Visa for Cambodia at the border & border crossing at Moc Bai/Bavet

At the beginning of March 2019, we came to Cambodia by land, via the Vietnamese-Cambodian border post of Moc Bai/Bavet… By hitchhiking, and especially without going through an agency! As a result, we got our tourist visa for Cambodia quite quickly, and at the right price – i.e. without paying baksheesh to corrupt customs officers. Here, we give you a feedback on our experience!


Different types of visa

There are several procedures to obtain a 30-day tourist visa – each with its advantages and disadvantages:

E-visa

Advantages:
– Simple procedure
– Avoids being confronted with the corruption issue at the border

Disadvantages:
– Time to obtain the e-visa: 3 working days, compared to 1 day in other cases
– More expensive: 36 US$/person compared to 30 US$/person in other cases
– E-visa are not supported at all border posts (list of border posts accepting e-visa available on the official website)

Visa delivered at Cambodian Embassy

Advantages:
– Simple procedure
– Cost of Visa is 30 US$/person
– Visa can be done within the day
– Avoids being confronted with the corruption issue at the border

Disadvantage:
– Restrictive open hours of the Cambodian Consulate in HCMC (open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends)

Visa at the border

Advantages:
– In theory, visa cost is 30 US$/person
– Available 24 h/24, 7 days/7 

Disadvantage:
– High risk of facing a problem of corruption

Weighing the pros and cons of each procedure, it became clear fairly quickly that making a Cambodian tourist visa at the Cambodian consulate in HCMC had many advantages, including avoiding the problem of customs corruption. Unfortunately for us, when we got confirmation that the consulate could issue us a tourist visa, it was too late: weekend was starting, and our Vietnamese visa was about to expire… We then had no choice but to get our Cambodian visa at the border – and to mentally prepare ourselves to face potential corrupt customs officers!

The border between Moc Bai (Vietnam) and Bavet (Cambodia)

Vietnamese side

Crossing a border is never easy, which is why we preferred to get up early and hitchhike to the Moc Bai border point as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the road was in good condition and hitchhiking in Vietnam quite easy: we arrived at the border in the late morning, as planned.

But when we enter the building to get our passports stamped by Vietnamese customs officers, it was a cold shower: people everywhere, interminable lines, and customs officers who don’t seem in a hurry to let people pass… Very quickly, we were asked if we were ready to pay to pass faster. Yes, yes, you read it right: in Moc Bai, to pass through quickly, it’s better to put a small note in your passport for the customs officer’s attention… As it was out of the question for us to pay, we had to queue in the slowest line and wait 1h30 before our passports were stamped; while some locals and tourist agents passed us by, passports in hand, and a 20.000 dong note sticking out between the pages…

Cambodian side

Once arrived on the Cambodian side, we first went to the small counter on the right to get our visa on the spot (read the detailed process below).

When we got our tourist visas, stuck on our passports, we entered the building right in front of the counter. Inside, we had to fill out another small form (part of which is to be given to the customs officer, the other part to be kept until we leave the country) before going through a final check – during which we had our passports stamped.

Finally, the hardest part for us was not to get our visas at the border, but to find a driver to pick us up by hitchhiking among the mass of taxis, tuktuks and buses already there!

Get your tourist visa for Cambodia at the border

When we arrived at the Cambodian border post of Bavet, we found quite easily the counter to make our visa on the spot. Above the counter, there was a sign that read:

ORDINARY VISA:  35$
TOURIST VISA:  30$

First (good) news: there is a tourist visa for Cambodia at 30$. But between a regular visa and a tourist visa, we quickly got lost: what is the main difference, apart from the price of course?

Decided in all case to pay only the tourist visa at 30$, we ask at the customs office for the form to be filled out, the one for a 30-day tourist visa. We managed to get our hands on 2 blank forms, totally ignoring the men shouts sitting next to us (we suspected that if we had let them do it, by helping us fill out the forms, we would have had to pay them).
Once our forms were completed by us, we returned to the counter with our passports, a photo each and an extra $60 in cash. And we waited only 5 little minutes before getting our passports with the tourist visa stuck on them! 

Were we lucky? Did the customs officers sense that we would not give up another dollar? That day, at the border, we met a European tourist who had to pay extra to men sitting in front of the counter, because the customs officer in charge of visas refused to give him the form, on the pretext that he did not have time and that we had to get help to complete it anyway… Don’t give in! Insist on getting a blank form and fill it in by yourself (don’t worry, there’s no problem filling it in by yourself!).

What do we need?
 
Passport
1 ID photo, passport size
30 US$/person – to be purchased from jewellers around Ben Thanh market at HCMC
A form to fill out on the spot

Even though we managed to get through without too much trouble, one question remained unanswered: what is the main difference between an ORDINARY VISA and a TOURIST VISA?
We had a hard time finding our answer, as sources on Internet (even on official websites!) contradicted each other… But according to serious sources, it seems that the tourist visa is a single entry visa and extensible for 1 month, while the ordinary visa is a multiple entry visa, extensible up to 1 year. If you don’t plan to stay in Cambodia for more than 2 consecutive months, then you only need a TOURIST VISA!

Our tip
 

If we had been better organized, we would not have hesitated to apply for our tourist visa at the Cambodian consulate in HCMC. That’s what we really advise to do – leaving the possibility to make the visa at the border as a last resort!

Our other posts about Cambodia:

* Post written according to our personal experience *

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