Cambodia – Visas, Border Crossings and Scams

17 Sep

Cambodia is not a very easy place to reach, more so if you are budget traveler and looking to save money. It is not as well-connected by flights and the tickets are normally quite expensive. So, for my own budget trip, I had to put in numerous hours of research on the net and speak with loads of people and travel agents to decipher the best and cheapest way to reach Siem Reap. Since I had put in so much of an effort, I decided to write a detailed post on the best ways to reach Siem Reap from Bangkok for my other fellow travelers who too are struggling as I was.

Since the post is very long I have split it into 3 parts –

  • Part 1 – Bangkok to Aranyaprathet (Aran) Border (Thai border) by train, bus, mini-vans or taxi. – Already done and available at http://wp.me/p29z7S-iT
  • Part 2 – Visa requirements, Visa on arrival Vs e-visa in Cambodia, the Border Crossing and the various scams near the border.
  • Part 3 – Transport from Poipet Border (Cambodia border) to Seam Reap by bus or taxi.

This post is part 2 of this 3 post series and in this I shall cover the visa requirements for visiting Cambodia, the actual border crossing experience, tips for the border crossing between Thailand to Cambodia and finally the various scams prevalent around the land borders.

Visas –

Tourists entering Cambodia require a visa (except for nationals of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore). The tourist visas are available on arrival at the airports and a few border crossings. In case you want to get a visa in advance, you can also apply for an e-visa.

For visa on arrival you will need the following documents –

  • A Passport Photocopy (passport should be valid for at least 6 months)
  • 1 photos (3 x 4 cm)
  • US$ 20 Cash for tourist visa fee (paid directly to the Immigration)

For an e-visa visit http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/ContactInformation.aspx  and you will need the following –

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months
  • A recent passport size photo (JPEG/PNG format)
  • A valid credit card (Visa/Mastercard).
  • The fee for this is US $25 (Visa fee of US$20 and a processing fee US$ 5)

Post applying, you receive the e-visa in your email box within 3 business days.

Please note –

  1. All tourist visas are single entry and valid for 30 days only.
  2. Nationals of Afghanistan, Algeria, Arab Saudi, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Nigeria cannot apply for an e-visa.
  3. If you plan to enter Cambodia via a land border with an e-visa, then be sure to check the acceptance of this e-visa at that specific border. You can check the same at – http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/Default.aspx
  4. Take 2 – 3 printed copies of the e-visa as the immigration office takes one copy at each border for their records.
  5. At the airports, they take your fingerprints but they don’t take them at the land borders.

Visa on Arrival Vs e-visa – Obtaining a visa by either of these channels is pretty easy and convenient. If you are coming by air then you can go for a visa on arrival. But if you plan to travel by road or train, then I suggest that you go for an e-visa as the queues on the land borders are pretty unpredictable and at times can take hours. Additionally, if you are planning to travel to Cambodia on weekends or holidays, then you should seriously consider applying for an e-visa as it will help avoid the long lines and save quite a bit of time.

At the Aran – Poipet border, visas are available on arrival and they also accept e-visas.

Border Crossing –

Once the tuk-tuk drops you, you will notice the immigration office on your left. Once you turn left there is a gate on your right to proceed for the stamping and there are ample signages everywhere to guide you in the correct direction. Once you enter the immigration office, there are 4 -5 desks and you will need to stand in your relevant queue. The officers will then take the completed departure forms and stamp your passport for exit and you exit from the gate on your right.

Aran - Thai side of the border

Aran – Thai side of the border

Once you exit the building just walk straight in the forward direction and in doubt follow the crowd going ahead. You just need to keep walking straight and then you will see the gate for entry saying “Kingdom of Cambodia” in Poipet.

Cambodia - Poipet border

Cambodia – Poipet border

In front of this gate (before entry) there is a health check station, which you can just pass by but if they notice you then they will ask you stop and fill a “SARS” form. This form is very standard and asks you questions on cold, flu and other similar symptoms. We got caught so had to fill one.

