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Cambodia Overland

Travelers' Reports:
Overland, Bangkok - Siem Reap

Page 9 of 22 (July 2006 - December 2006)

Overcharging continues (December 2006):

I travelled from Bangkok to Siem Reap on Monday 27 November. I took the afternoon train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet. It was ok although it was almost 2 hours late arriving becasue it was held up waiting for another train to pass on the 1 track line. Very cheap (48 baht) Quite crowded with a lot standing but as I got on at Hualumphong there was no problem. It did not have a second class carriage.

I stayed the night at the Aran Mermaid Hotel. This was EXCELLENT value. About 900 baht. New clean reasonable sized rooms with good air con and cable TV. The dinner in the restaurant was excellent. The breakfast was included in the cost and was only adequate but all in all it was a very nice pub. Tuk tuk to the border cost 80 baht but I tried a few and they all insisted on that and would not budge.

There was no queue at Thai immigration (9-45am) and it took only a couple of minutes to exit. A few touts but nothing to worry about. At the entry point to Cambodia there was also no queue but the visa scam was alive and well. I was asked for 1000 baht but refused and pointed to the sign that said US$20. He said Ok but there are long delays and pointed to a table that was literally piled with passports! He told me that for 100 baht there would be "express service". I have to admit I paid the 100 as I was keen to move on but I guess I should have toughed it out! My passport was ready in less than 5 minutes.

The whole border crossing took well under half an hour. I then took a free shuttle to the taxi stand. The taxi asked for US$60 and I paid as there were 3 others there who would share so in fact it was only $15 each which was reasonable and I got the front seat to myself. An excellent driver. Used signals, was careful overtaking and generally was first rate. Made one brief stop and the whole taxi journey took just under 3 hours. I thought the worst part of the road was either side of Sisophon and the sealed (sort of) parts were often worse than the unsealed areas. I booked the same taxi to return 2 days later. Interestingly the price had gone down to US$40 for the return journey. He turned up exactly on time at the hotel and I had managed to find one guy to share so it cost $20. The return journey was also incident free and the border very quiet at about 1pm. Even some smiles from the Cambodian border officials although none on the Thai side. Again through the whole process in well under 30 minutes. A blue bus back to Bangkok that took 4 and a quarter hours. Overall it was a relatively easy journey and one that I was much better prepared for because of your web site. Thanks again.

Recent and now typical taxi overcharge (December 2006):

It was a fine day, myself and 3 others friends decided to leave Bangkok on the early morning at 5:30 am from Sukhumvit Road to Morchit Bus Station. The taxi did not use meter as it still early morning, and charge us a lump sum of 150 bahts. We managed to catch the government bus at 6:00am which you have mentioned to be more comfortable and less stop to Aranyaprathet. The journey is fine, while we were much distracted by the Thai oldies music in the bus that keep repeated for many times. The stop at certain stop is quick and we manage to reach Aranyaprathet before 10:00 am. Price of the bus is 207 Baht per person. We do encountered some problem where the military had stop our bus before reaching Aranyaprathet and several people (not sure Cambodian) were call out and was escorted to a station, while our bus leave without waiting for them.

At Aranyaprathet, we proceed to the border using your map printed from talesofasia.com. The tuk-tuk ride cost 80 baht and we have to call 2 tuk-tuk to bring 4 of us to the border. Before reaching the border, we were stop at a travel agents and they try to convince us that we need a visa. However, since we are from ASEAN countries, we do not need visa to get into Cambodia for 30 days [Editor's note: only Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and Laos passport holders enter Cambodia visa-free. Other ASEAN nations still need visas.]. Therefore, we turned down their offer and proceed to the border by foot. Along the way, there were several people trying to offer visa and ride to siem reap.

Since it is early at 10:00am, there was no people (foreign pass) at Thai immigration, but there was long queue for Thailand visitor. Seen that we have beat the KSR buses. We manage to walk through the border across the bridge. Just after the bridge, we were stopped by a government officer (who do not wear uniform), offered us a free ride to across the border. The mini van in red had a sticker printed, free ride to Cambodian border. Since the government officer is nice, we sat on it and go across the road fill with food stalls, children wondering, and beautiful casino hotels. The reason we have this free ride, was because many travelers had complain to Cambodia government regard pick pocket and beggar problem along this road. So this government officer explain that they resolve it by providing free shuttle to Cambodian border for free.

