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Travelling from Laos to Cambodia via Dom Kralor - our experience
4th January, 2012
We spent Christmas 2011 in Don Khone (the southernmost of the 4,000 islands) and wanted to travel into Cambodia via Dom Kralor (the only land border between Laos and Cambodia) on 28th December. There were a number of adverts around Don Khone for the VIP bus from Pakse /Siphandon to various destinations in Cambodia and a number of people were selling tickets but all were essentially for the same service (Paramount Angkor Express). We're not bothered about a VIP bus but it seemed to be the only option. Our tickets from Don Khone to Kratie cost $18, departure from Don Khone at 8.00 a.m., arrival in Kratie scheduled for 2.30 p.m.
About 12 people got the boat from Don Khone to the mainland (Ban Nakasong) to await the arrival of the bus from Pakse. At B Nakasong there were several representatives from the bus company and we were encouraged to give our passports, with completed docs, to their rep for 'quicker, easier' processing. I wasn't happy about handing over my passport but, like most of the people, we did. Generally the people on the Lao side were reasonably civil but not at all informative.
You have to change buses at the border so when we arrived we all shoiuldered our packs and walked through to wait on the Cambodian side. We arrived here about 10.15.
And waited and waited. It was extremely hot and fortunately there are food and drink stalls. The main problem was complete lack of information. We seemed to be waiting for more prople to arrive from Pakse and more people did indeed arrive but the wait continued. Eventually our passports were returned, with all stamps duly in place so worries allayed. It seems we paid about $2 more than the few who had insisted on keeping charge of their own. There was one sleek VIP bus waiting. After about an hour they started boarding it but when I asked if it was our bus I was told my ticket was for a different bus (???! No explanation and all tickets I saw looked the same but maybe you got something different if you had come from Pakse). Anyway that bus left but not at all full. The worst thing was the lack of information - on one occasion I asked a question and was told 'not to push'.
A group of abpout 12, frustrated by the wait, negotiated a mini bus. I wasn't party to these negotiations but it was all conducted fairly publicly and my impression was that they were paying $70 and were to be taken via an ATM to get this. Otherwise I don't know what the deal was but they drove off.
And so, eventually, did we. About 12.30 we were boarded onto a very old bus which had in fact been waiting nearby since we arrived. It was not a VIP bus (not that we care but it was what we had paid for) and it was absolutely full.
At Stung Treng (about an hour down the road) we stopped at the roadside and who should get on but the group that had left earlier in the minibus?! No seats for them so they had to sit on plastic stools in the aisle.
We finally - and very thankfully - got to Kratie at 4.00p.m.
The whole thing is a disorganised and ill-tempered muddle that does no credit to 2 lovely countries. The main problems are:
- surly manner of bus company personnel on both sides of border;
- lack of communication between the Lao and Cambodian sides - the latter seemed to have no idea how many people might be arriving;
- a suspicion that there are scams going on, especially with regards to mass processing of border docs;
- most of all - the need to change buses! We have travelled over other borders, especially Laos/Vietnam at Cau Treo and Tay Trang. You just board a local bus, at the frontier walk yourself through and rejoin the same bus on the other side. Why can this not happen at Dom Kralor? It would make the whole thing much more secure and certain.
Another time we would wish to avoid Paramount Angkor travel but I'm not sure how feasible that is. I think it would be easy enough to get to VoenKham (on the Lao side) and to cross the border but there was little evidence of any means of onward travel on the Cambodian side. There is a bus stop announcing a 4x daily bus service to somewhere but, although we were there when a bus should have arrived, we saw no sign of it.
So the advice has to be - make sure you have a good book and be prepared for a long wait.
#1 Posted: 10/1/2012 - 09:52
13th January, 2012
many2 thanks for your info .
#2 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 03:58
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