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Cambodia - corruption at Poipet. Don't pay the bribe!

  • IvanaCZ

    Joined Travelfish
    24th April, 2013
    Posts: 12

    If you're going to Cambodia it is very likely that the officers will demand a bribe.
    We crossed into Camb. from Thailand at Poipet and experienced all of the scams mentioned elsewhere on the net.
    At the visa counter the officer told us that the visa costs $20 + 100 Bhat. I pointed at the sign above his head reading : tourist visa $20.
    He repeated the same thing 3 times and I did the same, adding that 100Bhat is a bribe which I refuse to pay. After this short exchange he gave up and gave us our visa.

    My point is, do not give them the bribe they demand, you will get your visa without it! Imagine how many people got scared by their authority and simply paid. There's hundreds of people going through that border, you do the Math.
    Corruption will be around as long as we keep paying!

    #1 Posted: 24/4/2013 - 03:08

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  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    It's a difficult one to call. Corruption is a way of life in Cambodia and you as a tourist aren't going to change it. Cambodians also suffer from corruption, sometimes to the point of losing their homes (Boueng Koh). I'd love it to go away but it exists.
    Sometimes it's helpful. You drive without a licence and when you are caught you pay a small bribe which is better than prosecution.
    On the borders you are in a vulnerable situation. It's unlikely but they could refuse you entry or at least use the threat to extort money from you.
    How much of an inconvenience are you going to put up with before you give up? The immigration at Poipet is pretty laid back, they probably make a fair bit from those who do pay so letting the odd person through 'free' is no big deal. Koh Kong is a lot harder.
    Good luck to all you people who want to stand by your principals but sometimes it's easier to just pay the $1, $2 or $3 to have an easy life.

    #2 Posted: 24/4/2013 - 03:43

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2155
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    I'm all in favour of doing your best to avoid paying bribes to help stamp it out - but I also accept it's probably a lost cause in many cases. Your best chance of talking your way out of it is to always remaining polite and respectful, and play a bit dumb. Don't become argumentative and aggressive as you probably won't get any where. I look at it as a personal challenge to get out of it, but I would never go so far as to put myself in an 'uncomfortable' situation.

    I've talked my way out of paying extra at the Siem Reap airport (by being polite but firm about the true cost of the visa, and waving the correct USD around), and I talked my way out of two traffic tickets in Indonesia. It took me 1/2 hour each time of sitting on the side of the road with the guy, just shooting the breeze - and they finally gave up on me as a lost cause.

    Last time I flew back in Bali I almost got sent back as I didn't have a blank visa page in my passport. Again, lots of smiles, humble apologies, two supervisors later and one hour later - and I was having a celebratory drink at the bar. No bribe required.

    I ended up paying a US $75 bribe to a policeman in Mexico. I was stopped for no reason, but he had me on a technicality as I had forgotten to bring my licence. I reported it to the tourist police the next day at the encouragement of a local shopkeeper. Short story...I ended up seeing the police captain...,called his bluff by saying that I was in no hurry and could wait all day for the policeman to appear at the station for a staff meeting later in the day. We chatted for awhile about NZ (my home country) and anything else I could think of. I suggested that he might have a pulled out photo books of the cops, from which we actually identified him. One hour later - I had my $75 back - which I then used to buy a celebratory margherita, and spent the rest at the shop of the guy who suggested that I report it. It killed a few hours, and gives me a good travel story.

    Point is... be polite, show respect and you just may get away with it. It's a shame that you have to go to these lengths but it's better than paying out! Like I said, treat it as a personal challenge.

    #3 Posted: 24/4/2013 - 04:25

  • Flauresent

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2013
    Posts: 4

    for specific details about how to avoid scams in cambodia, check out the articles here:


    keywords: APLE, SISHA, KNGO, PACDOC, Boran, Saveth.

    #4 Posted: 28/5/2013 - 00:32

  • Snookieboi

    Click here to learn more about Snookieboi
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2013
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 61

    On the Thai bus to the border, the Thai man used scare tactics to get those without visas to pay him xxx for their visa's. I refused, saying i was gonna pay at the border. I also saw the $20 sign, but the immigration police refused to stamp my passport and threw it back at me (lol). After waiting like 30 mins and before the bus continued to Siem Reap, they took the $20 and stamped it.

    I don't remember how much they wanted from me, but 100 Baht is actually a pretty reasonable charge, and not something i would worry too much about TBH. The main thing is that if you insist on NOT paying the 100 Baht or whatever, then wait till last and be discrete, the last thing you want is for an officer to lose face. Let those that decide to pay, pay, then politely refuse when your turn at the end comes and show your passport, form, and $20 fee.

    It's all to easy to let little things like this get to you, but 100 baht is more like a service tip than and evil bribe.

    #5 Posted: 28/5/2013 - 02:53

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