I keep seeing conflicting advice in travel guides/on the internet. There are lots of companies offering to get your visas for you online before you go - are these reputable? On STA Travel it says you don't need a visa for Thailand, though I seem to have an inkling that you do...
So anyway, my plan was to get a Cambodian visa at the overland border from Thailand, but to take a trip to the Vietnam Embassy in London before I go to get a visa for that part of the trip. But as Vietnam is last on my itinerary, maybe that's not such a good idea? Does the visa start running out as soon as it's issued?
Any help would be much appreciated.
#1 adelene has been a member since 8/5/2006. Posts: 19
If you're staying in Thailand for less than 30 days and your British (which I assume is the case given you mention London), then you don't need a visa for Thailand. If you plan to stay longer than 30 days in one hit, you'll need a tourist visa.
For Cambodia, yes you can get it at the border, but if you've got time in Bangkok, I'd recommend getting it beforehand -- already having your visa reduces the chances of you having "issues" with immigration (ie paying above the going rate for the visa).
For Vietnam the visa starts to run out from when it is issued -- that being the case I'd suggest you get it in Phnom Penh -- they can issue visas next-day there, or same day if you pay a surcharge and put it in in the morning.
#3 adelene has been a member since 8/5/2006. Posts: 19
How much of a problem will this be? I'll be in Phnom Penh on the 29th/30th/31st July, roughly, and was going to get it there. I don't really want to get one in the UK, as I leave for Vietnam in nine working days, and they only issue them five working days after they receive your application, which will take a couple of days, probably, and I think it is pushing it. Plus, it is far more expensive to buy in the UK than to buy in Cambodia, and now I haven't factored this in to my budget. If you think we'll have real trouble getting visas out there, then of course I'll do it, but I'd rather not if I don't have to. Thanks for the help,
#4 adelene has been a member since 8/5/2006. Posts: 19
Phew! That's good to know. Thanks for the information in the first place - if it wasn't so close to the date I'm travelling I'd definitely get it in the UK. Thanks again,
#7 adelene has been a member since 8/5/2006. Posts: 19
I just (on Friday) picked up at Vietnam visa at the consulate in Sihanoukville. It takes about 20 minutes there and costs $33. It is valid for the dates you give them in the application (ie it doesnt start at the date of issue).
For the simplicity and lack of queues I'd thoroughly recommend nipping do to Sihanoukville from PP to get your visa.
Cambodia is an amazing place by the way - if you get a good moto or tuk-tuk driver then ask them to take you to good Khmer bars and restaurants...
#8 pauljaymes has been a member since 10/7/2006. Posts: 75
By the way;
1) Yes as a UK citizen you get a free 30 day stamp in Thailand at the border. I got this at the Cambodian border at Hat Lek on Sunday. If you want longer in Thailand it is easy to leave and come back via Laos or Cambodia (which you are doing anyway).
2) Yes you can get the Cambodian visa at the border. Unlike other countries (Laos, Thailand) the visa is the same 30 days for $20 at the border as it is from an embassy. You might find that you are less likely to get ripped off at an embassy but I've heard stories of people getting charged 1300 Thai Baht at the embassy in Bangkok as well as at the border. Whichever you decide to do, have a crsip US$20 note in hand along with a recent photo. If they ask for more in any currency, calmly smile and say no, it costs $20. You should be fine.
3) DON"T take ANY direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. This is always a mild scam where they give you a hell of a journey and drop you tired and frustrated at a shabby guest house which pays them if you stay there. Take a bus or train to Aranya Prathet in Thailand and cross the border on foot. There are ample transport options on the other side; if you're let you can stay in Poipet (across the border from Aranya). The road from Poipet to Siem Reap is a beast. Be prepared for a rough ride.
4) Contrary to much circulating misinformation, there are now loads of ATMs in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and one soon opening in Sihanoukville. These dispense US dollars which are the principal currency for larger purchases in Cambodia. Cambodian riel is used for small change, usually at the rate of 4000 to the dollar, and might be quoted for purchases up to about 10,000r ($2.50). Thai Baht are also accepted in the west of the country, esp close to the border, at the rate of around 100 riel per Baht (ie 40 per US$). Cambodians do not accept any coins, US, Thai or otherwise. Only notes, using riel for amounts smaller than $1 or 20B. Some places will be fussy if your dollars are old or dirty. Hoard $1 and 500/1000r notes as much as you can, no-one wants to give change!
5) I'm not a big lonely planet fan per se but I thoroughly recommend buying 'South East Aisa on a Shoestring' provided you get the 13th edition published in March 2006. You can check this inside the front cover. It covers all the info you need about visas, border crossings, currencies, transport options and lists a few decent guest houses. Cambodia is a great adventure, but reliable information is in short supply - you will struggle without a decent guide book.
6) I can thoroughly recommend the Rosy Guest House in Siem Reap which is run by a bloke from Norwich called Simon. This may not sound very authentic but it is a good soft landing and he has some wonderful Khmer staff and will sort you out with a reliable tuk-tuk or moto driver to take you around the temples. Note that what the Khmers refer to as a tuk-tuk is not quite the same as a tuk-tuk in Thailand.
#9 pauljaymes has been a member since 10/7/2006. Posts: 75
Wow - that's fantastic. Thank you so much for all that information - that's amazingly helpful and sets my mind at rest. This is my first trip of this kind so I'm preparing myself as much as poss for the tough bus trip, etc, but can only take it as it comes! I can't wait! Is there anywhere, Paul, that you think is a must-see in Cambodia? (other than PP and Angkor/Siem Reap). Was thinking of doing the 'dodgy but spectacular' boat trip to Battambang.
#10 adelene has been a member since 8/5/2006. Posts: 19
Lol! Didn't go to Battambang but pretty much everything in Cambodia is 'dodgy but spectacular'.
I did get a short boat ride on Tonle Sap which is a real experience in itself, I think the Battambang trip crosses Tonle Sap.
Khmer culture is at least as interesting as the sights. They are a wonderful fun-loving and mostly profoundly kind and honest people. Try to get off the tourist trail as much as you can; ask your driver to take you to restaurants and bars where the locals eat/drink. Try not to think too much about the hygiene - just relish the experience, and the bill - you'll easily be able to feed and water your driver and yourself for under $10. Be a little brave and you'll have the time of your life.
#11 pauljaymes has been a member since 10/7/2006. Posts: 75
Khmer culture is at least as interesting as the sights. They are a wonderful fun-loving and mostly profoundly kind and honest people. Try to get off the tourist trail as much as you can; ask your driver to take you to restaurants and bars where the locals eat/drink. Try not to think too much about the hygiene - just relish the experience.
The boat trip across to Battambang can get a bit hairy is the weather is iffy -- Tonle Sap is very shallow, so it doesn't need much wind to beat up some waves...and lets just say the boats are not designed for surf! But the last part of the trip, running upriver to Battambang is one of the most spectacular rides I ever did -- thousands of birds, like something out of National Geographic...
"1) Yes as a UK citizen you get a free 30 day stamp in Thailand at the border. I got this at the Cambodian border at Hat Lek on Sunday. If you want longer in Thailand it is easy to leave and come back via Laos or Cambodia (which you are doing anyway)."
So if i'm hopping from country to country over seven weeks i won't need a tourist visa for thailand?
#13 Enrico_Gatti has been a member since 4/5/2006. Posts: 17
Hi Enrico, it depends on your nationality, but most western nationalities are granted 30 days visa free stay in Thailand each time they enter, so if you're never planning on spending more than 30 days in the country in one hit, you don't need a visa.