Border Patrol: Crossing into Cambodia Over Land
Because we’re saving money at every turn on our journey, we opted to take the bus from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia rather than fly. This meant a border crossing overland - something we had yet to experience. Doing research the night before on what we would encounter with the visa and immigration fiasco was paramount to our smooth transition from Thailand to Cambodia. There were hordes of horror stories about the particular crossing point we used; corrupt immigration officials, scam artists trying to make a few extra dollars off of unsuspecting travelers, and the occasional opportunistic thief. Even the bus company will try to make some cash off of passengers by charging them extra to obtain their visa with the threat that obtaining the visa could take a long time (it doesn’t if you have your ducks in a row) and the bus will only wait an hour at the border before leaving (they won’t leave, regardless of what they say). We were prepared and sailed through without an issue in what could’ve been record timing. Though the rides can seem never ending, we actually enjoy taking the bus between different locations. You get a good chance to see the countryside you would otherwise miss on flights. It also allows for reading and research on your destination. Often times I’ll open up one of the various language learning apps I’ve downloaded to help me learn a few words or sayings in whatever the language of the land is. What could’ve been a smooth border crossing did get messed up however due to another traveler not being prepared. An American family of ten failed to have the appropriate money needed for visas and held up everyone else’s travel plans for over three hours! They apparently were moving to Cambodia and needed a special visa which costs more than the typical tourist type but failed to do their research on the matter. As previously stated, the bus will not leave without you - we know this now from first hand experience.