The Quickest, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Get a Vietnam Visa in Cambodia

When planning my trip to Southeast Asia, I decided to head to Cambodia before Vietnam in large part because, as an American, I had to apply for a visa before I traveled to the latter country. I didn’t want to go to the expense and trouble of sending off my passport to the Vietnamese embassy while I was still in the U.S., and a little on-line research told me I could easily get a visa for Vietnam once I arrived in Cambodia. Once there, I was thrilled to learn just how easy it was.

There are little travel agencies in Phnomn Penh and Siem Reap, where you can fill out an application and hand over your passport along with a fee, and they’ll go get your Vietnam visa for you. A Vietnamese embassy is in the capital city of Phomn Penh, so if you’ll be spending some time there you can take your passport to the embassy, apply for the visa yourself, then wait a few days before returning to pick up your passport with the visa inside.

I’d read that getting a Vietnam visa from the Vietnamese Embassy in Sihanoukville, Cambodia was an inexpensive same-day process, so I decided this was the best option for me. For three weeks I stayed in the rural community of Kampot in southern Cambodia, where I found many tiny travel agencies with whom you can book tours and trips. For a 10 or 15 USD fee, these agencies will take your passport and visa application to the embassy in Sihanoukville and get your visa for you. If you’re going to be staying in Sihanoukville and need a Vietnam visa, it’s a no-brainer to just get it from the embassy there yourself. I didn’t stay in Sihaoukville, but this little beach town was just a two-hour journey from Kampot, so I decided to try to take a day trip to see if I could possibly get my visa in the morning and then lie on the beach all afternoon. It worked.

Reclining on Otres, Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

I booked a trip on a bus from Kampot which arrived in Sihanoukville at approximately 10:45 a.m. Many, many tuk-tuk drivers were, of course, awaiting our arrival. I told one of them I wanted to go to the Vietnamese Embassy, we settled on a price for the ride, and he took me on the 15 minute trip to the small, unassuming building on the outskirts of town.

Exterior of Vietnamese Embassy in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Once I arrived, I walked into a small room with a wooden table just inside the door, around which sat about half a dozen other Westerners, all filling out the simplest one-page form I have seen in my life. The most difficult question was “Date of Travel.” You need to have the date you’ll be traveling to Vietnam in mind, because on your visa they type in the earliest date on which you’re allowed into the country along with the last day you are allowed to depart. I decided to head to Vietnam on the day my Cambodia passport expired.

I handed my application to a man behind a counter at the rear of the room, along with my passport. He then asked for a passport-sized photo, which I had stupidly left at my guesthouse in Kampot. No problem. He quickly made a copy of my passport photo on his copy machine, free of charge. I then handed him 45 USD for the visa and sat back down at the table. Approximately 15 minutes later he called my name, I walked to the counter, and he handed me my passport with my new Vietnam visa glued inside.

Vietnam visa, obtained at the Vietnamese Embassy in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

My tuk-tuk driver then motored me to Otres beach, where I watched the waves, strolled, ate two meals and got a massage in the sun before I took an inexpensive taxi back to Kampot. If you’re going to be staying in or around Sihanoukville, getting your Vietnam visa there is the absolutely best way to go.

17 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Great advice there Sabina. I’ve heard of many people having difficulties and getting scammed in PP. Good to see you are one step ahead of them!

    Getting creepy how visa fees are increasing though!
    Dave from The Longest Way Home recently posted..Food from Malaysia- Banana Leaf RiceMy Profile

  2. Sabina says:

    Hey, Dave – thanks a lot. This was indeed still a pretty expensive visa, although it was the cheapest option. All the more reason to get it in Sihanoukville rather than anywhere else ;)

  3. Gray says:

    Combining a visa trip with a side trip to the beach? Genius.
    Gray recently posted..The Comfort of the FamiliarMy Profile

  4. Lill says:

    Wow, that was pretty much a breeze.
    Lill recently posted..Indboforsikring til forening – hvad koster detMy Profile

  5. Sabina says:

    It was a great day. It just worked out so perfectly. All it required was advance planning.

  6. Sabina says:

    It could hardly have been easier.

  7. Ali says:

    I was just looking into visas tonight for Vietnam. Really glad I saw this post, maybe I can do something similar when I’m in Cambodia.
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  8. Sabina says:

    Hi, Ali – It’s definitely do-able. I think even getting it in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap would be cheaper and easier than sending your passport off for it while still at home.

  9. ylin42 says:

    Wow, only 45 USD? Getting my Vietnam visa by mailing my passport to the embassy in Washington DC cost 70 USD!
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  10. Sabina says:

    Yep, everything I’ve read tells me Sihanoukville is the absolute cheapest place to get one.

  11. Steve says:

    This is similar to how I got my first Cambodian visa. It took about a day to get one while I was in Bangkok. It was so simple. I didn’t think to just go to the embassy itself and get it though. It would have made a fun little side trip.

    Getting your Vietnamese visa this way is a good idea. When I got my visa, I had to carefully plan out when I would be crossing into the country from China. It worked out perfectly, but doing it this would save on having to time it just right.
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  12. Sabina says:

    I didn’t know you could get a Cambodian visa ahead of time from somewhere else in SE Asia. I’ve never had to actually go through the process of getting a visa upon landing at an airport before. In most countries, of course, they just stamp it into your passport with no fuss. In Cambodia, it was more complicated.

  13. leon says:

    i want to travel throughasia and maybe i can help start schools etc im 50 i dont have to work at 65 i get my pention so i just want to help others. im single my family are all over the place. plus they can afford to see me if they choose to if you can give any advise to me about crime cheap places to stay. i would love to live a coulple of months on the beaches. i really want to staert abusiness were i could sell their goods and help their eco.

    thanks leon

  14. Sabina says:

    Hi Leon, I’m sorry I took so long to answer. There are so many cheap places in Cambodia. The Green Park Guest House in Siem Reap is only $6 per night for a very nice room with a fan. Magic Sponge in Kampot has a room for $9 per night with a fan. Please let me know if you want any more tips.

  15. Shoshanna says:

    Stumbled upon your post in a Google search – thanks for these detailed instructions (and photos). I’m going to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in three weeks, and was a bit worried about getting the Vietnamese visa issued in time before my trip. Well, just last night I was mulling over the idea of going to Sihanoukville for a few days before crossing the border to Nam…I’m convinced now :)

  16. Sabina says:

    Hi, Shoshanna. I’m so glad this post helped. I think getting a Vietnam visa from the US is a lot of trouble, so I really wanted to let people know about this incredibly easy alternative. I hope you have a blast in SE Asia!

  17. DanO says:

    1.16.13 – Due to reading this post I went to the Vietnam Embassy for my Entry Visa. As of Jan 1st, 2013, Rates are now $60 usd for single entry and $70 for multiple. I arrived at about 8:30 am, filled out and signed the application form and handed it to the clerk. Ten minutes later I received my passport back with a freshly installed Vietnam Visa.

    I had quoted a travel agency in Sihanoukville and they wanted 64 dollars to do the process for me. You hand them your passport at 8 am and they will have it back to you by 5 pm the same day. I do not like to have my passport out of my control so going in person is the way to go if you are in Sihanoukville.

    Thanks for the original post as this made my trip much easier and more time to enjoy dollar drafts in the sun!

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