Getting a Cambodian visa at the land border
Getting a visa and entering Cambodia by land is not really difficult. However don’t expect that everything will go normal. We can say that the amount of the visa and the time of the procedure depends on the mood of the officers that day. It can be that the official amount for the Cambodian visa is put aside to make room for the amount that’s made up by the responsible border officers. Of course the travelers that cross the border want to get in the country as quick as possible and therefor don’t complain and just go ahead and pay these (ridiculous!) amounts.
Thailand (Hat Lek) – Cambodia (Cheam Yeam) land border
During our stay in Thailand we looked up which land border crossing point was closest for us to get to Cambodia. We were staying in Koh Chang, so the closest point for us would be the Hat Lek border (2.5 hours by bus). Getting out of Thailand was pretty easy, after the Hat Lek border point we walked for 2/3 min 200m to the Cambodian border point (Cheam Yeam).
From the moment we got closer, we saw a lot of Cambodians who were trying to sell forms and documents for the Cambodian entry. These are papers which you should get for free, but will end up paying if you don’t pay attention. A lot of them try to convince you that they can fill the forms in for you. There is absolutely no need for that. We avoided any form of contact, as once you talk to them you cannot get rid of them.
The first stop is at the health desk. Here they check your passport and give you a flyer about diseases and check if you have fever from a distance with a scanner. We heard from a couple who was walking before us that the officers tried to charge them 20 Baht, but they just said no and could walk by.
Next to the health desk, you will find the visa desk. The whole crossing point exists of a few desks located next to each other. The visa department is where things are controlled. It’s a closed door, black mirrored office where the officers decide on their daily mood, what the visa price will be that day. Before you arrive at this desk, you need to complete a form with a photo pasted on it. After completing the form you can go in and the visa process starts.
We didn’t have enough money for the new visa amount!
We had prepared an amount of 35 USD each, which we looked up on the internet. Next to this we had an additional small amount of USD and Baht. In normal circumstances this would be enough. Then we heard that the amount for the visa has been adjusted to 1,600 Baht (which is 50 USD!). Also apparently we couldn’t pay in USD but needed to have Baht. So unfortunately we didn’t have enough money and there wasn’t any ATM around.
While we were thinking about what to do and counting our money, a guy came to us and told us he could get us visas for 80 USD. We didn’t trust him first, but we didn’t have any other choice and so we agreed. We followed him to the dark mirrored visa room and surprisingly we could pay in USD and paid less then other people (40 USD each). There where 4 officers, all they told us was not to mention it to others. In a few minutes our passports were ready with the visas and stamps.
Normally getting a visa at the land border wouldn’t take 20 min. The only problem is the officers doing what they want. If they decide that the visa fee is 50 USD that day and you want to pay it, you will be done quickly. If you insist on paying the official fee, they might make things hard for you. Most people don’t make a problem of paying more money and the officers fully make use of it. The person who helped us, still did get more money then the official fee from us. We think that he was working together with the officers and when he saw us struggling, he didn’t want it to escalate. Normally we would have had enough money, so maybe they were afraid we would call the embassy or another institution.