Travellers that plan to journey to Cambodia would do well to properly prepare for the trip. For instance, the mandatory visa needs to applied for, but it is also wise to check what general rules of behavior and conduct apply in the country.
An Australian filmmaker, James Ricketson (69), was recently arrested after having made a video with a drone of a demonstration of the Cambodian opposition party. Within a week, he was sentenced to six years jail. While he received a royal pardon, it was still a harrowing event. According to Human Rights Watch, he was not given a fair trial.
Breaking behavior rules in Cambodia
Cambodia has certain rules of behavior. It is wise to check what these rules are before leaving for the country. The website of the UK government provides comprehensive information regarding this. Although Ricketson was only recording the demonstration for his documentary, the Cambodian government viewed it as an act of espionage. He was arrested and convicted of “gathering information which can harm national defense as well as espionage”. The court of Phnom Penh declared him guilty, and gave the filmmaker six years of jail time.
Ricketson was eventually pardoned by the Cambodian king. It was then decided to simply deport him to Australia. Aside from the conviction, an excuse used for the deportation was that his Cambodia visa had expired. Ricketson had been imprisoned since June, preventing him for extending or applying for a new visa.
Know the behavior rules
Cambodia has various behavior rules which all people, both foreign and domestic, are expected to observe. For instance, it is not allowed to film any demonstration. Such actions can be seen as espionage, as Ricketson learned for himself. Journalists would do well to read up on the risks of practicing their profession in Cambodia.
It is best to avoid making comments on the Cambodian culture or political situation, both in public and on social media. These are highly unwelcome and can even be viewed as subversive. Keep a close eye on local news to stay ahead of any potential changes. While in the past certain regions were considered highly dangerous to travel to, such as Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey, nowadays the safety risks involved with travelling to these regions have lessened substantially. However, it is still highly recommended to look up the safety situation of the regions you are travelling to.
Needless to say, it is strongly prohibited to use any kinds of drugs of forbidden narcotics when in Cambodia. Cambodia has local laws which are strongly different than those you might be used to in other (western) countries. Cambodia is extremely harsh on possessions or trading of drugs. Even a tiny amount of drugs can lead to exceedingly high prison sentences.
Aside from this, it is also important to watch the way you act in public. For instance, homosexuality is still very much taboo in Cambodia. Keep this in mind when travelling to the country.
Should you still find yourself in an unwelcome situation, you can go to the British embassy in Phnom Penh.
Get a Cambodia visa
You can only travel to Cambodia if you possess a Cambodia visa. To apply for the visa, it is no longer necessary to visit the embassy. Tourists can easily apply for the visa online. All British travellers are required to meet this mandatory requirement. This also applies to underage children, who are required to possess their own passport and Cambodia visa.
The Cambodia visa is a document which states that the Cambodian government grants the holder permission to enter the country. The visa is specifically meant for tourists that wish to stay in the country for less than 30 days. If you wish to stay for longer than 30 days, you will need to submit a special request at the British embassy.
The visa has a validity duration of 90 days and grants the right to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days. These 90 days starts from the moment the Cambodian government issues the visa. It can only be used to enter the country once. The passport needs to be valid for at least six more months from the moment of arrival, and there are a limited number of places where travellers can arrive.
It is important to print the Cambodia visa. This needs to be done twice. When entering, a copy of the visa needs to be handed over. Similarly, when leaving the country, another copy needs to be handed over.
Applying for the visa costs €59,95 per person. The price is the same for children. Furthermore, you are also asked to upload a copy of the passport and a scan of a passport photo. If you require a visa within 24 hours, you can submit an urgent application. This option costs €17,50 extra per person. The Cambodia visa is then approved within 24 hours, although the Cambodian immigration service cannot offer any guarantees.