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Help with a trip to Thailand/Cambodia

  • mic59

    Joined Travelfish
    30th July, 2008
    Posts: 107
    Total reviews: 5

    I've been to Thailand twice now and enjoyed myself immensely. Next year(or possibly the year after that) I'm going to Thailand again but thinking of a side trip to Cambodia. At the moment I have very little idea of what I'll do. The only thing I am pretty sure of is that I'd take 6 weeks holiday, enter Thailand on a 30-day visa, travel around Thailand a bit and then go into Cambodia. After a while in Cambodia I'd re-enter Thailand(I should be OK with the 15-day visa on re-entry); see a bit more of Thailand then leave.

    What I'd like to know is where do I enter Cambodia, do they insist on payment in USD as Laos do or do they accept the equivalent in their currency, and has anyone got any suggestions on what to do and see in Cambodia.

    Or maybe if someone wanted to recommend another South-East Asian country. I'm open to all suggestions at the moment.

    #1 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 18:11

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  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    I can personally recommend Angkor Wat in Cambodia. If your going over that way it’s a must see. You can stay in Seam Reap where they have some really good hotels. Best go to Thailand first and then either take a government bus to Aranyapratet and get a taxi on to Seam Reap or fly with Bangkok Air from Bangkok.

    The other option is to book a tour from the Khao San Road area but this I DONT RECCOMMEND! Its very bad service and basically a con, I know people that have had bad experiences and I have also done the trip a couple of times myself - Never again!

    So, getting the government bus is ok if your familiar with Thailand it’s easier but I think the easiest way to get to Seam Reap is with Bangkok Air, this is how I took my family there and also how I will be travelling the next time I go.

    I recommend flying because the other options are quite difficult/long/horrible. The road to Seam Reap from Aranyapratet is really bad. The downside to flying is the price. Bangkok Air have the monopoly and the price shows.


    #2 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 18:55

  • cubedweller

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd February, 2008
    Posts: 35

    I second going to Angkor but I disagree with Jon_Mak_Mak about the Khao San Road "scams." I had an amazing experience taking one of those "tours" from Khao San Road; sure it was long; it was hot; it was crowded; we broke down (on a few occasions); but all in all it was well worth the experience and adventure. I wouldn't trade it for anything -- best of all the trip only cost me about 200B.

    It really depends on what type of trip/adventure/experience you are looking for. If you want something new, crazy, exciting, unpredictable, adventurous and cheap: Khao San Road will do it. Just my .02 :)

    #3 Posted: 28/1/2009 - 02:27

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hi,

    I’m pleased to hear you had a good experience because so many people I have spoke to don’t. But I’m interested in hearing more about your Khao San trip.

    Every bus breaks down, it’s to make sure you arrive after dark so it makes it difficult to not stay at the guest house you get driven too. Were you taken straight to a guest house? If so, where you told about this before?

    Did you stop to make your visa at a restaurant not far from the boarder being told you have to make it here as you can’t at the boarder? This is a blatant lie! I have got a visa for Cambodia at the boarder a handful of times and also the visa is more expensive here/food is over priced too and your are made to wait for the people eating before you can go.)

    Did you then get taking to the ATM and get told there aren’t any ATMs or anywhere to get money out in Cambodia? Did you have to wait for a bus (full of mozzies/no air-con and windows open so that red dust covers you) on the Cambodia side where they have a money exchange? (Really bad exchange rate) The bus breaks down a few times then you have to stop for petrol where the bus gets swamped with screaming kids begging for money and you can’t even go anywhere! Some kids actually trying to go trough some peoples bags!!! (Actually opening them)

    When you do eventually get to Seam Reap its long been dark and you are taken straight to an over priced guest house out of the town centre leaving you no choice but to stay there at least one night as the road is pitch black and you don’t have a clue where you are.

    I would like to hear how your experience was different to that. I’m not being argumentative; I am genuinely interested to know because the one I went on (and other people I know) was one scam after another. The problem is that most of the travellers with us had no idea it was even happening!

    On the way back to Thailand wasn't much better and my wife and I actually refused to get off the bus at the restaurant and convinced other travellers to get back on the bus with us so we could carry on our journey. The rest of the travellers saw us on the bus waiting and all followed back quickly. (This was great, like a revolution!) :)

    When we take a bus, we want to go from one place to the other, we are not interested in going out for dinner and being lied to, I saw this ‘experience’ for what it was –one scam after another- and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

    So please tell me about your trip from Khao San would like to know what was the same/different for you especially the kids jumping on the bus shouting “10 dollar, 10 dollar its only 500 Bhatt!!”

    :)

    #4 Posted: 28/1/2009 - 03:44

  • cubedweller

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd February, 2008
    Posts: 35

    Hi,

    I did have a similar experience to what you are describing; we arrived in Seam Reap pretty late at a Guest House that wasn't situated near anything -- forcing us to stay there for the night (but if I remember correctly it wasn't overpriced). This was a little aggravating, I have to admit, but we were aware that something like this would occur and that the buses often breakdown in an attempt to lock you into going to specific Guest Houses.

    We did the whole stopping at the restaurant for the visa thing; everything like you described. And judging my trip from this point of view, it appears that most of it was a "scam." But a "scam" that I would repeat if given the chance. I'm not sure why I had such a good time; maybe it was the company, or just the "sense of adventure." I was with someone who had taken the exact trip a year prior, and she had a blast as well. Hearing you describe it brought back some fun memories. :)

    Anyway, I guess lots of variables come in to play: single traveler/traveling with kids, age, budget, etc. We were very tight on money so the 200B fit our budget perfectly (in fact, we had paid the least out of anyone else on the "trip"). In the end, I feel I got what I paid for. I made it to Seam Reap and had a blast doing so. Sure, they may have little "scams" here and there, but oh-well; I don't feel as if I was ripped off -- it was quite the contrary.

    I'm pretty sure, that had my parents taken the same trip, they would have formed similar opinions to yours; but I was up for the adventure. By the way, I'm 27 and this was a few years back -- summer of 2006 (I believe).

    Either way, Angkor is a must see!

    #5 Posted: 28/1/2009 - 06:44

  • cubedweller

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd February, 2008
    Posts: 35

    Sorry, I forgot about the kids! There were tons of them! It was pretty sad to see. But this was the case all over Cambodia (especially in Sihanoukville).

    #6 Posted: 28/1/2009 - 06:49

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2356
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    i'm glad to hear that cube had such a positive experience. even so, i agree with Khun Jon that these scam buses are a risky bet at best.

    for mic or anyone else planning the overland trip from Thailand to Angkor and Siem Reap, please read the article in the features section called "How to Get from Bangkok to Siem Reap." it is at:

    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/71

    that feature story similarly recommends not taking the scam buses from khao san road. at the bottom of the article, there is a link to the Tales of Asia website with even more specifics on why to avoid it. it's a great read.

    just remember that pretty much anytime once you've paid your fare, you are working for the travel company, not the other way around. cheers.

    #7 Posted: 28/1/2009 - 07:54

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