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Cambodia Overland

Travelers' Reports:
Overland, Bangkok - Siem Reap

Page 7 of 22 (July 2007 - December 2007)

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Easy morning ride (December 2007):

I got up early to go to immigration (for 7am). The tuk tuk driver stopped for one tout on the way to the border who said the border wasn't open until 7:30 and that he could help with the visa. I just waived him on. Got through Thai immigration in 10 mins and Cambodian in 10 also (did greese them an extra 200 THB for a quick visa). Whole process took 45 mins I think. I shared a mafia taxi with 3 others that I had met for $48 which was fine. Got to Siem Riep in 3.5 hrs. No problems until we got there, then they pulled the new tuk tuk scam. The other 3 ignored me and agreed to it. I just got out, borrowed a phone from a local kid and rang the Garden Village. The manager came around on a bike in 5 mins and I was there in a flash.

I got the feeling the taxi driver would easily have taken me to my guesthouse which was just down the road a bit if I had stayed put.

The taxi mafia at Poipet where nice enough, not really pushy at all. Early in the day I guess.

I wouldn't have bothered with the extra 200THB at immigration except that I was with an english guy who didn't really care and just wanted to get Siem Riep. Would have just meant an extra 20-40 mins waiting around. On the plus side he did invite me to his wedding on thurs. He's marrying a Cambodian girl and they're up the walls trying to get everything ready.

Step by step (December 2007):

Some notes for travelers:

1 - You can disperse the children at the border crossing with a can of Pringles.  Not as nice as giving cash, but does the trick.

2 - We paid $60 for a shared taxi from the border.  Some people paid $50 others $80.  Turns out a lot of people ended up at Mom's Guest House.  We also took your advise and found another couple on the bus to split the fare.

3 - Mom's Guest House - online they say $25/night but we paid $20.  Not sure how.

4 - Entering town they pulled the taxi to Tuk-Tuk trick you mention.  We said we weren't paying any extra money and they were fine with that.  A guy jumped in to the Tuk-Tuk with us at this point.  Really couldn't stop him.  We tried.

5 - Then they took us to another Guest house even though we said we had a reservation at Mom's.  Then they told us that Mom's was full and even pretended to call them and really try to fool us into staying at their hotel.  After sitting at their hotel for 10 minutes without talking or getting out of the Tuk Tuk they took us to Mom's.

6 - At Mom's the guy who hopped in to the Tuk Tuk with us then proceeded to sell us on the Tuk-Tuk rental for the following day.  I spent about 20 minutes with him and the Tuk-Tuk driver making sure that he would take us where we wanted and most importantly that the driver spoke enough english that we'd have a good day.  Even though the guy tried to screw us earlier we kept the driver for the next three days and it was great.  We paid $10/day for the Tuk-Tuk while most others paid $12.  After the third day we tipped the driver an extra $8 because no matter where he dropped us off and no matter how long we took he was always waiting for us when we came out.

Overall an excellent trip.  Wouldn't change a thing and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Step by step again (November 2007):

We didn't fall prey to a single scam and were able to get to Siam Reap at around 5PM at the guesthouse we wanted. Here's the low-down that we posted on our blog - www.ianandnisha.blogspot.com .

1) Leave at 7:00 in a taxi to go to the North Bangkok government bus depot (Mo Chit). Get stuck in Bangkok traffic, trip takes a little under an hour.

2) Take a government bus at 8:00 (no scams unlike backpacker buses) to Aranya Pratet.

3) Arrive in Aranya Pratet at around 12:30, pretty non-descript Thai border town. Take a 5km Tuk-Tuk to the border.

4) Check out of Thailand, walk across the little bridge to Poipet, Cambodia.

5) On the Cambodian side of the bridge go to the visa office to get a visa, since we did not get one before arrival. There is a sign that says that a visa costs $20 US (US currency is the de facto currency of Cambodia, although Thai Baht and their own currency can sometimes be used). Because you are supposed to have six months before expiration on your passport, and I only have five, I pay 1000 Baht each (30 dollars) to the guy who "helps" you get the visa. Visa comes back no problem.

6) Walk down the strip of new casinos that are in this no mans land for Thai gamblers. Errie sight, especially seeing the Indian street scene beyond the immigration gate.

