Cambodia has reopened to tourists! Cambodia travel restrictions for tourists have been lifted with the Cambodian government announcing that tourist e-visas are being issued again, quarantine has been reduced for vaccinated travellers, and quarantine-free entry is coming for travellers arriving from Thailand by air. Siem Reap is bustling again with hotels preparing to reopen. Here’s what you need to know.
I’ve been fielding questions on Cambodia travel since my little Siem Reap story published in TIME magazine’s World’s Greatest Places for 2021 and travel writer David Farley included some of my quotes in his Wall Street Journal story Angkor Wat Was Over-Touristed. Today It’s Nearly Empty. What Now? More on that much-repeated myth of over-tourism in Siem Reap soon.
We’ve had more questions from readers since our story A New Dawn for Angkor published in the October issue of Southeast Asian travel magazine, DestinAsian, so we thought it time we published a guide to Cambodia travel detailing what you need to know if you’re currently researching flights to Cambodia.
We’ll update this post as more Cambodia travel news becomes available so feel free to leave questions in the comments and we’ll answer your question below and in the post. But before we tell you what we know about Cambodia travel in late 2021 and 2022, we have a favour to ask.
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Published 26 October 2021
Cambodia Travel Restrictions Have Lifted and Cambodia is Reopening to Tourists – Here’s What You Need to Know
Closed to international leisure travellers since the world shut down at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Cambodia is welcoming visitors once again – as of 19 October 2021 when the Cambodian government announced that tourist e-visas will be issued once more.
If the chance to explore stupendous Angkor Wat without crowds, to trundle on a tuk tuk through an empty Angkor Archaeological Park, to be the first foreign tourists to stroll Siem Reap’s spiffy new footpaths and cycle along new forest bike tracks appeal, then now is the time to starting booking Cambodia flights. Here’s what you need to know.
Cambodia is Re-Opening to Tourists – Here’s What You Need to Know
Most Online Cambodia Travel Information is Out of Date
For the most accurate Cambodia travel information, contact your nearest Cambodian Embassy and consult official Cambodian government Facebook pages, Cambodian newspaper websites, such as the Khmer Times and Phnom Penh Post, and local sources of travel information, such as our website. Take care when researching travel to Cambodia, especially Cambodia visa information and Cambodia quarantine requirements, as most info online is terribly out of date or just plain incorrect.
A popular Southeast Asia backpacking sites currently claims Cambodia has been issuing tourist visas throughout the pandemic (not true), while a story published on 19 October 2021 in US travel magazine AFAR claims that Cambodia “remains difficult to travel to” and “details remain scarce” (neither of which were true, especially on 19 October when the issuance of e-visas resumed).
The Cambodian government first announced a 2021 Quarter 4 reopening back in April and there has been a constant stream of information ever since that only paused for a period while Cambodia got on top of its most recent Covid wave. Don’t rely on foreign media or blogs, go straight to the horse’s mouth. It may not be The Guardian but The Khmer Times publishes the most up to date information and most Cambodian government departments have Facebook pages. Even the Prime Minister of Cambodia has an FB page.
You Will Need Travel Insurance
Once upon a time, travellers on online forums used to debate whether they even needed travel insurance. These days, it’s impossible to travel without travel insurance. Whether you buy a tour or travel package to Cambodia through a tour company or travel agent (who’ll most likely sell you travel insurance) or you organise your own Cambodia travel and book your own Cambodia flights, Cambodia hotels etc you’ll need to buy travel insurance. There’s no avoiding it. In fact, the airline you fly will require proof of travel insurance before issuing your boarding pass.
We highly recommend Safey Wing’s travel medical insurance, which includes COVID-19 coverage, starts at as little as US$42, and covers travellers all over the world, giving you plenty of freedom and flexibility. Originally created for global nomads, it’s one of the few travel insurance policies that you can sign up for even if you’ve already left home and started your trip (most travel insurance providers require you to purchase travel insurance before leaving your home country), coverage continues if you need to head home for a visit, and up to two children under ten can be included for free.
