Cambodia offers visa on arrival for tourists as also a facility for obtaining tourist visa online (e-Visa) before arriving into Cambodia. e-Visa is what the government of Cambodia seems to be pushing because any Google search for Cambodia tourist visa takes you to their e-Visa site. One unique feature of e-Visa is that it is costlier by USD 6 which is the e-Visa processing fee. So, for obtaining an e-Visa for Cambodia you need to make an online payment of USD 36 as compared to the usual fee of USD 30 that is applicable for Cambodia visa on arrival. Both types of visa allow you to stay in Cambodia for 30 days. Is it really worth paying that extra USD 6, particularly when a process of filling an online form, uploading a digital photo and making an online payment and waiting for up to three business days is involved and you still have to stand in the immigration queue upon arriving in Cambodia? In this page, you will read about the e-Visa and visa on arrival processes so that you can make an appropriate choice.
I have visited Cambodia several times and have always taken visa on arrival that was quick and easy every time. Although I am fully aware that there will be circumstances when an e-Visa will be a better choice. Let us first see the requirements of each type of visa:
Cambodia e-Visa and Visa on Arrival Requirements
1. A passport with a minimum six months remaining validity on the date of arrival
2. A recent 4x6cm color photo (digital in case of e-Visa)
3. A visa application form to be filled-up (online in case of e-Visa)
Special Requirements for e-Visa
1. An online payment of USD 36 at the time of application
2. Download e-Visa certificate in case it does not arrive by email within three business days.
Cambodia e-Visa Website: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/
Both types of visa initially entitle you to stay in Cambodia for a period of 30 days, that can be extended by another 30 days by making an application and payment at the National Police Immigration Department in Phnom Penh. If you happen to be in Siem Reap, an agent can take care of that for you.
Visa on Arrival Process at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Airports
Visa application form, arrival/departure forms, and health & customs declaration forms are given to you in the flight to Cambodia. Fill-up everything in the flight itself and after arriving at the Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport, present your passport and the duly filled-in visa application form, arrival/departure forms, health & customs declarations, etc. to the first person at the visa counter that you see. He may like to see your return air ticket. After that you will be asked to go and wait at the end of the long counter. There are several officials sitting behind this counter who all see your documents by turn and move them along. When your passport reaches the last person, he or she will call out your name and ask for payment. Pay USD 30 in cash and take your passport which will be already stamped with the visa. Actually a huge sticker is pasted on one full page of your passport. Next, you are required to proceed to the immigration counter. Total waiting time at the visa on arrival counter can be 10 to 20 minutes depending on how many passengers are waiting.
Process at land based check-points will be similar except for a general lack of professionalism on the part of immigration officials.
Cambodia takes digital finger prints of all the fingers both while arriving and departing Cambodia. Some seemingly unnecessary questioning may also happen at the immigration counter. Keep your cool and answer those questions knowing that you need their stamp to get through. There are never more than 5-6 people in one immigration queue. There are a total of 5-6 immigration counters. The process after reaching the counter takes 2-3 minutes for each passenger.
After leaving the immigration counter, you will collect your bags from the carousal, hand over customs & health declarations and leave the airport. You may like to buy a prepaid tourist sim card at the airport. A prepaid tuk tuk / taxi service is available at both the airports.
When e-Visa is better
If you are crossing into Cambodia through an over-land border check-point, you may want to consider e-Visa because the complaints of over-charging / harassment / scams at over-land border-checkpoints are rampant.
If you are arriving into Cambodia by air (Phnom Penh or Siem Reap), Visa on Arrival is the best option. Better save USD 6.