Thailand-Cambodia Connection: My Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border Crossing Story

Prior to my Thailand-Cambodia trip, I’ve read a lot of Thailand-Cambodia border crossing stories. Some had a smooth and pleasant experience, while some had to go thru a lot of hassle. I believe that this is one of the best learning experience of my trip and I would like to narrate my story.

We woke up early on a Monday morning not to prepare for work or school, but for our trip to Cambodia. For the first time, I’ll be crossing borders. It means I’ll pass thru the customs and all. I’m excited and at the same time nervous. I’m hoping that everything goes well.

Spaghetti with veggies - Soi Rambuttri Style

Drew and I ate breakfast somewhere in Soi Rambuttri. We’re anticipating for a long trip so it is better to fill our tummies with food before traveling.  I ordered Spaghetti for 45 Baht and look at my Spaghetti. The taste of the sauce reminds me of Menudo.

We left Thara House at 6am and tried our luck to look for the designated bus station going to Aranyaprathet. He was the one in-charge for asking directions that morning and after walking for almost thirty minutes with no signs of any bus station, we decided to hail a cab for 100 Baht. We explained to the driver that we’re going to the bus station where trips going to Aranyaprathet border are.

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Hua Lamphong Railway Station

We arrived in Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Apparently, this is not the original station that we wanted to go to. An officer assisted us to a travel agency that fixes trips going to the border. Left with no choice and being the lazy heads that we were, we followed the officer.

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The travel agency explained to us everything – from the travel time, to the cost and our other options. We decided to just take the van going to the border (450 Baht) and just look for a public transportation once we arrive in the Poipet Border going to Siem Reap. It will not only save money, but also time. When you’re a Philippine Passport Holder, you don’t really need to pay for visa fees and go thru the hassle.

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The van left at 8:30AM. I’m glad that the other passengers that day were nice. We met a Slovenian couple, who just graduated from University. They’re traveling around Southeast Asia for six weeks. It is fun to exchange stories with other travelers especially when they’re coming from a different continent.

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DONT

LOL  at the 5th box.

After two gasoline station stops, we were dropped in a canteen with a lot of travelers. We could’ve eaten quick lunch there, but decided not to.  A guy wearing a long-sleeves polo approached us and ‘briefed’ us about our so-called Visa Application and the requirements. We politely told them that we’re Filipinos and that FILIPINOS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY FOR ANY VISA FEES. He just smiled and asked us to write our name in a paper. I read it first and I’m glad to see that it serves as a headcount for the van passengers. While majority of our companions needed to stay to fix their visas, we were mixed in another van with Asian travelers and those who already completed their visa requirements.

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Five minute van ride to the Aranyaprathet border! Tired and a bit hungry, we were asked to walk for a few minutes in order to talk to some of the tour facilitators. Since we opted for the transfer from Bangkok – Aranyaprathet only, we continued in walking and found our way to the Aranyaprathet Immigration Office.

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Lost?
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OTW to Aranyaprathet Immigration Office

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Woot this is it! Border Border Border! We’re almost in Cambodia! Konti na lang! Konti na lang!

As expected, there were lots of backpackers from different nationalities. I am not sure if it’s just me, but it feels weird to be a backpacker in an SouthEast Asian country especially when you’re starting to get some unlikely stares from strangers. Will write about this part soon.

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A few more steps... A FEW MORE STEPS! 😀

We successfully passed the Aranyaprathet border. Poipet is up next!

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The Poipet Immigration Office in Cambodia

Although ‘same same’, you can still see the difference between Thailand and Cambodia via the Immigration entry. It was just a big relief to us when I realized that the Cambodian immigration guards and officers are more fluent in speaking English. Yahoo!

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Right after having our passports stamped, we found the fastest way out of the Poipet border. Oh, hello Tuktuk and Taxi drivers! They’re now here to convince (and annoy) us in every step.

We’re trying our very best to politely decline their offers, but some are really persistent. First, he was trying to convince us to ride in a tuktuk going straight to Siem Reap. When I asked how much, I didn’t like his price. Next, he recommended a taxi, which turned out to be more expensive. I kept on saying ‘No Thanks’ but he’s just following us wherever we go!

Persistent Driver: How much are you willing to pay?

Me: No thanks. I am hungry. We need to look for a place where we can eat first.

Persistent Driver: You want taxi? You want tuktuk?

Me: I said no thanks =) I am hungry and I need to eat first because I’m starving and I’m losing patience.

Persistent Driver: No, how much you willing to pay? Will mix you with foreign passengers

Me: I said no thanks!!! I am looking for a place to eat. Stop it, please

Persistent Driver: I will show you a place where you can eat, but I look driver for you.

Me: Sir, I’m trying to be polite, but please stop following us OR ELSE I’M GOING TO EXPLODE!

He stopped for a while only to follow again in a minute!

Persistent Driver: Sorry I will bug you again! How much are you willing to pay?

Me: (Thinking) $10.

