Page 11 of 22 (September 2005 - December 2005)
Taxi troubles when the bridges break (December 2005):
So I've been reading your site faithfully for updates, till we finally went to
It wasn't until we got to Poipet that we had a lot of trouble..I was expecting them but didn't realize the extent of it. When we got there no one, I mean no one wanted to give us a cab ride to Siem Reap, and a guy told us that we had to wait in a very specific place cuz that's where all the taxis are waiting for people, after an hour or two of walking around Poipet trying to solicit a cab ride to Siem reap, we finally acquiesced to the guy and took his "free" ride to the alleged taxi station. When we got there no one wanted to go to Siem Reap, but they all wanted to drive us to Battambang. And they also demanded that we pay up front which I really didn't want to do.
So it started to be fishy from then on and I was starting to wonder why no one wanted to go, but it just seemed like we were all just being pushed around and no one wanted to tell us why they didn't want to drive to Siem Reap, feigning my attempts with communication with lack of understanding of what I'm trying to say. So after four hours of arguing with the 'officials" at the taxi station, we finally jut gave up and said we'll pay up front half, and they wouldn't take it, so my husband decided that since the sun is slowly sinking away at this point that we better do what they want and just pay up front, so after paying off we go to Siem reap, bumpy all the way, but that's not the horrible part, the horrible part was that two bridges were out when we were 75% of the way there and the long line of traffic it has caused, which all seemed to make sense as soon as we stopped at that one little town. Then our driver demanded 5000 baht for transport to Battambang from that point...at this point I was really sick of being had and all I wanted to do was go back to Thailand, so we made the driver drive us back to Poipet where we spent a very miserable night ( there was a black - so no aircon and full of bugs since we had to open our windows) and we got very bad food poisoning. I really wish we made it to
By pick-up truck (December 2005):
I took the bus from the Northern Bus station in BKK and stayed overnight in Aranyaprathet. Slept in and arrived at the border crossing around 11am, luckily I didn't have much hassle at all - not many touts and no scams (at least for me)!
After the easy checkout from Thailand I went to the visa building and filled out the form. There was a guy who collected the passports, visa forms and the money from all the foreigners, as he didn't wear an official uniform or any sign of authority I refused to give him my passport and told him I'm going to do it myself! I quickly squeezed past him (before he could put up any argument) and waved my passport in front of the window of the immigration officer! The window slid open and the officer (literally) snatched my passport and the !!20US$!! out of my hands... 5 minutes later I had my passport with the visa!
I was obviously pretty lucky to get the visa for the 20US$ as I met a guy who waited for 1 1/2 hour to get his passport back after discussing with the 'unofficial guy' about the price in front of the visa office! [So I recon you shouldn't put up with anyone who doesn't seem official and wait for a good opportunity to bypass the tout, e.g. when he collects money from other travellers! Maybe it was just pure luck, though!]
1pm: Past the Cambodian immigration there wasn't any hassle waiting for me at all! I jumped on a tuktuk and got to the transportation depot (20 baht)! Getting a pick-up was a kind of an endeavour and required lots of patience! There was a guy who spoke good English and tried to charge triple amount of the fair to "Swai" (400 baht inside for 2 seats/ 100 baht in the back!) As recommended I stated the price I would pay and didn't discuss with him anymore! After sitting and smoking cigarettes for 1 hour the pick-up was about to leave and I got my 2 seats inside for the regular price! So DO NOT discuss at all and wait patiently!
Hitting the road I was quite surprised that it was in a (for Cambodia) pretty good condition! the ride to "Swai" took only 45min without any delay! Arriving in "Swai" I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't any pandemonium at all! I had just 4 guys asking me where I'm going and 2 kids trying to sell some drinks! I was tempted to stay and wait for more hassle! I got of the pickup went to the toilet and boarded the new pickup to Siem Reap -this time there wasn't any bargaining about prices I just jumped on the truck and we left!
The ride to Siam Reap was again too easy and I arrived 2hours 45min later in Reap! So the total driving time for me was just 3 1/2 hours on a Pickup (not included the 1hours waiting in Poipet and the 15minutes in ''Swai")!!!
