Page 2 of 22 (January 2010 - June 2010)
Don't get your visa in Thailand (June 2010):
Bus from Bangkok - I believe there are buses from Morchit to Aran at 0530, 0730 and 0930. We got the 0930 getting to Aran early afternoon, crossing in plenty of time to get to Siem Reap before dark. Any later leaving Bangkok and you'd probably not get to SR before dark especially if you got a got a bus from the Border.
Bus dropped at the central Bus Station in Aranyaprathet and an 80 THB Tuk-Tuk took us to the the Border. I had an e-visa but my gf did not. Before I could say anything the Tuk-Tuk Driver shouts 'You need Visa?' and when my gf replied yes he shoots off into a side street a few hundred m from the border. Scam 1 - ignore it. There was another about 100m from the border on the left hand side with about a dozen backpackers queuing up to get ripped off...
Bottom Line - you don't need a Cambodian Visa to leave Thailand - you need one to enter Cambodia and therefore ignore any and all approaches on the Thai side - they're all scams, and it can easily cost you double. Get your visa online if you can and if you can't have $20 in cash and a photo handy when you cross.
Thai Immigration on the right hand side of the road no problem. Walk through to the Cambodian side ignoring everyone till you get to the Visa Office where you will have to fill out a form and pay your $20 if you don't have an e-visa. They wanted to overcharge my gf and get her to pay in THB at a lousy exchange rate. Hand over your $20 and wait. (We took 5 minutes).
Another short walk and a slightly longer wait (10mins) to get stamped into Cambodia, where we talked to a girl who despite all her preparedness still got scammed on the Thai side... By this stage there were official tourist 'helpers' who will guide you to the shuttle bus which will take you the 5 minute ride to the Bus / Taxi Station. As earlier threads suggest it's 'illegal' for taxi's to pick up at the border. When we returned a few days later we got our taxi to go all the way to the border to drop us off and next time we may 'arrange' for a car to wait there or nearby and pick us up.
The Taxi / Bus 'terminal' had a place to exchange currency but I doubt the rate would be very good. The taxi to Siem Reap was a little over the odds at $48 but included a drop-off at our various accomodation. We shared with another girl and split the cost. I didn't see any buses but they would take nearly 4 hours to SR instead of 2 for the taxi. On returning a few days later we got a taxi from SR to the border for $35. Road's fine all the way and should be OK even in the wet.
Poipet is a dump full of sharks who want to rip off tourists and it's often hard to differentiate them from somebody who actually wants to help you.
- Get your Visa online or at the place after Thai Immigration and before Cambodian Immigration and pay $20 cash. Anything else is a scam.
- Take the free shuttle bus immediately outside the Immigration Office to the Taxi terminal.
- Have US $ ready for your visa and taxi/bus, don't change any money at the border or in Poipet and have plenty of small bills handy.
Solo (May 2010):
Poipet border crossing March 2010 I am 55 and not timid at all, but this was my only one worry on my month’s holiday to Cambodia Vietnam & Thailand mainly getting to Siem Reap without being ripped of as the bus and taxi service seems to be run by the same local rip of mafia people with no other choice.
As the help I read was a little dated but 100% correct I would like to thank all the people who had written the correct details on various websites it made it very easy for me, and this is just an update to reassure others.
First I arrived by train the 5.55am/11.35am from Bangkok to Aranya Prathet the train ride was nothing special but the best way to go for me just to see a little more of the local people and life. First I was not happy that the E-Visa for Cambodia would work from what I had read, but it worked fantastic (but later I will tell you I am not sure it was necessary), I filled up the online form with passport photo in the afternoon and paid $25, I am almost certain I went online early the next morning and to my surprise the E-Visa was waiting for me to print off.
