Woman selling grilled squid in Sihanoukville beach, Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep: Southern Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Kampot, and Kep are three neighboring cities on the southern coast of Cambodia that cater to different types of travelers. If you’re more of a party animal and enjoy a younger backpacker vibe, bounce over to Sihanoukville. If you like a greener and relaxed environment, Kampot is a great choice. Finally, there’s Kep, a mellow province that combines the best of the latest with a bonus: seafood!

 

Sihanoukville

We first arrived near Sihanoukville after a 5 hour trip from Phnom Penh with Capital Tours. It was a $5 bus ride with TV, Cambodian karaoke and a honking bus driver with Tourette’s syndrome of the hands! Apparently, honking it’s like a national habit—everyone is really committed to it.

We bought a bus ticket straight to Sihanoukville center, but that didn’t happen. We were dropped off at a random gas station, with a horde of tuk-tuk drivers expecting us. As the bus stopped, most of them reached for the luggage compartment below, while others stepped on the bus and started shouting:

– Sihanoukville! Exit here. Exit!

A bit confused and concerned to see our backpacks being taken away, we got off the bus along with all the other tourists, while the remaining locals on the bus laughed. As soon as all foreigners got off, the bus left straight to Sihanoukville.

There we were, stuck in an odd gas station with no other choice but to haggle a tuk-tuk ride to Sihanoukville. Everyone was furious and the negotiation process got a little bit heated. We ended up splitting a tuk-tuk with two Swedish girls and paid $4 each for what ended up being an 8-minute ride.
Another transport scheme, just like the one at the Poipet border. Oh, Cambodia…

 

Tuk-tuk in Sihanoukville Cambodia

 

At Sihanoukville, we stayed in Zana Beach Guesthouse for $12 the room, not the cheapest but quite nice and an 8-minute walk from Serendipity beach.

 

Serendipity beach

 

Tons of new accommodations are being built there as a result of tourist demand, unfortunately, this is having a big toll on the landscape as rubble ends up everywhere: sand, ocean, surf areas, gutters and mountain slopes.

 

Garbage in the sand of Sihanoukville beach

 

Serendipity is probably the best spot for wild party-prone backpackers. It’s full of party-oriented accommodations, bars, western restaurants and tours agents selling tickets for booze-cruises. If you’re looking for fun in the sun, this is it! During the day you can hang around the beach, swim, eat barbecued corn or grilled skid from vendors passing by. As the sun begins to set, music volume begins to rise and lounge chairs, tables, and torches furnish the beach for all night partying.

 

Sihanoukville beach vendor

Lounge bar at Sihanoukville beach

Splanades in Sihanoukville beach at night

 

If you’re willing to walk around though, you can find beaches with different vibes. In a 15-minute walk north of Serendipity is the peaceful Independence Beach, and pedaling for 25 minutes, can take you to Sokha Beach with tempting warm waters and white sands maintained by the resort close by.

Something peculiar we noticed in all Cambodian beaches was that most locals go in the ocean fully clothed. It was funny to watch dressed-up girls leaving their purses in the sand and getting soaked and pounded by the waves. I guess excuses like “I wanted it to get in, but I left my bathing suit at home…” are not valid here.

In Serendipity as in any other beach destination, meals tend to be more expensive.
Fortunately, we found a7 Makara Street 200, right next to the Golden Lions roundabout.

 

Two lions roundabout in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Road lined with restaurants

 

The street is flanked on both sides with local restaurants and our favorite was called Chanreaksmey—the average meal was $2.05. Go there and pick anything on the menu, seriously anything. You’re welcome! It had the best food I’ve tasted in our entire trip. 

We stayed 6 days in Sihanoukville: 4 days to visit and 2 more waiting for our visa processing at the consulate of Vietnam. As a well-known crossing point for backpackers traveling through South East Asia, Vietnam has a consulate here.

 

Kampot

We went from Sihanoukville to Kampot on a minivan. We bought our tickets for $5 in Champa, a travel company with a name of laundry soap. It took 2 hours for the van to stop near the Durian Roundabout, kind of a landmark here—just like the actual durians are.