My total cost without the accommodation in Aranyaprathet:
Quick Report (December 2005):
I attempted the Aranya-Poipet crossing on 4 Dec [Sun]. I was there at 0800hrs - already long queues. Latest news is that there were two queue lines for Khun Thai [Thai People] and one queue line for foreigners. We have to wait outside the immigration office. Total time taken to clear the Thai border was 3 hours plus.
Reaching Poipet border was no longer so "hectic". Immigration clearance was okay except the immigration officers took some time to clear the passports with their machines.
The road to Siem Reap took about 3.5 hrs in good weather. Potholes in the initial parts, roads after that okay
Realities of the new taxi system (December 2005):
I defy anyone to manage to hire a taxi that is not an “official” one at $45. We did a deal at $35 just inside the border, having been told not to by a uniformed tourist guide (yellow T-shirt) and that we must take the bus to the taxi point – when we ignored him he pulled out his mobile phone and two minutes later we were stopped by the police who insisted that our driver could not take us but “for our own safety” we had to go to the official taxi point. We sat tight but that got us nowhere. In the end “our” taxi took us to the official place and we changed to a $45 taxi. There was really no way round it – they physically prevented our driver from continuing, and he wasn’t going to argue with a uniformed policeman.
To cap it all, when the “official” taxi pulled over the driver was – a uniformed policeman, complete with hat on the dashboard!
It's not a travel agency it's the Poipet government transport scam (November 2005):
After the bordercrossing in Poipet there'a a travel agency that looks quite official, they start hassling you as soon as you clear the border. They hauled ALL independent travellers in and put them on the Kao San bus. I tried for three hours to find something else (the only option was taxi for 50 USD, too much for me as a solo), no Camrys/shared taxis waiting to be filled up with people. When I went to the main bus station EVERYONE directed me to this "offical" information desk staffed with the same travel agency as on the border. Eventually I had to get on their bus (cursing them to myself) and needlessly to say the bus and trip was shit, took about eight hours, got ripped of at the end on the guesthouse scam etc etc.
Koh Chang to Siem Reap via Poipet (October 2005):
Starting on Koh Chang, we took the 12:00 pm ferry to the mainland and caught songthaew (truck taxi) to the taxi terminal in Trat. At the taxi terminal, we got a songthaew that took us to Aranyaprathet. The cost was 2000 baht, which is too much, but we were ready to go so we did. We made it very clear that we intended to go to Aranyaprathet, but our driver took us to the wrong border, Pailin I think. I'm sure this added the time, but the road from Pailin to Aranyaprathet was very scenic.
We arrived at dusk and went to the Aran Garden 2 hotel. The manager, whose name I don’t recall, told us that the hotel was full and all the other hotels were full also. He said this was due to a youth festival in town. We were skeptical, but believed him as there were lots of teenagers hanging around the Aran Garden 2 and we had noticed another hotel with no vacancy.The manager then said we could stay for free in his room out back, in what could be best described as a room in a bungalow. He had the maid come out move his stuff out and change the bedding. We of course were skeptical of this, but we felt we had no other option, but to “trust but verify”.
We went up town for dinner, to check e-mail, and for a couple drinks came back and went to bed. They came out to the room and woke us up at 6:00 the next morning and we hit the road. So, the manager let us stay in his room for free, no hassles, no strings attached. I can’t comment on the condition of the hotel, but I can say that we had a very pleasant experience with a very nice honest manager there.
The next morning we were up at 6:00 AM to be at the border when it opened. The border opens at 7:00 AM and we were in line at 6:38 AM. Already long line of gamblers waiting to get into Cambodia to gamble. We were in the middle of a bus load of Korean tourists. I asked a Korean lady next to me if gambling was legal in Korea. Unbelievably, it is. Why you would go to Poipet, Cambodia to gamble, when you could at home is beyond me. Anyway, we got through Thai immigration at 8:45 AM! over a 2 hour wait!! We then walked over to Poipet to get our visa and stamps into Cambodia. We paid the standard 1000 baht rate and were on our way very quickly.
