Korea: You can do more than just bum around the airport’s transit area! As a connecting passenger, you’re automatically eligible to take the free tours around the city without any kind of visa. Simply show your valid documents and boarding passes to or from those countries! The tours can last up to five hours, depending on which program you choose.
Sample flights with connection in South Korea: USA, Canada
For more information, visit the official website of the Korean Embassy in Manila.
Despite being one of our closest Asian neighbours, China has one of the most tedious visa applications for Filipinos — although visa approval is almost always guaranteed. According to the official website of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, Philippine passport holders are allowed visa-free entry to mainland China if connecting through an international aircraft, ship, or train. Filipinos can enjoy the visa-free entry for up to 24 hours! The catch? You can only transit within mainland China once during a trip. That is, your flight following your stopover in any Chinese city should be to a different country or territory.
Sample flights with connection in China: Mongolia, Kazahkstan, Russia
For more information, visit the official website of the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
I know, the list just gets better and better, right? No stranger to Filipinos’ travel bucket list is visiting the Land Down Under. After all, with a single visa, you can explore not just a country, but an entire continent, too! Technically, you will still need a transit visa for Australia — however, you won’t need to pay anything, which is as good as travelling visa-free. To qualify, your layover must not be shorter than eight hours. The visa allows you to stay in Australia for up to three days solely for tourism or leisure. The best part? You can do the application online!
Sample flights with connection in Australia: New Zealand
For more information, visit the official website of the Australian Embassy in Manila.
For Filipinos going to Europe and Africa from the Philippines, connecting through the Middle East, particularly Dubai, is a no-brainer. Similar to Australia, you will still need a document to transit in the city, however, it’s free of charge for Philippine passport holders. Applying for a UAE transit visa can be done online for as quick as five hours. Just fill out the application form, upload copies of your photo and passport, and voila! The UAE transit visa is valid for use for up to 14 days, too!
Sample flights with connection in Dubai: Countries in Africa, Europe and South America
For more information, visit the official website of the UAE Embassy.
East Africa remains to be one of the most overlooked regions in the world, more so for Filipinos. Travelling to some parts of the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America, you may have to stop in the East African country of Ethiopia because of its ideal location. If that happens, you’ll be happy to know that you can transit for free in the country, and even enjoy a free hotel, transportation, and meals if you book with Ethiopian Airlines. Only, your transit time must not be shorter than eight hours. You will receive your hotel voucher upon checking in for your flight to the country!
Sample flights with connection in Ethiopia: Brazil, Central African Republic, Israel
For more information, visit the official website of the Ethiopian Consulate in Manila.
6. United Kingdom (UK)
Similar to United States (US) and Schengen visas, a UK visa is one of those coveted documents that can give you easy access to other OECD-member countries and territories. If you are travelling to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US with a valid visa for those countries, you can enjoy transit without visa in the UK! You also must be arriving or leaving by air on the same day of your transit, and your flights don’t require a change of airports in the UK.
Sample flights with connection in the UK (London): USA, Canada, Europe
For more information, visit the official website of the UK Embassy in Manila.
Soap operas, beaches, and lots of tequila — you know you’re in Mexico if at least half of the people you encounter on the streets are crazy about these things. Similar to most countries in the North and South American continents, Filipinos need a visa to enter Mexico. However, you can easily transit in and tour the country if your next destination is anywhere in the US, and your US visa is still valid (obviously). In addition, if you have a valid Japan visa, you may transit and tour the country during your stopover for free!
Sample flights with connection in Mexico: USA
For more information, visit the official website of the Mexican Embassy in Manila.
Remember when people say there’s always a way to do everything? Well, in the case of exploring visa-required countries, this is it. For some of these places, there’s still a tiny bit of legwork involved, albeit much easier if you have a good travel history or dependable travel plans. But if you’re up to it, you’re practically unstoppable!
Note: The information written above was collected through online research and interviews with experienced Filipino travellers. The case may change at any time. To find out more about each country’s policies regarding transit visas for Philippine passport holders, please contact their respective embassies.