 

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Durian fruit

 

Have you ever tasted one? They’re like a creamy love child of a cantaloupe and a cabbage and have quite a pungent smell, so it’s common to see signs prohibiting durians in hotel rooms and carriers.

Kampot is a quieter city along the River Praek Tuek Chhu: a river you can kayak, swim and go on sunset cruises with an occasional beer in the mix. Here you won’t find as many partygoers though.

Along the river, French influences are more noticeable in the architecture. You’ll find restaurants, bars, shops and accommodation with slightly higher prices that you can avoid if you’re willing to walk a bit more into the city. Shops tend to close early, so remember to get an early dinner.

 

Old colonial houses (Kampot, Cambodia 2012)

 

Our accommodation was near the durian roundabout: Sebana Guesthouse. We paid $7 a night, breakfast included.
Initially, we planned to stay 2 days in Kampot and 1 day in Kep, but Kampot felt right, so we decided to linger and rent a scooter to visit Kep—even without having driven one before. Ever.

Isn’t travel supposed to be about learning new things? We were honest about not knowing how to drive but that didn’t dissuade the renters. Apparently, the $5 scooter came with a driving lesson from an instructor experienced in novice tourists. He was calm, wise and only knew about 3 English words, but in 8 minutes we learned how to ride a scooter and the 2 main Cambodian traffic rules:

1) Always wear a helmet
2) Never drive with the lights on during the day.
Easy!

Traffic in Cambodia is wild! Speed limits are just reference points for pussies. People drive in the opposite direction, talk on the phone, and horns are their blinking lights, rear lights and a way to say ‘hello’. But it was also quite common to see 9-year-olds driving motorbikes, so there wasn’t much we could do wrong.

A couple of hours later we were at the Bokor National Park.
Now don’t let the name fool you because it’s probably not like the ‘National Parks’ you’ve been on. Even though it has beautiful green hills and great views, there is no nature trails or wildlife to see. You can go on hikes, but a guide is recommended due to the risk of landmines still existing off the pathways.

 

Bokor park in Kampot Cambodia

 

We used the long swerve roads in the park to improve our riding skills as we passed by a big meditating Buddha – Lok Yeay Mao, old abandoned buildings and a new Casino at the top.

 

Lady Buddha statue at bokor national park

Bokor Hill Station

 

It’s worth the trip, the landscape is great all the way up and the old buildings are fun to explore, just make sure you take a jacket, snacks and a full tank of gas.
Gas stations in Kampot give you free drinks and snacks when you fill your tank.

On our way back we did a little detour through red dusty roads with the intent of visiting the salt flats of Kampot. We arrived late in the afternoon and had the opportunity to watch some workers raking and hauling little piles of salt through the mirrored water. It reminded us of the saltpans in Aveiro, our town back in Portugal.

 

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Kampot Salt Pans

Cambodian worker at the salt pans

 

The next day we rented the scooter again and drove 1h30 to Phnom Chhnnork, a pre-Angkor temple inside a cave. You can get there easily using Maps.me and when in doubt, ask around, locals are always super helpful. The entrance fee to the temple is $1 and you’ll have the opportunity to go through a dark tunnel inside the cave.
You’ll find a bunch of kids with flashlights waiting to guide tourists through the tunnels, they speak good English and expect a $5 tip for the tour. But you can negotiate.
We didn’t cross the tunnel though, it felt claustrophobic and smelled like bat pee.

 

Phnom Chhnork temple in a cave (Kampot, Cambodia 2012)

 

Salt and pepper

After the cave-temple, we drove to La Plantation, a pepper plantation that was not easy to find. On the way there we stopped by the Secret Lake that turned out to be not actually a lake but a dam.

Cambodians grew pepper for over a thousand years before the European traders arrived, but with the help of the French during the colonial administration, production augmented by tenfold. It became all the rage in French restaurants, sadly during the Khmer Rouge regime pepper fields were abandoned.

Today the business has reborn and is visible at La Plantation, a 10-hectare pepper farm specialized in the organic production of this hot spice. You can go on a free 10 minutes guided tour through the pepper fields, they’ll show you around and explain a little bit of the production process.

 

Pepper farm in Cambodia

 

After the tour, they’ll take you to a little cafe on a gazebo to taste the peppercorns—and buy some if you want, of course.

