Escorted Vietnam Cambodia Tours

Visas for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the three countries that originally made up the old region of French Indochina, are popular tourist destinations in Asia, and often traveled to together. A classic Indochina tour takes in the best of all three countries, from the stunning modern architecture of Ho Chi Minh City and the amazing ancient temples of Angkor, to the spectacular Elephant Temple of Luang Prabang in Laos.

Traveling to Indochina requires one to have visas for the three constituent countries, and while they are all in the same rough area, there are some subtle differences to the requirements and types of visas that are available. There are also certain rules around each type of visa in each of the three countries, such as restrictions on ports of entry for certain visa types and the various payment options available.

Visa for Vietnam

Vietnam visas can be applied for with relative ease. The visa application system has been greatly simplified in recent years to better promote tourism to the country, which has fast become a major industry within Vietnam since it recovered from the Vietnam War. With growth in majority of its industries, Vietnam has become a modern country in Asia, with major cities having been almost completely rebuilt to modern-day standards.

With more than 13 million foreign tourists visiting the country throughout 2017, the tourist economy of Vietnam is booming. Visas for the country can be obtained in one of three ways, including their new E-visa online application to save time, as long as you fit their criteria. And for the residents of 24 countries across Asia and the world, there are visa exemption policies in place to allow visa-free travel for a limited period.

Vienam Visa
Vienam Visa

Pre-approved Visa

As always, pre-approved visas are available from the Embassies or Consular Offices of the Vietnam government in your country of origin or residence. Application for the visa requires a personal visit to the embassy or consular office, and if your country does not have an embassy or consular office, you can make the application in any other country you are traveling to with proof of your country of residence. The visa is valid for 30 days from the date of application, so it is best to apply as close to your expected date of travel as possible, and can be used at any port of entry to the country.

Visa applications require your original passport with at least six month’s validity at the expected time of travel and two facing blank visa pages, the completed application form, and two passport-sized photos. It normally takes around three days to process the visa, and the payment of the fee can be made by company check, banker’s draft, or money order at the time of application. Visa fees vary depending on the country of origin, so it is best to check with the embassy or consulate in your home country for the actual fee.

Visa On Arrival

Vietnam does not have the usual Visa On Arrival service that many Asian countries offer. Instead, they have a pre-arranged visa option, where you can make the application for the visa online, and receive a visa approval letter to show to immigration officials on arrival at the airport. Immigration will then issue the visa sticker in your passport, and you can enter the country. While this is a good option for those traveling to Vietnam, it is not available if you are traveling overland, which requires a pre-approved visa or E-visa (in selected checkpoints only).

Visa on arrival
Visa on arrival

While this is not always the best option, if you are pressed for time, or cannot get to an embassy or consular office, it is a great way to order the visa online and know that you can pick up and pay for the visa on entry, in the same way as a Visa On Arrival is issued. The application can be made through the Vietnam Visa official website at


The E-visa for Vietnam started in the first half of 2017 to enable more tourists to get a visa easily and quickly. Payment for the E-visa has also been made simple, with a payment made to the official bank account listed on the official E-visa website at

The application process for the visa is easy and fast, and once payment is made the visa will be issued as a PDF file to your registered email address within three working days. All you need to do is download and print the visa (ideally have several copies, just in case) and show it to the immigration officials on your entry to Vietnam. The E-visa is available for entry through all three international airports and 13 land border checkpoints, as well as seven sea ports.

Visa for Cambodia

For Cambodia, a visa is required for all travelers to the country, with the exception of those that have a visa exemption agreement between their governments. Eight Asian countries, and the Seychelles, currently have an allowance for visa-free travel for pre-agreed periods. For everyone else, there are three options for visas to Cambodia to choose from, and each has its merits.

Pre-approved Visa

Anyone from anywhere in the world can make an application for a visa through the embassies and consular offices around the globe, although there are a limited number of these, and you will not find them in most countries. However, you can make an application for a visa at any embassy or consular office in the world, irrelevant of your home country.

