In the second week of January, 2019, I made my way to Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the last leg of my Indo-China trip.
We were three of us and upon landing from Saigon, at Immigration we headed in different directions. I had opted to avail of a visa on arrival. There were a couple of reasons why I had opted for this, which I shall write about shortly. My two friends who had previously each applied for e-visas went straight to an immigration counter, got stamped and waited for me.
For the e-visa, the process is simple. You need to log on to their registered website and create an account. Once that’s in place, fill in all the details. You need to upload a recent passport sized photograph, along with details of your passport, and mention your port of entry.
Once you have filled in all the details and uploaded your photograph, make the payment and you’ll get a confirmation acknowledging receipt of payment and application. Then sit back and wait. I’ve previously got the visa in under half an hour. My friends got their in under two hours.
Once your visa has been emailed, you need to take two colour prints and carry it with you. You need to show one of them at the immigration counter when you land, which they will stamp, along with your passport. Make sure to keep it safe with you as you may be required to show it when you depart. For added safety, and if you wish to keep the visa, then I suggest that you cut it out and staple it to your passport. That way, you are sure it’s not going to be misplaced. I pasted it on my passport when I had first applied for the visa.
Visa on arrival
This was the first time I was applying for a visa on arrival.
Once you land and walk into the airport building, keep an eye out for the visa on arrival counters. It’s located in the open area on the right-hand side and shouldn’t be hard to miss as you will see a horde of people floating around. Before you stand in line, make sure to fill in the application form and landing card, and keep a photograph and US dollars handy.
When it’s your turn, hand in your passport along with the forms, photograph and dollars. And if all is in order, he’ll tell you to go stand around another counter further up. Again, you’ll see a long line, which didn’t really make sense to me. They call out your name when your passport is ready for collection. So am not sure why people were standing in line. It doesn’t take too much time. I managed to visit the bathroom to freshen up and I still had to wait a few minutes more before I collected the passport.
Once you have confirmed all the details on your visa, head to the immigration counter, get stamped in, then collect your luggage and make your way out. Just remember that you need to show the landing card just before you exit. So keep that handy with the stamped passport. Welcome to Siem Reap.
Now, getting back to why I chose a visa on arrival this time round, instead of opting for the more convenient e-visa, well, two reasons.
First bonus: I’ve always got my thrills each time a new sticker is pasted on my passport. I’ve never had any issues about trying to save pages. And frankly, as an Indian passport holder, chances are that most places we visit would require that we have a visa already. Yes, that is slowly changing, and for the better, as the number of countries that now offer e-visa facilities to Indian travellers is increasing (with certain restrictions of course, which I shall detail in another article). Nevertheless, that’s a positive start. But I digress.
Second bonus: This was purely math. The e-visa costs US$ 30 + an administrative fee of US$ 6, which works to US$ 36 in total. The plus with this type of visa is that you walk straight to the immigration counter, get stamped and then wait for your baggage. A visa on arrival, on the contrary is a flat US$ 30. If you will discount the wait, this made more sense to me. I know US$ 6 is not too much for a lot of people. But I was on the last leg of my travels through Indo-China and wanted to save every dollar wherever I could. However, that’s still not why I opted for it at the end. The bonus, for me, was that I could, with that money saved, buy myself 12 pints of beer at Pub Street on any given day, during Happy Hour.
Now, that, to me, is good reason to save on that money. What do you say!
Note: While this article considers visas for Indian passport holders, please check whether your nationality is eligible for an e-visa or a visa on arrival. In most cases, you should be eligible for either an e-visa or a visa on arrival.