Most expats in Vietnam know that at the moment, it’s quite complicated and costly to do a visa extension in Vietnam and also the visa extension can be done ONCE only per each visa; and therefore in many cases, they must leave to Vietnam and come back with a new visa for an extended stay in the country. And many people, in this case, opt to do a visa run to Moc Bai border checkpoint (Cambodia) which is considered the place for the cheapest visa run from Vietnam, especially for those from Ho Chi Minh City.
► See more options for the Vietnam visa run.
So, what do you need to prepare before you head for the visa run? How to do the Moc Bai visa run? How long does it take? How much does it cost as well? This guide is for all those who want to do it, even by motorbike or shuttle bus.
What to prepare for my Moc Bai visa run?
What are the basic documents that you need to bring for a smooth Moc Bai border run? If so, see the list below:
- Your original passport (valid for at least 06 months following your entry date);
- An original visa approval letter (contact a visa center in Vietnam to request it and see the detailed guide on how to get an original visa letter below).
- A pen for filling out several forms.
- $30 for the Cambodian visa (if available for your nationality) (or obtain it beforehand at Cambodia Embassy at 71A, Tran Hung Dao Street, Hanoi or Cambodian Consulate General at No. 41, Phung Khac Khoan, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
- US $25 for stamping fee for a Vietnamese single entry visa or US $50 as stamping fee for a multiple entry visa valid for up to 3 months.
- At least two passport photos (see the photo requirements here).
Among the above documents, the very important one that cannot be missed is the original visa letter. As it is original, you are required to get it before leaving Vietnam.
So, how to get an original letter for a visa run from Vietnam?
Is it easy to get an original letter for doing the visa run in Vietnam? The answer is YES. Just follow these steps:
- contact a Vietnam visa service provider based in Vietnam (like Vietnam-visa.com) and request the letter, provide them with your address in Vietnam to send the original letter to you;
- make payment of the letter fee online, or by bank transfer;
- receive the original letter directly at their office or by post.
The processing time of the letter is around 2 working days or even faster, but it may reach you a little bit later depending on the carrier who delivers it directly to you.
► CALL +84.946.583.583 OR EMAIL SUPPORT@VIETNAM-VISA.COM to request the letter now.
How to properly do Vietnam visa run at Moc Bai border checkpoint
The whole process of getting visa run done at Moc Bai border covers the following steps:
- Getting to Moc Bai border
- Exiting Vietnam
- Entering & Exiting Cambodia
- Getting visa to re-enter Vietnam
Step 1: Getting to Moc Bai border from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
How to get to Moc Bai border from Saigon? Yes, there are various ways to reach the Moc Bai border from Saigon, including motorbike, city bus and private bus.
For most people living in Ho Chi Minh city, the fastest way to reach the Moc Bai border gate by motorbike is to go towards Cu Chi and pick up QL22, keep following the way until reaching the border. The distance is around 70km, depending on where you live in the city.
Tips: Many expats wouldn’t recommend the motorbike option as it would be a long, hot ride with the issue of having to park your bike somewhere whilst you enter Cambodia, but if you want to enjoy the landscape, it is not a bad option.
By city bus:
This is perhaps the cheapest option to get to Moc Bai from Ho Chi Minh city.
Take a blue public bus No.703 at Bus station in Park 23/9 (at the corner of Pham Ngu Lao and Cong Quynh street, opposite to Thai Binh Market). If you want to depart and come back to Saigon on the same day, you should start your border-run early in the day, preferably before 9am, as the last bus leaves Moc Bai around 4 or 5pm. The journey takes about 3 hours.
Frequency: Departs every 30 minutes. And just go to Moc Bai Border
Price: 40.000 VND/person (around 2 USD/person/1 way).
By private bus:
If you don’t want to take a city bus that stops at various spots, you can book a seat on a private bus in any office on Pham Ngu Lao Street. The price is around US $10 – 12.
Step 2: Exit Vietnam
First of all, you need to park your bike or get off the bus, and then walk for around 5-10 minutes to reach the border gate.
You’ll get to the big Vietnamese building. Walk all the way to the right and keep walking until you see a big wooden booth with a Vietnamese official sitting in it. You’ll see a bunch of people waiting in line. You can wait in that line, it will probably take like 30 minutes.
Get the exit stamp on to your passport and then exit the border to Cambodia.
Step 3: Enter & Exit Cambodia
Once you get stamped out of Vietnam, you make your way to the Cambodian border checkpoint, around 200m walk. Once here, you go to a small booth where you will show your visa (if you obtained it at Cambodia embassy/consulate in Vietnam) or pay US $35 for Cambodian visa on arrival, fill out the form. There you will find some locals who invite you to get help, of course, with the hope for some money. If you don’t want, decline politely. If you do need their help, prepare to pay a service fee.
After getting stamped, go into the adjacent building to “enter Cambodia”. When you enter the building, you will see, on your left, some tables and chairs. Stay there and fill out the arrival card before queuing up to officially enter Cambodia.
Then go across to the exit building, and get your stamp out of Cambodia.
Tips: We highly recommend you prepare USD for visa fees beforehand, as if you run on Vietnam Dong, you will find that every payment comes with an unreasonable exchange fee. To do so, just visit the gold shops around Ben Thanh Market first and get some USD in small, unmarked banknotes.
Step 4: Obtain a new Vietnam visa and re-enter Vietnam
Here come the steps that you need to complete the visa border run at Vietnam border:
- You walk back and into the building again from the other side. Bring your passport, original visa letter, and completed forms (getting from the agent you got the visa letter) and dollars to pay for visa stamping.
- Queue up in front of a booth with a small window, and present your passport and documents mentioned above, pay the visa fee to get visa stamped and get the passport back;
Congratulations. You are back in Vietnam with a new visa. The whole process may take you around 1.5hours. Now, get on your bike or bus to go back to Saigon.
Vietnam visa run procedure at Moc Bai border checkpoint
- Take some USD with you, occasionally as an extra tip for the officials at the border, around US $10 (no more), so make sure you have this on you just in case. Plus there are lots of drinks and food stalls where the bus waits so you can grab some food here.
- Prepare the exact amount for visa fees so that you don’t get caught out needing change.
- Take some extra clothes because the air-con on the bus can be pretty chilly when you’re on it for 3 hours.
- Make sure you won’t change your port of doing the visa run, as once you change, you need to get a new visa letter.
Is it worth doing a Saigon to Cambodia visa run?
It depends on your situation. Sometimes you can extend your visa in Vietnam, but it costs you too much, sometimes you have no other choice than to leave the country. In that case, doing a visa run to Moc Bai is the cheapest and fastest if you are in Saigon.