Page 5 of 22 (July 2008 - December 2008)
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A typical ride (December 2008):
I took a Cab around 5 am with hope to catch the bus at 5:30 or at least 6. I ask about the price, 200 baht. I asked if he use the express way for this amount of money and he agreed. Then I had the fastest city cab drive ever! With 100km/h from near Lumpini to Morchit, but not on the express way. The crazy ride took 30min because there was no traffic at this time. On the way back I thought it would be better to use the express way even if I don't have to hurry. At the Meter Taxi Stand they told me 100 baht, but it was 135 because too much traffic. Could be less on the express way, not?
First Class Bus was 210 baht, but the bus did more stops than I thought. I won't know how much the 2nd class bus will stop. Could be a never ending ride. I was in Aranyaprathet after 4h15min. Still very small food and a coup of water. Nothing on the way back!
TukTuk left the main road and thanks to this page, I knew what was coming. The "do you have Visa" question. I got it here in Bangkok for 25 USD, but the Embassy changed the location from near Lumpini Park to somewhere I didn't know. I took a cab to go there and back and pay about 30-35 USD at the end. I thougth it was closer to Lumpini, but it's not! Yeah, better do it at the border and hope for a good deal. By the way, they want to sell me a Ticket for a Cab after filling the arrival / departure Card out for free. I refused, told them I never pay a Cab before I get where I want. They looked surprised when I just left and thank to fill out the card for free.
Crossing was easy! Didn't checked bag, backpack to enter Cambodia nor on the way back to Thailand. But there wasn't much crowd and therefore a bit difficult to find the way. A tout show me the way and then followed me to the "free bus ride to transportation hub" place. By the way, I didn't pay tea money! Well, the Bus didn't bring me there and at the end, I was happy to share a cab with two other Tourists and I didn't have to wait, but 700 baht each!
Furthermore, the other business like tourists was really upset when the driver want to change us to "free" tuktuks. They told him "to the market place" and after three times he got back in the car and took us there. But walking around with a backpack, be sure every Tuk-Tuk driver and tout jump on you. So I take one of the free ride to get rid of all others, but I didn't take the guesthouses he showed me. The tout left then and the driver told me, he bring me to some others until I find one.
On the way back I ask directly a Toyota Camry Cab driver. I asked around to find the place where they wait. He picked me up from my guesthouse at 7am. 15 Dollar and I had the Cab the most time for my self! On the way, he picked up three locals to Sway. From there alone to Poipet. I know, I pay the whole cab, but could be worse. A Tour agency told me 10 for one seat, 20 for two and pay before. I also told them, I don't like to pay a cab before and they give me a smile back. A bus ticket would be 10 USD from the agency! I don't want to take a bus like that for this way. By the way, the Toyota Camrys are waiting about 50-100m from the exit after border crossing. So don't take the free ride. I thought they wait at the same place. Try to find a cheap Toyota Camry ride!
There and back (November 2008):
I had no troubles on the Thai side - I live in Thailand half the year, have been married to a Thai for 20 years, and I speak enough of the language to get by (and can read it). I traveled to Aranyaprathet by afternoon train. I like trains, because you get much better local interaction, which for me is the whole point of traveling, and you see a slice of country life that you don't see from the road. I also fancied a comfortable night's stay before heading over the border in the morning, so I splashed out 750B for a night at the Aran Mermaid.
In the morning it was raining heavily before I got to the border. Tuk- tuk took me right to the market junction for the usual 80B, and I hired an umbrella-wallah for 20B to walk me the last hundred meters to
If you think Poipet is bad, try arriving in the pouring rain! It surely is where Beelzebub vacates his satanic bowels. (I was amazed when I got back a few days later to find the roads are actually surfaced to some extent - on arrival it was just a mud bath.) I changed some money there - there are several proper banks, which offer the correct exchange rates. Then I got a moto to take me to the bus/ taxi station (I saw no sign of any free transport - maybe it was too early), but he took me to a travel office instead. I insisted, and he eventually took me where I wanted to go (giving me some spiel about the 'mafia' along the way). And there was the, apparently usual, barrage of taxi touts waiting when I got there, wanting $35 or $40 for a share (and my moto driver following me around trying to insist I go back to his office with him). But I'm an old hand at ignoring touts, and I went for a little walk around the surrounding streets instead. (At one point I found myself standing in the rain, ankle-deep in mud, and thought to myself "I'm so glad my wife can't see me now" - she really doesn't understand my 'farang kee nok' trips - and I started chuckling and came close to falling down in the mud. But I digress). Anyway, while walking around I spotted a (presumably non-mafia) share taxi waiting for passengers, and it was going to Siem Reap. And he only wanted $15 (60,000r), with no suggestion of paying up-front. There were already two Cambodians sitting in the back, so I took the offered front seat and off we went. It carried on raining most of the way, and the trip was mostly under a barrage of mud from the other traffic, but we got there in three hours and I was off-loaded to a 'free' tuk-tuk on arrival.
