This article has been written with direct inputs from Cambodian expat Ben Jarvis who is a British citizen. He got the Cambodia ordinary visa in the UK and traveled to Cambodia while the Covid-19 restrictions were there.
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So, I got the Cambodia visa from UK very recently and traveled to Cambodia through Singapore airlines during the Covid-19 restrictions. I flew from London to Phnom Penh with a layover in Singapore.
Trip date : 12/9/20–11.25 am Singapore airlines. If you are planning to fly with Singapore airlines, check whether your city is approved to fly over Singapore. For example, at the time of writing this article, Ireland is not one of the countries allowed to transit through Singapore. But if you fly from Heathrow in London, you will be fine.
You can check whether your city is approved for Singapore airline here.
If you are planning to fly through Korean or some other airline, do check with them about the requirements before buying a ticket. And for what it’s worth, it’s better to buy the tickets directly through the airline, rather than Skyscanner or any other agent.
This article will cover everything starting from how to get the Cambodia visa from UK, the Covid-19 test, to quarantine requirements in Cambodia and everything else that happened during. Please check the official sources for any updates as things can change with little notice.
Here is the link to the announcement of the Cambodian embassy in the USA on the entry requirements of foreign citizens to Cambodia during Covid-19 pandemic.
And trust me, a lot did happen.
Although my experience is based on traveling from the UK to Cambodia, once you are in Cambodia, the quarantine and immigration requirements will be all the same irrespective of your nationality.
However, the Cambodia visa requirements might vary a little depending on where you are applying. So check with your embassy.
Hope it helps.
What is Cambodia Ordinary Visa?
Cambodia ordinary visa or “(E) Ordinary Visa” is a 30-day visa which you can extend for 6 months or one year, once you are in Cambodia. This is the one that you need if you want to be employed in Cambodia legally.
Every foreign worker first needs a one month Ordinary Visa to later be renewed for the desired length of time.
Before Covid-19, you could easily get one of these on arrival. However, now you can only get an Ordinary visa for Cambodia in a Cambodian embassy.
For example, Visa to Cambodia for US citizens can be obtained from the Cambodian embassy in the USA.
If you are not coming with an ordinary visa, but some other visa, check out the this detailed guide on visa for Cambodia.
How to Get Cambodia Visa from UK?
I applied for the Cambodia ordinary visa via Cambodian embassy in London. I sent the following documents.
You can call the embassy and speak with Sovvaneth khun. He is a very helpful and efficient guy.
1. Original Passport
A valid passport with at six months until expiry and a blank page.
2.Cambodia Visa Photo Requirements
A 4 X 6 color photo with white background.
3. Cambodia Visa Application Form
The Cambodia visa application form is same for all kinds visas. I filled out the application form and sent it.
4. Letter of Employment
The letter of employment is a simple letter from the employer to show we have a legitimate job/volunteering /whatever. Nothing fancy. My boss sent me pdf via email and I printed it off and sent.
Note that, I was not sponsored or invited.
5. Proof of Insurance
All foreigners wishing to enter and stay in Cambodia are now needed to have health insurance with a minimum medical coverage of 50,000 USDs. Covid-19 insurance Forte Insurance is officially recommended by Cambodia. But you can buy from any other provider as long as it covers Covid-19.
In my case, I had “stay sure 1 year backpacker” policy from another provider that covers multi-country travel and Corona (only if diagnosed positive).
Cambodia Ordinary Visa fee : $ 35 USD.
It took three days for the passport to come back by post, with my new Cambodian ordinary visa.
Everything Needed to Travel to Cambodia during Covid-19
While getting the Cambodian visa in UK does not involve any of these documents, you would need to have all of them on you before traveling to Cambodia.
1. Covid-19 Test Results within 72 Hours before Departure
This is the most crucial document of course. What you need to know is that as long as the certificate is dated and stamped within 72 hours before you fly, it’ll be fine. The rule applies to the certificate, not the test.
The COVID-19 certificate has to be the original copy, not a digital copy even though it has the stamp and signature.
Some people have even had trouble because the signature was in black ink and may be photocopied, which is crazy because can print color. So if you can, ask them to sign in blue ink.
Here is my timeline.
I got my test done at One 5 health. You can book the test online, after which they will send a confirmation via email (check junk) regarding how the process works. It cost me £320.
Let them know that you are traveling to Cambodia. They are familiar with the immigration requirements of Cambodia and would know that you need a wet certificate as opposed to email.
If you can get an appointment before 9.45 am, then the results are guaranteed the same day between 5-10 pm. Be sure to call them and coordinate with them.
Address: One 5 health, 30 Moorgate, London EC2R 6PJ, United Kingdom
I had my test at 11 am on 10th September 2020. I went and collected results and the hard copy of the original certificate at 3 pm on the 11th of September. The result was time/dated 8:38 am 11/9/20 (test was on 10th).
I flew on the 12th.
2. Hotel Reservations
Hotel reservations are not mandatory, but some airlines are insisting you have a reservation now. So I would suggest you to book for a couple of nights.
You can try booking through the hotel directly but tell them you are not invited/sponsored in case they refuse you. Or try through booking.com and use the free cancellation option to cancel it later.
Note that you can only book Sokha or Tian yi.
If you are coming as a regular passenger, you are just assigned a hotel for the first one to two nights. After you get your results, if no one on your flight is positive, you can go and stay in a place of your choosing for the remaining time.