I can guarantee 100% they will try and scam you twice before you get to Siem Reap but just ignore them; the first scam will be when you get your tuk tuk from Aranya Prathet to the Poipet the Cambodian border about 6km he asked 80 Baht and I agreed 50 Baht you should only pay 30/40 Baht but I paid 50 Baht my choice and told the driver to take me straight to the border but as warned they turn right just before the border and straight right again on to some concrete with an office trying to make you think you need help with your visa and charge you, you do not need any help even if you have not already got your visa I just shouted just get me to the border I have a visa he then did a u turn not very happy but no trouble.
At the border you take the right lane for foreigners to leave Thailand and this is why I am not sure if it is worth the extra $5 now, but I liked the peace of mind if the E-Visa worked which it did, there were quite a lot of other people in the queue before me, when you enter Cambodia I could only see a small table with very few people there and I think this is where you pay your $20 visa fee but I can not be 100% sure as I had my visa and I did not look to hard, the next strange thing is you walk straight into the street it would be easy not to get your passport stamped but all you have to do is walk about 100m and past the casino on the right, you will then see the small office where you fill out one of those very simple arrival and departure forms the same as you get on airlines and they stamp your passport, again there was almost no one in the office so very easy to enter Cambodia.
Now comes the next scam which I was told about I had already booked my hotel and had printed the name and address so if I got a taxi rather than the bus they would know where to drop me oFf. The bus should be $10 and a taxi $45/60 as it is a 2/3hour drive to Siem Reap now on a good road, but the bus station is about 5km out of town although I think they give you a free transfer, but you are then on your own so I liked to deal in town when asked because you can still go to the bus station.
As soon as I got my passport stamped a taxi tout asked if I wanted to pay $15 for a shared taxi I said ok but that’s all he is getting I got on his motor bike and went to a cafe it seemed I would have to wait I was not happy but he said it would not be long then the taxi arrived, but then said it would be $60 as there was no one else to share the taxi with. I said get lost and went to walk away. The taxi driver said no it will be $15 I made it quite clear I was only paying $15 and gave him the address of my hotel I had 2 copies in case I had any trouble which I did not, although I was not asked do not pay in advance.
First he picked up and old gentleman I was not worried I was in the back and could handle any problems but again I did not worry knowing the price should be $45/60 he would need other customers and him touting did not bother me at all, that man got out about a third of the way, and about half way there he picked up a young lad that he may have know I think he may have been a hotel tout but again I did not feel uncomfortable at all because I found the Khmer people in general very lovely, but I know some single travellers would hate this.
The scam starts just as you get to Siem Reap they stop by a tuk tuk and tell you, you must use him to get into town as the police will not let the taxi into town complete rubbish I told him you have my hotel address and I will not pay until you get me there so reluctantly he did get me to my hotel I paid him $15 a very good price and the young lad came into the hotel I told them he was not with me and any way I had a reservation so they knew that, much to my surprise the taxi driver smiled at me and said thank you when he left, I hope I have not made this sound to bad because even if you were a young street wise female I am sure you would have no problems but it would be good if you are on your own to try and team up with some else before you cross into Cambodia.
The Siem Reap free tuk-tuk scam (April 2010):
When we arrived in Siem Reap in our Camry, the driver took us to the tuk-tuk area to sell us to the tuk-tuks. We had read about this on your website, and so we thought we were prepared. We refused to get out the car, especially because we had negotiated with the driver to take us to our guesthouse at which we had reservations, to which he replied "no problem." We had agreed to only pay him half his tariff (in baht - they initially wanted to charge us 1800 baht, but we got it down to 1400 and paid 700 up front), to ensure that we would NOT get fed to the tuk-tuk drivers, as per your website.
We refused to get out of the car for about 30 seconds, when the driver said to us "tuk-tuk free - cars not allowed in Siem Reap. Free for you" - we assumed (and did not clarify, big mistake) that it was part of our fare that we had already paid. As an aside - we've found this "free" thing quite a bit in Cambodia...but nothing ever is. Anyway, so we get into the tuk-tuk, and a guy comes in and says, "now we must make a deal to make this free." We were confused. He tried to talk us out of our own guesthouse, presumably to take it to one that would pay him commission. We told him we had already paid for our room at Shadows of Angkor - this seemed to deter him. But then, he wanted us to give him a job for our stay in Siem Reap - to the temples. Well, we were planning to rent bikes, so this wasn't going to work. We actually couldn't foresee the need for a tuk-tuk. He got mad, pulled over to the side of the road (we had gone a few kilometers from where we started) and demanded 200 baht to take us to our hotel then. This seemed outrageous - so we got out of the car with our stuff and bid him adieu. Fortunately, a very nice driver came by about two minutes later and agreed to take us for $2 US - this seemed more reasonable.
