Cambodia has three international gateways for arrival by air – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville – and a healthy selection of land borders with neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Formalities at Cambodia’s international airports are traditionally smoother than at land borders, as the volume of traffic is greater. Crossing at land borders is relatively easy, but immigration officers may try to wangle some extra cash, either for the visa or via some other scam. Anyone without a photo for their visa form will be charged about US$2 at the airport, and around 100B at land borders with Thailand.
Arrival by air is popular for those on a short holiday, as travelling overland to or from Cambodia puts a dent in the time in-country. Travellers on longer trips usually enter and exit by land, as road and river transport is very reasonably priced in Cambodia.
If Cambodia has customs allowances, it is tight-lipped about them. You are entitled to bring into the country a ‘reasonable amount’ of duty-free items. Travellers arriving by air might bear in mind that alcohol and cigarettes are on sale on the streets of Phnom Penh at prices well below duty-free rates – a branded box of 200 cigarettes costs just US$13 and international spirits start as low as US$7 a litre.
Like any other country, Cambodia does not allow travellers to import any weapons, explosives or narcotics – some might say that there are more than enough in the country already.
It is also illegal to take ancient stone sculptures from the Angkor period out of the country.
Not only is a passport essential, it needs to be valid for at least six months or Cambodian immigration will not issue a visa.
It’s also important to make sure that there is plenty of space left in the passport, as a Cambodian visa alone takes up one page.
A one-month tourist visa costs US$30 on arrival and requires one passport-sized photo. Easily extendable business visas are available for US$35.
Most visitors to Cambodia require a one-month tourist visa (US$30). Most nationalities receive this on arrival at Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville airports, and at land borders, but citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Sudan need to make advance arrangements. One passport-sized photo is required and you’ll be ‘fined’ US$2 if you don’t have one. It is also possible to arrange a visa through Cambodian embassies overseas or an online e-visa (US$30, plus a US$7 processing fee) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfaic.gov.kh). However, e-visas are only accepted at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports (they are not accepted in Sihanoukville), and at the three main land borders: Poipet/Aranya Prathet and Cham Yeam/Hat Lek (both Thailand) and Bavet/Moc Bai (Vietnam).
Passport holders from Asean member countries do not require a visa to visit Cambodia.
Those seeking work in Cambodia should opt for the business visa (US$35) as it is easily extended for longer periods, including multiple entries and exits. A tourist visa can be extended only once and only for one month, and does not allow for re-entry.
Travellers are sometimes overcharged when crossing at land borders with Thailand, as immigration officials demand payment in baht and round up the figure considerably. Overcharging is also an issue at the Laos border, but not usually at Vietnam borders. Arranging a visa in advance can help avoid overcharging.
Overstaying a visa currently costs US$5 a day.
For visitors continuing to Vietnam, one-month single-entry visas cost US$55 and take two days in Phnom Penh, or just one day via the Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville. Most visitors to Laos can obtain a visa on arrival (US$30 to US$42) and most visitors heading to Thailand do not need a visa.
Visa extensions are issued by the large immigration office located directly across the road from Phnom Penh International Airport.
Extensions are easy to arrange, taking just a couple of days. It costs US$45 for one month (for both tourist and business visas), US$75 for three months, US$155 for six months and US$285 for one year (the latter three prices relate to business visas only). It's pretty straightforward to extend business visas ad infinitum. Travel agencies and some motorbike-rental shops in Phnom Penh can help with arrangements, sometimes at a discounted price.