Page 4 of 4 (2002)
These are reports detailing experiences traveling independently between Bangkok and Phnom Penh by way of Koh Kong. If you'd like to share your own experiences, please e-mail them to me.
Overland to Phnom Penh (December 2002):
On Dec 1 I traveled from Klong Yai, (OK place to stay the night instead of Trat - allows you to sleep a little longer in the morning) to Phnom Penh. Motorbike Klong Yai to border 50 baht. The border officials stood firm in their demand for 1100 Baht for visa, claiming that the additional 100 baht was because the visa is now a sticker and not a stamp. (I tried to argue with them that that I should pay the same as crossing at Poipet, didn't bulge them though).
From the market in Koh Kong I got the front seat (double seat) in a pick-up truck for 500 baht. Didn't even have to bargain for it! Though I do speak Thai.
Took us 6h 45 min to reach Phnom Penh. And we still had to wait some 20 min for a Camry which had some problems going up a steep hill and we had a 20 min lunch break. We were lucky with catching the ferries right in time though. I left Klong Yai at 7.15, arrived in Phnom Penh (New/Central Market) at 15.20! Road is still closed 12.00-15.00, and it seems it will remain that way for some time.
Fun with Koh Kong visa fee scams (November 2002):
to Cambodia 23 November (Hat Let/Cham Yeam border crossing) and the cost
for the tourist visa is now 1200 baht. Of course, the cost for the visa
could have been increased after a decision from the Cambodian government,
but I don't think so as the visa guys didn't want to give us a receipt
or write on the visa stamp what the fee was so it's obvious they are pocketing
the extra 200 baht. There is no way they accept US dollars any longer,
they only accept 1200 baht. I complained a lot and tried to get away with
paying 1000 baht but they were having none of it. I asked to see a superior
but got the answer "sure, sure, but he's having breakfast and will
not be back in an hour, but you can wait", knowing the minibus to
Phnom Penh were waiting for us. Anyway, their 'superior' is probably aware
of the scam so it wouldn't make any difference.... [Gordon here: Cambodia
law is very specific, a tourist visa is $20 on arrival, presently about
860 baht and the superior, well, he's getting the biggest cut.]
On the road, Sre Ambel to Koh Kong (October 2002):
For my road trip to Koh Kong, it was on September 30. It had rained heavily the day before, but prior to that it had not rained for 3 days. We took a mini-van, probably the least desirable means to travel the road, but we did have an excellent driver. By the end of the trip, we had broken the panel under the front bumper. Basically the road up to the first ferry was not bad and the road after the last ferry was acceptable. The other sections of the road varied greatly. Some sections were extremely sloppy and the mud quite deep, but vehicles were making it through. We were fortunate not to get stuck at all. At one section of the road it was so rough one of the van's rear tires came off of the road; we had to roll backwards to get both tires back on the ground so we could get traction back. If the rains stay away, it should remain passable with minor difficulties. However, if it starts raining again; well, I'd recommend you check with some one who has just come from the other direction.
From Sihanoukville to Koh Kong by land (September 2002):
There are 2 ways to go to Koh Kong from Sihanoukville. If you are in a hurry I suggest you take the boat. If you go by road I suggest you take a pick-up instead of a guesthouse minibus. I had the misfortune to take the minibus from one Sihanoukville guesthouse. The price was an outrageous 15 US$ but with the promise of being delivered to the border in a secure, comfortable and fast way and avoiding to stay in Koh Kong. The departure time was 7 AM in Sihanoukville and arrival time was 6 PM in Koh Kong ... The driver was incredibly slow and DELIBERATELY stuck the minibus in the mud and we were stuck for 3 hours. At 6 PM he stopped at Koh Kong and miracle it was, the guesthouse belongs to the minibus operator. It was too late to go to Trat (the border closed at 5 PM ). So we had to stay at this shitty guesthouse which by the way is used by the brothel's girls next door at night. This is Cambodia... They could make a good and reliable service and everyone will be happy, but instead they prefer to make 100 baht more today and lose all credibility for the future. The Mealy Chenda minibus departed after us and they reached the border before 5 PM (I heard they charge 12 US$), so I suggest going with them or using a pick-up.
A recent Phnom Penh to Koh Kong journey by mini-bus (July 2002):
we went overland by private car from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. This was
arranged by our guesthouse for $60 US (total, for 2 of us). I was really
surprised when we were offered this option as I thought the trip would
take at least 8-10 hours. We were told it would take 4 hours and it took
about 6. The road was paved in some places and very poor in others. We
also saw some tourist minibuses along the way, though I suspect their
trip was much longer (they were going much slower than our Camry driver)
and I don't know the cost. We heard later from some people who had done
the river boat trip on the same day that it took them almost 7 hours and
they were wet and cold the entire way. The car seems to be a great option,
especially if you have 3 people sharing, as the cost would be the same,
or less than the boat, per person. I felt that for $6 (each) more than
the boat, the car was wonderful, especially since it offers door to door
Helpful advice from a veteran traveler (June 2002):
never been asked for a vaccination certificate, nor paid more than $20
for the visa at Cambo immigration. Scams for the certificate and requests
for 1000B seem far more common when entering at Poipet. But...I should
add that upon initial contact with the immigration personal, I always
casually mention that I am a doctor and they have subsequently never tried
to pull any scams with me. I've never had to show any ID...so anyone can
use the same ploy.
Thanks. Keep 'em coming. E-mail your story.
Reports Page 4 (2002)
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