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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Visas and Cash: What to Expect

Hello Mekong Travellers!

This Yak post is aimed to provide you with a few more packing notes related to visas & currency. In less than a week, we will finally come together as a group and begin our journey together and we’re very excited!

In a couple of days our instructor team will be in Ayutthaya, Thailand’s second historical capital city, for our Fall Orientation. By 1700 Ayutthaya was the largest city in the world with 1 million inhabitants and by all reports it was a very grand city indeed (with gold lined streets and all). All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground!

But looking into the future now…

We will get our visas on arrival in both Laos and Cambodia; for these visas, you’ll need passport photos as well as some cash in USD.

As you pack, please be sure to bring along:

  • 4-6 passport photos – don’t worry too much about specifications (background color, smiling or not, size, etc.) as none of these countries are terribly strict.
  • Around $200 USD cash

You will pay for your Cambodia and Laos Tourist Visas on Arrival in USD cash (the total will come to about $100 USD).

In addition, most students bring around $100-150 USD for personal spending money (like souvenirs).

FYI – Cambodia and Laos accepts USD as a form of currency, so you may plan to bring USD for your personal spending for the first ~2 months. Small, clean notes ($10, $20, $50s) are easier to use than big $100 bills.

Note: USDs are fairly easy to exchange in most places we will travel. Your bills should be in good condition, no marks or writing on them, not ripped or patched, not folded. EMoney exchange booths in Laos and Cambodia might not accept the “imperfect” bills, or buy them with lower rates. This usually happens to big notes like $100.

  • An ATM card (in case of emergencies or if you simply want to withdraw more personal spending money).

Visa and MasterCard (not AMEX) are widely used in the countries we will travel to and you will have access to international ATMs when we are in cities.

You may be charged withdrawal fees; please check with your bank in advance and be sure to set a travel notice if you plan to use your card to withdraw from abroad.

Reminder: don’t forget to pack your student ID! It may be helpful to get us discounted rates in some of the places we visit.

If any questions come up, please don’t hesitate to post them on the Yak board and we will respond promptly.

Happy packing to all & see you in a week!

Your instructor team,

-Anna, Karlee and Gai