Argument at the scam border between Thailand and Cambodia
Asia is a land of scams and I thought there will be surprise at the border so I came prepared and made my research on the internet. If you not prepared to be scammed 24/7 your money will run out pretty fast. Definitely people at the border were just as bad as bad I read from other travel bloggers. Troubles did not finish at the border either…
If you travel by coach from Thailand to Cambodia, you most probably will find yourself at the scam border.
When the coach dropped off at a white building (200 meters before the Thai border) in Aranyaprathet and we were herded into a building with no official sign, I knew straight away it is the scamborder.
I asked how much is the visa but the guy did not reply. So I asked again a bit louder, then he said 1500 bhat. I knew that at the real border you have to pay in dollars and this is all I had. I spend my last bhats on coffee back in North of Thailand. I said I will only pay 35$ (the official fee) and not paying in bhat. He said no and sent me to get cash from the atm outside (charges extra). So we started to argue, he was threatening and swearing, but finally he said it will be 40$. Then I questioned why it is so expensive, he got very angry and said this is not the real border and we paying for extra fast service. I looked around maybe the group will wake up and say something but they just ignored the whole thing. They either were scared or just did not care about it. I know it will be a hard fight which I need to face on my own.
Then I asked what is the fast service, he said 20 minutes. I replied you get the 35$ and the rest if you back within 20 min. I gave him my passport and he left. I thought I am being clever as I knew it takes 2-3 hours to get through the border. He came back after 5 minutes smiling and waving my visa and passport. As I promised I handed him the 5$. I knew it anyway if I don’t pay him he will leave me at the border and I will need to make my own way Siem Reap. Which would have been much more expensive (my bus ticket was till Siem Reap). I read stories that it is not unusual that travelers are left at the border.
He said then to come with him, only me!! Now I started to be really scared. I did not have a choice so I followed him. He took me to a white building which was the Thai border where my passport was stamped. After we walked to a tunnel where I got a stamp again. This time from the Cambodian officers.
After I got all my stamps the guy put me on a bus which took me out somewhere middle of nowhere. Here I had to change bus. This bus finally was going to Siem Reap. My group was nowhere, god knows what time they finished. We actually were lucky as another group had to pay 50$.
I sat back on my seat and thought it will be all good till Siem Reap. Of course not. When the bus turned on a dusty road in the middle of nowhere I knew the coach gonna be robbed or scammed. When got off the bus tuktuk drivers surrounded the bus offering to take me to the town (bus ticket was paid till the town) for 2$. I asked where is the town they said it is 6 kms towards east. They thought I will jump now into their tuktuk, but being a trekker 6 kms sounded nothing for me. So off I went. It took me 1,5 hours to get to town.
The next day all started again. Asia but particularly Cambodia is a master of scams.
My advice is to do your visa online, it will take 3 days to process. Or if you go on your own don’t believe anybody and do not stop walking till the Thai border. If you go with a bus and they handle you as a group than you don’t have much choice. The real officers wearing uniforms and the fake ones just street clothes. If you wanna save time just have the argument I had, but unfortunately will not save you any money.