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Cambodia forum

Crossing into Cambodia over land - as dodgy as I read?

Posted by alt on 17/1/2012 at 22:37

Hi folks,
My girlfriend and I are planning to do Bangkok => Siam Riep over land by bus, and just get out visa at the border, but any people we've met said there was a little scam in place... basically you would have your US$ fee ready for the border, but the bus brings you to a restaurant while still in Thailand and they insist on taking care of the visa for you, for a crazy fee, and if you don't do it their way, they just dump you there.

Can anyone advise on what the best way to do this would be? Unfortunately we'll only be in Bangkok for a day before departing to Cambodia, so it won't be an option to get it there.

We just don't want to be scammed, or dumped at the side of the road. A few people did tell me to just insist that you'll get the visa at the border, and that you only have the exact amount needed in US$, no more (For us I think it's $25, or $20, which we'll have ready in US cash) - I just don't want to be dumped in the middle of nowhere.

If anyone has done this before and can explain the process, or a way of getting the Visa beforehand, i'd be grateful... i'm going now to search online to see if there's a way to do it online, and present a 'voucher' at the border and then get your visa there (like Vietnam)

Thanks folks!

#1 alt has been a member since 7/10/2011. Posts: 15

Posted by jetson on 18/1/2012 at 21:15

I am curious about this also... Thinking of taking it by Train!!! I heard you can do a Visa online thru the Embassy?

#2 jetson has been a member since 3/1/2012. Posts: 9


Posted by time2fly on 18/1/2012 at 23:04

I am also curious... I will either be flying in from one of the Islands or taking a train. Is it best to get a visa before I go or at the crossing?

Also, I read that you should use US currency in Cambodia ?

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Posted by 9preciousGems on 19/1/2012 at 04:53

just take a tuk tuk to the border
read this: http://www.talesofasia.com/cambodia-overland-bkksr.htm

#4 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by KirstyB on 19/1/2012 at 04:55

There is tonnes of information on this site and others about this crossing so hopefully you found some answers, but, in brief, the simple way to avoid this scam is to travel independently from Bangkok to the border and DON'T TAKE ONE OF THE KHAO SAN ROAD SCAM BUSES however convenient they initially appear. Take the train or public bus to Aranya, take a tuk-tuk to the border (tell him you don't want to go via the "consulate"), pass through Thai immigration then go to the visa on arrival office for Cambodia and pay your $20 (they will also ask for 100 baht "express" fee), pass through Cambodian immigration. By this point you will probably have been approached quietly by a moonlighting non-cartel taxi driver for a ride to Siem Reap - share this with other travellers and this will be by far the quickest and possibly even cheapest option (last time I was offered a fare of $25).

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Posted by jringsak on 22/1/2012 at 22:27

Definitely exercise caution, and you will save yourself a bit of money. The Cambodian tourist visa should cost you $20. If you want the renewable business visa, it should be $25.

If you're thinking of the e-visa online route, check online if the border crossing you plan to use accepts the e-visa, and make sure that you find the most current info possible. I know that the Phnom Penh airport currently accepts it, but other entry points are questionable.

@time2fly Cambodia uses bother US dollars and Cambodia riel. You always want to have at least some smaller USD on you ($1 dollar bills are very useful, as are 5s) and some riel for smaller purchases, tuk tuks, and motos. Bigger US denominations can be useful, but be careful to note that for a lot of smaller purchases, like tuk tuk or moto rides, street food, or at smaller restaurants, they will not be able to change bigger US bills, particularly 50s or 100s. Also note that Cambodians, including banks, are very sensitive about the condition of bills. For 1s it doesn't matter so much, but bigger bills will not be accepted anywhere if they have big tears or rips.

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Posted by sayadian on 23/1/2012 at 05:42

'but bigger bills will not be accepted anywhere if they have big tears or rips.'

Has anybody worked out why this is because they'll accept any denomination of their own currency in tatters.

