Visa Run at Moc Bai border

Visa Run at Moc Bai border

Here’s my story. I’m an Australian who exited Vietnam with a valid passport and tourist visa extension that ended on the day I went (Sunday, April 10).
Before I left for the border I had:
1) a printed e-visa for Vietnam
2) a printed copy of a negative rapid swab covid test (good for 24 hours)
3) the official paper copy of my Vietnamese vaccination certificate
4) $100 USD in a variety of bills and about 2,000,000 in Vietnam dong
Here are some things I wish my useless travel agent had told me about:
Vietnam E-visas: $25
I applied for my e-visa on Wednesday afternoon and got it at 11:00pm on Friday night. I used a friend’s TECHCOM Bank ATM card to pay because none of my other three cards worked on their site. Your e-visa starts from the date you enter on the application form, not the date they approve it.
NOTE: THE E-VISA IS ONLY GOOD FOR THE PORT OF ENTRY/EXIT YOU CHOOSE! So if you chose Moc Bai, you are stuck with Moc Bai. You can’t change your mind later and decide to enter at the airport. Apparently, you can re-apply and re-pay if you want to change the port but I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. I hope to god I don’t have to leave from Moc Bai.
Also, you can only print out your e-visa from the government portal. You can’t download it. I went to a print shop and got a color copy because I know government officials love that red and yellow decal.
COVID Test: $10
You don’t need to bring one if you don’t want to.
Cambodia does not require a covid test when you enter or exit. However, you will have to take one on your way into Vietnam. There is a covid testing station located between the Cambodia and Vietnam borders after you exit Cambodia. My understanding is that it costs 200,000d. You don’t need to bring any kind of test, PCR or otherwise. However …
The day before I went to the border, I got a rapid swab test (Ag SARS CoV-2 Rapid Test) done at Victoria Healthcare in District 7, Phu My Hung (in front of Vivo City Mall). They have a tent set up outside. It costs 200,000d and takes 15-30 minutes. Then you can show up to the border knowing you’re negative. I don’t know what happens if you test positive at the border.
NOTE: THE RAPID SWAB TEST RESULT IS ONLY GOOD FOR 24 HOURS! Get it done in HCMC less than a day before you plan to be at the border or you’ll have to pay for another test at the border.
Proof of Vaccination:
I brought my Vietnam paper certificate with the official stamps for my two vaccines. It worked fine. I don’t know if any other way will work.
Cash:
Go to a gold shop in Saigon to get USD because they have great rates and nice clean bills, not dog-eared, ragged backpacker bills like my useless travel agent tried to give me. Don’t try to pay with dirty grungy money, especially in Cambodia.
There are some ladies on the Vietnam side of the border who will help you change dong to dollars but I have no idea what the rate is.
Health Insurance:
No one asked me for health insurance at any point in the process.
Getting There: $3-$70
As far as I know, you can get a public bus (#703) for 50,000d, a minivan with a visa agency for about $30-$40 (return), or a bus company for $35 (one way!) like my useless travel agent suggested.
At this point, I was pretty fed up and hired a private car for 1,500,000d ($65) for a return trip from Mr.Jimmy . He picked me up at my hotel at 6:00am and I slept the whole way. He was a great driver with no music. Totally worth it.
NOTE: GO EARLY! The border was almost empty when I showed up there at 8:00am on a Sunday.
Let the games begin!
PART 1: EXIT VIETNAM (5-10 minutes)
Walk to the Vietnam immigration office. Ignore the touts and don’t pay $140 USD like my useless travel agent said I should pay. There are some ladies just inside the building who can help you change dong to US dollars.
Put 200,000d in your passport and hand your passport to the immigration officer. He had to tap on the window and hold up a bill to let me know. He stamps it and you’re done. Walk toward the Cambodian immigration building.
PART 2: ENTER CAMBODIA (30-45 minutes)
First, at the Cambodian border you’ll see a bunch of booths on your right and an office on your left. Walk into the office on your left. There’s a big table where you will be given forms to fill out. I didn’t know what to put down for address or length of stay so I wrote Queen Wood Hotel in Phnom Penh and one (1) day. The staff will help you with the health declaration form which is only in Khmer.