Visa applications take three working days, and require your original passport with six month’s validity and one blank page, the completed application form, and one passport-sized photo. The visa costs just US$ 30, or the equivalent in your local currency (though the embassies all accept US dollars in every country). Several western countries and Australia do have a visa mailing service for those who cannot get to the embassy personally, and requires you to include a pre-paid registered mail return envelope with your application.

Visa On Arrival

In these days of easy travel around the globe, the Visa On Arrival service offered by many countries is now the preferred method of application, since the new E-visa services are not yet fully operational in many countries, and are often limited in those countries which allow it. The visa is a single-entry 30-day visa that is valid from the date of issue. The visa is available at all of the airports and land border crossings into Cambodia, and can be extended once for another 30 days while in the country.

visa on arrival
visa on arrival

The visa fee of US$ 30 is payable in US dollars only at the points of entry, and it is wise to take dollar with you even if you are not traveling from the United States. The airports have ATMs near the immigration desks that dispense dollars and the land entry checkpoints all have money changers outside, but the exchange rates are poor, and the ATMs make a five dollar charge for every transaction. Since Cambodia accepts dollars across the country as its unofficial second currency, then getting it from outside the country will be of benefit as the exchange rates in Cambodia are often not favorable.

The Visa On Arrival service is not available to a selection of countries, who are required to obtain a pre-approved visa before travel. The official visa website has a full list of the restricted countries.


The E-visa service for Cambodia is one of the best of all three Indochinese countries, and with the limited number of embassies and consular offices, and the propensity for online transactions, makes it one of the best options for travel to Cambodia. However, the E-visa can only be used at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports and four of the many overland border checkpoints, so if you are traveling through another port of entry, the Visa On Arrival is your best option.

Cambodia visa
Cambodia visa

The application is made through the official website at, and the processing time is just three working days. The visa is sent to your email address as a PDF file, which you can print to show the immigration officials. E-visas are only valid for thirty days from their date of issue, so only apply for it once you close to your travel date. They can be applied for from any country in the world, so if you are already traveling, applying is quick and easy.

Payment of the US$ 40 fee is one of the main issues of the Cambodian E-visa, as the website only allows payment through their online payment portal using a MasterCard or VISA credit card. Other card types are not allowed, and there are no other payment options available.

Visa for Laos

If it is simplicity that you are looking for in a visa application, then Laos has it sorted. You have the options of applying for the visa through an embassy or consular office, or applying for it on arrival at the airports and land border checkpoints around the country.

Laos visa
Laos visa

Pre-approved Visa

While the nation does not have embassies or consular offices in every country, they have made it simple to get a visa if you are in one of the countries that does not have an embassy. The Lao government is allowing approved travel agents around the world to make the application for you in the nearest country with an embassy or consular office, and travel agents in countries with an embassy can also make your application on your behalf. While there may be a fee for this for the travel agent, it is worth the small fee to get the visa instead of traveling there yourself.

Application for the visa requires your original passport if applying personally, or a photocopy of the data and photo pages if applying through a travel agent. You also need six month’s validity remaining and two facing blank visa pages, as well as the fee for your nationality (which varies from country to country), and one passport-sized photo. Processing takes around three working days, although, with travel agent applications, it can take up to ten working days for them to receive the visa sticker to insert in your passport.

Visa On Arrival

Visa On Arrival is the most popular method of obtaining a visa for Laos, and is available at the international airports as well as almost all of the land border checkpoints. The Nam Phao- Cau Treo crossing from Vietnam, the Subhun crossing from China (for tour groups only), and the Paksan-Bueng Kan crossing from Thailand do not have a Visa On Arrival service available.

The visa is a single-entry, 30-day visa that cannot be extended, and you are required to leave once your visa expires. However, you can leave the country and come straight back in, applying for a new Visa On Arrival, which allows you another 30-day stay in Laos.

There are a number of countries that are not permitted to use the Visa On Arrival Service, and the complete list is available on the Cambodian Embassy websites.


Laos does not have an E-visa service at this time, although it is expected to start within the next five years. If you are unable to get the Visa On Arrival, the best option is to use a travel agent service to obtain the visa from the nearest embassy or consular office.

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  • all days
  • 3-8
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  • 25-33
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  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar
  • Laos
  • Thailand
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