7) Wait behind a bus load of westerners to actually pass immigration.

8) Enter into Cambodia and start trying to work out the taxi situation to get to Siem Reap. There are a bunch of taxi guys right beyond the gate who seem pretty disreputable, and want $40 US to drive just the two of us in a Toyot Camry to Siem Reap. There are also guys wearing yellow shirts who try to get you to go on a bus where they say they sell you a seat in a share Toyota for $15 US each.

I don't really like the vibe from the guys who are right there, and the lowest they will go is $35 dollars. However, we see that the bus goes just 200m up the road, and a yellow shirt guy on a scooter keeps telling us to go there. So we head walk up there to check out the deal. This is a crappy little office, but does look to be where most people are getting trasportation forward. It is either $12 for a seat on a bus, or $15 for a seat in a cab that leaves right away. We take the cab and end up sharing with two solo people, a Swiss lady and a friendly young guy from Hong Kong.

9) From around 14:00 to 17:30 bounce down the atrocious dirt highway from Poipet to Siem Reap. Looks like we are back in India, shocking trasformation from Thailand.

10) Get dropped off in the taxi depot on the edge of town. Negotiated for a Tuk-Tuk with the Hong Kong guy for $2 US dollars into town.

11) Go to "Bar" St. in the center of town, find a suprisingly really nice and classy tourist area in the middle of town. Find a really nice little hotel in the area called the Golden Temple (or something like that) for $15 US a night. Get free beer opon check in.

The result, not that bad. Did not cost too much and relly the only problem was figuring out the taxi deal in Poipet, but even that worked out fine. Siem Reap is actually very nice, and today we head out to see Angkor Wat.

A plug for the e-Visa (November 2007):

We left Bangkok on the 7.30am bus from Morchit and arrived in Siem Reap at 6pm. We had very little hassle crossing the border with not many touts or beggars about. After a bit of negotiaition with the Cambodian border guards the best price we could get was $25 for a visa (they were asking/demanding 1000bht). After we paid the fee we got the visa very quickly. I would however strongly reccomend the e-visa to anyone. It's a lot easier and simpler!!  We had met a couple of others on the bus from Bangkok and they had a cab pre-organised by their guesthouse (Two Dragons in SR - as a condition of booking because so many other guests had not made it there!). The cab was therefore only $45 and they also provided a guide who got them their visas for $20 as well (he was not allowed to help us as non-guests of the hostel). Again something I would recommend as it saves getting ripped off!  Either way is was a simple and relatively pain free journey compared to some of the other reports here.

Straightforward (November 2007):

I'm a traveler from Singapore and just did the crossing four days ago and everything went pretty much as you said - bus from Morchit Bus Terminal (seems there are only first class buses now, no problem with those) to Aranyaprathet, stayed the night, crossed the border without hassle, taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap. One thing I'd like to highlight, though. It seems the mafia taxis at Poipet have constructed a more official front for their extortion. We were accosted by touts at Aranyaprathet who told us about the whole scheme. Ignored them, but later saw the exact same guys at the Poipet office. We were directed to a free shuttle bus by people wearing very official looking uniforms at the office, which brought us directly to a very hastily put together office some distance away from the traffic circle, which looked really dodgy and made us pay upfront ($15/head), but it all turned out alright in the end, reaching Siem Reap in under 5 hours, so it was all good. Our taxi did stop at a group of tuk-tuks upon reaching Siem Reap, telling us he didn't know how to get to our guesthouse and that they'd bring us there, but we just persistently ignored the horde of helpful tuktuk drivers. Our driver gave up after awhile and just sent us there himself.