At the Cambodia Immigration, there is no people and we manage to go through it without problem. However, the same government officer still following us and ask us to take a bus ride to the bus/taxi station. Upon reading your site, we are convince that we need to get taxi from the allocate place which is where this government officer bringing us. He call the bus driver and make him bring us to the taxi station.

Poipet is an eye opener and we did saw a lot of rubbish and potholes along the dusty road. At the taxi station, it was about 10:30am and there is no many people there. We did refresh ourselves there but this government officer still there. He asked us whether we knew there is heavy flooding at several road from Poipet to Siem Reap, and we did agree since we have read your latest articles on October 2006 about the flood. Therefore, he told us that the price of taxi now is hike to USD 80 per car.

For 15 minutes, we did try to bargain and mention that the price should be USD 40, but the government office insist that we should pay USD 80 or else, there will be no taxi drive wanted to bring us to Siem Reap with the flood around. He mention that they have to use tow truck to pull the taxi in several places. Since he wasn't helpful on this, we finally succumb to his USD 80 per taxi to Siem Reap.

Along the journey from Poipet is expected to be bad and we did saw all the potholes and the amazing ride of our life. Road condition is bad and taxi driver (Camry car) was speeding even at the potholes roads. There seen there is no road mark and driver is driving at either side of the road as he like. Scenery is nice with rice field and many folks fishing at the pool of water. The taxi stopped at Sisophen for Natural Gas refill and also stopped at Kralanh for a rest at a small house (seen to be the driver's home).

Surprisingly, there is no flooding along the road to Siem Reap and it was dry road. Several road was previously underwater, but they had built a de-tour which is dry. For some reason, we felt cheated by the friendly government officer at Poipet. USD 80 is a non-sense and we do not see any flooding. The journey is fast and we reaching Siem Reap close to 3:00pm and we did get the driver to bring us to the guesthouse we want.

Conclusion, the journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap is smooth and great experience, minus the government officer that had cheat us USD 80 for a taxi ride.

By way of Battambang (November 2006):

We got the boat from Siem Reap to Battambang. Took about 6 hours and cost $15. Lovely views, but the boat was quite badly overloaded – bit worried on a few occasions

Shared Taxi from Battambang to the border. Took just under two hours and cost us $28 for the whole taxi. Road was on the whole in a pretty good condition. Last 10 miles were full of potholes but the driver managed to avoid most of them.

Border crossing was completely stress free (apart from a few persistent people offering to carry our bags…) Took about 15 mins. We crossed over around 12ish and there were no queues. Then tuk-tuk to the bus station from the market on the right just after border control on the Thai side. (100 baht). Initially had problems finding any one who would take us just to the bus station but just be persistent. TheN had lunch at the station, followed by the government bus option to BKK. Cost around 200 baht and took 5 hours 30.

Helpful touts not so helpful (November 2006):

Bangkok to Siemreap 19 sept 06 (over 12 hours):

I paid 10 bahts for motobike from Mo Chit BTS to Mo Chit bus terminal, then 220 bahts for a slow bus i guess to Aranyaprathet border, 4 1/2 hours. From there another 70 bahts for motobike to Poipet immigration center. Once i got off, a tout followed me for the whole trip like a personal guide.... i thought he maybe the kind of guy mentioned in the wesite that work for the govn't to help touist, so i talked to him, 'let' him followed me. First i went to get the departure stamp from Thai immigration, at noon, almost no one waiting in line, esp foreign passport, maybe this time is low season and rainy days in Angkor Wat. Then the tout showed me way to the Cambodia Visa center, he said 1000 bahts, i ignored. Then a bunch of Cambodia officers asked for 1000 bahts, i said i will pay 20US as listed on the sign....he then lowered the offer to 100 bahts in addition to the 20US, i refused. I am asian, dunno if this is the rule there. Okay, then waited for 15 mins, an officers waved me forward, asked wht currency i am going to pay, i said what? i paid already, he then mentioned the 100 bahts again, and added, if not paying, u can wait till 2 pm, (it was 12pm by the time). So have to pay 100 bahts and went straight to the arrival place of Cambodia, queue was not long there, but people worked extremely slow. (if i had get the visa early, there will be even less tourists in the line) There i met some Chinese tourists, they missed to apply the visa, and i heard they were asked for 1200 bahts to get the visa done in the arrival place..... i told them my story, so they went back to the visa center, and later i knew they did the same as me, paid 100 bahts each.....(so try to bargain to 100 bahts to get the visa done quickier.)