Poipet lived up to it's reputation as the undisputed scummiest town in Cambodia, which places Poipet high in the running for scummiest world-wide. We knew it was very, very bad from our research, so we were not surprised and prepared. Not real problems at all.
In Poipet, we eventually got to the taxi depot after wandering around Poipet awhile. We got to the taxi depot and no taxis were going to Siem Reap yet as they had not returned. The road was real bad. After a 30 minute wait, we got in our taxi. We bought the whole taxi for $40. The driver did stop and try to pick up several other fares in Poipet, but we told him no.
We had heard that these roads were real bad. I didn't find any part of "bad road" to be true, as it was not a road, more of path. And the road wasn't bad it was a disaster. The path through the jungle is mud with potholes the size of tank traps. It is busy both directions, with huge trucks, Land Cruisers, Camrys, motorbikes, bicycles, tractors, other vehicles that defy description, stuff, cows, dogs, children and other moving objects. We still have not figured what side they drive here. I think the answer is the side with the least amount of potholes. This is a road 140 km (87 miles) long and it took us 5.5 hours and I felt fortunate to make it at all. At one point a truck got stuck in a pothole. No other trucks could pass it, so the truckers in both directions had just parked there trucks and left. There was a half mile of trucks parked two together. That only left about 5 feet of road left to get our trusty Camry by. This was the same 5 feet of road traffic coming from the other direction was using.
We did have one strange incident happen to us. About 40 clicks or so from Siem Reap a young family of three flags down our cab. They talk with our driver about 5 minutes, and the husband and infant get in the car. We didn't have the energy to argue at this point, and I'm glad we didn't. After 5 minutes down the road, we both realize the child is ill. It was coughing and wheezing the rest of the trip, but thankfully the baby didn't vomit. What a miserable experience to be sick and have to ride in that cab for an hour or so. When we arrived in Siem Reap, the father and infant quickly got on a tuk-tuk and headed out. Whatever was wrong this the child, we didn't catch it, and in the end I'm glad we didn't protest the additional passengers.
We did eventually made it and found our way to Molly Malone's (which was outstanding) in Siem Reap.
We did have an amazing time in Cambodia and would go back in a second.
I have pictures from the Koh Chang to Siem Reap journey here.
and a short video of the road from Poipet to Sisophon here as it was on September 17, 2005.
Straightforward journey (October 2005):
My wife and I (age – mature) have just returned from Thailand/Cambodia and we followed your advice and travelled to Seam Reap on the bus and then on down to Phnom Penh via the Express boat. (October 12 – 20 2005)
Purchased tickets from Mo Chit at 193 Baht for the 8:00am bus and the people at the bus station very helpful. No problems with the bus (English Karaoke and Thai horror movies apart!) and arrived in Aranya Prathet about 12:30pm. The tuk tuk driver (female), wanted to charge us each 70 Baht, but after us pointing to the posted prices and starting to get out, agreed to 70 Baht total for the trip - then tried to stop at a taxi company on the way. But no real difficulties.
Purchased our visas in about 5 minutes at 1000 Baht each and had the free ride to the taxi depot. Price is now 45 USD – said to be, “because of petrol price rises”. We did try to barter for 40 USD but no deal. We shared a taxi with a Portuguese guy who was waiting there and did pay “up front” to the desk clerk. A chit was given to the driver and he handed that in to a booth just before we joined the main road.
The journey to Seam Reap took 5 hours and we only had one blow-out – repaired with a plug in the sidewall of the tyre a few miles down the road! With the state of the road I’m glad we went by taxi, Toyota should use the journey as an advert for the strength of their cars. We were dropped off at hotels of our choice with no problems.
Adventures with a taxi from the circle and not the station (October 2005):
It actually was quite easy to get to Siem Reap although I experienced some difficulties. Maybe this can help some people.
I and two others took the 6 am goverment bus to the border, took about 4.5 hours. Smooth sailing and no problems whatsoever. Took tuk-tuk to border, got visa 5 minutes and I was through.