 

Kep

We left La Plantation planning to have lunch at Kep, a town well-known for its great fish and seafood,  but the sloping dirt roads and opposite information didn’t make it easy. The trip took us around 40 minutes.

The first thing we saw was the crab market, bustling with people negotiating over pyramids of seafood, fresh fish, grilled fish, and fruit. Restaurants overlooking the sea invite you in to taste the catch of the day, while fishermen walk along the seashore fishing for something more.

 

Grilled fish at the crab market

Ladies at the crab market of Kep

 

With a full stomach, we headed to Kep’s only beach, a small bay with a thin stretch of sand protected by hills that tend to get pretty crowded on the weekends. There weren’t many people around that day, just some local families picnicking in the sidewalks. We couldn’t find any town center as things seemed a bit scattered here and there. Maybe it was a good call to stay in Kampot after all.

 

Kep beach Cambodia

 

Southern Cambodia travel expenses (Daily average for 1 person)

Breakfast: 1,75€
Lunch and Dinner: 2,38€
Water: 0,36€
Coffee: 0,45€
Accommodation: 3,81€
Motorbikes: 4,48€
Full tank of Gas: 2,68€

If you have any questions or some extra info everybody can benefit from, please leave it in the comments! 

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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Nuno and Mario in front of Sra Srang ablutions pool in Angkor Archeological Park.

Angkor Temples on wheels

Siem Reap is the starting point to explore the Angkor Temples, see it as your headquarters. Read more about it here.
The city offers you different options to do so at different price ranges. You can do it by yourself on a motorbike or bicycle, in group tours, or by tuk-tuk – 25USD for a whole day, granting you a ride to all the main temples and back) – just as a warning, we saw a girl making a big scene after realizing her tuk-tuk abandoned her in one of the temples.

 

We chose the Bicycle

2 bikes for 2 days cost 6USD.
Best decision EVER: the warm breeze in our faces, the smell of the forest, the freedom of stopping where we wanted for as long as we felt like. *Ahhh…*
The temples are inside a beautiful and very well maintained park, with huge trees and vast vegetation where insects sing from. Locals come here to relax, swim and have picnics on the weekends.

 

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After 35 minutes through the long straight road, we arrived at the Angkor Archaeological Park purchasing our 3 day passes.

 

Admission Passes Cost (March 2016)

7-day pass: 60USD
3-day pass: 40USD
1-day pass: 15USD

 

Sawasdee kaa!

 

Once you’re there, you’ll have a photo taken and be given a pass/visiting card that you must carry at all times. Every day, as you enter the park a guard will check it.

That same guard also tried to sell us a tuk-tuk, even though we were on bicycles:

– No problem my friends, you put the bicycles in the tuk-tuk as well.

After Cycling for other 15 minutes, we arrived at Prasat Kravan, a small temple made of three red-ish brick towers and surrounded by a dried moat. The temple is in pretty bad shape but is still possible to see the bas-reliefs dedicated to Vishnu.

 

豆蔻寺

 

That same day a bunch of people were arranging what appear to be a wedding reception: carpet, fancy chairs, and bamboo lamps decorated the place. So even though it spoiled the scenery, it’s good to know that you can get married there if you want. Quite cool!

Reaching Banteay Kdei, the second temple, took another 15 minutes. The temple is surrounded by a wall, like most of them are. We got in through a narrow and detailed doorway and walked along a stone road before reaching the main building. Parts of the building have collapsed, but most of it is visitable.

It is astonishing to think about the work behind all that: the transportation of all that raw material, the skilled men that cut the stone to fit impeccably together and the sculpture work all throughout the building. Nowadays the fallen stones are organized in piles (for inventory) and several walls are now supported by iron and wooden beams.

 

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The Angkor Temples are still visited as religious sites as well: you can find Buddha statues decorated with gold and orange cloths with incense and offerings laying at their feet. In a way, the temples are still alive and serving their purpose.

 

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In front of Banteay Kdei is an enormous lake – Sra Srang – used by the crowned heads back in the day, for bathing and playscape: a bathtub to fit their egos.