After the whole process done. i was trying to look for the free transport to Poipet bus terminal to Siemreap, then the tout waited for me and asked me to get on the tourist bus to the bus terminal, and he and the driver insisted it was free, so i jumped on and found out it was a tourist bus from khao san, i got off once the bus reached the bus terminal, the tout offered me to ride on that same bus to Siemreap, i refused. (while i was on the bus for two minutes, i heard the guide persuading people to change Cambodia money, he didnt say US dollar is accepted everywhere in Siemreap...)

Tried to look for someone share taxi in the bus terminal, couldn't find, then see if there were pickup truck, the tout approached and some other guys said pickup truck are not allowed anymore, because once a japanese fell off and broke his neck....i didn't take it serious, but couldn't find exactly which one is the pickup truck heading to Siemreap or the town for transaction, and seem trucks were filled up with lots of people, so uncomfortable, and it was raining, so i went back to into the bus stop, looked for the government managed bus. What i saw were a couple of different bus companies there, and i asked the tout are these from government, he said yeah, these are all the same, i couldn't tell the different myself, so i paid 10US to one counter he pointed me to, and then he said the bus will come in around 30 minutes, at last the tout asked me for tips for guiding me, and then i realised what was hsi purpose.. ( at that moment i paid him 40 bahts!!)

30 mins passed, some 10 touists were waiting, finally a guy came and started picking up people and asked them to follow him somewhere, i was no on the list, i wondered maybe i was so late to buy my ticket so i will be on the next bus. But then time has passed, everytime i asked the staff there, they kept saying the bus will come for around 10 mins, 20 mins, or 30 mins, and sometime they pointed to me a bus and said this is it and just wait for more tourists, (but later the bus would go away without anyone on it...) later i figured out they were actually different companies working there, and maybe i chose one company which had no customer, so i had to wait so long, when i was waiting, groups and groups of tourists came to the bus stop, but they seem all going back to Bangkok, or maybe follow a tourists guide as a group, so it was really only me alone waiting for bus there for almost 2 hours.... i started to worry if i was brought to a private bus stop? why there were no others visitors coming??? finally i saw 3 German came, they were actually on the same bus with me from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet. (later i found out while i was waiting here alone for the bus, they were cheated somewhere else, seems like they got on a taxi that never set off but waiting for more customers....) then i complaint to the bus company guy, and wanted my money back, but finally i only managed to get 5US back, then we 4 took a taxi and paid 45US straight to the hotel, and it took more than 4 hours with that slow driver and dark road. Therefore i needed more than 12 hours of travel.

When you can't see much tourists heading to Siemreap, better ask people to go share taxi with you, otherwise bus may never come, and if you do want to take bus, never buy the ticket before you see the bus is going to set off, keep asking and make sure the bus is going soon. ( i was persuaded that if i was not going to buy the ticket, i have to wait for another hour for the next bus if the first one is full, this is all bullshit, if the bus is full....)

Siemreap to Bangkok (9 hours):

Paid 15US for the front seat, ( i was scared by the receptionist of my hotel that there will be 4 people packed in the back seat and 2 in the front, 7 in total including the driver.......turns out to be 3 of us, 2 people from back seat they paid a lump sum for a travel package) took the taxi booked by hotel to Poipet, 4 hours, done the immigraion process smooth, with none touts, only waited 20-30 minutes for the extremely slow paced Thai arrival queue of less than 10 people ( can imagine how long it will take when high season come.....) 60 bahts motobike back to Thai Aranyaprathet bus terminal, jumped on a bus which took off at 1 pm, the bus went to some places to pick up more stand up customers a few times, end up 4 hours back to Mo Chit.

Bad roads in October (November 2006):

My first trip to Cambodia. We took bus from Mochit to Aranya Prathet and then a tuktuk to the border. The prices where the same as informed here. I was bit worried about the border crossing, but there was no hassle at all in the border area. Unfortunately the road from Poipet to Siem Reap is in quite bad condition at the moment and this is why they had to raise the taxi prices (at least this is what they said to us). Now they asked for $70 instead of $40, but after 15 minutes of bargaining we got it for 2000 baht. I guess this might have been little bit over-priced?