Once you enter the gate for Cambodia, you will notice large hotels and casinos on both sides. Tourists / gamblers can remain here for a day without crossing the Cambodian Immigration or taking a visa.

Post this, you just need to keep walking straight towards the Cambodia side and after crossing the casinos / hotels, you will see a small building with the words “ARRIVAL” written on it on your right. This is the Immigration office and you need to enter this building for the visa. Once inside, they will give you an immigration form that you need to complete and then stand in a queue for the processing. We had an e-visa, so the whole thing was very quick for us.

Please note

1. Once you are closer to the border on the Thai side, there is a military checkpoint where Thai Army Officer stop everyone to check the passports. This is to just grab illegal Cambodians and hence tourists don’t need to worry.

2. The border opens at 7:00 a.m. and closes at 8:00 p.m. However it is not advisable to cross this border after dark.

3. The paperwork is very simple regardless of what anyone may say to you and you don’t need any assistance.

4. All along this area expect touts to try to talk to you, confuse you and steer you in various directions. Simply ignore them and walk straight. Sometimes these touts also climb onto the public buses and say that you need to pay them. So just remember this – don’t pay anyone for a visa.

5. Be careful and mindful of your things (wallets, luggage, bags, purses etc) in this area.

Scams prevalent in this area –

There are quite a few typical scams that run in this area that you need to beware of. Luckily these are very typical and you can manage to outwit them if you keep your wits about you. Just remember one rule for this place – no matter what, never let your guard down. Luckily for us, we didn’t encounter anything but the major scams that I came across through various other traveler experiences and websites are as follows –

1. Visa Scam – This is the most common scam in this area. Any tout standing on the road or any tuk-tuk driver will first tell you that you need to go to the Cambodian Consulate first for a visa. The visas here are overpriced so do not fall for this trap. No matter what happens take a visa from the Immigration counter present after the casinos in Poipet. And if you are delivered to the “Cambodian consulate” keep in mind you are under no obligation to show anyone your passport nor reveal whether or not you have or need a visa to Cambodia no matter how “official” looking someone appears. You are still in Thailand, not Cambodia, and therefore inspection of your passport or knowledge of your visa status are of no concern, legal or otherwise, to anyone Cambodian government official or not.

2. Arrive on the border well in time. If you arrive by late afternoon the corrupt officials know that a delay could result in missing onward transport, which makes the bribe seem more attractive. Additionally you do not need to pay anything apart from the visa fees of US$ 20. A few past scams have included having to pay for a SARS form or for non-production of a vaccination certificate.

3. Any demand made for payment to receive a form, a stamp, or anything else for that matter is a scam. Cambodian immigration often makes many Cambodians, Thais, and some other Asians hand over 100 baht tea money just to get stamped in or out of Cambodia (Laotians on visa runs from Thailand automatically pay 200 THB).

4. The Official Transport Monopoly Scam – After clearing the Immigration, you head towards the Transport Monopoly Tout Zone. The scam here is the dressing of overpriced transport as official policy. There are government buses or minibuses here that are free and take tourists to the transportation depot – the Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal. This depot is about a 20-30 minute drive from the immigration office and these buses cease running after 6pm. Overpriced food is available here while you wait for an overpriced bus or shared taxi.The police and touts here pester tourists emerging from arrivals put them onto the “over-priced” busses for a trip to Siem Reap. Some tourists have reported being taken to a private travel agency instead of the proper depot, under the pretense that the station “is under construction”. Some tourists’ have also been sold tickets of the free government bus.

5. Change money scam – This is a more recent scam and you may be told that you must change as much as $100 US (or Thai Baht, Euro, etc) into Cambodian riel. There is no such regulation in Cambodia and the US dollar is the currency in use in Cambodia. In this scam they take you for a ride on the currency conversion.