The tuk-tuk driver was happy enough to take me to whichever guest house I wanted. I wasn't at all surprised that he suggested my first choices would be full if I didn't have a reservation, but I was surprised to find he was actually right! I ended up letting him take me to his choice - it was in the area I wanted, was new and clean, had pleasant staff and free Internet, and I got a nice comfortable room with a good bathroom and cable TV for $10. He presumably got a kickback, but so what? I was happy with the place for the price, and so I really didn't mind. And he also got my custom for my Angkor Wat day, which was truly excellent, but that's another story.
Several days later, the return journey was uneventful. I got a bus ticket from one of the offices in town for $6 for an 8am departure. Five hours to Poipet, very quickly through immigration on both sides (with a smiling and friendly Thai immigration officer, which I'm told is unusual for that crossing), and then the usual 80B tuk-tuk back to Aranyaprathet bus station. From there I got a bus to Chachengsao, where I changed for Bangkok's Ekkamai bus station. (The route goes past where I live - Morchit is miles away).
Having satisfied my wife that, against all odds, I'd come back from yet another of my trips still alive, it was time for sleep. Can you get bus-lag? I think I still have it.
The usual (August 2008):
We crossed the border at Poipet on 21st August.
We got a bus to Thailand border where a tuk tuk driver picked us up and took as to a building called Consulate General of Cambodia. In here they tried to charge us 30 USD for the visa. Thank goodness we had read the advice so we didn't get it there, 6 other people did though and they alll paid 1000 baht.
We got to the border anyway and had to pay 25 usd, the guard wouldn't serve us until we agreed to this and we waited for about 10 minutes as no one else getting visa at the same time. We knew we were getting scammed but what could we do??
We also got sheperd into a mafia taxi with another couple, we all pay 15 usd each. The mafia man taking charge of gettin us into a taxi was getting angry with us because we first lied about having our visa already when he approached us at immigratrion on the Thai side, then we didnt go straight to his taxi and wanted to look around. He kept saying we could trust him, he was with the Tourist Police and we told him we didn't trust them either.
The taxi didnt take us all the way to town, he stopped and some tuk tuk free of charge took us the rest of the way. Talking to the tuk tuk driver, the taxi drivers dont get much money from driving, it goes all to the boss. they dont like it but don't have a choice
The whole situation leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but luckly the rest of the Cambodians we have met have been much nicer.
We were still surpised at the amount of people that paid the visa without asking questions, and were very annoyed that we still got scammed even though aware of the situation. Is there no official compaint we can make to make people more aware of this?? If we had of known before leaving Australia we would have got visa's there.
Getting visas and more (August 2008):
My friend and I took the bus to the border. A tuk tuk picked us up and took us to some bogus place (still in Thailand) and told us to get visas there. The building looked like a regular house, certainly not the Cambodian Embassy it was claiming to be. They also charged $30 for the visa. My friends and I (we made a friend on the bus ride) declined to get our visa here and insisted the Tuk Tuk take us to the border. So they let us go, no problems.
At the border, they tried to make us pay the 1000 baht fee. We offered $20. The visa guy refused, so we offered $20USD and about 150 baht per person and said that was all the money we had. He agreed. Visas were purchased.
We couldn't really distinguish what taxis were what. In the end we took a mafia one. It took some time and patience, but we got the mafia taxi to agree to $40 USD. This was not that easy. Then it took about 3.5 hrs from Poipet to Siem Reap. Our driver made three stops for unknown reasons, but at least we got there.
Going back was considerably easier. We hired a taxi from a travel agent for $35 USD. He got us to Poipet in 2.5 hours. It was pretty amazing.
There and back (July 2008):
We left on the 24th of July and came back on the 27th. A big thank you for all the great advice on the site! This is easily the best way to do this trip. A meter-taxi from KSR to Morchit Bus station cost around 100 baht both ways, no touts, always go for the meter-taxi. There were plenty of seats left on the buses to Aranyaprathet, I have no experience of the other buses but the ones from windows 23-25 in the station were great. It's 236 Baht, AC, toilet, water and a sandwich. You can pass your time sleeping (it's very comfortable) or interacting with (annoying?) Thai people of all ages.
There's one stop where someone will come on with a big plate of food (some of it looks like KFC) and another passport/document check for residents, you won't need to do anything. There were quite a few stops to pick up/drop off passengers but it still only takes around 4 hours on this bus (the company is called ATS and the logo has wings). Tuk-tuk was 80 Baht to Poipet from Aranyaprathet, we had e-visas (do it!) immigration was no problem, stick to the map on this site and it's easy.
At this point we, and other tourists were shadowed by an official mafia taxi guy who stuck with us until we got to the transport office. This was the only slightly stressful and delaying part of the trip. It wasn't very busy but you will have no problem finding people to share a taxi with to Siem Reap in the transport office. Before we got there the tout half-heartedly tried to get us to change money but soon gave up. The first price for the taxi was $70, the final price after some bargaining was $60. If you don't want to waste time and energy and there are four of you this isn't a bad option. Otherwise leave half your group in the office and walk left for about 5-10 mins, we got offers ranging between $40-$50. They'll wait there for you, go back get your bags and your off. Make sure the taxi outside the transport office has a yellow number plate visible in the rear window and it'll be OK, or take the mafia taxi to save time but not money.