 

On our way to the next temple, we stopped for a late lunch

As we said in past posts: when everybody else is having lunch you can have a more private experience in touristic sites: no tour buses, more silence, better photos! While you’re enjoying yourselves, everybody else is eating so it’s a win/win situation.

At the temple complex food and drinks are way more expensive than in Siem Reap, three times more expensive, so be prepared and stock up! Along the park, you’ll also be approached by children trying to sell you bracelets and postcards.

After lunch, we headed to Ta Prohm, one of the most recognized temples by the general public due to the Tomb Raider movies. Here, nature took back the place. Giant trees with a magical golden bark grew on top and around the walls finding a beautiful balance between weight and support. Pure magic.

 

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No one knows who’s holding whom.
By 5:30 PM we headed back to the city. The park closes at 6:00 PM.

 

Main road at the Angkor Historic Park

 

Day 2

The second day as we biked to the park, a bunch of monkeys welcomed us by the road, it was our first time seeing monkeys in their natural habitat. We knew it was going to be a great day, we’ve just seen monkeys and we were about to visit the BIGGEST TEMPLE IN THE WORLD: Angkor Wat.

 

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Surrounding it is a moat the size of a river and the only way to reach the temple is through a stone passage. At the start of this passage was a frenzy of people, locals, tourists, tuk-tuks, buses and food carts. We were hoping to be the first to arrive. Not!

Asseeenontv
As soon as our eyes got through the wall of people, we faced the massive Angkor Temple in all its glory, right there in front of us, bathed by the morning light. Wow! Just as seen on TV.

The temple is completely symmetrical, long halls, galleries, and aisles serve now as the background of every tourist profile photo on facebook. There are stairways to climb and empty stone pools on the top.
Ok, I’ll say it: Angkor Wat is overrated. Yes it’s the biggest and the tallest and the view of the park is epic once you climb the central section, but that’s pretty much it.

 

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There are smaller and worst kept temples with better sculptural detail and a magical ‘je ne sais quoi’ that we didn’t feel in Angkor Wat. It felt a bit sterile and dry compared to other temples that time managed to marry with nature.

 

During our visit there, a young fellow dressed like a pimp – all white and pastel colors with a pimp cane – arrived. He had an entourage that only walked behind him and one of them held an umbrella so the pimp would be in the shade. They walked in, got to the Buddha statue in the center of the temple, turned they own sound system and prayed. A true baller.

After having lunch at one of the restaurants on the side of Angkor Wat, we biked under severe heat to the old town of Angkor Thom: it’s a giant walled area with several temples inside. The north and south entrances are flanked by imposing statues of men battling demons.

 

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Minutes after passing the moat and the entrance, we reached other of the most recognized temples in Siem Reap: Bayon. It’s the one with many faces — 216 to be exact — built by a king that wanted his face sculpted everywhere to impose respect on anyone observing the temple. Other amazing features are the extensive, well-conserved bas-reliefs walls portraying stories of battles won and Khmer everyday life.

 

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More to the left is the Baphuon temple in which we didn’t get in. The fatigue and the heat dissuaded us from climbing the 5 or 6-meter platform where the temple seems to be built on.
To be honest, we were feeling ‘templed out’ and regretting choosing a bike as transportation. Just the thought of all the kilometers still ahead of us made us want to cry.
We decided to sit in a shaded spot and groan in anguish.

 

Man up already!

After manning up, we got to an open space with trees and the ruins of twelve towers on one side called Prasat Suor Prat, and the Terrace of the Elephants on the other. The terrace is a 3-meter-high platform used way back when for royal ceremonies and military parades. Kings and their obsession with armies…

We left Angkor Thom and headed to the temple Preah Khan: it once served as a town, temple and Buddhist university. Nowadays the trees that grew around it are the ones that teach. The restoration work in Preah Khan was minimum, being purposefully left as it was found.

 

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Talking about ‘restoration work’, we were able to see that the main benefactors to the Angkor temples restoration are Germany, India, and Japan. Thanks for caring about the World Heritage sites! Or is there another reason?

