Some initial notes on Cambodia from a newbie arrival guy. May help if you decide to come over. I arrived today from Vietnam and had no real preconceived notions about the visa process. Vietnam’s is pretty easy too. Arriving at the airport was probably better since no one wanted some kind of pay off to rush things and there was no real need to rush things. Read some notes below and see what you think.
- There are two kinds of visas to enter initially. There is the e-visa which is fixed for 30 days and you can get one extension for 30 days but that’s it. Then there is what is called the E class or ordinary visa. That visa is also good for 30 days initially and it costs $35. That $35 is in US. Its easier to just come with US dollars or use the ATM to get the money. I don’t think they like to be currency exchangers. The entire process requires a few stops. First off you fill out the form for the visa and the arrival form. You need one picture of your mug. Some people say two. I asked and they only want one and the guard has a stapler and does the work for you. You then take the forms to the processing desks and they take your money and you wait about 10 minutes. Soon they show your passport so be watching. You go up and retrieve it and it has a bright and shiny visa in it. Now you go through customs and security before getting your bag. That takes about 10 minutes if the line is not bad. I don’t know what happens if the line is bad because none of them were tonight. Once done, you enter the arrival area and you can get money, a SIM card, order a taxi or tuk tuk. That brings me to my second note.
- I did believe there would be a mad rush to offer services but it was not that way at all. A few people approached me but I had ordered a cab and paid already so it was painless. To get from the airport to the hotel it was $15 US. The driver was very courteous so I tipped him. I asked for someone that spoke English and I got that person and he was very helpful along the way. The drive from the airport to my hotel was about 30 minutes. Traffic was like Vietnam pretty much so nothing unusual. Now I am at the hotel so on to the third note.
- I had booked a room at the La Lune hotel months ago when I first organized the trip. I don’t know why but it seemed like a place to stay that would be nice. The owner is French and his wife speaks a multitude of languages. The staff at the hotel is very nice and strives to please. You can get cold beer at the front desk for $1 a beer if you wish to take to the room. I paid $320 US for a month including free breakfasts that are US meals if I want. So I want! I was very taken with the people and I’ve only met a few. Very friendly, smiling, ready to help and they really welcomed me to the hotel including telling me about my room and that they want me to come back. I have a return trip in January so I will probably just stay here each time. I like it that much! So after all that work getting here, I was hungry. Lets talk food.
- I went to a restaurant next door which was rather more expensive. I had chicken lemon grass and two beers for about $7 US. I did not want to go out searching my first night and the hotel recommended I try it once. Menus of prices are in US dollars, change comes in US and local currency. I have not used US dollars for months so it takes me a bit to realize I don’t have to translate the dollars to another currency.
So I have 30 days here in Phnom Penh to go venture out much like before. I will start tomorrow with an excursion to get my senses straight about the streets. They are all numbered! My initial take is that Cambodians are very friendly and gregarious people that love to talk and tell me about their city. Just like my Vietnamese friends. I am twice blessed I think. This was a delightful choice for my second long stay country. I will have fun here and I think I found a home here.
If you decide to check out Cambodia, remember the parts about the visas. If you are only gonna stay a short time the e-visa is good. You can extend it once for 30 days but then you are done. The ordinary visa lets you stay longer. As I talked with the hotel owner’s wife, we both laughed about the open nature of the visa system. I can basically walk into to a travel agency, order up a year extension for retirement and leave in 3 days with a visa good for a year of multiple entries. It was what I wanted when planning and I thought Cambodia would be a great choice for a place to act as a home base. From here I can make it to the airport easily and go places but always come back as I need.
Tomorrow the days really start and I cannot wait to explore the city. I told the hotel person my goal was to walk the city and she just laughed and told me “good plan”.
Onward now to a new country to call home.