Blogging by a happy boy, Niels Klintø

First stop on our honeymoon in October/November was planned to be Siam Reap in Cambodia to see the marvellous Angkor Wat temple area and by a bit of Internet surfing we were already prepared for the trip and warned about the different scams that you could encounter.
Luckily we read and printed the informative warnings from Tales of Asia and how he describes that “ALL PRIVATE BUS SERVICES TO CAMBODIA SOLD BY TRAVEL AGENTS IN BANGKOK ARE RIP-OFFS AND RIFE WITH SCAMS. ALL OF THEM. NO, NOT SOME OF THEM. ALL OF THEM” (taken directly from his site) – he was SO right!
In fact by having read all the advices we were in a position to laugh quite a bit when some people tried to scam us, because we already knew beforehand what would happen – I can only recommend being a bit prepared and the trip will be full of fun…  😉

In the next couple of lines I will give our experiences.

We stayed at the really nice hotel New Siam River Side – probably the best hotel in the close to Khao San Road area, so of course we decided to ask the travel agent at the hotel for advice and maybe buying the trip to Siam Reap there.
She was full of crap…
Because of a lot of scams, she said, she could offer us a 10 persons minibus to the border + a Toyota Camry for 4 persons in Cambodia at a price of 1.000 bath. Directly to a guesthouse they know, but we don’t have to stay there…  and she promised us only 1 stop on the way + the Border crossing…
Going alone would be very difficult and to the border will be 400 bath per person.
She also proposed to help with Visa to Cambodia. She could prepare it now for 1.500 bath, because its 1.300 bath at the border and very slow.

-    Official bus to the Cambodian Border 250 bath.
-    the sign at the Cambodian Border said USD 20 for the Visa, but the nice officials at the border tried to earn a little extra by charging 1.000 bath for the Visa. And the procedure was fast!
-    It was so easy to get a shared taxi just after the Border crossing – we paid 35 USD for 3 persons and the trip took around 2 hours…  not bad

We did try to get another offer at a hotel in Bangkok and the offer was close to the same – 900 for the trip to some guesthouse in Siam Reap and she strongly recommended us to get the Visa now for only 1.300 bath…  but she could discount to 2.250 bath per person.
And NO the USD 20 is not possible anymore – now it’s 1.300 – A direct lie!
So funny looking back at..  especially because we were warned…

We did of course not try the package tours, so we can’t for sure tell if the trips are as slow as described in “Tales of Asia”, but on other trips we saw it. And we can only recommend planning trips by yourselves, not to save money, but to save time and irritations..  the package tours are damn slow and stop too many times, so you have the possibility to buy food ect. where the bus company get a commission… and you end up in guesthouses or hotels where the bus company gets a commission again… it’s all about getting a lot of extra commissions and not about getting the tourists from A-B and charge a fair price for it..

Oh yeah and then there were the fake Cambodian Visa Office on the Thai side of the border. After arriving by bus (according to schedule) around 5 km from the border we took a Tuk Tuk to the border, BUT it decided to take a right turn just before the border ( I could nearly see the Cambodian Border) and 2 mins later we were at a small café like place where a man in a dirty shirt (from food) told us that this was the Cambodian Border and that we should buy Visa’s from him..  I laughed at him at told him that I couldn’t see any Border here..  he tried to point to the road outside which made me laugh a lot more…  and then he left for a moment..
I told the Frenchman who joined my wife and I in the Tuk Tuk that this was a scam and that he should just take it easy and not leave the Tuk Tuk…  and 2 mins later we told the Visa scam man to get us the Tuk Tuk driver and get him to take us to the Cambodian Border as agreed…  and a couple minutes later we were on our way to the real Cambodian Border – the Tuk Tuk driver gave us a “sorry, but I had to try”-look….  😉

And at the Cambodian Border the Frenchman gave 1.000 bath for the Visa – my wife and I paid the USD 20 per person + a tip of 100 bath. The Border crossing was in general very fast and easy..  nothing to worry about…

At the Cambodian side we pushed away some people who wanted to do money exchange (also a scam)… and took the free bus to the bus terminal.. went outside the bus terminal and negotiated a private taxi to Siam Reap – piece of cake and from what I hear so much faster than going on the Khao San Road scam bus packages.

Irina and the Frenchman outside our “Taxi” – we needed a 2 mins break..
Trip from Bangkok to Siam Reap, Cambodia

Btw the road from the Border to Siam Reap is great – not bad as it used to be.