I arrived in Thailand. Spent a month not doing much but chilling and enjoying some overdue time off from contracting overseas. After 30 days, it was time to do a VISA run. I decided on Phnom Penh.
It had been five years since I’d done a VISA run from Thailand. So I decided to do it in Phnom Penh. I decided on Phnom Penh primarily because I’m familiar with the city. I’ve been there about 50 times over the past 15 years. It’s a fun city that still isn’t too commercialized or Westernized. I value that above all things. I don’t come to Southeast Asia to experience the West or hyper-commercialized experiences. I like it the way it is…or was. The West and China are screwing up Cambodia as much as they’ve screwed up anything that they’ve touched. It’s just a slower process in Cambodia because everyone is so laid back. There’s not hurry in the land of the Khmers and, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I arrived in Phnom Penh expecting to give my passport to A2Z Tourism in the morning and receive my new VISA in my passport that evening.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
It’s no longer possible to have a runner or a tourist shop turn in your VISA application. You have to do it yourself. You have to physically journey tot he Royal Thai Embassy, turn in your VISA application packet and retrieve your passport. You have to do it.
And…it’s not as difficult as it sounds. At least, it wasn’t for me.
After I contacted A2Z and was informed that they could no longer provide the VISA service for me, I did a bit of research. I read horror story after horror story. People being denied VISAs. People being turned back at the window at the Thai embassy for not having proper documentation. Story after story of people complaining about the experience and their documentation not being accepted. Folks being denied VISAs for abusing the tourist VISA system.
I was stressed. STRESSED. I thought for certain that I was going to be stuck in Phnom Penh and not able to get back to Thailand.
But that didn’t happen.
Turns out, the process was pretty simple and straight forward even if the Thai Embassy VISA page is a bit ambiguous.
The ambiguity, I’ll explain later.
The documentation consists of the following:
- 1. Visa Application form(s) and photograph(s): Completed and signed Visa Application form and recent photograph(s) (size 3.5×4.5 cm).2. Passport (valid for no less than 6 months)3. A copy of passport or travel document4. Travel tickets out of Thailand5. Evidence of adequate finance $1,000 per person or $2,000 per family or equivalent another currency.
6. Other documents: as may be requested by Consular officers in addition to the documents above. Please note that Consular officers reserve the right to require additional documents, or an interview with the applicant, as deemed necessary, without prior notice.
You show up with the documentation and the fee. Give it to the guy at the window. He checks your documentation. If all is good, he gives you back your documentation along with a number and sends you inside the embassy for processing.
They did not require an interview of any Western European or American who were there that day. They did require interviews of the Khmer, the Arab and the Afghan who were seeking a VISA that day. The Afghan was rejected.
You go inside the building and the waiting room is right there. You wait for your number to be called. The person at the service window checks your documentation again. If it’s straight, she asks you for the fee, processes your package, gives you a receipt and tells you to come back at 1330 three days later with the receipt.
That is it.
The only way to be expedited is to have a doctor’s note. That is as of this moment. This may change. They will only approve single entry unless you are employed in Cambodia. you’ll need proof.
The fee was 40 USD. I gave them a 100 dollar bill. The woman at the window gave me 60 bucks change. No problem.
After that, you go back to your hotel and spend the next three days doing whatever you want to do.
Three days later, you show up with your receipt at 1330. They hand you your passport with VISA and you go on your way. The three days does not include weekends or Thai and Khmer holidays. Check the calendar for holidays before you go.
Seems pretty straight forward. Yeah?
Those are all of the documents that you need.
Now, to the ambiguity mentioned earlier. The Thai Embassy VISA page does not specifically state that one should bring a bank statement as proof of financial means. 20,000Baht is about 700 USD. I had 1,000 dollars on me. I took a stack of 100 dollar bills with me. That seemed to me to satisfy the requirement. They want proof that I have 700 bucks. I took a stack of Benjamins. Yeah, that didn’t work.
The Thai Embassy webpage doesn’t mention having a copy of the Passport data page either. I didn’t have one.
Luckily for me. The guy at the window was extremely helpful…and patient.
He allowed me to email him copies of my bank statement and my passport data page. He printed them out for me and included them in my package.
Once I had all of the documentation, I was sent inside with the number ticket.
For me, the process was easy. I did note that all of the non-Westerners had to interview. Everyone was nice or, at least, professional. I had no issues and they were helpful. If you are not a Westerner, you should contact the embassy before you go and plan on, at least, a month long process. It may go quicker for you. It may not.
I would estimate that 90% of Khmer moto taxi, tuk tuk drivers and cab drivers know where the Thai Embassy is located in Phnom Penh.
That’s pretty much it.