Perseverance (October 2007):

Arrived in Aran by bus from Surin at noon. There were very few fellow travelers. Luckily, I could team up with a girl from Germany as she wanted to go to Angkor as well. We ignored the Tuk-Tuks and Motos and went for 10 baht to the border. We went straight to the Thai departure building and had to wait approx. 10 min. to get our stamp.  By the time we left the building some touts were already following us. After a little walk we arrived at the Cambodian visa building. The fun starts here: With passport, form & picture and 20$ in our hands we went to the counter. We were told it would be 1000 baht (old sign there, sir). I told him that I had talked to the embassy and that 20$ are correct. He ignored us for a while (watching TV and reading). When he came back to the counter he demanded 25$. We insisted on paying only 20$. He turned around and watched TV again. During the time we just blocked his counter, so far for 20 minutes. A while later he came back and explained  that we had to wait 3-4 days if we would insist on 20$. To make a long  story short: The next steps were 22$, 21$, 20$ and 200 baht. We just refused to pay tea money, even though we liked the story of his life and that the 200 baht were to buy food and to fix a few things around the station. After 40 minutes in front of his counter I was lighting up a cigarette (40 minutes are tough for a smoker!!) and he came up to us and sent us away. Luckily he took the passports, forms and the 20$. After 5 more minutes we had the visas! During that time countless other travelers and so called agents came to get there papers. From what I can tell, they paid between 22$ - 1000 baht (later I"ve been told by a guy who went with a KSR bus that he had pad 1700 baht). Hint: Take your time, don't get stressed, don't give a sh** and be insisting! And leave a few baht at the Red Cross donation box, just to see the faces of the touts..

After getting the stamp at the Cambodian side (no hassle) we went to look for a bus. Then they all came like grasshoppers and told us weird stories and tried to get us in a taxi or to Angkor Andventure Tours. We did not go with them and kept walking around. We couldn't find the place where the buses go and eventually had a drink. One guy who was still following us got tired and took a scooter in the  meantime. He kept asking where we want to go and how we wanted to travel. We just told him that we don"t need his help and would go by foot to Siem Reap (I come with you. I like to walk, too). As we were halfway finished with our drinks another guy arrived and offered us a Camry for 15$ per person if we could find another two passengers. We were tempted and started talking to the guys. However, we basically told him off as did not want to wait for two other passengers. He even offered us the Camry for 40$ (20$ each). We got him down to 30$!!! and left immediately. We got lucky with the driver - he was a pro and got  us to Siem Reap in no time. When we got there he tried to sell us to some Tuk-Tuk drivers at the Airport Road. After a few minutes telling them that we had a place and don"t want their help they let go and the taxi-driver brought us to the city where we initially wanted to get. Hint: Same as above I have to say that we had a lot of luck. It was raining heavy the day before and not a lot of potential customers were in Poipet so that we could apply some laws of the market. The main thing, however, was that we both agreed on certain goals and stayed firm (NO tea money, max  budget for the ride). It takes more time and it is uncertain if it works for everyone - but it is well worth trying!

Mafia taxis (October 2007):

I did BKK to Siem Reap on the 1st of October. Almost no problems since we got the e-visa for Cambodia. Of course some touts approached us when we arrived to Poipet but we just ignored them. That day we could not find the free shuttle to the Taxi stop and we had to walk meanwhile two touts followed us all the time, saying not to go to get an official taxi since was more expensive. Although we asked them to move away they stayed with us all the time. Also when asking to other people where the bus station was they told them not to answer our questions. Finally we got to the bus station where we could find the official taxi stop. The only remark is that they have now a "fixed price" advertised on the wall of the Taxi stop which says that the official price is 15 US$ per person. I missed to take a picture.

They tried to get ours passports in the Taxi stop for some strange reason but of course we denied to give them. Also they tried to get part of the money in advance and of course we declined. Finally we jumped into the taxi and left Poipet. When leaving Poipet the taxi stopped to give a paper or receipt to an official after the last houses of the town. I do not know what it was, maybe we could have problems if we were in a none-official taxi. In Siem Reap the taxi driver tried to explain that he didn't know where our guest house was and tried to send us to a tuk tuk which was a friend of him. We simply refused and kindly asked him to move to our guest house and he did. Hope it helps. The only thing to remember if you want to try this is to stay calm and do what you need to do once you are there and ignore all the touts. Also to get an e-visa for Cambodia is basic to avoid problems.

More mafia taxis (October 2007):

We left Bangkok September 14th at the Morchit bus station at 5am to Aranyaprathet. We arrived with no problems at around 930 am. We went to the bathroom and had some food (its better than at the border). Then we took a Tuktuk also 80baht. When we got to the border I was very stressed out. Maybe the people sense this I dont know.