Straight to Rongklua (March 2010):
My girlfriend and I did the Bangkok - Siem Reap route today (27/3/10) with some help from your website. First step was getting to Morchit - we took a taxi from our hotel in Sukomvit at 7.30am and paid 400baht which is probably way over the odds but we went by the expressway and were at the bus station in about 15 mins.
We found the bus windows and paid 212baht each for the 8am bus to Aranyaprathet. I noticed the side of the bus had recently been stencilled over and said 'Bangkok - Rongklua Market' and sure enough it took us straight to the border market - bypassing the need to get a tuk tuk. we arrived at the market at about 12.40.
We weren't hassled to much by touts and completely ignored anyone that approached us - this seemed to work OK. It only took a few minutes to get to the actual border. We queued for about 10 mins on the Thai side and then walked over the bridge and through the nurse checkup (filling in a quick form) to the visa on arrival place.
Here there were quite a few travelers being rather insistent on paying the $20 fee (the guards were asking people for $25 off the bat). I only had a $50 note so gave that, a couple of passport photos and our passports to a guard and they actually filled the forms in for us! I got no change, though, and the receipt stapled to my passport was for $20.
After we got our visa, a tout started talking to us about a taxi for $40 to Siem Reap and that he would meet us after we had our passports stamped. The immigration office is actually about 200 meters down past the visa office and we were a bit confused at first but we kept walking and got there. Here we had to queue for about 20 mins and fill in an arrivals card.
When we had got through immigration, we met up with the taxi tout and he told us we needed to get a tuk tuk to the taxi - this seemed a bit dodgy so we carried on and got on the free shuttle bus - he got on with us.
At the tourist center, he eventually persuaded us and another couple to go with him to a taxi down the road. We followed him but around the taxi there were a few of the yellow badge touting guys who seemed unhappy with this arrangement. Anyway we headed off with our driver and left the tout to argue.
The journey to Siem Reap wasn't too bad - it took about 3 hours with 2 stops - once for gas and one at a small shop that offers $2 drinks to travelers in exchange for a free car wash for the driver!
We arrived at Siem Reap and thought we were about to be sold off to tuk tuk drivers - but it turns out that the tuk tuk ride was included so we paid our $40 to the driver and were at our hotel (pre-booked of course) in about 5 minutes. We arrived at 5.30pm,.
It was a lot easier that I thought it would be and in retrospect would probably have been less stressful if I wasn't so suspicious of everyone. Most of the people we met were genuinely helpful but you do need to stay on your guard. Overall it was not too bad a trip.
Fun in Poipet (March 2010):I am a single female traveller and was very reluctant to even to try to get into Cambodia after reading some of the hairy descriptions here and elsewhere. But the challenge and a nagging brother got to me, so go I did.
