Page 6 of 22 (January 2008 - June 2008)
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Siem Reap to Bangkok in 6:54 (June 2008):
Door to door goes like this: Golden Temple Villa SR to Poipet border by taxi $27usd. Border crossing easy and quick. Went to bank on Thai side to change money, got a cab 1800bht (55usd) to The Royal Benja Sukhumvit Soi 5 BKK. Total time 6 hrs 54 minutes. Must say the Thai cabbie thought he was in an F1 race but we made it. The first part of the road was a nightmare but passable. Nearly got bogged once but other wise a good trip.
Hotel to hotel (June 2008):
We had our hotel in Bangkok organise a cab to the border for us. Given that it was the Oriental Hotel we probably paid a bit over the odds (3500 baht – but with the fuel price exploding who knows what is a fair price anyway; Editor's note: This is indeed a high price, 2200-2500 Thai baht should have been the maximum. ) but they did make sure it was a station wagon with lots of space for us and our luggage. Cab was booked for 7.30 am – but driver was there waiting at 7.15. He stopped at our request for a coffee on the way and then dropped us in the car park of a little shopping centre just to the left of the main drag and only about 100 metres from Thai exit post.
As soon as we got into ‘no mans land’ we were approached by a guy who turned out to be a tout asking if we wanted a taxi. He quoted $65, we settled on $55 but he immediately took two of our bags off us and carried them for us – I made sure not to let him stray too far! We had e-visas so happily ignored everyone offering ‘help’ with visas (only two or three) and advice about changing money. Short delay at Cambodian immigration (I mean 10 minutes) and we were onto a bus that took us 200 metres up the road to transfer to the taxi which was at a tour operators office. Another short delay while the driver filled up with LPG and we were off. Short stop for lunch and we reached our hotel (Shinta Mani – highly recommended) by 3pm.
If your last road travel experience was driving along the M4 to Heathrow Airport you might think of the Poipet-Siem Reap road as bad. If you recently, as we did, suffered a 13 hour ride on a really bad road from Gondar to Lalibela in Ethiopia then this road feels like a motorway! Sure there are some unmade bits, little detours where they are building new bridges etc but it’s a breeze. The worst bit was in Poipet itself – what a dump!
Visa fun (May 2008):
I did this trip a few weeks ago, worked out OK when following the instructions to the letter. It's a tricky one though. Poipet is such a dump, good lord, awful.
The way back was interesting too - nasty weather made the road very muddy, had to jump out of our taxi (front wheel drive automatic - what a joke) and ended up doing most of the journey in a tour bus full of East German OAPs - a good laugh. Toilet breaks every 15 mins!
Also the tip of the taxi rank at Morchit is indispensable - the touts there when you jump of the bus can be tricky.
Good Tips (April 2008):
We travelled independently from Bangkok to Siem Reap on April 8, this site was simply indispensable in ensuring a (reasonably) smooth experience. Key points:
Step by Step (April 2008):
I travelled Bangkok to Siem Reap on 18th April without using the Ko San scam buses after getting all the tips of talesofasia.com and it was fine. the only thing that was putting me off going as a lone traveller was the idea that i might get stumped with a taxi fee of $40 upwards on my own, but there were plenty of people arriving at the border to share taxis with.
It seemed easy... (April 2008):
I read with much interest the "An usual bus story (March 2008)" and decided to 'replicate' this traveller's experience. I too was travelling alone. While in Bangkok I went to a local travel agent and booked a one-way ticket to Siem Reap via Hang Tep Travel Co, Ltd. I paid the travel agent 1,000 baht. The mini-bus was supposed to collect me between 07h00-07h30 on Sunday 30th March 2008 - it actually arrived at 06h59 at my hotel - I was most impressed since I was the last passenger (of nine) for the trip.
The mini-bus trip was comfortable and we stopped at 09h00 for a toilet break. Approx 7km before the Thai border we stopped for some paperwork. Fortunately I had an e-Visa. Some of the other passengers were requested to pay 1,300 baht for their Cambodian visas (which they did begrudgingly). I was offered to purchase a return ticket from Siem Reap to Bangkok (via Hang Tep Travel Co, Ltd) which I did. The cost thereof was 800 baht and I received a handwritten receipt.
Passing through Thailand passport control took much longer than passing through Cambodian immigration (there were only three persons ahead of me. I did not see the e-Visa counter nor a designated sign).
At the bus counter in Cambodia, I was told that I would need to exchange US dollars to Cambodian riel since in Cambodia Thai baht would not be accepted. I duly exchanged a U$100 travellers cheque and received an exchange rate of U$1 = 3,200 Cambodian riel - also had to pay 4% commission. Only later did I realise that I was 'ripped' off/scammed. I was then offered that instead of catching the bus, I could travel by taxi and pay an extra 200 baht from Poipet to Siem Reap - which I did. I think some of the other passengers may have paid an extra US$15 (but I am unsure of this). I am pleased that I did pay extra as it was well worth travelling in an airconditioned taxi. I arrived in Siem Reap and was transported by (free) tuk tuk to The Siem Reap Hostel - I had an online reservation.