No problems corossing the Thai side. When going to the Cambodian side we arrived at the window and had no problems. We were asked to pay 20 USD but were asked to pay a penalty of 100 baht because we didnt have a photo on us. I noticed a Japanese tourist next to us and he was asked for 500 baht for a faster visa. His visa was like one minute faster than ours. And ours only took like 20 minutes. So I think insist on only paying 20 USD. We did pay the 100 baht "penalty" for the photos though.

After crossing the people at the border insisted that we go on the free shuttle to the transportation area. I didnt want to but was coerced into it. It turns out that the driver was out to lunch though and so in the end we walked to the place that said ANGKOR AMAZING HOLIDAY TOURS AND TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION. I was very unsure of this and kept telling them we wanted a Camry taxi. They kept saying that this was the place to get it. So they said that the transportation had been regulated one month earlier and that now everybody had to go there. I ended up believing this because we didnt get hassled by any one else. Nobody bothered us after crossing the border.

We then shared a taxi with 2 Japanese tourists. I was traveling with a friend and we are both Guatemalan girls. We are mistaken for Europeans for having blonde hair though. The cost of the taxi was 60 USD split between the 4 of us was 15 USD each. That was the worst, this taxi ride. The road was very very muddy for it was rainy season. It took 6 1/2 hours to get to Siem Rep from Poipet. When we got to Siem Rep the taxi driver insisted on taking us to another hotel other than the one we had already booked. Believe me after that 6 1/2 hrs taxi ride I was pretty upset and told him to go drop me off at a pay phone. Then he miraculously remembered where our hotel was. So in conclusion I'd say the experience wasn't bad at all. If you are girls traveling alone I think its ok to go. That was my biggest insecurity. Because we were 2 girls alone. So I think no problem.

Typical journey (October 2007):

We left Bangkok on the morning of Friday 14th September 2007 on the 0555hrs train to Aranyaprathet paying 48bht each for third class seats. On arrival at Aranyaprathet we were picked up by a local tuk tuk who took us to the border crossing for 80bht.

We got to the border around 1pm and it was fairly quiet. As soon as we got out of the Tuk Tuk we were "be-friended" by a tout, he tried the visa scam on us but I told him that we were fine. Thai border control was a breeze and we had no problems getting stamped out. On crossing the border we approached the Visa office and a guy in civilian clothing was standing in front of the windows, the officals were inside but it was quite clear that no-one was going to get to speak with the officals unless they spoke with him first. We filled our forms out and listened as another tourist possibly Korean or Japanese was in conversation with this guy. We then saw him hand over 1000bht. We approached and handed our forms to him and he said 1000bht extra. We refused, I told him that I had called the embassy in France that morning and they had confirmed that the price was 20 USD. He started to speak a lot quieter when I mentioned this and he said that for 20 USD it would take four days to process the visa! After several minutes of discussion he eventually said he would do both visa for 100bht each. We agreed and handed the cash and our passports over to him. He then posted them through the Visa office window. Within 2 minutes our visas arrived and we were again joined by our friendly tout.

We walked through to the traffic circle and got on the free shuttle bus, still in company with the tout. We travelled about 1km down the road and the bus pulled up on the left outside an office with blacked out windows. The company was called ANGKOR AMAZING HOLIDAY TOURS AND TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION. We went inside and the guy said we could buy the back seat of a Toyota Camry for 40 USD. We agreed however, we had to pay upfront. We did so reluctantly but had no further problems. The road to SR is still a mess but passable with care.

More fun trying to evade the mafia taxis (August 2007):

We crossed from Thailand to Cambodia mid-July 2007. We arrived by the bus that left from Mo Chit, around 2pm-ish? and had made friends with two English girls (I'm Malaysian, and was travelling with my Ukrainian roommate from university) -- so four of us girls got off, all set to look for a taxi together which we were advised to do from another collegemate who'd done the bus version and told us under no circumstances count our pennies into taking that option.