As long as you write down the address where you will be staying during self-isolation on the immigration forms, it should be fine.
3. Return Ticket
I would suggest booking a refundable return ticket that you can cancel the next day just in case. Some of the airlines seem to be pretty hung up on the return ticket, so just have one on you.
There are many ways to get flight itinerary for visa or even rent or buy.
4. 2000 USDs in Cash
You need to deposit 2000 USDs after arriving in Cambodia. After arriving in Cambodia, you’re meant to quarantine for 2 weeks, re-test after that, then get the remainder of your $2000 deposit back if negative.
Now you can pay by cash or using a credit card. But I would strongly recommend you to bring cash. If the POS machine doesn’t read your card or the electronic payment doesn’t work, they will most probably deport you.
Trip Report from London to Cambodia
My flight was at 11:30am, I arrived at 9am expecting a long check in, I was right.
Boarding the Flight: Documents
Ok, so first they asked me for proof of a return ticket, stating it was a requirement. I explicitly explained that I am not a tourist. I am going to live and work there, so why would I need a return ticket…!!!
Next they asked me for proof of hotel reservations on Sohka or Tian yi. Once again I explained I am travelling as a “regular traveller”. I’m neither sponsored or invited.
Other passengers were explaining this too, and we then talked to the Singapore Air manager explaining that you can’t even book a room at Sohka or Tian yi without providing details of sponsors/guarantor details! After waiting for 1.5 hours we were allowed to board.
In all fairness the Singapore airline staff were very empathetic and only doing their jobs with the information they were given and instructed by.
I would advise maybe booking, get confirmation, and then canceling just to have “proof” of booking to save time and hassle.
London to Singapore
So went through customs security etc and boarded the plane. It departed on time. Transit passengers boarded first at the back of the plane followed by people departing in Singapore.
The flight was normal capacity, pre-COVID,and pretty full. Nice comfortable seats, entertainment, etc. Meals were very nice (for airlines) meat and a veggie option. I had braised pork.
They served two meals, the first right after take-off and second before landing. So bring snacks, it’s a long 13 hours.
Arriving at Singapore was great, off the plane, quick temp check, and into the holding lounge. Terminal 3 has been designated for transiting passengers. It has all that you need, big airy terminal, loads of comfortable benches, and areas to get a peaceful sleep.
AC throughout, hot food, snacks, coffees, water refills, and outdoor smoking “room”, free WiFi. No ATM that I could see but you can get currency exchanged at the information desk.
I didn’t notice any pharmacy. So think ahead if you are prone to headaches or travel. I’ve always liked Changi airport and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I would like to acknowledge the Singapore Airlines staff’s excellent organization and professionalism.
Boarding and security checks were quick, efficient, and very organized. I naively hoped Phnom Penh arrival would be the same.
The flight to Phnom Penh was on a very packed plane, small and stuffy. But hey it got us there in one piece. A hot meal was provided mid-flight.
Arriving in Phnom Penh, Immigration & Everything else
First, make sure you fill out all the required forms in the plane- the immigration card, health declaration, etc. This will save you time and queuing when arriving. Have all your documents, boarding pass, and passport ready.
They check your PCR test, medical certificate, insurance etc… But don’t worry too much. If Singapore Air allowed you to board with the documents you have then you should be all good.
After documents are checked and stamped, next is the money depositing, I chose Cab bank, but alceada is also available. You hand over your 2k cash and passport and for scanning then are given a blue invoice sheet. Keep this safe!
Next is immigration, where they keep your passport, I was unaware of this and became concerned but was told it would be returned after receiving test results. It feels weird leaving without your passport but I understand why with no passport, you can’t do a runner.
Next up it is the PCR test. Just grin and bear it. Then onto the bus departure. The process wasn’t clear with no clear instructions given but just follow the crowd, have all documents to hand and you’ll Be fine from arrival to getting on a bus.
It took only an hour. Once on the bus, we had to wait another 1 hour, waiting for all busses to be full to travel in convoy.
Like I said I hadn’t pre booked a hotel and from. What I witnessed was that it was not important anyways as many people. After hearing and reading all the bad reports I was hoping not to be taken to Tian yi. Luckily we weren’t. After waiting for 60 minutes on the bus, we departed and after only a short bus ride we arrived at comfort city hotel.
Quarantine Hotel Stay in Cambodia
While we were on the bus, a female staff member had boarded the bus and explained very clearly in khmer and English that rooms would be available for one person $90 per night or for $60 per night on sharing basis. No matter what you choose, the meals are inclusive.
After a long and tiring 24 hours, I opted for my own room. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. 75% speak English and were very informative and helpful. I was so pleasantly surprised as I entered my room.
Big airy rooms, very clean, balcony, big bathroom with a waterfall shower head (much needed) toiletries, water, coffee kettle, and WiFi. Smart TV and AC. I was given a meal that consisted of rice, sweet and sour chicken, noodles, and vegetables. It was very ample.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of the local Pagoda which brought out a smile on my face as the realization struck that I made it.
Can You Extend the Cambodia Ordinary Visa?
After the initial 30 days, when you go to extend your Cambodia business visa, you can choose an EB, EG, ER, or ES visa extension, also known as an EOS, or extension of stay. This can be done once you are in Cambodia.
Here is how to extend Cambodia ordinary visa.