Crossing the thai-cambodian border
Getting into Cambodia can be a real pain. I’ve read a lot of stories on traveler’s encounters before crossing the Thai-Cambodian border so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes, but I guess I still fell short to their tricks and scams.
My story? I had initially purchased a train ticket from Bangkok to Siem Reap and that cost me only 48 baht. But it was a 6am train and I had no self control not to go out the night before. No prizes for guessing who overslept. The only alternative way to Siem Reap at that point was to try hop on another train but it was full too. Once I looked helpless walking around the train station, I was approached countless times by tour companies who had buses going to Siem Reap. I wanted some time to think about whether I should take the 6am train the following day, but they were persistent, saying that the bus was leaving in 10 minutes and I had to decide immediately. Eventually I caved and paid a horrifying price of 800 baht after haggling like mad.
This was their offer:
800 baht for a bus ride from Bangkok to Cambodian border. Then a bus from the border to Siem Reap, followed by a tuk tuk ride into town. “Good priye, good priye”, that girl said. “i gibe you best priye in here” (What a load of bull)
This was the real deal:
800 baht for a bus ride from Bangkok to Cambodian border. Anything across the border, good luck.
I took a nice bus ride (comfortable with aircon, like the girl was boasting) to the border. Once everyone got off, we had to walk some distance and cross the border by foot. Then proceed to queue up with an intense crowd, waiting to get our passports stamped. At this point I had befriended a Swedish girl and a HK guy from NYC. Upon crossing the border, a guide who was supposed to bring us to the next bus pulled us aside with another group of American guys and told us to sit on a bench to “wait for the rest”. Of course we didn’t know who the rest were… There were so many buses and groups of people crossing the border all at the same time!
Eventually when we headed to the bus area we saw people boarding a big bus, but the guide said “that one not your bus. this bus go to Phnom Penh”. At this point, Swedish chick gets suspicious and we asked the guide again if he’s lying and he promised he wasn’t. Still feeling dubious she heads over to the bus and asks the driver and true enough we were lied to. The unfortunate thing was that the bus was already filled up while we “waited” for nothing. She literally stormed over and yelled at the guide while the bus took off. The ONLY bus is now gone.
HK guy flips. I sure as hell flipped. Profanities were thrown back and forth while questioning the guide and everyone had red faces. After a heated argument, the dishonest douche walks off and throws some guys at us to take us into the city but we had to pay for their taxi service. We attempted to hitchhike, but no one was willing to help. At that point we only had one thing to do, haggle for a cheaper fare. It was a 1 hour journey and we were all still pissed off in the car. Later, I found out that the two of them paid 300 baht – 400 baht while i paid double. FELT LIKE SUCH A FOOL. Technically I paid 800 baht to cross the darn border halfway and that’s it. I guess what we didn’t realize was that the tickets were purchased from the Thai’s. Meaning whatever the Cambodians wanted to do to try get more money out of us was out of the thai’s control. No matter how much you try to reason with “but they said” or “but we paid”, it’s useless.
At least this experience has left me with serious lessons learnt.
1. Never look like you’re desperate to get to your destination. Tour companies read people well and take advantage of that.
2. If you miss your transport, consider going a day later instead of making impulsive decisions that you’ll live to regret later.
3. Double check to see if others are paying the same price before going ahead and purchase something. Or check with other agents to see how much their tickets are. You might just find a better deal somewhere else.
4. NEVER believe in such “packages” when they say they’ll take you all the way to Siem Reap’s city center. Even if it’s true, don’t listen to any “guide” leading the way. Just follow the crowd and hop onto the first bus you see, that’s probably the only one and the people who can’t get on would have to fork out more money.
5. You’re not as smart as you think you are just because you’ve read “THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN CROSSING THE THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER”. They will always have new tricks up their sleeves so be alert at all times.
Safe travels to all & good luck crossing this border should you have to enter Cambodia by land.