We got herded into the "free" bus that was supposed to take us to a taxi stand, which turned out to be an empty office where the going price for a taxi to SR was US$60 to which we walked out from. We walked backwards towards the bus terminal near the immigration outlet from which we'd come through and along the way a taxi from the "taxi station"/"makeshift taxi association office" tailed us, and bargained down the price to US$45. I was quite adamant on getting one for US$40 which was double the quoted price in the guidebooks (editor's note: this must be an old guidebook as $20-25 taxis haven't existed for several years now), so we headed further down back to the roundabout, where we then asked a taxi driver who looked like he was in a uniform how much, and he said 2000 Baht to which we said no thank you. Just about then, another taxi driver approached us and offered us US$40, however the uniformed guy said "I do not trust him" and the other guy was insisting that he would send us to his friend's guesthouse in Siem Reap even though we clearly stated that we wanted to be sent to another guesthouse which we told them we had made bookings with already. Then the entire crew from that taxi area came out and started haranguing us to go with their friend, and the other fella (the one in the pseudo-uniform) stood there grinning and the police standing around did nothing.

We walked away. and decided to take a 5 minute breather just to get away from it all. Then we saw the same taxi cab that had tailed us from the "taxi station/makeshift taxi assoc office" and he offered us US$45 again for the four of us. We agreed, and he told us not to speak that when he went back to the "taxi station" to register us to say that we'd paid US$60 for the ride as stipulated earlier. Oh well. the ride went relatively without incident though it seemed like it lasted forever. The bumps were character building and after twenty minutes it sunk in that the road was going to be JUST LIKE THAT until we reached Siem Reap and that's when lots of chips and good humour helped. Oh right, just before we were going to negotiate going up a one-lane bridge, we were halted by a car that drove towards us and blocked our passage. Turns out twas the police who checked our taxi for drugs (heroin? our taxi driver told us?). We also saw one tipped over lorry on the way with a crack windshield.

Upon arrival in Siem Reap, our taxi driver was quite obliging in bringing us to the first guesthouse we wanted to go to, but it was full there, and we asked if he could bring us to the next one. We called that guesthouse for directions and he spoke to the person in charge over there, but didn't seem too happy about bringing us there but eventually he did. We felt a little bad, and thought we should tip him, since it was late already, around 8pm by the time we got to Siem Reap....but when we got to the next guest house and asked how much would be an appropriate amount to tip the driver, we were advised that he had gotten more than a fair price for his services, seeing as the going rate was actually US$25. We were told that he was reluctant to bring us to our second choice of guest house because he'd asked for a commission and they'd said sorry no go. We ended up paying him a couple dollars for the use of his cell phone to contact the guest house, and that's the end of our story.

The usual visa silliness (August 2007):

The trip from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet was very easy and lasted about 4 hours with the 8.30 bus. Getting out of Thailand was very easy and quick, it took only about 10 minutes, even less. On the Poipet side, there were only a few people at the Visa office, but unfortunately things were a bit slow. There were 4-5 officers sitting in the office, doing absolutely nothing. One stood up and asked for 1000 Baht for each visa (we were 2). I said that I don't have any Baht on me, and I would pay in dollars and only 20 as it was clearly indicated on the sign. Actually there is no sign saying anything about payment in Baht. Then the officer said it is an old sign, so I told him that I asked the embassy, and that the cost of Visa was 20$. To that he replied that he would need 3 days. Then I said that 1000 Baht is 32 $ and I would not pay that, and he turned back to his seat, doing nothing. After a few minutes of me staring at him, and him staring at the void, I offered to pay 25$ and he reluctantly agreed. It was still more, but at least, we saved 14$. Passing through the immigration was a breeze, and by this time we had teamed up with a guy from Japan, who was willing to share a taxi. A person took us, and put us in the free bus, and at the transport office we were presented with a sign that said, 10$ for a bus seat or 15$ for a taxi seat, but as we were 3 we would have to pay for the fourth seat as well. No haggling on the price.

Fortunately the day was dry and probably the days before as well, so the road was in good condition, albeit very bumpy. The driver seemed very experienced so we did the trip in about 4 hours. I wouldn't like to do the trip on a rainy day though. The taxi stopped at a place in Siem Reap and we were put on a free tuk tuk, which supposedly would take us anywhere. At the end, you end up were you want, but they will try to take you to a commission paying guesthouse, and they will hassle you about taking you to the temples.


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