6. While returning from Seam Reap, after crossing the Thai border, there are many touts who offer you a bus service to Khao San Road in Bangkok, but again don’t fall in their trap. Just ignore them and take a tuk-tuk to Aranyaprathet Bus Stand and from there, catch a government bus to Bangkok or you can catch the train too.

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35 Responses to “Cambodia – Visas, Border Crossings and Scams”

  1. solobackpacker.com (@solobackpacker) September 17, 2012 at 16:11 #

    Again a well informative post..Border crossing is very easy at Aran-Poipet border..Interestingly, I did not stopped by Thai Police and I also avoided that health office..It was a quiet easy walk from one country to another. 🙂

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 18, 2012 at 15:50 #

      Thanks.. and I agree its quite easy but the only problem is all the random people and touts around.

      Like

      • Adel March 21, 2016 at 15:29 #

        Thanks all information is very helpful…

        Like

  2. AsiaDreaming September 17, 2012 at 17:38 #

    Very handy info, thanks for that

    Like

  3. Niranjan September 17, 2012 at 18:19 #

    Very informative post for travellers going to Cambodia. Thanks for sharing this.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/

    Like

  4. Raunak September 17, 2012 at 22:15 #

    awesome! sharing makes this world such a beautiful place.thanks a lot for this information.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 18, 2012 at 15:58 #

      Thanks. FOr all my travels, I have found a lot of helpful websites that have helped me with my trips so this is my way of saying to thank you to them 🙂

      Like

  5. pommepal September 18, 2012 at 02:35 #

    Again excellent information, very clearly written and useful information. Thank you

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 18, 2012 at 16:24 #

      Thanks pommepal. I hope its of use to you for your trip 🙂

      Like

  6. pubnknit September 18, 2012 at 10:30 #

    brilliant! i’m going to be going through Cambodia next spring and this is very helpful, thank you.

    Like

  7. Sarah September 23, 2012 at 17:11 #

    Very informative post especially the scam section. 🙂 Thank you!

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 24, 2012 at 10:31 #

      Thanks Sarah 🙂

      Like

      • Sarah September 24, 2012 at 22:26 #

        My pleasure 🙂

        Like

  8. gold investing October 11, 2012 at 21:55 #

    Wow, this article is good, my younger sister is
    analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to inform her.

    Like

  9. Smith Cam April 8, 2013 at 10:16 #

    A visa on arrival, valid for a thirty-day stay, is specifically granted at Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, and International Border Checkpoints.

    http://www.tourismcambodia.org/getting_to_cambodia/index.php?view=visa_info

    Like

  10. bartnikowski July 23, 2013 at 13:08 #

    Hi, Thanks for coming over to see my post – its great to see your writing here – like your style and content! The Cambodia to Thailand crossing experience was a comedy – I made a video out of it (link below) I could just not believe how they handled all of us cattle – like a big herd of buffalo – it takes about 2 hours with all the getting in and out of busses and minis but I did meet some great people on the way. You just have to laugh. Look forward to reading more of your writing, I am moving now to a new apartment in Chiang Mai and will read more today – I love it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uWc0-G41aU

    Like

    • getsetandgo July 24, 2013 at 21:13 #

      Thanks MAry. And I so agree with you. It was so funny constantly changing buses and touts trying to scam you at every possible oppertunity. But for us the entire process took only 15 minutes and we didn’t get any red tickets.

      Like

  11. seecambodiadifferently August 9, 2013 at 23:57 #

    Great content and includes everything a traveller really needs to know. As an expat living in Siem Reap you never tire of hearing about people that have had a so called adventure at the Poipot boarder.

    Like

  12. Cedar R. August 11, 2013 at 22:05 #

    Great post! I was also planning on writing about my experience crossing the Aran-Poipet border. Our tuk-tuk driver attempted to take us to a “travel consultant” and tried to tell us that we had to buy our visas from them ahead of time. Luckily, we had done a lot of research on exactly what the visa requirements and procedure were, so we told him “no, we will get our visas at the border crossing.” He tried to insist, but we just refused to get out of the tuk-tuk 🙂 In the end, everything went smoothly, but it’s good to be aware and be prepared to politely say “no, thank you” when you are confronted with the various scams.