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Posted by lynardo on 23/1/2012 at 18:02

Cambodians will also take Thai and Vietnamese currency.

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Posted by mikethediver on 29/1/2012 at 08:19

Hi,
I've done this trip a couple of times without incident, other than the unnecessarily long wait the Thai side at the restaurant, followed by a long wait for the bus to SR on the Cambodian side! It is quicker to do it yourself.


Do get an evisa!! It's $5 more but you avoid many of the problems you are worrying about. (You'll still end up paying a couple 100 Baht for one thing or the other !!)

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Posted by sayadian on 30/1/2012 at 05:19

Not necessarily Mike.I hid my money and pulled out a solitary 20 baht note with an apologetic smile.Looked the other way.The passport and 20 baht disappeared and 2 minutes later they brought my visa to me all smiles.

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Posted by mrdome on 30/1/2012 at 05:44

The crossing's not dodgy at all (although, it's not a "nice" border by any stretch) but the Khao San buses and the continuation of that scam chain into Cambodia are/is.
In anyway, what do you need to book these tickets on KSR for anyway? That's pure traveler laziness and misplaced trust.

Last time the uniformed guy asked for a $1 tip for filling in my visa application (as he was one of the border agents I couldn't really tell him to eff off, obviously) and I had no issue in giving him that relatively small amount.

All info about the e-visa is here:

http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/

It's very practical for those who wish to save pages in their passport.

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Posted by Danwowski on 30/1/2012 at 06:18

Just take one of the public buses - last time I did the bus even stopped at the market just a short walk from the Thai border point. Otherwise it's just a short tuk tuk/moto ride from the bus station.

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Posted by sayadian on 30/1/2012 at 20:59

The public bus takes the long route I believe.Everytime I've come the other way it's taken about 6 hours.You'd be better off getting a bus from Morchit with a company like Chatchai.Quicker.From the bus station I think it's 60 baht fixed price to the border on a motorbike.If your packs not too big they'll carry it in front.The border is mayhem for sure, with touts constantly hassling you but you just have to ignore them. Once through Cambodian immigration you can walk or take a moto for about 2000 real per person to the bus station.Poipet really is the worst possible introduction to Cambodia.Why not try Pailin?

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Posted by annanel on 31/1/2012 at 10:23

I entered from Bangkok to Koh Kong in December via bus. We didn't book a complete tour with a travel agent in Bangkok, just the bus ticket and decided to figure out how to get from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville on our own. Most travel agencies will book your bus tour and include transportation from the border to your accommodation, which saves the trouble of negotiating with tuk-tuk drivers at the border. Make sure you have Thai Baht and US dollars- although all border crossings are supposed to take US dollars a lot of them insist on Thai Baht. As long as you know the conversion rate (30TB to 1USD) the posted signs have the correct amount for a tourist visa. It gets a little trickier if you want an E Visa, which allows you to work and renew your visa after one month for six months or one year, but for a one month stay you should pay $20-25 depending on where you enter. Other people said this, but don't let anyone fill out your paperwork or take your bags. Just smile and say no thank you firmly and you should be fine. Tuk-tuks charge per person but haggle, haggle, haggle and wait, wait, wait until they say ok fine to you. Make sure you know what time your border crossing closes- Koh Kong is 8pm.

Also- Thais or Cambodians skip ahead of you in line because it's faster.

Sayadian- From what I've learned, Cambodians accept riel in any condition because it's easier to get rid of for them and also the US dollar is more valuable here. Battered 100R notes are no big deal because they give them to the beggars on the street or the shops at the big market.