So we cross the border and enter shuttle bus he takes us to the taxi place (at least i think it was)
It's straight on from border and take a left turn at the second or third street. We get out and ask for share taxi. It's $45 dollars. I try to haggle for all I'm worth but the guy doesn't give in.
So then he asks us to pay upfront. I say no way! I pay when I arrive and he says no money no ride. So I thought f**k I find meself a taxi.
So I start to ask around but every single taxi I ask all point to the taxi stand guy. Nobody wants to freelance and take me. So I grab my bag and walk all the way back to the border because I remembered that there should be a hotel with taxi drivers.
So after a 30 minute walk from hell I find the hotel and ask for a ride. No problem $45 pay when you arrive. Haggling doesn't work on this guy either. But I glad that I found a taxi.
We put our bags in and then drive off. Two minutes on the way we arrive at an intersection and from the left the guy from the other taxi stand pulls up to the road and blocks the road. He and a policeman get out and start arguing with my driver. And hitting on the car. Then after a while the policeman pushes his self in the back of the taxi all smiling and saying no problem. So we start driving again.
So after a minute some things are starting to look familiar, the bastard has forced us to drive back to the taxi stand. Which is btw next to police station I think.
So they force us out saying that the driver doesnt have a taxi license. So now we back a zero and the taxistand guy is laughing his f**king ass off.
But eh what can you do. So I try to crack a few jokes and lighten the tension. I wasn't up for another walk back so I accepted my defeat and paid him the $45 and got in a taxi.
Now this taxi driver starts to drive and suddenly stop at this little window in a backalley. Put some money between the bars of the window and receives a ticket. Later when we ride out of town. At the end there is a guy in a little booth collecting the ticket.
So i don't know if this just a taxi maffia or its a goverment controlled business. But i made it out here in 6 hours and had a good laugh so no worries.
So from my experience at this moment you are forced to pay upfront for a taxi. And if you try to go around they will get you back.
But i dont know what will happen if you go to the hotel first. Maybe then you can get away with it.
Hassles with the new systems (October 2005):
Left Bangkok MoChit terminal on 9am 1st class bus to Aranya Prathet on Sunday. Oct. 9th. Not a particularly comfortable situation for me, a 6 foot 1 inch American guy, but the two girls I was traveling with found it fine. Took a tuk-tuk to the border and I checked out through immigration no problem, although one of my companions had a mix-up with her Thai visa. She had to go get a re-entry stamp, which cost 1000 Baht (regular price), but the immigration staff were awesome, patiently explaining a very confusing visa situation to us many times and personally helping her through the process (even offering her some riel and whiskey. The latter she declined.)
As soon as we crossed the border a tout started helping us through the whole process and asking us where we were from, being really nice. I was pretty wary but he chatted us up. We paid 1000 Baht for the Cambodian visas, then walked through the rain to Cambodian immigration. The tout informed us that he would take us for $44 dollars and that he worked for the governement taxi company. I told him the price was $35-40, but he wouldn't buy it. When we were clear of immigration, he told us he would take us to the taxi for free. We said we would walk to the taxi depot. It became clear that walking there would be too muddy, wet, and long, so we finally agreed to allow him to take us to the taxi. He took us to his company, and the price, according to another tout there, was now $45 for a taxi. I still wasn't buying it, and wanted to pay no more than $40. The people there would not tell me where the taxi depot was, insisting that we were there. I left my two companions and decided to try to find it myself. I got a moto driver to take me there finally, only to find the same company people there. A guy I spoke to quoted "$40-I mean $45" as the price, and that was that. No driver would say any less. They were in contact with the previous guys through walkie-talkie anyways.
Finally a Thai guy arrived, and I asked him if he would like to split a taxi with me and two friends. He said yes, and when they told him the price, he seemed to think it was expensive. In private he told me they would usually charge him $30. So we ended up splitting the $45 taxi four ways, although the Thai guy only allowed us to pay 400 Baht each. I felt better having him in the car with us anyway, because he was businessman who had done the trip many times and seemed really nice.
