Taking a great initiative under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) framework, Thailand and Cambodia are the first countries to issue a single visa for tourists, who wish to visit both the countries. ACMECS was set up in 2003 and involving three other countries Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, who are trying to implement a single visa system just like Schengen Visa in Europe to promote the tourism in South East Asia Region. In fact, foreign ministers of these five countries discussed this issue many times, but Thailand and Cambodia are the first countries to sign on this. Now, visitors from some 35 countries are eligible to apply for a single visa to visit Thailand as well as Cambodia from Dec 27, 2012 onwards.
This is a great news for the backpackers who wish to explore the South East Asian Countries. This development in ACMECS will open a new door for single visa for ASEAN countries on the pattern of Schengen Visa in Europe.
How this Single Visa System Works?
Both the countries have a pre-clearance system. Suppose you apply for an ACMECS Single Visa at Thai Embassy, it will forward these documents to its Cambodian counterpart also for the approval. Cambodian counterpart has an authority to reject the application and vice-versa. Same process in reverse order will work, if you apply at Cambodian Embassy.
Applicability Date: This system is applicable from Dec. 27, 2012 onwards.
Where to Apply? At the embassies of either country.
Visa Fee: You have to pay Visa Fee for both countries. If you apply for an ACMECS Visa at Thai Embassy, you have to 1000 THB as visa fee for Thailand. After your arrival in Cambodia, they will also charge their visa fee, which is usually 20 USD. Similarly, if you apply at Cambodian Embassy, they will charge their visa fee and when you will enter in Thailand, you have to pay their visa fee also.
Visa Type: This visa is applicable for single entry in each country. Neither country will issue a multiple entry visa.
Period of Stay: This visa allows visitors to stay up to 60 days in Thailand and 60 days in Cambodia on a single entry.
List of Eligible Countries (Proposed, but not yet confirmed): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Existing Visa System: Existing visa system will also work in parallel till the further development. Except single entry Tourist Visa, all other type of visas, multiple entries visas and visa for the citizens of countries which are not in this list, can be obtained by existing visa system only.
Effect of ACMECS Visa: Thailand is already a well known tourist destination worldwide, but other four countries are just emerging on the tourist map. With implementation of this single visa scheme, the whole region of five countries will be projected as a single tourist destination. In this way, tourists will get more choices to visit the various destinations. Ultimately, it will promote the tourism sector in other countries like Cambodia and Laos also.
If you wish to get the regular updates from solo backpacker, subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the space provided on the right side of this page. You can also follow us on Facebook as well as on twitter.