    (My travel stories & tips can be found at –> http://RoadsIRoam.com/)

    Like

    • getsetandgo August 13, 2013 at 21:15 #

      Thanks. What I am really surprised that there are so many people who, despite everything written online, still fall pray to these schemes. Anyways, thanks for visiting my blog and I shall check out your posts on this too 🙂

      Like

  13. Nomad Capitalist September 23, 2013 at 22:39 #

    I gladly took a flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok. It was super easy, the Siem Reap airport is nice, and it beats spending 12 hours on buses and trains. Yes, it cost $151, but I think it can be cheaper if you book ahead. I like to get the local flavor and do try to take some buses and trains in a given region or country, but as you mention, there are no trains and buses are often rather uncomfortable (even if just for motion sickness).

    I think the e-visa fee is $28 now, which includes $3 for credit card processing.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:31 #

      Thanks Nomad Capotalist and I’ll update this fee info etc 🙂 I have tracked this airfare for a while and somehow never seen it cheaper. I guess its because of limited flights on this sector.

      Like

  14. Kconan January 31, 2014 at 14:39 #

    The borders are so annoying and the scams take you out of the experience so much that it is really arguably worth doing the land border route. There are awesome spots in each country in the area, but traveling to each spot the “old school” way just isn’t worth it.

    Like

    • getsetandgo February 19, 2014 at 22:42 #

      I agree but at times these land borders turn out to be cheapest / budget way of travel 🙂

      Like

  15. melissajane14 December 5, 2014 at 07:39 #

    It’s great that you’re alerting people to these scams. I went through the northern Cambodia border ( from Laos) and all of the tourists were required to pay a US dollar at each checkpoint. This, too, is a scam, but if you don’t pay, you don’t pass. Keep up the good work. Melissa 🙂

    Like

  16. Hemlis Chokovares February 2, 2016 at 23:06 #

    During 2014 the price of the tourist visa was increased to 30 $.

    On Christmas 2015, the staff at the Cambodian quarantine booth had invented another innovative scam : they asked us to fill out the visa application forms. Then they told us that the tourist visa would be 40 $ now, and that we had to pay them. At first I believed them … they were government officials in uniform … so they must be honest [ joke ] ! But later, after they had returned our passports with the visa ( with a written price tag of 30 $ ! ) I realised I had been scammed by uniformed officials :-0

    I wasn’t willing to give in, and warned all people arriving at the quarantine booth that the visa costs actually 30 $ and not 40. I did that for a while, much to the dislike of the quaratine staff.

    Then I went to the visa office just behind the quaratine booth and complained to a cop about the scam. His only answer : “I don’t know, I don’t know.” Then I went to a high ranking police officer ( decorated like a general ) and complained. Within minutes I had my money back ! And that officer gave me a “thumbs up” and a smile …

    Like

    • Gernot Reichleitner March 13, 2016 at 21:52 #

      Cool, i feel perfectly informed, for my border crossing tomorrow morning. Sleep Hotel @border 50m before thai imigration: 680 bhat/night. If any changes i will report here too.

      Like

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  1. Cambodia – Visas, Border Crossings and Scams « getsetandgo | Tour Cambodia - September 17, 2012

    […] the original here: Cambodia – Visas, Border Crossings and Scams « getsetandgo Useful […]

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  2. Siem Reap, Cambodia | Splendors of the Khmer Civilization, the Royal Roads to Angkor… | tHe ErRaTiC LaKwatSeRo - November 15, 2013

    […] Part 2 – Visa requirements, Visa on arrival Vs e-visa in Cambodia, the Border Crossing and the var… […]

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