From Thailand to Cambodia - journey full of scams

We read a lot about how to get from Koh Chang island to Siem Reap in Cambodia and how to avoid all possible scams. Website was super helpful and prepared us well for the whole journey. On Koh Chang we bought a minibus ticket to Siem Reap for around 10€. The driver picked us up in front of the hotel, gave us an orange sticker and told us to put it on our shirts, so he and all other drivers will know, that we payed for the whole way to Siem Reap.

First we had a short drive to the port in Koh Chang, boarded a ferry and on the mainland we continued in a minibus our crazy-fast drive towards the Cambodian border post Poi Poi. This part of the trip was problem-free, if I exclude dangerous driving skills of our driver :)

Our minibus waitinge for a ferry
In a last town before the border the driver dropped us off in front of a restaurant and told us to wait there until next driver will come and take us to the border, from where we will cross into Cambodia on foot and on the other side another bus is already waiting for us.
This was in accordance with what we read on Ian's website and we knew that it's a scam: normally people are left at the restaurant for hours so they end up spending quite some money there and then also, once in Cambodia the bus doesn't arrive till very late in the evening and most people give up on waiting and take an overrated taxi.

Our plan was to wait for the minibus to take us to the border since it was 2km away and it was extremely hot outside, so. obviously, we didn't want to walk that distance. But after 30 minutes one of the "organizers" told us, that he will call us in his office separately to check if we really have our onward tickets. At this point we decided that we'd had enough, took our backpacks and started walking towards the border. Somewhere half way we found a tuk-tuk driver, who gave us a ride to the check point. As soon as we set our feet our of the vehicle another scam was upon us: a local guy wanted to sell us Cambodian visa. We also knew about this scam (visa price is like 2-3x times higher than at the border and you have to wait for it again for hours unless you bribe the officials) and politely declined. And of course, we already had our e-visas ;)

Crossing the border on foot.
Poi Pet border post was something that we've never seen before here in Europe! This is pedestrians-only check point, extremely chaotic, full of random people carrying huge plastic bags, some staying in lines, some just sitting around, there are sick-looking dogs, skinny cats and other random animals. Lucky for us some signs were in English so we managed to find Thai immigration office and got stamped out of the country. After that we entered no-mans land full of both - really luxurious and really shabby casinos. This is also the place where we met backpackers, who arrived a few hours before us to that restaurant, waited there 2 hours to be able to board another minibus, who drove them to the border post. At this point we were really happy that we had walked away from that scam-place in time.

Soon we reached Cambodian immigration, they checked our visa, stamped our passports and we walked off. We thought that's it, we can start looking for our bus, but soon we were stopped by another officer - a short Cambodian guy, who had his desk on open air in the hot midday sun. And his "office" was equipped only with a small fan and some papers. We looked at him in disbelief ... What does he want? Oh, it was quarantine check! And he measured our body temperature. I still can't believe it: it was about 35°C and 80% humidity, so really, really hot, we were both sweating like crazy and he measured our body temperature on our foreheads! I guess it was normal, so we just had to sign some papers and then we were really in Cambodia.

So, now what? The city of Siem Reap was 150km away and since we walked from that restaurant we weren't entitled to the bus ride. So we went a bit further, away from the main bus station and soon meet two Dutch backpackers, also looking for a taxi. Soon we agreed that it makes sense to share a taxi ride, found a driver and started our ride. We chatted all the time and did not pay enough attention for the next scam: when we arrived in the city the driver told us that his boss had called him, and he needs to go back to the border, so he wasn't going to drop us off in front of our hotels/hostels as we agreed earlier, but at the bus station and some tuk-tuk drivers will gave us a ride further free of charge. We agreed and chatted on. Once at the bus station, we payed for the taxi ride, got in our tuk-tuks ... and just to be sure, we checked if the ride is really for free. Tuk-tuk drivers didn't know anything about our deal and wanted payment for the ride. Damn ... we were at the bus station, we had our hotel address, but no map and the navigation wasn't working. We just walked further towards the city center until another tuk-tuk driver found us and offered us a ride (half cheaper than the first drivers). But first I wanted to know, how far is it to our hostel, because we might also just walk there. But the driver didn't seem to be willing to help us with directions. So, we accepted his offer and started the ride. Not even 500m later we were at our hotel! Seriously, guy? It was that close and you couldn't tell us?!

A tuk-tuk ride in Cambodia is always an adventure
Although we thought we were well prepared for this rather short journey (only 380km), we still got scammed in the end. Luckily our hotel had a pool, so we could relax there after this adventurous trip and soon forget about all the problems :)



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