Cambodian Border Scams
I love Cambodia! It’s absolutely no secret that Cambodia is near and dear to my heart as one of my favourite places in the world. I love volunteering here, I love the beautiful Cambodian smiles… but I resent the Poi Pet border crossing. It’s just tiresome and difficult, so if you can fly – take that option… but if not, be prepared for what you’re in for.
I booked a bargain 250 baht bus from just around the corner from Khao San. They offered me a VIP combo visa pass, which included transport and the Cambodian visa for a cool 1,500 baht. As someone who’s been to Cambodia three times before, I knew this was a scam (1) and politely declined.
The bus was due to pick us up at 7.30am, but didn’t arrive until 8.30am which is somewhat standard in Asia. We headed to the border and arrived near by sometime around 12:30pm (after a royally flat tyre), at this point everyone sat down. People were confused, was this the border? It looked more like a travel agent piggy-backing on the side of a restaurant. My friend and I were discussing how we had been to Cambodia before and I mentioned I was heading to my village in Takeo. At this point, one of the travel agents came up to us and asked us if we’d been to Cambodia before and we were led outside onto the street and pointed towards the border, which we walked to.
Along the way we noticed there was a handmade, and written, sign saying “Cambodian Visa Here”. My friend and I laughed it off, because it was on blue card and was obviously a scam (2). We wondered how many people fell for it, but hoped it wasn’t many. We kept walking towards the border, where I paid my Thai overstayed fine (500 baht a day) and was stamped through. Then we made our way to the Cambodian border – THE ONLY PLACE YOU SHOULD PAY FOR A CAMBODIAN VISA - and filled in our forms while handing over a crisp $20 USD note.
The Cambodian border police tried to ask for $5 or 100 baht “express” fee, which is another scam (3) and then insisted I pay another 100 baht for not having a passport photo with me – which was never a problem the three other times I passed the borders, so that’s another scam (4) as it simply goes in their pocket. I ended up paying for the lack of photo, but not the express service.
Across the border we met up with some people from our group and the people at the stop just before the border had tried to charge them $40 for 1200 baht for the Cambodian visa – double the actual cost of it, which is another scam (5). Many people had paid this, simply thinking it was the only option only to find out on the other side that they were ripped off.
So there’s corruption on both the Thai and the Cambodian side, but there’s no problem going the opposite way on this border crossing because there are no fees for the majority of those entering Thailand. All in all, we arrived in Siem Reap around 8.30pm, meaning this entire trip took a whopping 13 hours and it was not comfortable or fun.
Once on the bus, a Cambodian “volunteer” for the government got on board and was openly discussing the border scams. Unfortunately nobody mentions it to you beforehand, because there are at least 5 different routes people are trying to scam you.
Notes for taking this crossing:
Use USD, if you pay in Baht you’ll be paying 200 baht or around ($7) more
Only pay for your Cambodian visa on the Cambodian side, once you’ve walked through the Thai border
Only pay $20USD for the visa
Bring a passport photo, or you will be asked to pay $5 or 100 baht (I have gotten out of this before, but they seem firmer now)
Be prepared to wait for a really long time in queues and to be ushered off by yourself if you refused to pay more for your visa
Anyone else had any experiences crossing this border? It’s not the most fun and I’m really sad it sets such a bad introduction into such a wonderful country.