Visas & Hotels
All visitors, except citizens of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam need a visa to enter Cambodia. The official price for a tourist visa is USD30 or USD35 for an "ordinary visa" also known more commonly as "business visa". Staff may try to charge more at some land border crossings: hold out for the official price, particularly at major crossings, but don't be upset if you have to pay USD1-2 extra. The major difference between a tourist and an ordinary/business visa is that a tourist visa can only be extended once, for maximum 2 months of stay in Cambodia, whereas an ordinary/business visa can be extended for periods up to a year or more.
Visas can be obtained at Cambodian embassies or consulates. Visas are also available "on arrival" at both international airports, all six international border crossings with Thailand, some international border crossings with Vietnam, and at the main border crossing with Laos.
- Tourist visas: all are valid for one stay of up to 30 days. Those issued in advance expire 90 days after issue. In Phnom Penh (or elsewhere via agencies), tourist visas can be extended only once, allowing an additional 30 days at a cost of around USD30.
- Visa-E, Ordinary or Business visa – this is the best choice for those wishing to stay for over two months with multiple entries, as a business visa can be extended indefinitely (approximately USD155 per 6 month extension and USD290 per 12 month extension) and have multiple entry status when (and only when) extended. Most Phnom Penh travel agencies process the extensions. Foreign nationals of some countries from South Asia (including India) and Africa are recommended to apply for a Business visa at the Cambodian missions in their own countries as the conversion process from a Tourist visa to a Business visa within Cambodia can be expensive and annoyingly burdensome (c. USD200 for conversion from Tourist visa to Business visa and another USD285 for a one year extension). There is always some more commission involved if you are travelling from a developing country to the range of USD30-40. However, once you are in possession of a long-term Business Visa, travel into and out of the country is very convenient and painless.
To apply for a visa, you will need one or two (depending on where you apply) passport-size photo(s), a passport which is valid for at least 6 months and has at least one completely blank visa page remaining, passport photocopies when applying at some embassies/consulates (not needed if applying on arrival), and clean US$ notes with which to pay the fee (expect to pay a substantially higher price if paying in a local currency). If you don't have a passport photo at visa on arrival in Phnom Penh airport (and possibly other entry points), they will scan in the one on your passport for an extra USD2. Make sure that you are carrying USD with you. There is an ATM in the visa application area, however, it is frequently out of order.
At Phnom Penh airport head to the Visa on Arrival desk, join the queue to the left, where your application form is reviewed (you should have been given the form on the plane). Then move to the right and wait for your name to be called. You then pay and receive your passport with the visa. Officials have difficulties pronouncing Western names so stay alert and listen out for any of your names in your passport, any of your given names or surname may be called. Once reunited with your passport, join the Immigration queue. It's exactly the same procedure at Siem Reap airport.
In Poipet, several scams abound. A favourite is the Cambodian custom officers that ask tourists to pay THB1500 (about USD45) for a visa on arrival, instead of USD30. Stand firm but stay friendly and keep smiling, they rarely insist it. Scams on the Thai side of the border, at Aranyaprathet, are even more common. Don't get on a 'government bus to the border', don't accept the help of someone who 'works for Thai Immigration' at your hotel or elsewhere, and don't go to shops marked 'visas available here' next to the border. If you don't have a passport photo immigration officers will scan the one on your passport for USD1-2.
Citizens of most nations can apply for an e-Visa online on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website, through a service provided by a private Cambodian company (CINet). This is a normal Tourist Visa but costs USD37 instead of the normal USD30. The visa arrives as a PDF file by e-mail within 3 business days. The application requires a digital photograph of yourself (in .jpg or .png format). You can scan your passport photo or have a passport sized photograph taken with a digital camera. There are other websites pretending to make a Cambodian e-visa - at best, these are just online travel agencies which will charge you more (USD30-45) and get the same USD37 visa for you; at worst, you may end up with a fake e-visa.
You need to print two copies (one for entry and one for exit) of the PDF visa, cut out the visa parts and keep them with your passport.
Visas in advance (either online or from an embassy/consulate) save time at the border but are more expensive. However, you do get to skip the queues of people applying for the visas arrival, although sometimes you may simply spend the saved time waiting at the airport luggage belt for your suitcase.
E-Visas are only valid for entry by air or at the three border main land crossings: Bavet (on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh road); Koh Kong (near Trat in Eastern Thailand); and Poipet (on the Bangkok-Siem Reap road). You may exit the country with an e-visa via any border crossing, however read here. Given the general reduction in visa scams at the major land borders, paying the extra USD5 to guarantee the price may (more likely if entering from Thailand) or may not be worth it. Getting a tourist visa on arrival for USD30 is more likely than being overcharged. Plus it keeps the option open of the enjoyable Phnom Penh-Chau Doc boat trip (and the use of other minor border crossings)!
Overstaying in Cambodia is dodgy. If you make it to Immigration and are fewer than 10 days over, you'll probably be allowed out with a fine of KHR50,000 per day. However, if, for any reason, you're caught overstaying by the police, you'll be carted off to the notoriously unpleasant illegal immigrant holding pens and may be blacklisted from Cambodia entirely. For most people it's not worth the risk: get a legal extension or do a visa run to the nearest border instead.
Extending a Visa
While it is technically possible to extend your visa by going to the immigration authority next to Pochentong airport, it is highly recommended that you use the services of one of the numerous agents that offer this. The commission they charge is likely to be lower than the cost of taking a tuk-tuk to immigration and back, and, in addition, you are likely to save many hours, since these agents have the process streamlined. Nearly all guest houses will handle a visa extension for you, and you will receive your passport back in a couple of days.