He scratched his head and then came up with a solution that he will look for a driver going to Siem Reap and we will be mixed with Cambodians for $10. Ok. Deal.

He showed to us a canteen, where I only ordered two cans of Coke. We haven’t eaten our lunch yet and I almost reached my boiling point. Thanks to Coke for giving me that energy to at least keep my cool.

After a few minutes, the Persistent Driver introduced us to a taxi driver, who is apparently driving an old Toyota Camry. Too bad I didn’t take a photo huhu. Drew and I were squeezed in the front seat while four (or make that five) passengers were at the back – An old man, a teenage boy, a noisy girl, a mom and her baby.

The sun is high and we were seated uncomfortably (and illegally? LOL) in the front seat. We passed by a quiet and rural highway going to Siem Reap for almost two hours. Drew was a bit worried about the trip while I am enjoying the scenery. You can also think of scenarios on what can possibly happen, but I still trust the goodness in every people. I also prayed silently for a safe trip to Siem Reap.

So there. We arrived in Siem Reap, but the driver told us that a tuktuk driver is waiting for us and will bring us to our hostel for free. He had a hidden agenda though: He wanted us to hire him for the Angkor Wat tour the next day. We already had everything booked for the Angkor Wat tour so I just said thanks for the offer, but we already have plans.

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Finally, Siem Reap =)

I didn’t really worry that much since Bou Savy Guesthouse, our hostel offered free pick-ups within Siem Reap. I called them up and described where we were. Instead of ruining my own day, I opted to just be thankful that we arrived in Siem Reap safely. =)

17 Comments

  1. Ada Lajara said:

    I enjoyed reading this! That driver is really persistent, you should have brought a pepper spray mint and sprayed it to his face. you could have been more “mataray” haller teh, kung ako yan, sisigawan ko yanng bonggang bongga!

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Haha naku iskeribels teh. Wala ako sa Pilipinas baka resbakan ako LOL

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  2. doi said:

    gusto ko magreact at magcomment pero never mind. hahaha. basta it pays to research before travelling to a different country mica. hahaha. buti nalang you arrived in SR safely 😀

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Thanks Doi! Ok lang yun at least lesson learned and it was a good experience pa rin for me 😀

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  3. Drew said:

    Agree ako kay Ada nyahaha! Go Ada! Haha!

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Naalala ko yung linya mo dun sa tuktuk driver =))

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  4. Carlo Dela Cruz said:

    Enjoyed you article so much, Cambodians are really persistent with their offers sometimes or should i say everytime they will keep on pursuing you, experienced it as well during my recent trip though generally they are really nice people hope you had a good one in Cambodia 🙂

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Thanks Carlo! I agree with you on that. They’re persistent, but generally nice people. They need to earn a living lang talaga 😀 I am reading your Cambodia posts too. Can’t wait to wrap up mine hehe 😀

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  5. Jerome said:

    hahaha nakakatawa talaga at nakakainis minsan ang makukulit na taxi driver. same restaurant tayo kumain, dyan din kami napadpad nung nag cross kami ng border from Thailand to Cambodia…nakakagulat lang kung gaano nag kaiba ang economic status ng 2 bansa hehehe kala ko talaga nung una joke lang ang immigration office ng Cambodia hahaha

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • doi said:

      hahaha. joke talaga ang immigration office? LOL. but you have a point je. ang laki nang buildings tapos yung office nila parang dampa lang. lol.

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      LOL medyo nakakagulat nga pero interesting din haha iniiisip ko paano kaya kung may bagyo? 0_0

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  6. Marky said:

    “One dollar mister” but when you starts to leave they will sweeten the offer to “three for one dollar mister” aawww in my case its the cute kids of Cambodia, hard to say “No” so I ended up buying unnecessary postcards and Khmer Scarves hehe.

    Great border crossing story, reminds me of my first time – a bus border crossing from Vietnam and Cambodia (also), I’ve yet to try doing so on a train. Its quite an experience from you, glad you’re able to pull it through and write about it. Immigration officers can be scary, even our own here tends to power trip a bit.

    March 12, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Thanks Marky! I love the little kids! I ended up buying a lot of postcards din. Kahit nga bamboo flute meron LOL 😀 Will write a different entry about it 😀 How was your Vietnam-Cambodia border crossing experience?

      March 12, 2012
      Reply
  7. chyng said:

    true! walang sinabe ang kakulitan ng mga beggars ng maynila sa kakulitan ng mga tao sa cambodia. annoying. hehe
    for sure meron ka din “WAN DALLUH” experience sa temples. kids selling bracelets for $1. hehe

    March 14, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Ang dami kong nabiling postcards dahil sa mga bagets sa temples =))

      March 17, 2012
      Reply
  8. Jherson Jaya said:

    Can you walk from bou savy to pub street? Naka book din kasi ako sa bou savy =)

    May 16, 2012
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      It is doable, but you need to allot at least 30 minutes walking time 🙂

      May 16, 2012
      Reply

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