There is a lot written about obtaining a Cambodian travel visa on the internet. You will find government websites, blogs and travel guides offering advice. In general, obtaining a Cambodia travel visa is very simple and straightforward. We do not know of anyone who has had their visa application at a border crossing unreasonably refused. And, getting your visa in your country is not necessarily the best option.
Cambodia Travel Visa
You will not see images or signs of “Not Allowed” from inside airports or border crossing offices. However, you will be greeted with smiles and a “Welcome to Cambodia”.
Cambodia Border Crossings
Crossing in and out of Cambodia from neighbouring countries is straightforward; all you really need is some forward thinking. Most people entering and leaving Cambodia tend to use Phnom Penh international airport, Poipet and perhaps the Vietnam-Cambodia Bavet-M?c Bài border crossing; however, there are some more exotic crossing points. I will start with the most popular points of entry and take it from there.
Phnom Penh International Airport (Pochentong)
The easiest entry point into the Kingdom is the capital’s international airport in Phnom Penh. In fact, for many nationalities, you don’t need to get a Cambodian travel visa in advance. Depending on the arrival crowd, the airport’s visa-on-arrival desk can issue you the visa of your choice in less than 15 minutes. All you need is some US dollars and some passport photos. You can be on your way into town very quickly. There are plenty of people outside the arrivals area who will offer you a ride to your hotel. The airport is about 10 kilometres west of Phnom Penh.
Gambling on or in Poipet
This town is essentially a gambling centre. Buses from Bangkok ply the route to Poipet loaded with punters wanting to try their luck on the tables. These people stay in the no-man’s land between Thailand and Cambodia. You can grab a bus at Bangkok’s Victory Monument, but there are also many departures from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit).
If you get stuck on the border either by choice or bad luck, don’t worry because there are plenty of places to stay. On the Thai side of the border, your best bet for accommodation is in nearby Aranyaprathet, and on the Cambodian side, there are plenty of guesthouses in Poipet. Also, the option of taking a travel break at the border is a consideration, especially if you are planning the time-consuming journey between Phnom Penh and Bangkok.
Beware of border scams. On the Thai side there are people claiming that you need a visa before entering Cambodia: ignore them. On entering Cambodia, beware of the Cambodian border touts. They claim to be official, but the bottom line is they’re looking at you for a quick buck.
Vietnam and M?c Bài
The Bavet-M?c Bài border crossing is the main overland gateway between Cambodia and Vietnam. On the Vietnam side, it is part of Tây Ninh Province. On the Cambodian side, it belongs to Svay Rieng Province. The crossing is part of the Trans-Asia Highway connecting Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. The journey between the two capitals takes 6 to 8 hours, and there are many buses plying the route. Entering Vietnam, you need to get a visa in advance. Visas are easily obtainable in Phnom Penh. Entering Cambodia, you can obtain a visa on arrival (VOA) at the border.
Siem Reap – Cambodia Travel Visa
Flying into Siem Reap is much like flying into Phnom Penh. While it is a smaller airport, you can still obtain the same Cambodia Travel Visa on-arrival arrangement as with Pochentong. Most hotels , hostels and guesthouses in Siem Reap have free pick-up-on-arrival arrangements. Make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
Sihanoukville | Book Hotel Before You Arrive
Don’t be surprised by the fact that there are hotels in this town that only offer accommodation to Chinese visitors: it’s the nature of the beast. The popularity of this destination with Chinese tourists has also seen prices skyrocket. So, dropping in without a booking is not the option it used to be. However, using our booking advice should ensure a good night’s sleep. The town has been taken over by the Chinese and caters to that clientele; however, there are still places to stay and the visa-on-arrival arrangement is like Pochentong and Siem Reap. Fly in, enjoy the beaches then see the rest of the Kingdom.
Laos Voeung Kham / Dom Krator crossing
This border crossing is a place you don’t want to get stuck in. On the Cambodian side you can get the Cambodia travel visa you want. On the other side, you are better off having a Laos visa before dealing with this border crossing. The best way to handle this border crossing, whether crossing from Cambodia to Laos or vice versa, is get your visas in advance. Your hotel will have a visa agent who can arrange visas. If anything is out of order, you will have to pay “taxes” to sort the problem out: no photo, one dollar; entry tax, two dollars; and so on.
The Less Travelled Border Crossing Points
And there are the border points most travellers don’t use, and this is where travelling in the region gets exciting. To begin with, have your visas ready to go. This will make transiting borders very easy. Up in the north of Cambodia and bordering Thailand’s Issan is the Chong Sa Ngam (Anlong Veng) crossing. On your way out of Cambodia visit the last bastion of Khmer Rouge power and Pol Pot’s final resting place. Just down the road is Chong Jom (O’Smach crossing). On the Thai side, there is a bus that takes you to Surin in Thailand.
Ban Laem / Duan Lem Cambodia Border Point
Other crossings include Ban Laem / Duan Lem crossing (Battambang) and Ban Pakard / Pailin crossing. Pailin is only 15 kilometres from the Thai-Cambodia border. The price on the notice board for your Cambodian travel visa is not what you might be asked to pay. Simply hand over the amount in dollars nearest the price of the visa and smile. For example, if it is $35, handover $40 and don’t expect change. A smile speeds up the process.
The Ban Laem / Duan Lem crossing is probably the most popular of the least travelled crossings. Koh Krong / Had Lek (Cham Yeam) crossing takes you into the pleasant town of Koh Krong near the coast in southwest Cambodia.
Cambodia to Vietnam
On the Vietnamese side is the Prek Chak / Xaxia (Ha Tien) crossing. It is possible to do day trips into the town, but if you want to venture further, make sure you have a visa beforehand. Another popular way to venture between Cambodia and Vietnam is the Ving Xuong / Kaam Samnor (Chau Doc) crossing by boat.
A quick reminder, with all of these less travelled borders, have your Cambodian travel visa good to go. Once again we suggest it is best to speak to experienced travellers on the ground or your hotel. Their information will be up to date and local to the border crossing point.
Cambodia e-Visa or Not
We have heard a lot of comments about this type of visa. However, it pretty much boils down to cost and convenience. The Cambodian government stipulates:
“The e-visa for Cambodia allows you to visit the country for a maximum stay of 30 days. It’s single-entry and valid for a period of 3 months. e-Visa is mandatory for travellers wishing to visit Cambodia for tourism purposes.”
Consider this and at the end of the day you can still enter Cambodia at its main border gateways and get a Cambodia Travel Visa. In addition, you will pay dearly for the privilege of applying for this type of visa. The e-Visa seems an unnecessary excess.
At the end of the day, crossing in and out of Cambodia is straightforward. Obtaining a Cambodia travel visa is simple; no need to fret.