My return journey from Siem Reap to Bangkok was uneventful - I was collected by tuk tuk from my Siem Reap hotel and taken to the bus company offices (The contact telephone number of Hang Tep Travel Co Ltd in Cambodia is 012-680-960). We departed Siem Reap (by taxi) at 08h20 and en route we had a flat tyre near Poipet. I did not have to pay anything extra for the taxi! We arrived at Poipet at 11h30. Excluding the flat tyre change of 15 minutes, this means that the actual taxi trip time between Siem Reap and Poipet was a mere 2 hrs 55 minutes! By 11h40 I had already passed through Poipet immigration.
I did not travel all the way by minibus to downtown Bangkok and was dropped off near Bangkok International Airport to catch a connecting flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. The total cost of travelling overland from Bangkok to Siem Reap to Bangkok was therefore 2,000 baht (which I consider to be reasonable). With regards to the currency conversion 'scam', I wrote that off to travelling experience since the financial loss was not that significant.
Based on my experiences, there are three golden rules for travellers travelling overland from Bangkok to Siem Reap:
[Editor's Note: Although this traveler did not seem too fussed by the money exchange scam, or this pre-paid trip in general, I would point out that the fact remains he was 1.) ripped off by $22 on the exchange scam, 2.) Had he purchased a visa (I can only wonder what lies they told the other passengers) he would have been ripped off by another $20, and 3.) Although a taxi is indeed a better option, they did manage to extract another $6+ from him to ride in it. So the overcharge was $28+ and could have been nearly $50. This is I think, evidence enough of what I've been saying for years, that these pre-paid transport services should be avoided at all times.]
Some photos (April 2008):
A reader has sent a link with a number of photos of the road taken recently. You can see them here.
Quick report (March 2008):
We followed your directions to the letter and had no problems at all! Thanks for posting such great directions – everything was as you wrote, down to the bus ticket prices! We also encountered the taxi/tuktuk scam at the edge of Siem Reap. Good thing I read your blog – I was firm in saying no and refusing to leave the taxi. The tuktuk driver finally gave up trying to convince us to take the “free ride” into town and as we were parting, he asked if we had been to Siem Reap before.
Good taxi price, not so good visa price (March 2008):
We were 3 people, 2 Turkish guys and 1 Danish girl met in Khao San road about 11:00 pm and decided to go to cambodia very next day while drinking a lot of beer. I knew that the train was on 5:55 am and we decided to took that one.
Like 5:00 o'clock in the morning, with no sleep we took a tuk tuk for 100 baht to the Hualalumpong station and we bought our tickets at the station which was very easy. The price was 48 baht and the train was right on time. The seats are comfortable and the train wasn't very crowded so we could lie down the seats and sleep. I'd always prefer trains cause buses make me sick of my sensitive stomach. We could drink beer (or anything else) on the train too; which made our travel more fun.
We arrived at the border station and took one more tuk tuk to the border for 150 baht. I went to the toilet during the visa process so I dont know what happened exactly but when I was back, my friends told me they got the visas for 30 dollars each.
There was no queue at the border. After departing from Thai border a Cambodian guy approached and asked if we need a taxi to Siem Reap. I said yes and asked how much. He said 30 dollars (10 dollars each) and I said ok without any bargaining. He took us to a white Toyota Camry taxi and we headed to Siem Reap. There was nothing wrong on the way to Siem Reap and the taxi driver brought us to a tuk tuk station at Siem Reap which he said we could get a free transport for hostels and guesthouses. We took one tuk tuk and he showed us some guesthouses and we booked which we liked best and didn't pay anything for the ride.
An unusual bus story (March 2008):
Altough I knew about the risks of a scam bus, I still took an organised transportation from Bangkok. Travelling alone, and as a woman, your accurate description of the trip didn't inspire me to do it alone. Also, with taxi costs it would be much more expensive than the package I got offered.
I booked my trip through the HI Hostel Thaliand. They told me they use "Travel Mart" as an agency. I got exactly what I was promised. I paid first one way, 990 baht and bought the return (another 700 baht) on the way, as I liked the service.
They picked my up at 7.40 (with only 10 min delay) on Silom Road and we headed right off to Aranyaprathet in a good mini van. Stopped there at a restaurant so we could eat and they organised the visas. If you had one, it was fine. Or you could pay them a small fee and they did it for you. Your choice.
[editor's note: While we don't doubt the writer's experience, our advice remains as always: Do not purchase transport to Siem Reap from travel agencies/guesthouses in Thailand. The story related above is not par for the course and astute readers will note that this was not run from Khao San Road.]
Visa fun, the usual nonsense (February 2008):
So I did the bkk to siem reap on my own according to your guide. Took the bus, then mafia taxi. People tried to f**k us over about 100 times, but we took all your advice to the letter and made it just fine.