It was true, that the roads were in quite bad condition at some point. On the way back from Siem Reap to Poipet we had to change the taxi to avoid the endless waiting, because some trucks had jammed to the mud. The roads were blocked and so there was no other options. Anyway, the rainy season seems to be over at least here in Thailand, so maybe the roads will get better during this month.

During the wet season mess (October 2006):

My Thai girl friend and I went to the Pattaya North bus station early to get tickets on the 07:00 Mukdahan bus that stops in Aranyaprathet, but the bus was full. Got on the 07:10 Pattaya to Morchit bus. Arrived at Mochit 09:15, bought tickets to Aranyaprathet, and got on bus that was ready to leave around 09:35. Paid 210 baht each for this 4 hour journey. Arrived in Aranyaprathet at 14:30 about 2 hours later than planned. Got tuk-tuk for 80 baht to take us to the border. No problems at the border during mid-afternoon, as most of the crowds had come and gone. Got through Thailand and Cambodia immigration in 1 hour. Just paid the 1000 baht for the Cambodian visa. Did not want to get into the principal of the matter for $5 or $6. Got a Camry taxi to Siem Reap. The rate now with the road conditions was $60, an increase from the normal $45.

The road from Poipet to Sisophen was mostly dirt, rough and with large pot holes. Our driver seemed to hit as many pot holes he found available even when the road had a side with less. We stopped in Sisophen for gasoline and short rest stop. The journey then became interesting. The road from Sisophen to Siem Reap is washed out in at least three places between large rice fields. In two places, one with high water and the other with deep mud they hook the taxi up to a tractor to pull you across. About 10 to 20 km out from Siem Reap the road finally has pavement and is quicker. Got to our guest house at 19:30. Overall the journey from Poipet to Siem Reap is bone jerking and teeth jarring. It took 4 hour to get from the border to our guest house.

We stayed at The Villa Siem Reap for $25 per night. This is a nice establishment with large rooms and a good restaurant. The people there are nice and helpful also. We had a guide and tuk-tuk driver hired through the guest house. Our guide was knowledgeable and nice person and we enjoyed the time we spent with both individuals over our three days in Siem Reap.

We decided to fly back to BKK and not backtracking over Highway 6 to Poipet in the shape the road is in currently.

It's usually easy (August 2006):

First took bus from Mochit in Bangkok to Aranya Prathet. Slept overnight there in Aran Garden 2 Hotel. A tout tried to direct me to another hotel. Next morning at 0700 hrs tuktuk to border, 70 baht. No beggars or any hassle at all in the border area. Lots of Cambodians crossing the border to Thailand. No touts approached me. On the Cambodian side officer asked for 1000 baht, otherwise my visa will be "delayed". I decided to pay since right after me there was several buses arriving (Koreans) and I didn't want to wait. At the Poipet bus/taxi station no westerners on sight so I took alone Camry taxi to Siem Reap, 40usd. Road was very bumpy, and taxi stopped in Sisophon to fix something. Hit my head to roof of taxi dozens of times, since I am 6'4". Took 3.5 hrs to get from Poipet to Siem Reap. Pretty expensive trip for me, but for a first timer very funny adventure.

Bangkok to Siem Reap (July 2006):

We took the suggested individial route (family of four with two children). The "other 1st class bus company" took about 5 hours to Aranyaprather from the Morchit bus station. Before the border police control took out four "khmer looking" passengers. Tuk-tuks to the border would not drive for less than 70 baht. Despite Saturday around 1 PM the border formalities took "only" 1.5 hours. Cambodian officers first tried to charge 1000 baht and then demanded 25$ for "fast (10 minute) treatment" per passport in comparison to 20$ for the regular (threatened with 2-3 hour delay, although there weren't much travelers - we selected the fast treatment). Taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap was 45$, took 3 hours in AC Toyota Camry, small delay because of works on concrete pillars along the new future road. Taxi driver offered transfer back for 30$, we also agreed on 50$ for 3 days driving around the temples of Angkhor, which is probably a good bargain. The road to the Kbal Spean was in a good shape (beginning of July 2006) and was no problem for a car. On the way back the passage of the border was faster, with a bit longer wait at the Thai side. Bus to Bangkok took 4 hours.


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