Are you traveling through Cambodia and looking to get a Visa for Vietnam? Here are some pointers on why you need to apply for it ahead of time and and how to easily get your Vietnam visa in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Note: Please also check my 2016 Vietnam visa update with detailed info on getting a Vietnam visa from anywhere, including visa options and visa exemption policies.
Some general advice on Vietnam visas
If you’re traveling around South East Asia and are heading to Vietnam, remember to get your visa in advance! For most nationalities, a visa is required and there is no real visa on arrival. If you’ve heard about visas on arrival, these are visas that require a previously arranged authorization letter. Typically you can get these from travel agents, a quick Google search should give you plenty of options (of varying trustworthiness). However, be aware that these prearranged visas on arrival are only valid at the major airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, possibly Da Nang). They are not valid at any of the land border crossings!
To cross any of the land borders into Vietnam, you will need an actual Vietnamese visa issued by one of the Vietnamese embassies. You can do this at home in advance, or you can get one on the way. Most travel agents in adjacent countries offer to arrange this for a fee, and if you can’t spare the time to go to the embassy, that’s a valid option. If you’re like me and don’t trust anyone with your passport, you can easily head to an embassy and arrange the visa yourself.
We got our visas in Sihanoukville in the south of Cambodia. There’s a lot of confusing and contradicting information about Vietnam visas out there, but the one thing that’s certain is that Sihanoukville offers the cheapest visas for Vietnam, so if you’re considering getting your visa at home or spending two days in Sihanoukville to get it, do some price shopping.
As of January 2014, a 1 month single entry visa was $65, we paid $85 each for a 3 month single entry visa. If you need a multiple entry visa, the price will be higher but still cheaper than doing a boarder run and getting a new visa.
All that being said, here’s how to get a Vietnam visa in Sihanoukville:
What to bring:
- Your passport
- A passport photo
- Enough cash for your type of visa. Bring a bit more just in case, prices may change quickly
Where to go and how to get there:
The address of the Vietnam Embassy is 310 Ekareach Boulevard. This is quite a distance from the area you’ll likely be staying in near the beach, so a tuk tuk is probably your best option. Every driver knows where the consulate is, and a return trip should cost about $4-5. Agree on a return trip fare and ask your driver to wait for you, as there will be no tuk tuks around the embassy. If you need cash, ask your driver to stop at the Canadia Bank across from the Caltex station, their ATM doesn’t charge any fee for withdrawals (keep in mind your bank might charge you though). The embassy is open from 8 – 12 and from 2pm to 4pm Monday through Friday as well as from 8 to 12 on Saturday mornings.
The process of getting your Vietnam visa
Walk into the embassy, they will hand you a piece of paper to fill out. Choose your type of visa and fill out all the information needed. You’ll have to put in your planned date of entry to Vietnam, be aware that you’ll be able to enter Vietnam after the day printed on your visa, but not before. So if you’re not sure about your plans yet, better to choose an earlier date.
Once you’ve filled out your form, go to the window and hand the form, your passport and photo to the officer sitting there (as of January 2014, there was only a small room with one window so you’re not going to get lost!). He may ask a few questions, with us he only confirmed our travel dates and that we really wanted a three month visa. After that we paid our fee and were asked to come back and pick up the visas the next day. This is new! You can no longer get your visa the same day as described in most older blog posts. Make sure you get your receipt, it should have your passport number and the amount you paid on it, you’ll need this to pick up your passport with the shiny new visa.
The next day, simply go back to the embassy, to the same window, hand them your receipt and you’ll get your passport. Double check the dates are correct before you leave & you’re all set for Vietnam!
Note: Check out the helpful comment from Miz below, if you’re in a rush and need your visa back the same day, it seems this is possible if you arrive right as they open in the morning (don’t count on it though, it’s always better to leave yourself some buffer time).
More on Vietnam
I loved Vietnam! Now that you know how to get your visa, check out the Vietnam archives for my favorite experiences there, including the best street food to have in Saigon or Mui Ne’s amazing soups.