As we didn’t have our Cambodia Visa, we headed straight to Visa counter like the majority of our fellow travelers.
I’d been toying with the idea of getting a renewable business visa which is $5 more expensive than the tourist visa and allows you to extend for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months and is a multiple-entry visa. But after our little third-degree scenario at Bangkok airport, I was wary of applying for a visa that I wasn’t sure what restrictions or requirements were attached. My pre-trip research hadn’t unearthed definitive guidelines about visa requirements, so to be on the safe side we opted for the 30-day tourist visa for $30 each.
Two smartly dressed visa officers greeted us with a smile, and we handed over our photos, passport, visa application form that we’d filled in during our layover in Bangkok and the Tourist Visa Fee. They gave us a receipt and pointed to another visa officer at the far end of the L-shaped counter. To reach him we had to walk the gauntlet of eight other visa officers who didn’t seem to be doing anything, but we soon discovered they were each a small link in the visa processing chain.
As we waited for our passport and visa to be returned we watched as the eight officers each handled the passports in turn. One officer stuck in the visa, and the next officers checked it, as did the next officer, and finally, the passports made their way down to a pile at the end of the line.
One by one this pile was rummaged, surnames were verbally fumbled, and a scrum of passengers crowded around the last link in the visa chain to claim their passports. Then it was off to wait patiently in the immigration line which flowed as slow as molasses.
After submitting our fingerprints digitally, we headed outside to see if our pre-arranged remork (a Cambodian tuk-tuk) driver was still waiting for us, given that we were three hours later than anticipated.
He was, and after a few grumbled words about how long he’d had to wait, he rushed off to get his tuk-tuk for the 10km ride to our hotel.
Going to a new place is scary but exciting. Especially when it’s an entirely different country and culture you haven’t encountered or experienced before. During our 25 minute ride, we bumped and bounded on the back seat of the tuk-tuk and let the humid air wash away our travel cobwebs.
Although I’d bought a couple of travel guides about Cambodia, read countless blog posts, and scrolled through Google images for hours on end. Nothing prepared me for the thrill of arriving here in Siem Reap. My fatigue slipped away, and I fidgeted anxiously, waiting for a chance to explore our new surroundings.
Travel Guides I bought:
- Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand (Travel Guide) Paperback
- The Rough Guide to Cambodia (Rough Guides) Paperback
Cambodia Visa Options:
- If you’re toying with the idea of extending your Cambodia visa then you should consider getting one of the “ordinary” (E class) visas, so that you can extend for more than a month. If you get the Tourist visa you can only extend for one additional month and then you have to leave the country to do a border run to get a new Visa.