Cambodia shares its land border with three countries – Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos and out of these three countries, Thailand receives the most number of international tourists. As such, for a tourist coming to Thailand, extending their Thai holiday to Cambodia can be a wonderful bonus without adding much to the cost of the trip or to the hardship. Yes, there can be some hardship for a foreign tourist while entering or exiting Cambodia due to corruption among their immigration staff, but with some prior knowledge and precautions, this hardship can be minimised or even totally avoided. The good news is that Cambodia offers visa on arrival to the citizens of several countries while there are a few countries whose citizens are not eligible for visa on arrival / eVisa. There is a third type of counties whose citizens are eligible for a visa free entry to Cambodia. Now, a disclaimer will be in order here. Finding official information about visa/immigration to Cambodia is difficult because either Cambodian government websites on these subjects do not exist or cannot be found. The supposedly official immigration website (immigration.gov.kh) is permanently down. The ones that do exist (like the official eVisa site) do not have complete information. I could find the list of eligible countries from a third party website that arranges eVisa, and the list of countries not eligible from another website. The only info available on the official eVisa website was that of countries whose citizens do not require a visa to visit Cambodia. In this article I will try to cover all the essential info on a best effort basis. I have visited Cambodia several times and have availed of visa on arrival at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports. Keep reading…
Who Is Eligible For Cambodia Visa on Arrival / eVisa
These countries are allowed a visa free entry into Cambodia for a certain number of days – Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, and Myanmar. Hence citizens of these countries do not need any kind of visa. On the other hand, citizens of these countries are not eligible for visa on arrival or eVisa – Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Going by these two “negative” lists, apparently the citizens of every other country on earth are eligible for a visa on arrival / eVisa for Cambodia.
What Is The Difference Between eVisa and Visa on Arrival
The basic difference is in the cost – 6 USD. Other than that this eVisa, even the official one, appears to be meaningless. A visa on arrival taken while entering Cambodia costs 30 USD. The eVisa, which is nothing but a sort of a pre-arrival registration for visa on arrival, costs 36 USD including the 6 USD processing charge. Why take eVisa is a topic that I have covered in a separate article that you can read here. But in short, eVisa may help you in avoiding corruption of Cambodian immigration officials at least while entering Cambodia. While leaving, you will still be exposed to the scams just like anyone else. I am not stressing upon corruption and scams to scare you but unfortunately if you want to visit Cambodia, you need to be ready to deal with corrupt Cambodian government officials. However, if you are arriving by air at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport, you do not need eVisa. There is no need to waste 6 USD and your time on applying for an eVisa. Visa on arrival at these two airports is a hassle free experience because there are plenty of officials supervising the process to ensure that a tourist is not harassed. Another alert – I said hassle free visa on arrival. I did not say hassle free immigration. Regardless of whether you take eVisa or VOA, you still have to cross immigration even at these two airports. The immigration officials are in the habit of asking for tips. They first ask how much currency you are carrying. Then while returning your passport after stamping it, they say something like – “Tip for me?”. And you need to politely say something like – “No but thank you. You are nice”. Do not spoil those people by giving them any money. They cannot stop you from entering Cambodia. I am not exaggerating here. I have personally experienced these things during my last visit to Cambodia in November 2016 and earlier also on many occasions.
Problems With By Road Entry
If you have planned to enter Cambodia via a land-border crossing, your bus conductor will collect 30 USD for the visa fee and anything between 5 to 10 USD as “service” fee that will be used to bribe the officials. If you already have eVisa, you may tell the bus conductor that you do not need visa and possibly you may not need to pay the service fee. But it is still possible that you are asked to pay up the service fee. In the real world, a Cambodia eVisa serves almost no purpose. The size of the visa stamp is the same in both eVisa and VOA and will cost you one whole page of your passport. Immigration stamps are put on another page so in total, a visit to Cambodia takes one and a half pages of your passport. eVisa gives the same 30 days stay in Cambodia as one gets from a VOA. A citizen of a particular country who is eligible for eVisa is also eligible for VOA. To sum up this eVisa vs VOA debate, you do not need an eVisa.
