Crossing the Thai/Cambodian border is an ordeal. After staying up all night to wait for a 5:55 am train from Bangkok's Hualampong train station to Aranyaprathet, sleeping restlessly for a few hours on the rattling train, then arriving at the border town to be accosted by tuk tuk drivers, we groggily packed our backpacks into tuk tuks and were driven to the border patrol to get our on-arrival Cambodian visas.
Once there, the border officials informed us that they no longer accepted $20 USD for the visas and the cost was now 1200 baht, about double the price for the Cambodian tourist visa. Feeling a scam coming on, but really, what can you do when you've had almost no sleep and these are "border officials" telling you the "new" policy? The four of us reluctantly paid the 1200 baht each for the Cambodian visa and continued to Poipet, Cambodia, a little too exhausted to be disgruntled and put up a fight.
What lesson did we learn? Even though guidebooks say that it's easy and fast to get a Cambodian visa upon arrival overland, it's probably best to get the visa from the Cambodian embassy in advance if possible in order to avoid being overcharged and scammed at the border. And to take the name and even the picture of the scamming officials in order to file an official complaint with the embassy.
Thankfully, the beauty of Cambodia more than makes up for the hardship of traveling overland.
© Connie Hum 2010