21 Nov 2015
Border scam → Bangkok / Thailand to Siem Reap / Cambodia via cheap mini-bus
If you are travelling on a tight budget and want to go from BKK to Sieam Reap you find yourself most likely in one of the early mini-busses going from Khao San in Bangkok to Siem Reap for something like 300Baht. In addition to that, you need to take care about your visa by yourself which is no rocket-science, this cost currently nothing more than 30US-$ if you get it directly at the immigration in Cambodia.
You’ll cross the border at Aranyaprathet (Thailand) to Poipet (Cambodia).
Apparently this is one of the worst landcrossings Thailand has to offer, so I did my research but unfortunately other travellers don’t and just go with it. This is a follow-up of my experience, hope to make other people aware of the happenings, frauds and risks on this trip.
My trip started at about 7:30am, we left BKK at around 8am after picking up more people and driving circles around Khao San Road. We should have been in Siem Reap at 4pm according to the travelagents. The mini-van was almost full, I remember 10people.
The trip to Aranyaprathet was quite alright and enjoyable, with a stop at a servo for a little break.
But this is the place where the scam begins. Instead of being dropped of at the border, you’ll find yourself suddenly at at guesthouse 4km east of the actual border.
The friendly staff told us to get out of the van, to sit down, have a drink and a meal to cover the time until they change our tickets into other ones for the cambodian-side of the journey. The still friendly staff said this should not take longer than 30min. It was around 1pm.
Our group got divided, probably because of other destinations and nationalities. More likely to prevent the exchange of knowledge, of what is happening in this place.
Soon more and more people were asked to get into the office to get there visas. Visas at a guesthouse? Right, that is bullshit!
Unfortunately most people got talked into it and payed up to 40US-$ at this strange place.
The whole procedure took already more than 1h, enough time to chat to two english travellers about the situation and what we know what will happen. We all agreed that we won’t obtian our visas at his place but will make sure that we get transport to the border and further to Siem Reap.
After a few questions to the staff what is going on, poeple got rude, tried hard to fed us with wrong informations and giving us a lot of pressure.
Things like: „It will take a very long time to get the visa at the border.“, „I can’t make sure the bus driver will wait for you“, „The visa cost 35US-$ anyway“ (showing us some fake-website).
We eventually made it somehow without being kicked out of the place into the same mini-van again, with the same people who optained there visa at this guesthouse, got the same pink-ish sticker on our chest and were driven to the border.
From there everything was easy and alright – we got our departure card stamped on the Thai-side, we went to the office to get our visa on arrival on the cambodian side which took about 20min (no other people there) and cost nothing more than 30US-$ – even though people where asking for a 100Baht-fee. Just don’t pay it – it is a scam as well.
Waiting in the next office to get our arrival-card stamped we bumped into our fellows from the van. Seeing them was a big relief as I was sure we’ll get on the same bus to Siem Reap together and won’t be left behind at Poipet.
From there everything was pretty easy and usual. You get on a bus, this bus is driving you somewhere, you get off, you wait for another one, you get rushed into the next bus, than sit there for about 30min doing nothing, you drive off, you stop in the middle of nowhere to get dinner (the busdrivers must get heaps of commision, the food is alright and not expensive at all), you hop on and make your way finally to Siem Reap. We arrived there at about 8pm as far as I remember.
Amongst all the other options taking this landcrossing into Thailand, this by far the worst way you can do it. But the most exciting one
If you don’t want to get ripped off of your money, make your research before you leave, There are heaps of travelblogs referring to this, wikitravel has heaps of information and a really handy map.
Best thing that day:
We fucked the system!