There’s only a couple of reason’s why you may be headed to Phnom Penh.
- You have a stopover or connecting flight there.
- You are transitioning from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.
- You are getting a Thai Visa from the Thai Embassy.
I was there for the third option.
Getting a Thai Visa
You can get a Thai visa on arrival. If you’re traveling to Thailand by air you will be given a 30 day Thai visa in the airport. If you’re arriving by land you will be given a 15 day Thai visa. I’m not exactly sure why the difference but these are the rules as of October 2016.
This poses a lot of problems for many backpackers, as most will be arriving by land but wanting to spend more than 15 days there.
To work around this issue you can obtain a 60 day Thai visa from an embassy in another country. This article explains how to do this, specifically in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Two Options for Applying
Before applying using either method, keep in mind some essential information you will need.
- Passport or travel document with a validity not less than 6 months
- Visa application form
- One (1) recent 4 x 6 cm. Photograph of the applicant
- Round-trip air ticket or e-ticket (not necessary, will explain later)
- Proof of financial means (20,000 baht per person/40,000 baht per family)
Apply in Person
Applying in person entails making your way to the Thai embassy, filling out the form and paying the $30 fee. This is the more economical option but does pose some risks.
First, it could take anywhere from 2-5 days to process. This is an issue if you are on a tight time table.
Second, I’ve heard that employees at the Thai embassy are quite standoffish and are not eager to answer questions or offer assistance.
Third, I’ve heard and read of people being denied their visas for various reasons. Not having proof of sufficient funds and proof of onward travel seem to be the biggest culprits.
Finally, I’ve also heard and read that in order to ‘expedite’ your application you can bribe a security guard at the embassy and have them submit it for you. For $10-20 it seems like you can get next day delivery.
This seemed really sketchy to me and I don’t think I would trust a security guard at the embassy with my passport.
With that said, many people have applied in person and have been awarded their visas. So if you want to go this route know that many have done so successfully.
I however, had my doubts so I opted for the second option.
Hire a Third Party to Apply on your Behalf
After more research I found out that you could have travel companies apply on your behalf. This service would still take 2-5 days to process but it saves you the hassle of having to go down to the embassy and applying yourself.
You can also pay extra for an expedited service that gives you next day delivery.
I found a company online that was nearby my hostel that said they offered the aforementioned service. I set out to find the company without any luck and popped into a hotel to see if they knew where it was. They didn’t but they did offer the service I was looking for.
My point being, a lot of places offer this service. I recommend going through a hotel or hostel as I feel like these are reputable agents.
The service cost $60 and included the expedited delivery.
I left my passport, one 4 x 6 photo and proof of funds with the hotel. I had zero problems and received my stamped passport the next day.
Notes on Required Information and Documents
- You MUST have at least 6 months of validity left on your passport
- They are very precise on the 4 x 6 photo. The photo has to be more zoomed in than your passport photo. Go to any photo shop in town and tell them you want Thai visa photos and they will sort you out.
- Proof of onward travel is NOT required. Many backpackers have no idea what their plans are in the next 5 days, let alone the next 60. I did NOT provide onward travel proof and had no complications.
- With that said, I DID need to provide proof of funds. This involved printing out a screenshot of my bank and checking account balance. Don’t forget to blank out all sensitive information before printing. Think account numbers, SSN, etc.
If you’re on a tight budget and do not have time constraints, go with the first option. You’ll save $20-40 by doing so. If you can afford the extra $20 I highly recommend going with an agent. I received my visa the next day and it was easy and stress free.