Around the end of February/10, with the idea of seeing Angkor Wat and possibly Sihanoukville, started the odyssey. Took the 8:00 bus from Bangkok's northern bus station to Arranyaprathet. So far so good. The bus dropped us off quite close to the border. It wasn't clear where to walk and 'helpers' descended on me pretty quickly. Remembering their 'help' wasn't necessary, I walked ahead and sort of to the left and although the route wasn't marked well, eventually walked over to the Thai processing point. My papers were in order, so then walked thru that building and into a no man's land area that had a sign that said "No Waiting". Of course, there were people waiting there...Some distance beyond that on the right, passed thru the nurse's scrutiny and paperwork with little delay. Then it was on to a small building, on which hung a sign saying something like "Cambodia Entry Visa US $20". Outside was a uniformed guard who zeroed in on me right away, handed me a form to fill out and informed me that the cost would be $US 20 plus 100 Baht. Here the test of wills began. I'm not really good with extortion and I loathe corruption and I thought, if I don't get in, the hell with it. So I said to the guy, pointing, "But the sign says the visa is US $20." He said, no that was not the case. I paused for a minute and then repeated my initial assertion. This cat and mouse game went on for about 5 minutes, during which time the guard explained that the 100 baht extra was "for the Cambodian people". My nerves were finally starting to fray and I reached down and got out a US $1 bill and asked if that would help. The guy looked at me in disgust, said, "Wait 5 minutes" and walked away. I think he handed my paperwork to the guards inside the booth and shortly I had the visa for $20!
After that I mistakenly walked thru to the building on the LEFT side, instead of the RIGHT side, where you have to get the visa stamped for it to be valid. The guy trying to get us on the free bus to the bus station caught the problem and re-directed me.
The free bus to the bus station was the only way I could see to get out of downtown Poi Pet, a place that truly looked scary. So a few of us got in and although the guide said it was only a few kilometers, it was actually I'd guess at least 6 miles. When we got there the real trouble began. There is a counter where you can buy a $9 ticket for the bus to Siem Reap or a $12 ticket for a taxi, but for the taxi you need 4 people. Guys there were saying there'd be a bus in an hour or two. What I eventually understood is that they don't run a bus until there a lot of people for it and the bus station was nearly deserted. This was gettng scary. Two Swiss girls approached me and asked if I wanted to go in with them for the taxi. I was reluctant as the cost would be $16 and I tried to recruit another rider, but failed. The guys near the taxis were not friendly and were lying about busses. One said and hour, another said it would be two hours. So I got them together and had them repeat their stories and asked who was right. That didn't impress them and one of them succeeded in finding a couple of people to make up a foursome for the taxi, explaining to the Swiss girls they should leave me behind. By this time, things looked dark and I will be forever grateful to the Swiss girls for saying, no, we three will take the taxi, which we did.
Getting out of Poi Pet was the worst part of Cambodia for me, though it makes a good, if wordy, bar story. Wouldn't want to go through that uncertainty and being that vulnerable again
Prices (March 2010):
BTS Chitlom – Morchit: 150 Baht (no meter) – 20 mins
Morchit – Aranyaprathet: 202 Baht (arrived at the terminal at 5:25, got on the bus at 5:30, left at 5:35) – 4 hours
There is a big glass window next to window 21 with sings and prices posted in English; plus the second we entered the station, someone from the bus company correctly “guessed” our destination and directed us accordingly.
Aranyaprathet – border: 80 Baht (don’t try to haggle; it won’t work) – 10 mins
The driver went straight to the border without trying the visa scam.
Thai immigration straight forward – 15 mins waiting in line.
Cambodia immigration with e-visa straight forward (kind of sketch though) – 20 mins waiting in (sort of) a line. There was a large group of Russians and more came in as we were waiting – be prepared to push, shove and yell to maintain your spot, as they routinely try to cut the line or in some shape or form try to get ahead of you.
I strongly recommend the online e-visa: cost: US$25, waiting time: less than 24 hrs, breeze through immigration (and of course peace of mind): priceless.
Poipet – Siem Reap: US$40 – 2 hours
Unlicensed hawker approached us right outside Cambodian immigration, walked us past the official looking ones about 200m along the road. Got us into the car (Camry) and off we were. Arrived at hotel around 12:30 and by 1:30 were having dollar beers and a fish amok lunch in the alley parallel to Pub Street.
There and back (February 2010):
Bus from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet was no problem at all. Crossing was equally simple. I got an e-visa a few days before my trip so there was no request for any additional "fees" or anything. My friend that I was traveling with is from an ASEAN nation so didn't need a visa and had no problems as well. We did have to fill out quarantine forms, which was hilarious because the woman handing them out was nearly coughing up a lung and sounded like she should have been under quarantine.