Having to go all the way back to the hotel by bicycle was actually the best thing we could have done – It gave us time to reflect and absorb what we’ve had witnessed and to say goodbye to Angkor as the sun went down. What an amazing experience: two full days witnessing epic history and actualized human badassery that will certainly remain in our hearts forever. Way longer than the pain in our legs.

 

Angkor travel expenses (Daily average for 1 person)

Meals: 3,77€
Water: 0,87€
Bicycles: 1,33€
3-day pass: 35,45€

If you have any questions or some extra info everybody can benefit from, please leave it in the comments! 

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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A tuk tuk speeding through the busy pub street in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Siem Reap in short form

After the whole border situation entering in Cambodia, we arrived in Siem Reap hesitant about the days to come. Read the whole story on the post: Crossing Cambodian Borders – The Poipet scoop.

Siem Reap is a “small city” that rapidly grew and adapted to the massive tourist influx at the expenses of the Angkor Temples. So, foreigners, hotels, and shops are everywhere.

The Siem Reap river divides the city in two, nearby in the Royal Gardens, you can rest and escape from the afternoon heat under the old trees. Locals come here to relax on the benches, socialize and play jianzi.

 

Tourist Time Out

 

The sun light has a magical deep orange hue and the city seems to be calmer around here — there aren’t many people in sight, only a few local passerbyers and businesses seem to be slow. Most tourists are hiding from the heat in their hotel rooms or visiting the Angkor temples.

 

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At the beginning and end of each day, an amusing anarchy in traffic starts, as cars, tuk tuks and mini buses packed with tourist go and return from the temples. Scooters and bicycles run where they want, as fast as they want. The sidewalks are parking spots and pedestrians are forced to walk on the road — it’s every man for themselves.

 

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Breathe in, breathe out

In Siem Reap tuk-tuk drivers are next level annoying, all they want is to take you on a tour of the temples or sell you some cocaine, both preferably. They’ll be waiting for you on random streets, restaurants, hotels and coffee shops.

 

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In the moment they see you asking for the bill, they’ll start touting. They will shout, whistle, clap and hiss to get your attention. Breathe, say ‘thank you’ and keep moving.

 

Tasting the gravy

Khmer food is one of our new obsessions, Cambodians are like wizards of pepper: amouk is great, Lok Lak even better. The spicy mango salads and the pork with pineapple are to die for.
Just try all of the above with a fruit smoothie, any fruit smoothie.

 

Khmer food

 

We had the majority of our meals in a great restaurant called Moul Chheng Heang, near our hostel. The food was delicious and so were the prices, but what made us return every night, was the lovely enthusiastic lady running the restaurant.

She finished every sentence with:

– Yeah, yeah…

And lovingly made us promise we’ll return the next day.

– See you tomorrow. Ok?!
– Ok.
– Yeah, yeah!

The average street food costs 2,5USD. In restaurants near Pub Street meals start at 7 or 12USD. In most supermarkets, water is more expensive than in restaurants.

 

A dolla’ makes them holla’!

It’s weird to see an entire country on the other side of the world running on dollar bills.
All throughout Cambodia, you’ll need US dollars for everything: food, hotels, entrance fees, and transportation. They don’t care for their currency, so if you try to pay anything in Rhiels, they’ll roll their eyes at you.
Oh! And you better keep them dolla’ bills in pristine condition son! Or they won’t take them

The problem in this is that everything got more expensive. There aren’t any nuances in prices and everything got rounded up to 1USD.

Banks will give you dollars bills by default when you use any ATM, and the average fee is 4USD for each withdrawal.

P.S.- if you’re European you will be charged a fee from Canadia Bank also. There’s a money saving tip on Lonely Planet about this bank but didn’t work for us.

 

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Nights at Pub Street

Everyone comes here when the sun goes down: locals, backpackers and tourists of all ages come to eat, drink and shop around. The street is filled with restaurants, massage parlors, coffee shops and bars. And there will always be happy hour somewhere.

 

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There’s color everywhere you look: in the neon lights of the bars, the fruit in smoothie carts, the brightly lit bridges and in the night markets on both sides of the river — Old market, Angkor market and Night market.

 

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Our interactions with Cambodian people

Every conversation that occurred was with the intention to make a sale and were definitely not in our best interest. As tourists, we got singled out and only treated as such. Locals never seemed to be bothered or interested in our presence, so conversations never happened.

