First thing to know: Cambodian visas cost $30usd.
Second thing to know: You are very unlikely to pay this.
At the border, you need:
- Passport with at least two spare pages
- US dollars (better to use than baht, dong etc as better exchange rate)
- Passport photos
- Patience in the extreme!
Most border guards earn a low wage and want to make a decent wedge of cash out of each tourist. So, they will charge an unofficial ‘processing fee’, ranging anywhere between $5 and $10usd. We have tried arguing them to a stoned faced indifferent border guard on two occasions at two borders, but the reality is, unless you want to wait around and have a bunch of large Cambodian border guards make you very uncomfortable for a few hours, you’ll end up paying the fee. More avoidable are all the hangers on and scammers trying to take advantage.
Scams and money making schemes include:
- Your bus company offering you a visa service – just one more fee to pay. IT IS EASY TO COMPLETE AT THE BORDER.
- Un-uniformed Cambodians offering to complete your visa for, for a small fee. Ignore them, hold onto your passport and get the paperwork yourself. Only deal with the guys in the police uniform. They are only after one bribe!
- A $5usd fee if you have no passport photos.
- Border guards asking for payment in Thai Baht or other currency. They will try to confuse you with exchange rates. Insist so on paying in USD. Say you have no other currency.
- A ‘fee’ for a quarantine check. There is no fee for this, and all they do is check your temperature with a laser gun. Just say that you know there is no fee and they’ll back down.
- False checkpoints with fake border guards. We have only heard of these and not experienced them. Keep your wits about you and do your research.
It is a travelers rite of passage to be scammed at the Cambodian border, so don’t worry too much if you get stung. At the end of the day, it’s not that much money and you’re still across the border!
You can also try to get a visa online on the Cambodian government site, or from an embassy, for an additional fee. We have not tried this so cannot recommend it.