To apply for visa for Viet Nam, China, Mongolia, Russio and Belorus, you can download forms from the embassy website. Very nice.
1. Vietnam – very easy – fill in the form, add your passport, passport photographs, a rough itinerary, money order and a return envelope (self-addressed, pre-paid).
Registered or some other form of trackability recommended.
Processing time: one week
cost: 110 AUD
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Canberra
2. China – a bit more complicated. .
Passport plus photographs must be accompanied by: exact (?!) itinerary (we had to give even the vietnamese bits of the trip!), a train ticket confirmation for the entry into China, reservation confirmation for the first accomodation and the train ticket confirmation for the exit. We did not have the latter, and it worked without…
Visa applications for China are handled worldwide by specialized consular services, the one in Brisbane proved to be very strict (actually, a very strict doorman sent me away the first time: „not complete!“ !) so we needed 2 attempts and we added whatever we thought might make the process watertight. Health insurance, bank statements proving funds…
Processing time (due to Chinese New Year) 8 days, 60 AUD, Consular Service of the Peoples Republic of China, Brisbane
Mongolia: similar to Vietnam, easy.
Remark: we had applied already when we were notified that German citizens do not need visa since September 2013, so they returned the application letter and the money order. Very kind people dealing with the matter on the phone!
Processing time : basically 4 working days, 250 AUD
Embassy of Mongol Uls In Canberra
Russia: You have to prove residence (strange topic in our case since but a confirmation of residence of the marina office in Scarborough was sufficient), monthly income, international health insurance, train ticket confirmation for the entry into Russia, confirmation for the first accomodation, travel itinerary and an „invitation letter“ from your hosts or travel agent. Self addressed envelope, money order.
Surprisingly, you can travel freely once you obtained the visa apart from the fact that you have to apply for exact dates for the earlierst entry and the latest departure – no fuss. The young guy travelling with us form Irkutsk to Moscow tried to enter Russia 10 hours prior to the beginning of the granted visa – and was not allowed to, he got a fine. .
Another „abnormity“ is the registration of visa in Russia. The rule is (or seems to be) if you stay more than 7 days at one place in Russia, you have to register the visa through your host, but hostels don’t do this, most hotels do. Our itinerary saw shorter stays only. 2 days on the train, 4 days Irkutsk, then 4 days on the train again, 5 days in Moscow – so no need for a registration.
Processing time 4 working days, 105 AUD (Eilantrag, bei 10 Tagen Bearbeitungszeit 53 AUD für EU-Bürger); Russian Consulate in Sydney
Belorus: If you go to the EU through Belorus, you need a transit visa, even if you do not stop and leave the train in Minsk or Brest. There are funny to awful stories about what happens if you do not have one.
These visa were the only ones which gave us some headaches, since Australia has no white-russian embassy. We finally got the visa in Hanoi – and that, again, was very easy, including very kind personal and smartphone contacts with the consul in charge.
Processing time in Hanoi (personal pickup from the embassy) : 3 working days, 20 Euro, Embassy of Belorus in Hanoi.