The road really isn't that bad, none of the bridges were completed but it's not a problem, we left Morchit on a 6am bus and were in Siem Reap at half three, the longest delay being the taxis (it didn't rain either). It's a bit more hassle but the non-mafia taxis are cheaper and the cars were in much better condition. They won't take you to your hotel/guesthouse in Siem Reap but the tuk-tuk link will be free. The way back is much easier. Some travel agents can find people to share a taxi back from Siem Reap for you and it'll cost $40 split or you can have the taxi to yourselves (one or two people) for $30-$35, go to as many travel agents in Siem Reap that you can to get the best deal. On the way back at Aranyaprathet station don't listen to anyone that isn't sitting behind a ticket window and it's no problem. Again at Morchit go to a taxi rank to get to your destination in Bangkok. Lot's of fun, enjoy!
Siem Reap to Bangkok (July 2008):
My three kids and I left my husband at the Siem Reap airport on June 22nd for his flight home and then we headed to the border in a Toyota Camry that I had pre-arranged before leaving the States. We paid $60 for the 3 hour ride to the border (My guess is that it was $10-20 overpriced, but with fuel increases I wasn't sure at all what a fair price would be.) The road was still Mad-Maxian but they are working on it. A lot of grading and a lot of sewer pipe or drainage installation. Almost all dirt once you're 15 minutes out of Siem Reap. The potholes however, were minimal until Poipet, which can only be described as the arsehole of Cambodia. Potholes 10-15 feet wide, filled with water and debris; bikes, trucks, cars, carts and stray dogs all trying to negotiate this maze. Its really beyond belief what a dunghole this international border town is! The last 400 yards took us 20 minutes!
Our driver dropped us at the rotary no problem. Only one person approached us to "help" us. I don't even remember what he was selling or pushing as I just said kept saying "thank you, we're all set." We started walking toward the "friendship bridge" and walked right past the Cambodia customs check. There was a big sign on the right that said "Departure" but when I ventured near it, there were only two empty windows with signs stating the operating hours (of what I didn't know) and a table under the same overhang with 3 people selling tickets to Bangkok on mini-buses etc...
This was in fact the government checkpoint, but since there was not a single person waiting in line at that particular moment, I assumed it was just a bus company. Stupid me. We walked the 5 minutes up to the Thai border checkpoint, filled out the forms and were told by the Thai official to walk back and turn our Cambodian visa departure forms in. My kids were not happy -it was +90F degrees and we had fully loaded backpacks and "frontpacks"! So back we went.
On our return, there were now 6 people waiting in line in front of us, with only 1 Cambodian processing the papers. It took us at least 30 minutes to get the four of us through. Back up at the Thai checkpoint, we made it through in about 10 minutes. The Thai official was kind enough to let me hand over all our passports while the kids sat at a nearby table. From there we walked outside right into the tuk-tuk pool. We got a driver to take us to the bus station for $3 dollars. I didn't see an ATM nearby and my concern at this point was getting the earliest bus to Bangkok. It is quite a distance to the bus station I must say. I was surprised, even after reading many posts on this site.
Once at the bus station I learned that the 1st class aircon bus had just departed and the 2nd class bus was leaving in 10 minutes. I had no cash and couldn't find the ATM they kept directing me to. I ended up borrowing money from my older son, and the woman at the bus station exchanged it for me at 30BHT to the dollar. Which was the rate at the time, interestingly enough.
I actually didn't want to take the 2nd class bus solely because there wasn't a toilet on board, (I had been drinking so much water because of the heat,) but they made so many stops along the way that it didn't turn out to be an issue at all. The bus matron even came back each time to tell me which stops would be long enough for a toilet break. The whole bus trip took exactly 5 hours and cost us 180BHT per person. Be sure to keep your tickets handy, as twice during the trip, a supervisor came on board to double-check that everyone had a ticket. The 2nd class buses are just fine and though they seemed to stop an awful lot to pick up and discharge passengers, I think the 1st class bus does the same? In the end we were able to catch our train from Hua Lumphong station with loads of time to spare. Before I finish I have to say what an asset your site was to our travels; its a great trove of information. I printed up many a post to take along with me. Thank you.
Visa scam (July 2008):
Just travelled from Bangkok to Siem Reap via Poipet. The advice on your page was invaluable, but just thought I'd let you know of a new scam they seem to be running. The tuk tuks from the bus stop in Aranyaprathet took us straight to the Cambodian embassy where we were told we had to pay at least 1000 baht or 30 USD for the visa. We bailed and went straight to the border and got it for $25, but heard later some of the other people off our bus had paid 1500 baht for the visa. Anyway, seems like all the tuk tuk drivers were in on it, so might be a useful addition.
Thanks. Keep 'em coming. E-mail your story here
Reports Page 5 (Jul 2008 - Dec 2008)
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