Looking back, we should’ve stayed more time in Siem Reap, it has a captivating affability that lingers.

 

Siem Reap travel expenses (Daily average for 1 person)

Water: 0.28€
Accommodation: 14.20€
Bicycle: 2.66€
Meals: 3,10€
Laundry: 0.87€ per kilo

If you have any questions or some extra info to share, please leave a reply. Thank you!

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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Cambodian border

Crossing Cambodian borders – The Poipet scoop

Advice on Cambodia Visas

If you’re considering crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia through Poipet, we advise you to get an E-visa beforehand at www.evisa.gov.kh.

It cost 35USD (5USD more than the visa on arrival) but you’ll save yourself all the unnecessary stress and the fake “processing fees”. Better yet do it by plane. There are no scams in Cambodian airport borders.

 

Comboio

 

Any day we need to change countries is a stimulating day.
What happened crossing the border to Cambodia, made the day quite stressful.
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.

 

 

We started with a plan

Maybe it’s important to say that every plan or decision we make comes from what we’ve learned on travel books, blogs and the experiences of other travelers. Plus, a little dash of intuition of our own.
Nevertheless, we do our homework pretty well. We study and prepare ourselves with as much knowledge as we can: a good itinerary and a plan for almost everything. We’re control freaks.

The plan for the day was to get off the train in Aranyaprathet and get a tuk-tuk to the Thai border for 80THB in 10 minutes, get a stamp from Thailand and get a stamp from Cambodia to get in. Simple.
The tuk-tuk took 10 minutes, but it cost us 200THB. 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 that ride.

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.

 

The Thai Border

Easy peasy. We got into the building and to the foreigners’ queue with other backpackers, filled the departure card given to us when we arrived in Bangkok, handed over our passports, got a photo taken and our passports stamped. Next!

Down the stairs, we got to no man’s land, or a bridge over stagnated water in this case. The smell was intense.
At the end of the bridge were some men in hats allegedly selling illegal visas. None of them approached us, except for a guy in a light blue shirt directing us to the right end of the bridge, to the Cambodian border offices.
Thank you, Sir!

 

The welcoming party at the Cambodian Border

As soon as we got in, a government official gave us a form to fill. Just a sheet of paper but no pens. We managed.
Form, photo and passport in one hand, 30USD on the other. Just as it said in every textbook we read, every travel site we visited and in the big sign above the office counter. As we gave them to the officials, they all refused to take them, pointing to the hand written sheet of paper that said 30USD + 100THB.

Funny, just exactly as Winslow, every textbook and website warned us: border corrupt government officials, trying to extort some extra money from tourist crossing the border. How nice.

Frightened we said:

-No. No processing fees.

Us and all the irritated backpackers in the queue. Which only made the officials point harder at the extra “100THB” and speak louder in Khmer.
Hmm, no. Y’all can take the 30USD and get on with it, thanks.

 

The waiting game

Seeing that we weren’t going to give in, they took us aside to a table and some plastic chairs and made us wait, ignoring us for a while.

By now we were all annoyed, anxious and already tired from the long train ride.
After what felt like forever, a very cranky officer came and took our passports and forms.

More waiting.
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.

There we were, in the middle of a road, surprised with what had happened, but relieved it was over, when another officer took us to one more 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 other 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.
Geeeesh!

 

Border crossing at Poipet, Cambodia

 

Siem Reap off!

After the whole border mess, we just wanted to get 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 tourist at the Poipet border roundabout.

 

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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 whole border situation, so we said YES!
We just wanted to calm down, and get a rest as soon as possible.

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 on 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, but outside a group of Cambodian man were already taking our backpacks from the trunk. Something wasn’t right.
That was the second time that day we felt like shitting our pants.
Being a new yorker, Winslow was the first to get out of the car and started yelling at the driver. Things got pretty heated up as the Cambodian men started surrounding Winslow and us.

 

Basically it was all a scam:

The fake taxi driver overcharges tourist 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 everything worst.
What the f*ck have we got ourselves into?

Shit was about to go down when the taxi driver, probably with a heavy conscience 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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