Border Bureaucracy – Thailand to Cambodia

I crossed the border from Thailand to Cambodia at Aranya Prathet (Thai side) and Poipet (Cambodian side). Here’s my account.

What you will need:
1) Common sense
2) US Dollars (at least 30; 20 for your visa on entry and 10 for onward transport)
3) Your passport
4) 1 passport sized photo

– I got the bus from Korat bus station at 6:30am and arrived at the border at around 10am. You can not get international busses that take you from Thailand all the way into Cambodia.  The best you can do is the border.  Places offering international busses from Thailand right into Cambodia are essentially big fat liars.
– The bus cost me 210 baht.
– The bus was scheduled to stop at Aranya Prathet but then there was one more stop called Rongkleu Market (Immigration check point). If your bus says this stop is included then do not get off the bus at Aranya Prathet. The bus officials might try and get you off the bus at Aranya Prathet so that they can hand you over to tuk tuk drivers but don’t let them. If your bus says it goes to Rongkleu Market then you just sit your bottom there till you’re at Rongkleu Market. It’s a 5 minute walk to the Thai immigration from there.

If your last stop really is Aranya Prathet, a tuk tuk to the border will be (at least) 80 bhat and will probably deliver you to a scam hot spot.

Once you are at the border:
– Decline any offer of a Cambodian visa if you are eligible for one on entry (check this before you get to the border.  UK passports get a visa on entry). If you are eligible for visa on entry, you are not obligated to have a Cambodian visa before you get stamped out of Thailand. If you aren’t eligible for one on entry, you need to get one from a Cambodian Embassy before you head to the border.
– Only follow the official signs above your head that direct you to immigration. Taking directions could lead you to a scam so, be polite when you decline but, just follow the official signs and the queue of traffic.
– Leaving Thailand is to the left. There’s normally a big queue of vehicles waiting but just cross through them and head for the left side of immigration. 
– Fill out your departure card. I did mine on the bus. If you didn’t, fill it out here.
– Get stamped out of Thailand.
– Walk into Cambodia and follow the signs for visas.  There is a building on the right clearly marked as the visa place.
– Fill in the form, give your passport photo and $20 to the man at the window. Should they try to get any extra money out of you (they had a stencilled sign saying $20 + 100 bhat on my visit which they pointed to frantically), just look confused and point to the official sign above the counter window that says a tourist visa is $20. If you look confused enough, they give in fast. My man took about 30 seconds to decide I was too stupid to persevere with.
– Visa in hand, follow the signs to passport control.
– Fill out your arrival card.
– Get stamped into Cambodia.

Getting away from Poipet
I continued to Siem Reap. Here’s how I did it.

– Took the free shuttle bus to the international bus station just outside Poipet.
– Paid $10 for a seat on the minibus to Siem Reap (I was told the minibus would drop me at my hostel).
– Waited an hour for the minibus to fill.
– Took 2.5 hours to get to Siem Reap.
– Was dropped off well outside central Siem Reap. All passengers refused to leave the minibus until we were delivered to our hostels.  Driver used excuse that busses are not allowed into Siem Reap.  Complete hogwash. Ignore this argument.
– Were assured the army of waiting tuk tuks would be free of charge.
– Got into ‘free’ tuk tuk and was delivered to hostel.
– Tuk tuk asked to be paid, kindly asked him to bill the minibus company and walked into hostel.

There.  Thailand to Cambodia.  If you have common sense, the right money, forms and some balls, it’s a doddle.

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