However, the damn visa "officials" who might as well be elephants with a police hat refused to accept $20 USD for the fee. First they said 2000 baht, then 20 US plus 200 baht, and we finally paid 25 USD. It was quite clear the real price was 20. The sign even said so, but they had put up a fake paper sign saying a different price. There was some guy in street clothes who was talking for the border guards who kept lowering the price, but I dismissed him promptly and absolutly refused to accept anything but 20. I was firm, accused them of fraud, and even got in their face, but they refused, so I parted with my 5 dollars, and was on my way. They said It had been 25 dollars for 2 years, so I knew they were lying. I actually argued for over an hour. Very frustrating because I knew they were skimming.
And praise for the e-Visa (February 2008):
Having studied this web site extensively we (four of us) before leaving New Zealand obtained an e-visa. The process was simple and greatly assisted our passage through the border post. We departed Bangkok by taxi at 6.00 am, in transit to the border we must have passed every KSR bus. We arrived at the border at 9.05am the cost of the taxi was 2900 bht. Upon disembarking from the taxi we were surrounded by the inevitable throngs of people trying to shelter us from the sun or carry our bags. A polite no thankyou saw all of them on there way.
We then proceeded into the Thailand departure post, the two lanes for Thai nationals were full, however the foreign lane had nobody in it so we walked straight through and into the departure building. Filling in our departure cards took 5 minutes and another 5 minutes later we were through. We walked straight through to the Cambodian arrival area bypassing the area where about 30 or so people were applying for their visas.
Again we were first in the line at the Cambodian arrivals area and it was here that we were offered a taxi to Siam Reap for US$60.00, I knew that the going rate was between $45.00 -$70.00. As my wife was feeling a little off colour I accepted this offer but refused to hand over any money until we were all through the arrivals area. The tout then guided us to where the taxi was parked I loaded the bags myself shut the boot, got everybody into the taxi and instead of tipping the tout $10.00 (what he asked for) gave him $1.00.
We departed Poipet for Siem Reap at 9.50am and other than a dusty bumpy drive we arrived suddenly on the outskirts of Siem Reap at 12.30pm only to be told that the taxi could not proceed any further due to some non-existent regulation. Of course we knew this was nonsense and were then greeted by some enthusiastic tuk tuk drivers who of course at no charge offered to take us to our hotel (this we accepted) but knowing that it was part of a scam did not award any further work to the tuk tuk driver involved.
All in all a seamless trip into Cambodia taking just 7 hours from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Our return via the same route was just as simple but the taxi ride was only $25.00 from Siem Reap to Poipet (arrange your own taxi otherwise the cost is $35.00). The e-visa was of great assistance in avoiding most of the scams.
Successful mafia avoidance (February 2008):
We left Bangkok on the 5:30 bus, no problems, lovely bus. Met two English girls going to Siem Reap too on the bus, and arranged to get a taxi with them from Poipet onwards. All of us had read up on your site and were prepared for the fun ahead!
Visa Scams (January 2008)
We arrived in Aranyaprathet by train, got a tuktuk for about 60 baht to the border. Straight off the tuk tuk a guy approaches us and tells us he works for the Cambodian embassy and he'll organise our visa. There's another couple already sitting at a table filling in forms.
After a few questions it appears the guy wants 2000 baht for the service and plans to take our passports away with him. He keeps offering to letus come with him to the "embassy"
This all sounds very odd to us. He shows us the "visa" in the passports of the other people sitting where we are and tries to tell us we won't be able to get a visa across the border and so on.
In the end we decide it's a scam and make our way through Thai immigration with no problems and get to the official Cambodian visa office where we get our visas for 1000 baht - they insist on being paid in baht and we don't argue.
The visa looks somewhat different from the one we were offered by the tout.
We went by taxi from Poipet to Battambang. We were approached by what I guess was a part of the taxi mafia - and negotiated a price of US$30. When we emerged from immigration his friend met us and got us to take a short tuk tuk ride to their office where we were put in a Toyota Camry. He then decided to charge us in baht - 1200 baht to be precise - which he wanted upfront - and couldn't find change. He initally came back with a handfull of riel. We weren't sure of the exchange rate and insisted on baht. He returned wih baht, handed us a stack which we then couned. It was 300 baht short. When we pointed it out he asked is he could keep the extra baht. We rather begrudgingly agreed.
Then about five guys had a ten minute argument about how the money was to be divided and who would transdport us to Battambang.
The actual trip was fine - aside from the horrendous road from Poipet to Sisophon. The guy did stop to ask for directions once in Battambang and again to fill the car with gas. DO NOT WATCH THIS - IT WILL FRIGHTEN YOU. The gas is plugged straight into he tank - with the motor running. The driver and gas seller argued about the gas, pulled the hose out several times and the footpath was covered in liquid gas. Despite this, we were delivered safely to our requsted hotel and though the driver looked a little sad that we offeredhim no further tip - it was a relaively pleasant 2 and half hour journey.
Thanks. Keep 'em coming. E-mail your story here
Reports Page 6 (Jan 2008 - Jun 2008)
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