Getting our visas for Cambodia and Vietnam


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Some rather expensive visas

We are using the service of Maree at RAC Travel for this holiday. Normally we do our own organizing but this holiday is rather "last minute" so we are happy to let Maree look after us. Up to a point!

Maree said she would organize our visas for us. She felt we would be best served if she couriered our passports from Perth (on the west coast of Australia) to their visa agent in Sydney (on the east coast of Australia). The agent would ensure both visas were obtained before the passports were couriered back to us here in the west. Maree felt this was the best option given there are only 4 weeks before the Mekong River cruise begins. Thank goodness we asked Maree for a price before saying to go ahead with it.

Guess what the price was? An enormous $600. We initially though there had been a typing error when she sent us the information in an email. But no, $600 was correct. The intended holiday nearly collapsed into a big heap at that point. It wouldn't be much of a bargain holiday if it costs $600 for last minute visas.


We check out other visa options on the internet

A quick browse of the internet showed there was a Vietnam Consulate in Perth, over here in our home state of Western Australia. From looking at their website it seems they issue visas and the cost would be $95 each.

A bit more online research showed we could apply for an online Cambodian e-visa. How's that! The cost would be just $40 USD.

We already had passport sized photos at home.

We swiftly sent our passports plus one photo each, via fast, secure postal services to the Vietnam Consulate in Perth. The passports were sent to them on the Friday and on the following Thursday we had them back complete with visas. Brilliant.

Applying online to the Cambodian Consulate was relatively easy. There was an online form to complete plus we had to attach scanned passport photos to our application. I pressed "Submit" on their website and immediately realized I'd missed a zero off the end of Ian's passport number. What a blob. This was all happening on the Saturday afternoon. I quickly emailed the Cambodian visa people and explained what I had done wrong. Would they be able to fix my mistake or did I need to start the process again? I didn't have to worry too much. I received an email response from them the very next day (and yes, it was a Sunday) telling me to go ahead with the online payment and they would fix my error their end for me. Two days later our e-visas were emailed to us. Excellent service! We need to print two copies of each e-visa and just pop them loosely into the passport. We mustn't glue them in.


Hopefully we'll see scenes like this from our cabin window.

Views from the boat oon the Mekong RiverHopefully we'll see views like this from our cabin



Ensure you use a legitimate visa website

Whilst looking around the internet for cheaper options for visas I noticed warnings about not using scam agencies. This is the website of the Cambodian Government that we used for our e-visas:

Before sending our passports to the Vietnam Consulate I rang them to make sure they were legitimate too. Indeed they were. The lady I spoke to suggested we put an earlier start date than we really needed when applying for the visa. She felt the boat could easily (for whatever reason) have to enter Vietnam waters earlier than programmed and if we arrived before our visa began we would not be able to enter their country. Helpful information so, of course, we took her advice.

Anyway, in less than a week we have both visas. This is the cost breakdown:

Vietnam visas: 2 @ $95 = $190
Secure postage to Perth and back to us: $17.15
Online Cambodian e-visas: 2 @ $40 USD + overseas taxes: $107.77 in our currency.

This amounts to the grand sum of $314.92. A far cry from the agency charge of $600. I mentioned how expensive I felt the agency charge was and Maree said that some people simply prefer to use their service. Perhaps they do.





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