Posted September 8th, 2008, 09:42 AM
Are you saying do not get a e-visa for Cambodia? We are visiting Cambodia after our cruise and were going to apply for an e-visa. We are going overland from Bangkok to Siam Reap.
I am saying that there have been "unvalidated" e-visa's through the online service. In fact, take a look at the official web page. http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/e-visa/vindex.aspx
Cambodian officials are aware of the problem-they are just having a hard time getting it fixed. You will note in #1 that you can check the validity of your e-visa. However, you will have already paid for your e-visa by the time you can check the validity. And if it is no good, it could be a real nightmare to straighten out. I personally would get a Cambodian visa either at the airport or in advance through the Embassy.
You do realize that the overland trip is NOT for most. Getting from Bangkok to Aranyapathet is easy-there are MANY buses, private taxis and other transport. But Aranyapathet is 6km from the Thai border, so you have to negotiate with a tuk-tuk or moto driver to get you to the border. When you arrive at the border, you are in one the nastiest places you could be. Smugglers, gun runners, scammers and thieves all over the place. DON'T get TAKEN. The border is only open from 7:30-17:30, so DON'T get caught having to spend the night at the border.
Then you pass Thai immigration, then Cambodian immigration. You can buy a visa at the border. You MUST have photos. And there have been recent reports-one from one of my contractors who is Australian, but lives in Phnom Penh, that the border guards have come up with a new scheme-REQUIRING international vaccination cards with YF. While quite a few SE Asia countries are now asking sporadically for YF vaccination proof (due to the well publicized YF outbreak in SA), most will just turn you away if you don't have it. But Cambodia will let you pass without it for a FEE-another negotiating process.
When you finally get your Cambodian visa (if you didn't have one in advance), you now get to negotiate with the "taxi mafia" or find a pick up truck to take you to Siem Reap. The road is in better shape than it has been, BUT it is still subject to washouts. It is about 150km to Siem Reap and can easily take 5-10 hours. When you get to Siem Reap, the amount of touts grabbing at your luggage and trying to get you to go to "their" hotel is more than I have seen anyplace else in Cambodia. You BETTER have a car and driver waiting for you. Even though I travel to Cambodia frequently, I WOULD NOT want to try to negotiate that mess.
While I have done the overland trip with a group of 20 something backpackers (and rode from Poipet to Siem Reap in the bed of a pickup truck), I would only do it again in the company of a group of backpackers. There truly is safety in numbers. And DON'T believe the travel agents on Khao San Road in Bangkok that they will "take care of everything". Most of the time, they lie. They will get you to Aranyapathet, then you are on your own.
Here are a couple of tips from a blog written by an Australian that crosses the border frequently:
"Travel to Siemreap from Poipet is more or less a rough and adventurous trail, not suitable for those who seek comfort. On the Cambodian side, there are share taxi or pickup trucks that will ride you to Siem Reap where the impressive Angkor Wat and other Khmer temples are housed. The road condition is very poor, dusty, unpaved, and even worst in rainy season when the road becomes muddy with a lot of potholes. In some instances, local military guards may block the road to ask for illegitimate passing fees from travelers. If you are lucky, it takes around 10-12 hours for 150 km journey with an opportunity to cross some of the most exciting (dangerous) bridges that you never experience before. The transport fee one-way to Siemreap from Poipet starts from 100 Baht up."
And a little bit about safety and corruption in Cambodia from the same blog. I have spent the last 2.5 years trying to buy and renovate an old apt building into a hotel in Phnom Penh-there is almost as much "mordida" in Cambodia as there is in Mexico. Seems like every time I turned around, there was another "fee".
"Safety? - Though there are many instances of travelers being rip-off by the locals in the area, it may be UNAVOIDABLE. Anyhow, most of them are at a bearable cost. Practice your bargaining skill is the only advice! Recently there is no report on travelers being physically harm or endangered, so it is likely to be at individual risk."
Unless you are REALLY into backpacking (or are a 20 something), I would highly recommend getting on a plane in Bangkok to Siem Reap. Bangkok Airways is a VERY nice airline.