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Posted by annanel on 31/1/2012 at 10:24

I entered from Bangkok to Koh Kong in December via bus. We didn't book a complete tour with a travel agent in Bangkok, just the bus ticket and decided to figure out how to get from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville on our own. Most travel agencies will book your bus tour and include transportation from the border to your accommodation, which saves the trouble of negotiating with tuk-tuk drivers at the border. Make sure you have Thai Baht and US dollars- although all border crossings are supposed to take US dollars a lot of them insist on Thai Baht. As long as you know the conversion rate (30TB to 1USD) the posted signs have the correct amount for a tourist visa. It gets a little trickier if you want an E Visa, which allows you to work and renew your visa after one month for six months or one year, but for a one month stay you should pay $20-25 depending on where you enter. Other people said this, but don't let anyone fill out your paperwork or take your bags. Just smile and say no thank you firmly and you should be fine. Tuk-tuks charge per person but haggle, haggle, haggle and wait, wait, wait until they say ok fine to you. Make sure you know what time your border crossing closes- Koh Kong is 8pm.

Also- Thais or Cambodians skip ahead of you in line because it's faster.

Sayadian- From what I've learned, Cambodians accept riel in any condition because it's easier to get rid of for them and also the US dollar is more valuable here. Battered 100R notes are no big deal because they give them to the beggars on the street or the shops at the big market.

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Posted by sayadian on 31/1/2012 at 21:09

Annanel
They'll take ripped notes if it's a tip! As far as 100real notes all they do is clog up my wallet so yes they go to the beggars.
You did the Koh Kong crossing.are you saying that you paid the correct fee for the visa? I'm not quite sure because this crossing has always been notorious for the corrupt officials who charge 1000 baht for a tourist visa which works out over $30 and refuse to accept dollars.Have they sorted it out now? If not, I would advise anyone going on this route to get an e-visa or one in Bangkok. Plenty of buses running from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville now.(How things have changed, I remember the boat or 8 hours on a dirt road) I think the trip to Phnom Penh is around 7 hours but 4 to Sihanoukville, correct me if I'm wrong since it's a long time since I've been down to KK.

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Posted by annanel on 1/2/2012 at 04:11

I had a lot of Baht on me and would rather spend it than get it exchanged and be charged commission, so I paid $25 (TB750) but I got an e-visa. It took forever and they kept trying to fill out my paperwork for me but besides that- and arguing with tuk-tuk drivers who wanted $20 to take me five minutes- the officials were professional enough. Sihanoukville took us 6 hours- but we had to change buses and stop constantly. It should take 4, and it is 4 to PP as well.

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Posted by sayadian on 1/2/2012 at 18:35

Annanel
I think your confusing (easily done) the new business visa box on the imigration form which calls itself e-visa with the electronic e-visa you get on line and print out, this is a tourist visa.On your entry card if you want a business visa you have to tick the 'e' box and pay $25.
If you got from KK to PP in 4 hours you must have been driving a ferrari.

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Posted by annanel on 2/2/2012 at 04:47

A business visa is an E type visa which allows you to work and own a business. I didn't file for an electronic visa. I was saying from Sihanoukville to PP is 4 hours. I haven't traveled from KK to PP, went straight to S-ville.

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Posted by sayadian on 2/2/2012 at 05:56

Yes, I see I got confused about which route you were talking about.I'm in Sihanoukville now and the 7 a.m. Sorya bus took 4 and half hours which is pretty good by standards lately. For sometime now the buses have been re-routed through the back streets of Phnom Penh . Haven't got a clue why and sometimes we've taken up to 6 hours if the traffic comingin/going out of Phnom Penh is heavy.

I thought it was worth pointing out, the other confusion. In their wisdom, the Immigration Dept have renamed the old business (work) visa an e-type visa and, of course, this must be obtained at immigration whilst also having an e-visa which is a tourist visa obtained online.I have seen people quite confused on the aeroplane over this

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Posted by monkeyboi1969 on 11/2/2012 at 01:40

Get an evisa. We just crossed into Cambodia by land rode the train from Bangkok easy as pie and we felt safe. Got a cab to Siem Reap and had a tuk tuk driver for two days take us anywhere we want and stayed with us all for $70 bucks. We are two women alone traveling and we were safe just be smart and don't wear jewels and flash money. Use American money they like it!

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