NOTE: AT THIS STAGE YOU NEED PROOF OF VACCINATION (2 SHOTS!). I had the proper certificate with the Vietnamese stamps for Pfizer. I don’t know if the Vietnamese vaccination app or any other method works. I don’t know what vaccines they accept or don’t accept.
Then go to the passport officer opposite the table and give him your passport and forms. He will look at your forms, hand you your passport, then tell you to go outside to buy your Cambodian visa. You need to go to the first booth you saw on the way in and buy it there.
Give your passport to the guy in the tiny window along with $35. He slaps a visa into your passport and then you have to go back to the office with the big table. At this point I had to fill out the exact same forms as I did the first time but I don’t know why. I might have done things in the wrong order.
Next, go to the immigration officer again and give him your passport with the Cambodian visa. He will look at your Cambodian visa, flip pages and stamp things, and then you’re done. This time, walk out straight through the exit.
At this point, I got a coffee at Ross Coffee ($1 USD Americano) took a ceremonial stroll to the end of the road and did a U turn but I think you can just turn left at Ross Coffee and start Part 3.
PART 3: EXIT CAMBODIA (5-10 minutes)
Go to the booth on the EXIT side of the Cambodian border. Hand the officer your passport AND your printed e-visa for Vietnam. He scrutinized my forms, called over a supervisor for an explanation about something and stamped my passport. That was that.
PART 4: ENTER VIETNAM (20-50 minutes)
Walk toward the Vietnam immigration building. About halfway, you’ll be yelled at by not very official looking guys standing at a not very convincing checkpoint. This is the official government covid testing station. You need to get a swab test here for 200,000d and wait 15-30 minutes for results. But I didn’t do that.
I showed them my 24 hour negative swab result. It worked! But I needed to put the information into a special government health check app. NOTE: YOU NEED THE INFO TO BE IN THIS APP FOR THE NEXT STEP. You can probably do this yourself but for $1, you can get some kid to do it for you in about 30 seconds. He took my passport information and put it into the app on his phone. I took a photo of the QR code on his phone and continued on.
Walk up to the building. There are more ladies who will change dollars to dong if you need them. There are also guys at the top of the stairs and inside who will help you with this part for a fee. You can probably do it yourself but the reasonable fee made it so much easier. Here’s how I did it.
As I approached the Vietnam immigration building, a guy in a blue jacket and blue pants with an ID tag on a lanyard waved me over and told me to follow him and give him 500,000d. I did. He took my passport, my money, and my 24 hour covid swab test results. It was all so fast that I can’t remember if I gave him my proof of vaccination.
On the right hand side of the immigration officers, there is a cramped health check desk. You need to go there first. My blue guy dragged me over, cut in front of a few people in line and showed the health check people my passport. They looked up my info on the government health check app, printed a form, and stamped it. NOTE: YOU NEED THAT FORM FOR THE NEXT PART!
Then he pulled me towards the immigration officer, shoved $10 into my passport and told me to give it to the guy along with my printed e-visa, my proof of vaccination, and the stamped health check form that I just got. The officer flipped through everything for a while and a few minutes later, I was waved through. I gave the blue guy an extra 100,000d when he asked for it because I was confused and relieved.
Once you clear immigration, put your luggage on the x-ray machine, and pick it up on the other side. As you walk down the steps, there are a couple of uniformed guys who want to see your passport and stamped health check form one last time. You’re done. Congratulations! Now you’ve got a two hour drive back to HCMC to think about how fun that was. And, as far as anyone knows, you get to do it all again in 30 days!
Cost (approx):
Vietnam evisa = $25
Cambodia visa on arrival = $35
Covid Rapid Swab test = $10
Private car = $65 (total for both ways)
Tea money = $40
TOTAL = $175
Time (approx): 60 – 120 minutes at the border, plus 4-5 hour drive = 5-7 hours.
NOTE: Everyone one both sides of the border was very friendly and helpful. I want to thank them for making the process easier. That being said, this is just one experience at a border that is not known for consistency. I have heard of some people getting charged much more (especially Filipinos for some strange reason). That’s why I strongly recommend getting e-visa for Vietnam and paying a bit extra and booking a return flight to Phnom Penh or Bangkok. Alternatively, you can talk to the people at Thai Duong Bus . They were responsive, helpful, and seemed to know what they were doing … unlike my useless travel agent.