It was a Sunday, and there were no other people taking taxis when we tried to get one between 2-3 pm, so maybe that was the reason for the price hike. They said $45 was the official price, and when I asked one if it used to be less he said yes. I asked him when it had changed and he smiled and said "I don't know."
The company people were pretty pushy and creepy, and it was sad to see many Kao San Road scam-bus riders in the lobby of their office just sitting there and hearing their stories of getting scammed. But, after 6 hours of awful road conditions and three rest/fuel stops, we were taken to our guesthouse no problem.
Tuk-tuk prices (October 2005):This is to let you know that the official price for a tuk-tuk from Aran to the border is now 70 baht. This price is posted on the blackboard you can see across the road from where the government bus leaves from in Aran.
I saw this today.
I tried to pay 60 before I had seen the new price but that didn't work. They charge 70 (or 80 if you ask them how much it is).
Fun with new regulations (September 2005):
I travelled from Bangkok to Siem Reap on the 7th of September. I used your webpage. Here are a few changes:
1. Train - I took the 5:50 train from Bangkok. Like your page said the last car was half second class, although when I bought the ticket they said there is no second class. we had to pay the conductor only 63 baht for the upgrade.
2. Border - I tried to pay 20$ (for the visa), nothing helped.... so I paid 1000 baht.
3. I wanted to take a pick-up truck to Sisophon, but the drivers didn't want to take us, they said the police dosen't let them take any tourists. In the taxi stop they wanted 24$ for a taxi to sisphon which can take 6 Cambodians or 4 tourists... in the end we found a driver that was willing to take us for 4$ each. but, the police stopped us on the way and wouldn't let him through, we understood they only let taxis who went through the official stop go through (I guess the taxi driver pays them some commision). Anyway what the driver did is go back, put each of us on a moto, took us across the police block and picked us up after it. It took us 1.5 hours to Sisophon. From there we took a pick-up truck that took us a horrible 6 hours. our only surprise was that he took us to the guesthouse we asked for, conclusion - Bangkok 5:50 am. Siem Reap 8:30 pm... but an adventure. have fun.
Fun with the KSR Scam Bus (September 2005):
My girlfriend and I wanted to visit Angkor before we had to part in a few day. So our story started the day before we got on the bus. We had decided to check around on Kaosan Road for what deals we could find <we hadn't heard of your webpage then>. We found one place that sounded like a good deal and booked our bus ride there along with our visa, my girlfriend also wanted to book a nicer guesthouse since she was tired of not having hot showers etc.. After doing all this we were stoked on our done deed (little did we know).
7:30 we got on the air-con bus and were on our way. Our bus dropped us off at one of the small stops before the border for an hour or more while someone did our visas and racked up the money from the travelers <the place was some kind of eatery>. Everyone who got there visas done there lost about 200-400 baht extra. Now at this point, one of the Cambodian people came up to us and said that the guesthouse we booked was full and that they have a different one booked for us. We played it calm and asked about this "new guesthouse". We found out it was a cheaper place by half the price and they didn't have hot water. We argued with them for at least 30 minutes before they let us contact the place we had booked our ticket with and what not. The travel agent wasn't happy to find out that we knew how much the "new guesthouse" was, etc and claimed he would refund us once we got back.
Once that was finshed they got us back on the bus and took us to the border, this was around noon now. They gave us directions that were really bad, we just ended up fallowing other people to the border crossing. Once through that someone met us and made us get in some kind of tuk tuk which took us to another small shop where we waited for our mini-van to usher us off on our insane bus ride.
Within the first 20 min. our mini-van broke down, so the driver pulled over and got his van fixed a someone's gas station hovel. We weren't ready for what was coming, shortly after that, the road ended and dirt road started. It was insane, half the time the driver wasn't going any faster than 25km/h. The pot holes very just mad, even tho the driver did try his best to avoid them, our butts were sore.