Also read: Road Trip From Siem Reap Cambodia to Bangkok
Official Cambodia eVisa Website
There are several “private” websites of agents who arrange Cambodia eVisa. Some of those are even scam websites and you will not only lose your money dealing with them but also your personal information. Personal information in Cambodia gets misused easily. When you type Cambodia eVisa in a search engine, you see a list of sites offering Cambodia eVisa only one of which is the official one. Here is the link to the official Cambodia eVisa website: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/home
Cambodia Visa on Arrival Requirements
Cambodia visa on arrival is a single entry permit to enter Cambodia for a period of 30 days. This period of 30 days can be extended for another 30 days by proper application before the immigration authorities in Cambodia. The most basic requirement are a passport with a minimum remaining validity of six months on the date of arrival and a 4x6cm photo. They do not usually care about your return ticket because many people travel out of Cambodia by road and do not have onward air tickets. Money requirement is also not specified or I could not find it. So in general terms you should have adequate means of finance to manage your stay in Cambodia. The visa application and immigration forms require you address in Cambodia and that means you should have a prior hotel booking.
Cambodia VOA is available at these checkpoints
Phnom Penh International Airport
Siem Reap International Airport
Bavet International Check Point (Svay Rieng Province)
Kha Orm Sam Nor International Check Point (Kandal Province)
Koh Rohka International Check Point (Prey Veng Province)
Banteay Chakrey International Check Point (Preyveng Province)
Tropeang Sre International Check Point (Kratie Province)
Prek Chak International Check Point (Kampot Province)
Phnom Den International Check Point (Takeo Province)
Oyadav International Check Point (Rattankiri Province)
Tropieng Phlong International Check Point (Kampong Cham Province)
Cham Yeam International Check Point (Koh Kong Province)
Poi Pet International Check Point (Banteay Meanchey Province)
Osmach International Check Point (Odor Meanchey Province)
Sihanoukville International Check Point (Sihanoukville Province)
Choam Sanguam International Check Point (Banteay Meanchey Province)
Prum International Check Point (Pailin Province)
Doung International Check Point (Battambang Province)
Preah Vihear International Check Point (Preah Vihear Province)
Dong Kralo International Check Point (Steng Treng Province)
This list of checkpoints may change but as a general rule, when a bus is taking you to Cambodia, they will stop at a checkpoint where VOA to enter Cambodia will be available. eVisa, however, is honoured only at a few selected checkpoints besides the two aiports at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. To see the checkpoints where eVisa is valid, please visit this page: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/information/port_entry/3
Forms Required For Cambodia Visa on Arrival
Four different forms are given to the passengers on flights arriving into Cambodia. These are:
1. Visa on Arrival Application Form
2. Arrival / Departure Card
3. Customs Declaration Form
4. Health Declaration Form
I am giving digital copies of these forms here but digital copies of forms cannot be used. You will get original printed forms during the flight and only those should be used. Make sure to fill in all the forms during your flight itself.
Cambodia Visa on Arrival Procedure
After arriving, just follow the crowd because everyone is headed to the visa / immigration area. There are signboards to point tourists in the right direction. You need to get a Visa from the visa counters before going towards immigration counters. The VOA counter is usually a single long counter with several officials, maybe 6 of them, examine the passport and the forms one by one. At first, do not hand over the money. Just the forms and your passport. At this VOA counter, they will take the VOA application form and the passport. You can keep the arrival/departure card, immigration form, and the health declaration with you. After handing over passport, go to the end of the counter and wait near the delivery counter. They call people by name when their passports arrive at the delivery counter. The usual wait time is 5-10 minutes. When your name is called, go the counter and hand over 30 USD in currency notes. Try to give exact 30 USD because you may not get change in full or may get some old / damaged notes as change. Giving a note of 50 or 100 USD at this counter is a bad idea. They return change but I would not take a chance in Cambodia. Anyway, after taking the money they will return your passport with a big visa sticker stapled on a full page of your passport.
There are about 3-4 immigration counters in operation and you can proceed to any one of them. The immigration official will take the arrival / departure card along with the passport. Take a whole lot of time reading everything and after a few unnecessary minutes will ask you to keep your fingers on the scanner for finger printing. Impressions of all fingers of both hands are scanned. If you are lucky, the immigration guy will return your passport without asking for money. If he does ask, politely refuse. Now you are free to collect your bags from the baggage belt and go out. There will be someone to collect your customs declaration and health declaration after the baggage belts.
Leaving The Airport
After crossing Customs, you will find SIM card counters and it will be a good idea to buy a preaid tourist SIM card there, which usually costs 5 USD and comes pre-loaded with full talk value and free internet. Prepaid taxi / tuk tuk counters are also located there from where you can get a tuk tuk or taxi at 7.00 USD upwards. Be sure to take your tuk tuk / taxi booking from the counter and not from a helpful guy coming to you before you reach the counter.
Leaving Cambodia From A Land Border Crossing
If you are planning to leave Cambodia via a land border crossing, please read this article.