Advice on Cambodia Visas

If you’re considering crossing the border by land from Thailand to Cambodia through Poipet, we recommend getting an E-visa beforehand at

The e-Visa costs 35USD (5USD more than the visa on arrival) but it’ll save you from the stress and the “processing fees” charged on the land border. Better yet, if you want to cross the border smoothly, do it by plane as there are no scams in Cambodian airports.




What happened to us when crossing the land border to Cambodia was quite stressful. The infamous Poipet lived up to its reputation.
We woke up after a really bad sleep in Bangkok, to catch the 5:50 AM train to the border town of Aranyaprathet for a 7 hour trip through the central plains of Thailand. It’s a really pleasant trip that costs 48THB.

(By the way, if you’re looking for transportation from Thailand to Cambodia check They have plenty of options at great prices, plus, if you use the code “gravy5″ at checkout you’ll get 5% off your ticket price).



We started with a plan

It’s important to say that every plan or decision we make comes from what we’ve learned from travel books, blogs, the experiences of other travelers, and a little dash of intuition of our own. We do our homework pretty well. Studying and preparing ourselves with a good itinerary and a plan.

The plan for the day was to get off the train in Aranyaprathet, get a tuk-tuk to the Thai border for 80THB, get a stamp from Thailand to get out and a stamp from Cambodia to get in. Simple.


Train to Aranyaprathet

Clay Gilliland


The tuk-tuk cost us 200THB for a 10-minute ride. Fortunately, we ended up sharing the tuk-tuk with two American backpackers: Ryan and Winslow, that we had the pleasure to get to know along the ride.


At the Thai border (Aranyaprathet)

As soon as we got to the Thai border, we started walking to the building along with many other tourists and backpackers. There was a local market around, lots of tuk-tuk drivers and other random men. We immediately followed Winslow the seasoned traveler from New York, coming to Cambodia for the second time.


Aranyaprathet Thailand to Cambodia Land border

Clay Gilliland


Inside the building at the foreigners’ queue, we filled the departure card, handed over our passports, got a photo taken and our passports stamped. Super easy!

Went down some stairs and entered no man’s land and a bridge over stagnated water. At the end of the bridge, some dodgy men in hats were allegedly selling illegal visas, but none of them approached us. We just kept walking to the right end of the bridge into the Cambodian border offices.


The welcoming party at the Cambodian Border (Poipet)

As soon as we got in, a government official gave us a form to fill in.
We filled the form and prepared a photo, our passports, and the 35USD each (just as it said in every textbook, travel site, and in the big sign above the office counter). As we tried to hand them to the border officials behind the counter, they refused to take them, pointing to a handwritten sheet of paper that said “35USD + 100THB”.

So there we were in front of border corrupt government officials, trying to extort some extra money from tourists crossing the border. Just exactly as every textbook, travel site, and Winslow warned us. Great…

A little intimidated Nuno and I (plus all the riled-up backpackers in the queue) refused to pay the processing fees, which only made the officials speak louder in Khmer and point extra hard to the “100THB” in the paper.


The waiting game

Seeing that we weren’t going to give in, they took us aside, made us sit on some plastic chairs, and ignored us.

By then everyone is annoyed, anxious, and tired from the long train ride. After what felt like forever, a cranky officer came and took our passports and forms.
20 minutes later he came back, yelling our names and handing out our passports and visas. We got out of there as fast as we could.

Still trying to process what had happened, another officer took us to another long queue. This was the queue to get our visas stamped. Now, unfortunately, there was a power outage and no power means no processing tourist visas. So we had to wait. Under a boiling metal roof.

After 20 minutes, the power finally came on. Once again, we gave our passports to the officer, he took a webcam photo, moaned something, stamped the passports and we got in.


Border crossing at Poipet, Cambodia


Siem Reap off!

After this whole border mess, we just wanted to get to the next bus to Siem Reap.
From what we’ve read, the bus station was nearby and the bus would prevent us to get ripped off by taxi drivers that wait for tourists at the Poipet border roundabout.




Ryan, the backpacker we met at Aranyaprathet asked Winslow, Nuno, and I to share a taxi. Our minds were still fuzzy from the heat and the border stuff, so we said yes!
We just wanted to calm down, and rest.

The taxi ride was 2h30 and cost us 48USD. Quite expensive considering it was not a taxi at all. Just a dude in a car, moving people from here to there in his spare time.
At least he had air-con and promised to leave us at our hostels.

Arriving at Seam Reap, the driver turned in a random street, pulled over, and told us to get out. We had no idea where we were, and outside the car, a group of Cambodian men were already taking our backpacks from the trunk. Something wasn’t right. And it the second time that day we felt like shitting our pants.
Winslow was the first to get out of the car and started yelling at the driver. Things got pretty heated and the Cambodian men started surrounding Winslow and us.


Basically, it was all a scam:

The fake taxi driver overcharges tourists at the border and dumps them in that corner of Siem Reap where other tuk-tuk drivers await. The tuk-tuk drivers will then take the tourists to their hotels – for more money obviously – and ideally get booked to show them the Angkor temples for the next days.

Winslow refused to pay the taxy driver and refused to go on any tuk-tuk, screaming and threatening to call the police. By now the tuk-tuk drivers were also yelling, laughing, and making fun of him, which only made things worst.
What the f*ck have we got ourselves into?

Shit was about to go down when the taxi driver, backed down from the argument and said he’d take us to our hostels. As soon as we saw the famous Pub Street, we got off the car and figured the rest out.
Not a good first impression of Cambodia.

It was quite a rough day but hey, it’s all gravy!

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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