Vietnam is a beautiful country that attracts tourists from all over the world. However, one challenge many visitors face is the relatively short length of stay permitted on a tourist visa. For those who wish to extend their time in Vietnam, one common solution is to do a “visa run” to a nearby country to renew their visa.
A visa run essentially means leaving Vietnam briefly and then re-entering to be issued a new tourist visa. This allows you to remain in Vietnam longer than the duration of a single visa. The most popular place to do a visa run from Ho Chi Minh City is the Moc Bai border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Moc Bai is an international border gate located in Tay Ninh Province, about 80km northwest of downtown Ho Chi Minh City. It connects Vietnam to Cambodia’s Svay Rieng Province. The border crossing is a popular option for visa runs due to its proximity to HCMC, low visa costs, and relatively simple immigration procedures on both sides.
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How to properly do Vietnam visa run at Moc Bai border checkpoint
Once you have everything ready, here are the steps to complete your Moc Bai visa run:
Step 1: Getting to the Moc Bai border from Saigon
There are several transportation options to get from Ho Chi Minh City to the Moc Bai border checkpoint:
- Bus – Public bus 703 leaves hourly from Park 23/9 bus station and takes about 3 hours. Costs around 40,000 VND each way
- Private bus – Can book a direct bus from offices on Pham Ngu Lao St. Costs around $10-12 USD each way.
- Taxi – Hiring a taxi for the approximately 70km journey can cost $50-70 USD each way. Agree on price beforehand.
- Private car – Hiring a private car and driver provides the most convenience. Costs around $100 roundtrip.
- Motorbike – Driving yourself allows freedom but the 70km ride can be tiring. Parking area available at border.
For simplicity, we recommend booking a direct private bus or car service for stress-free transport to and from Moc Bai.
Step 2: Exit Vietnam
Upon arriving at Moc Bai, you will need to complete exit procedures on the Vietnam side:
- Proceed to the large immigration building
- Wait in line at the booth marked “Xuat Canh” (exit)
- Present your passport to get stamped out of Vietnam
- Officially exit into Cambodia
This process takes about 30 minutes if there is no long queue. Be polite with officials and have your documents ready to keep things moving smoothly.
Step 3: Enter Exit Cambodia
After exiting Vietnam, you will now enter and exit Cambodia to complete the visa run:
- At the Cambodian border gate, apply and pay for your Cambodian visa if you do not already have one
- Officially enter Cambodia through immigration procedures
- Get your passport stamped with a Cambodian entry visa
- Proceed to the Cambodian exit gate
- Get your passport stamped exiting Cambodia
This usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on queues. Be patient and make sure you have the exact USD cash for any visa fees required.
Step 4: Re-enter Vietnam
Finally, complete your visa run by re-entering Vietnam with a new visa:
- Return to the Vietnam immigration building
- Join the “Nhap Canh” (entry) queue
- Present passport, completed entry form, visa letter (if required), and pay the visa stamping fee
- Get your passport stamped with a new Vietnam tourist visa
Congratulations – you have successfully completed your visa run! The entire process usually takes 3-5 hours.
Advices Vietnam visa Run
To ensure your Vietnam visa run is easy and stress-free, keep these tips in mind:
- Check visa requirements and be sure to have all necessary documents ready. Missing paperwork can cause delays.
- Arrive at the border early. This prevents getting stuck in long queues or rushed at closing time.
- Research transportation options and costs in advance. Last minute arrangements are more expensive.
- Book reputable services or travel with a local if possible. They can help navigate the bureaucracies.
- Stay calm and polite with border officials. Arguing or disrespect can make things more difficult.
- Carry small US dollar bills for paying visa fees. Cambodian riel is rarely accepted.
- Do not change your declared border crossing after getting visa approval or e-visa. This can invalidate your paperwork.
- Consider using a professional visa run service to take advantage of door-to-door transport, guides and fast-track options.
5 FAQs Vietnam visa Run
1. How long is the new Vietnam visa issued for after a visa run?
After completing a visa run, the maximum length of stay you can be issued for your new Vietnam tourist visa is 30 days. Some nationalities are restricted to shorter stays of only 15 or 7 days.
2. How long does a Moc Bai visa run take?
The entire process of exiting Vietnam, entering Cambodia, and re-entering Vietnam generally takes 3-5 hours. This includes transportation time plus immigration procedures at both borders.
3. How many times can I do a visa run?
There is technically no limit to how many visa runs you can do. However, immigration officers may become suspicious if they see you doing runs too frequently. Doing 2-3 runs is generally fine.
4. Is it better to get Cambodian visa in advance?
It is recommended to obtain your Cambodian visa prior to arrival at Moc Bai. This saves time queuing at the border and ensures you have the proper documentation ready. Apply at Cambodian embassies in Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City.
5. Can I cross Moc Bai on a motorbike?
Yes, you can ride a motorbike or scooter across the Moc Bai border to do your visa run. However, it can be a long hot ride of 70km each way. There is parking available to store your bike on the Cambodian side during processing.