Aranyaprathet Poipet Border Crossing

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Well our time in Bangkok has come to an end for now at least, and we are off into Cambodia, so I thought I would write about our overland border crossing experience from Thailand into Cambodia. First thing I have to mention is the Global Travel Mate website because whilst doing our reasearch into the trip and were trying to find the best means of travel from Thailand into Cambodia overland. They helped immensely. Now getting to the border your choices are ,train which incidently is the cheapest, which would have been nice to do, but because we wanted to get to the border before miday. to avoid arriving at the same time as the coach and mini bus operators and so avoiding the crowds at the checkpoint we decided on a taxi. Now like I said on doing our reasearch we discovered that the approx cost for a taxi is between 3000 and 3500 baht which is about the £70 which I suppose it isn’t bad for a four hour t taxi ride, but like I said I found an article on Global Travel Mate’s website about the crossing and also offering to arrange a taxi journey for 1900 baht about £42, the reason they can do this so much less is because they can arrange a pickup for someone who is coming from Cambodia into Thailand, now this was not an advert just the guy who runs the website being helpful, so I emailed Jeroen the guy in question just before we left the UK and he arranged it all, communication was excellent and this service is totally free, just brillient so well done to them, first leg done. Now for the crossing itself, like I said we had done a lot of reading and researching before our trip into this particular part off our journey, and I can tell you there were some pretty eye opening stories about all the various scams which go on, and initially the prospect of crossing here was quite daunting, but after watching various clips on YouTube people has posted describing the crossing, it did not look half as bad as it read. So after being dropped of at the border entrance the scams started. We were immediately accosted by a guy holding a clipboard saying this way to get our visa, now this is also one of the scams at the border unofficial peoole trying to sell visas, we politly declined informing him that we had already obtained ours (see previous post on visa applications). So I cannot stress to strongly “DO NOT” give your passport to anyone or accept an offer of a visa service from anyone other than the officials in the checkpoint. Scam 1 out of the way, next we were surrounded by a group of small children wanting money pushing and shoving us and being a general nusience, it was while this was going on although I cannot be certain, but I am sure in the melee one of them tried to acess my Man bag as on walking to the checkpoint I noticed the front pocket was slightly open. Scam 2 beware of pickpockets even the very small variety.
Next walking to the checkpoint was completely stress free, it really helped though seeing the video’s on YouTube, as it gave us an indication of where to go. So passports stamped and hey presto we were in Cambodia. Now the next step was getting to Siem Reap itself. Now you have a few alternatives modes of transport once you enter Siem Reap first you can catch the goverment bus which waits just outside the border exit, this then takes you to the bus station free of charge where you can choose to catch a coach, mini bus or taxi, prices range from $10 for the bus to $40 to $50 for a taxi, but this is where more scams materialise, having previously read lots of blogs and info on the subject we discovered that the taxi drivers don’t take you all the way to your hotel in Siem Reap but drop you just ouside town when you are left at the mercy of the local tuk tuk drivers who then charge you in addition to the cost of the taxi journey for the trip to your hotel, and many of them don’t know where they are going either. So this sounded like a another nightmare to endure, but we resigned ourself to just having to put up with the hastle, when I found a professional looking website called Angkor Cars who will pick you up at the border for a cost of $ 50 plus $25 poipet tax, which sounded ok, but I just wondered what the Poipet tax was so I googled it and could not find any reference to it. I then contacted Jeroen the guy who had arranged the journey for us on the Thai side and he said that he thought like myself that the website looked o.k. I also asked about his knowledge of the Poipet tax and he told me that the local mafia (his words not mine) have a monopoly on the taxI’s in town of Poipet and will not allow any outside taxi’s to pick up unless they pay the “Poipet Tax”, very dodgy, so we decided to go ahead and book with Angkor Cars as the service they offered sounded very good also take you direct to your hotel. We were glad we did as on seeing the condition of the taxi’s operated by the local “mafia” and their dodgy looking drivers, we were quite happy to pay the extra $25 to get a clean comfortable taxi, with a very nice driver, and to be taken direct to our hotel with no hastle whatsoever. So a big thankyou to Angkor Cars.
So my conclusion about the border crossing it was definitely not as bad as we had thought, but you must remember to make sure you keep your wits about you, do your homework and I’m sure you will be fine. Next stop Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat temple complex.

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