We arrived around 10 or later at night, the driver then took us to the "new guesthouse". He got out of the van and went into the building without telling us we had arrived, he then came back out and said the place was full and drove off with us to another place. Once we got to this new place, we found out it was even cheaper of a place. We talked with some of the other travelers, which made the guesthouse owners angry. We checked out the rooms and found them not very good, so everyone in the van started to argue with the guesthouse owner<s> before finally they let us leave and then took us back to the first "new guesthouse". It was now around 11:30 at night. On our way there, the mini van broke down again. The van had hit one too many pot holes and had been leaking gas everywhere on the road. A short while later, some of the people working at the guesthouse we were returning to came and picked us up with motorbikes. And now there were rooms for everyone...
That's more or less our trip there. The return trip wasn't much better. It was similar trip on the way back however, the air-con bus hadn't emptied his septic tank, so everyone had to deal with the foul stench. Also, the travel agent, after arguing with him for at least an hour he gave us back our money except 200 baht. If he didn't give us our money, we were going to sit outside the place and turn people away telling them our story. ;)
There and back (September 2005):
Well, my girlfriend and me traveled on the 24th of August. Was at Morchit at 5.50 am, purchased our bus tickets, bus left two minutes after we got on. Ate my cookie, fell asleep. Arrived at bus station in Aran at 10.45 am, got a tuk-tuk to the border for 70baht (which seems to be the set price, advised on signs) Arrived at the border ten minutes later. There was no line, paid 1000 baht for the visa, refused to pay the SARS guy.
Over the border we quickly found the carpark at the traffic circle, and started the bargain: the guy wanted 50 dollars for a cab to Siem Reap. Told him I had done this trip before and I would not pay over 30 dollars. He said he then would have to sell the front seat, which I declined, so then we was wished good luck in finding a cab. We walked away, heading to the transport depot to check the prices: 10 dollars for a seat in a cab. So, if we wanted the whole cab for ourselves, we had to pay for 4 seats=40 dollars. I turned crazy and told them mafiaguys, this is sick a level of service and they should be ashamed. We started to go back to the traffic circle to negoatiate the price of 50 dollars, but we changed our mind due to the heat and we had not planned to spend our precious time in Poipet (one of the worst places I been, for sure!) stressing around for a cab, so we quickly got back to the traffic circle and bought 4 seats.
When the cab drove up and I open the door, I turned crazy again: it was warmer inside the car than on the outside. Stated that I would never ever go with that car, until I was sure that the aircon was working properly. 10 minutes later we were heading to Siem Reap! Well the cabdriver did the most impressive driving I have ever seen in my life (I'm Norwegian and know bad roads and good drivers;)) We left Poipet at 11:50 am and was in Siem at 3:45 pm. There also were a bridge which was down, giving us a delay for 15-30 minutes. When almost in Siem Reap there was some activity over his mobile phone and 5 minutes after we where stopped by police. The driver gave them a package from the back of his car, I don't know what this was, and I didn't ask!
After 3 days of up and down, up and down temples in Angkor Wat area (it's harder than you believe: it is a real physical challenge to climb temples in 35 degrees heat and 100% airmoisture PUH-HA) and I reached a new level of patience to all the Japanese; click-click! *OMG* Anyway Angkor is one of the most impressive places I've seen. And don't miss Banteay Srey!!!
Was looking for the Sokimex station in Siem Reap, and I was so lucky I could find at least three of them. Guess the one with the cabs as the one at the airport road, but we was totally exhausted on the last day, we just let the guesthouse manager arrange a cab for us til the morning after. Price: 33 dollars. Cabdriver picked us up at 6 am, and damn: what a snail! Already after 15 minutes of driving I started to gesticulate for him, this is too slow! Was at Poipet at 10.30, and there were nothing to delay us on the way, so I guess there is a BIG difference of the cabdriver qualities. Planed to take the government bus, leaving at 11.30am and was at the busstation in Aran at 11:29am! But there was no seats left on the government bus, so we were forced to go with the other company. Back at Morchit about 4.15pm.
We thought the trip was quite fun and adventurous, and would do it again...
Thanks. Keep 'em coming. E-mail your story here
Reports Page 11 (Sep 2005 - Dec 2005)
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