- Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:43 pm
Crossing the Thai/Cambodian border by land was never going to be a breeze, but we went for the more expensive option and took the government tourist bus from Bangkok straight to siem reap, because it supposedly makes crossing the border easier. And to be fair it did drop us off as close to the passport control as possible and met us at the other side... However when you go through passport control it is of questionable security!
Before you get off they do still try to get your money though and just before you get to the border a very friendly guy with great English gets on to sell you your visa, it's a "vip service"- you don't need it, I'm not sure if it's a full on scam as a few people on the bus took him up on the service and didn't seem to annoyed by it, but it's double the price and doesn't speed up the process at all.
Before you go into the Thai passport office you walk through crowds of Thai people offering to "help" with getting your visas or begging or just staring at you. It's quite unnerving, i opted for the smile and say no tactic, which seemed to work. Then your in the legit office in an orderly queue to get stamped out - phew!
Then next stage is getting your visa and entering Cambodia- not that straight forward ! Your in a weird no mans land no longer in Thailand and have to walk through the street, no security or police about, just a few barriers which seem to stop half way up the busy street leaving you to fend for yourself! Also there are locals dotted about in groups on the inside of the barrier - just staring at you as you walk through, again smile and hold on to your stuff !
We then cross over the road in search of the visa on arrival place, which is not clearly signposted but is the most "official" looking building, it's like a post office you fill out your form, attach a passport photo and pay the guys $30- but they will demand more money from you in Thai baht - they got an extra 100baht off pretty much everybody that came through with us! I flat out refused only handing over the correct amount of US dollars, the immigration officer ignored us multiple times in a bid to scare us into paying. But after a few long minutes we got our visas!
They must make so much money off worried tourists !
Then next stop is to go through arrivals again not that close its right down the end of the street past where the bus was waiting for us to get back on! But we made it safe and sound without losing out on a scam - take that scambodia!