We traveled from Bangkok to Siem Reap overland with Sawasdee Angkor Inn company, and we knew the route would take us the whole day (9 hours) and involved walking across the borders to get our passports stamped so we were a little nervous not knowing what to expect.
Everything was fine leaving Bangkok until we arrived at a restaurant about 10 minutes from the border in Thailand for a lunch break. As soon as we parked, an overly friendly man with a Sawasdee Angkor Inn collared shirt informed us in English that he will be our tour guide for the remainder of the trip and started asking us where we are from to make conversation. He told us we should definitely eat lunch at this restaurant since there would not be any further stops until Siem Reap. So Giovanni and I each ordered a Pad Thai and he was happy.
Then he started distributing Cambodia visa and health forms to the entire group which looked official. He informed people in the group that they would need a visa and this would cost 1300 baht ($43). Many people in the group completed the forms, gave him their passports, and paid the 1300 baht. Giovanni and I informed him that we would get our visa on arrival. He was annoyed and laughed when we said it would cost $20. In addition, he told a woman with 2 children that she would miss the bus due to long lines and he threatened her that it’s not his responsibility if she missed the bus because she told him she didn’t have the money and wanted to get a visa on arrival.
After lunch, we kept telling the driver that we wanted to go to the border. Finally, we entered the minivan and the “tour guide” told us we were not entitled to air conditioning. He took multiple customers with him and a partner to the border. The rest of us went back to the minivan we came with from Bangkok. The tour guide’s partner even turned off the car so that we would have to seat in the heat as punishment.
Once the tour guide and his partner drove off, our driver turned on the car and we were “allowed” to leave. Meanwhile, the Hungarian woman in our minivan was panicked that the tour guide had her passport and she was very worried. When we arrived at the border, the tour guide must have reappeared and given the Hungarian woman her passport because we saw her in the line.
The shortest line we stood in was the visa on arrival line in Cambodia. So the tour guide’s claims of 2 hour lines were completely false. In fact, Giovanni and I were the first ones in the waiting area from our group. With the tour guide, we then loaded up on the shuttle to the taxi station. We were sent off in a private taxi to Siem Reap and that’s the last we saw of the tour guide.
Scams on this side of the world are very common. We are also shocked how blatantly border police ask for bribes of $1-3 dollars as stamping fees both in Cambodia and Laos. It’s just accepted that the border police require additional fees in order to perform their duties.