You want a Chinese visa? Go to Phnom Penh.

Sat in my kitchen with piles of Chinese visa torture to fill in, (once in English and once in French) the realisation suddenly hit me that my passport didn’t have the required two clear pages.


Only one thing for it, send off for new passport and hope it arrives in time.

Six days before the holiday starts, my new shiny passport arrives, but with nowhere near enough time to get a visa from Paris.

Hmmm, what to do? A quick search on the web on travellers websites showed me that getting one in Vietnam was not so easy, but in Phnom Penh it might be possible. I put the forms into the suitcase, ready for our visa attempt in Cambodia.

After a few days in Ho Chi Minh, we arrived in Phnom Penh with flights booked to Beijing in five days. FIVE DAYS???

First thing on arrival at the hotel, I asked if there was any way they could help.

“Hmm its Friday afternoon Sir, nobody now open until Monday, if you are here Monday morning at 7 am we can start the process.”

Sunday was spent by the pool, filling in the Chinese visa application forms. Pages and pages, wanting to know everything about our trip. I dont remember putting down my inside leg measurement, nor what I’d had for breakfast on 16 March 2004, but I feel fairly sure I was asked.

We’re now three days away, I’ve already looked at other options for flights, and delaying for a day or two if necessary.

7am, I’m in the lobby of the hotel, with all my necessary paperwork.

“Hello sir, we have two options. There is a 1 day turnaround or a 3 days, I think 1 day is too expensive so we can do 3.”

A brief discussion showed that the one day turnaround was going to be cheaper than changing my flights, so we took it.

“Can I have your passports, a photo and some money please?’

They were all handed over, I then started to pull out reams and reams of neatly written Chinese visa documentation.

“Not necessary Sir, just passports, a photo and some money please.”

“But, but, I’ve read the webpage, I spent all day yesterday preparing these as they’re vitally important.”

The smile now becoming slightly forced. “Passports, a photo and some money please Sir.’

I handed them over with a sense of dread. Everything I’d read told me the Chinese were sticklers for their paperwork, but the concierge, reading my facial expression said “Don’t worry Sir, your visas will be here by 4PM.

I wasn’t convinced but resigned myself to a tense wait.

At 3.25pm the phone in my room rang. Reception.

“Your passports are here Sir.” Hmm, passports he said. Passports. Not visas. I knew it!!

Quit my jibba jabba. Visa duly delivered and in the passports. I don’t know how they did it, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask. All I can tell you is, if you want a Chinese visa in your passport, in one day, go to Phnom Penh and ask at your hotel.




About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
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9 Responses to You want a Chinese visa? Go to Phnom Penh.

  1. It’s amazing what can be achieved for cash. I once entered a country that required a yellow fever jab and ten days incubation. I arrived six days after the jab. The immigration official denied me entry because I hadn’t left long enough after the inoculation. The judicious application of cash by an employee whose costs were filed under ‘assistance at airport’ resulted in my being allowed through. My passport was stamped into the country and returned to me four days later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are certain areas of the world where such practises are not only inevitable, but compulsory. The sharp suits, so far removed from the daily life of the country they are administering simply have no idea how difficult their judgements make day to day working.
      I had a bloke arrive nine days before the start date of his visa (not his fault). I spoke to the airport official, I had a budget, I asked his price, we haggled, price was halved, bloke came in, airport official put yet more cash towards his brand new Beemer that I saw him in about a year later, but more importantly, the company got the guy they needed for a specific task that would have cost them over 17k a day if he’d been delayed the nine days. The amount I paid was minuscule in comparison, but the suits would have outlawed the practise if they’d have known it existed.


  2. Blimey! If only everything were that seemingly easy. Ok, so you wasted days filling in paperwork… not so easy. 🙂 Glad you got where you needed to go without having to grease too many palms along the way. We strangle ourselves in red tape sometimes. MH

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest, it wasn’t too much of a hardship lying by the pool being fed cocktails as I filled in the paperwork. I’ve no doubt payment was made somewhere, I asked no questions, was told no lies, and arrived in Beijing without a problem. Result.


  3. groocy says:

    Great story, and much easier than mine! Glad you got into China – such an incredible counry!


  4. snowyman says:

    Would you mind telling me the name of the hotel that provided the visa service? I am due to leave for Hong Kong in 2 days but the embassy has been closed for a national holiday and is only reopening on the day of the flight. I’ve been asking a couple of travel agents here in Phnom Penh, but no one has been able to help with the same day processing yet. I am still trying to find an agent who could help me with the processing once the embassy reopens, as I don’t want to risk being rejected by applying in person.


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