You Will Need to Be Vaccinated
Aside from the benefit for vaccinated travellers of reduced Cambodia quarantine time in a luxury hotel (which returning friends have likened to an indulgent spa break), from 14 days to 7 days for leisure travellers on tourist visas, and 3 days for business travellers, investors, specialists etc, an increasing number of businesses in Cambodia are only allowing entry to vaccinated customers.
In the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, residents are being required to show their vaccination cards or other proof of vaccination for entry into hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, supermarkets, shops, banks, and so on, and are being refused entry if they are not vaccinated. Given that vaccination rates are near 100% in the capital, this is not a problem. In Cambodia vaccination information is stored on QR codes on national vaccination cards – which we’ve just received ourselves. While we are not yet seeing this requirement in Siem Reap, it’s only a matter of time as the vaccinated percentages are increasing rapidly in Siem Reap.
Quarantine Time Has Been Reduced for Vaccinated Travellers
Apart from last week’s tourist e-visa announcement, the best Cambodia travel news of recent weeks has been the reduction to the quarantine period for vaccinated travellers. Since the start of the pandemic, the quarantine period for foreign visa holders, such as expats employed or operating businesses in Cambodia, spouses of Cambodians, and business travellers, etc, has been 14 days.
Vaccinated travellers to Cambodia on tourist visas now only have to quarantine for 7 days, while business travellers, investors, special advisors, etc, with an invitation letter and guarantor only have to quarantine for 3 days. And the official quarantine hotels are pretty special.
Note that unvaccinated travellers can still travel to Cambodia, however, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days and provide a US$2,000 cash deposit. Unvaccinated travellers will also face challenges gaining entry to many venues, as described above, so best to get double vaccinated before visiting – for your protection as well as others.
You Will Need to Book a Quarantine Hotel Before Applying for a Visa
Before you can apply for a Cambodian tourist visa you will need to book an official quarantine hotel in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, as you’ll be required to provide proof of your hotel booking when you apply for your Cambodian visa. The official Cambodian quarantine hotels, which are called Alternative State Quarantine Hotels, are all in Phnom Penh at this stage. However, it’s been rumoured that Siem Reap quarantine hotels will soon be announced and we’ll update this information when that happens.
Phnom Penh quarantine hotels include Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh, and Leaph Sokhak Hotel. The pick of the bunch is Raffles Phnom Penh, with people we know who quarantined there raving about the level of luxury, the fine food, the outstanding service, and “little extras”, likening it to a relaxing spa holiday and saying they’d do it again in a heartbeat – and they did the 14-day quarantine, not the reduced 7-day or 3-day quarantine.
You Will Need to Apply for a Visa
You will need to apply for a Cambodian tourist visa before you travel to Cambodia. Visas on arrival in Cambodia are not yet available obviously, as tourist e-visas are only now just being issued for the first time in 18 months. Before you can apply for a tourist visa, you will need to book a quarantine hotel (see above). After you book your hotel, you can apply for a 30-day tourist e-visa on the Cambodian government’s official visa website: evisa.gov.kh.
The current cost of a Cambodia visa is US$30. There is also a US$6 visa processing fee. There is a 3-day processing time for Cambodia tourist visas. The validity of the 30-day tourist visas is 90 days, which means you must arrive in Cambodia within 90 days of the issuance of the visa, otherwise the visa expires. You can only stay in Cambodia for 30 days for now.
You Will Need to Take a COVID-19 PCR Test Before Departure and Upon Arrival
The Cambodian government requires both vaccinated travellers and unvaccinated travellers to take a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to arriving in Cambodia and to have an official certificate confirming the results of a negative test. You will also be required to take a rapid test on arrival in Cambodia and another test at the end of your quarantine period.
While some Cambodia travel information online states that you should take the test 72 hours before flying, we have heard of travellers to Cambodia being refused permission to board their plane, refused permission to board a second flight while in transit mid-journey, and refused permission to enter Cambodia on arrival in Phnom Penh because they took the test 72 hours prior to departing their country and not 72 hours prior to arrival in Cambodia. This may change and if it does, we’ll update this information.
If we haven’t answered your question above, please do leave questions in the comments below about when and how Cambodia is reopening to tourists and we’ll answer there and add your question and answer above if it’s of wider interest to travellers.