Just say no (January 2010):
We were in Bangkok on December the 21st 2009 on a two week tour through Asia and planned to take the overland-tour to Siem Reap the next day. We are a European family with 2 children, 12 and 15. We could have flown from Bangkok to Siem Reap but my friend, who lives in Siem Reap, adviced us to try the overland route. He had done it a couple of times and liked the landscape. So we decided to try the gamble and make this trip our day-adventure. Good for the kids to see something new. They know airports by now and this promissed something different.
On the evening of the 21st of december we went to our hotel limosine desk to arrange a taxi to take us to the Thais-Cambodian border. The price was 10.000 Baht (250 Euro). From your website and from my friend I knew this was way too expensive. I asked the concierge at the hotel for a different taxi service. From below his counter he produced a book with business-cards from all kind of taxi's. We picked a nice one for the price of 2700 Baht (70 Euro). Pick up in the morning, no problem, and stop on route, no problem.
The next morning, 8 o'clock, exactly as asked, our taxi driver was present. A very kind man, poor English but he was trying hard to give us a good time and he managed to make some jokes and show us the landscape. The aircon was so cold that we asked him to reduce it a bit. He took us to the border where we arrived at about 11:30. Somewhere half way, we asked for a half hour break at a petrol station for a drink, a snack and a visit to the rest-rooms. We came upon 4 roadblocks by the police. At three we were waved through, at one we were stopped. The officer asked for the drivers papers and for my pasport. That was all well, so this officer was not interested in my wife's and children's passports. Funny to see, this police officer had a helmet on, large dark glasses and a mouth-mask (Swine-flue). So I never saw this mans face.
At one point, our taxi driver told me this was as close as he could get to the border. There was a sort of parking place to the right where he turned and let us off. We payed him with a bit of a tip, as one should. Even before we got out of the taxi, a lot of locals surrounded us. They offered to carry our bags, they handed us papers to fill in and offered to help us through the border work. And some told us that the parking place was a sort of check point and that we had to pay to pass the checkpoint.
Since this was not my first visit to Thailand and Cambodia and thanks to your detailed desciption, I knew what to do: Smile, say "thank-you-thank-you" and keep on walking. So that is what we did. Nobody stoped us at this presumed checkpoint and we carried our own luggage.
The Thai border was standard procedure, very much like leaving the country at the airport. A desk, a cue, an officer, some stamps and off you go. There were not many people crossing the border at that moment, but still the cue was slow. The Thai side of the border was simple and straightforward.
Walking towards the Cambodia side, we crossed the bridge and were in Cambodia. Cambodia is very chaotic. People running all over and to and fro. But this is as it always has been. Now a lot of things had to be done. It started with the visa office, right after the bridge, clearly marked. There was an extra desk with a nurse behind it and a thermal camera. We had to fill in a form that we did not cough, had no fever or cold and some more questions or "none of the above". Although hot in the tropics, we passed the thermal camera test. Then we bought the visa. Four of us, two minutes for each visum, ready and off to the next building. This is an other 200 metres or so down the street. An other cue and wait and even more paperwork to fill in. One set of papers for each of is, in two-fold. Customs, they checked our pasport and visa and we could leave the building onto the street. Just outside this building, there was one more police officer. We could see his job was to check the pasports of everybody coming out of the customs building. When we came out, he had a look at my son's passport and waved us through.
There we were in Poipet, about one o'clock in the afternoon. My friend send his brother in law to pick us up in Poipet, so we didn't have to negotiate our way to Siem Reap. The road to Siem Reap is perfect, couldn't be better. So here we were, 4 o'clock in the afternoon in Siem Reap at my friends house.
If you want to have some fun en-route, I can advice you to take this land-route from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Now that I have done it once, I will take the plane next time. I have seen it, I liked it and it was OK. But please read this website and know the scams because they are there.
Thanks. Keep 'em coming. E-mail your story here
Reports Page 2 (Jan 2010 - Jun 2010)
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