Border crossing from Thailand into Cambodia

24 Jan

Chong Sa Ngam TH-KH border crossing

The guidebook said it was possible, the Internet that knows it all too. So I decided to try the most remote border crossing from Si Saket (TH) into Anlong Veng (KH). A little adventure, especially as I started off in the wrong direction. Actually, I didn’t have a clue which direction but still pointed the motorbike taxi in the wrong direction. Wrong wrong wrong…

How to get sunburn for double the price?

  1. Get a (completely undetailed) map of the area in Thai language (the only map I could find in Si Saket)
  2. The only ressemblance of a map I found, with Cambodia nicely omitted

    Ask people who don’t know the area and who don’t speak English for directions (the oh so sweet girl at the reception of the hotel, who then consulted with the luggage guy, who rang his friend, who called his father, who all had no clue)

  3. Based on their directions, add notes in English on the map – and complicate your trip by first visiting a Million Bottle Glass Temple in Khun Han on the way (but not quite).
  4. Ask a moto driver to take you 40km in the wrong direction (to Kataralak)– pointing vehemently to your wrong indications in English on the Thai map– at mid day 30° C without putting on sun cream.
  5. To roast your other side, find out that you actually went in the wrong direction (and try to sooth the ashamed driver in Thai) and drive 40km back to Khun Han (doubling the price – going up from 5 to 10 €, the price of ‘knowing it better’)
  6. Add another 40km (1pm, 35° C, full sun) going from the place as far as the driver wants to take you = Phu Sing (as the mototaxi drivers don’t seem to know much besides their own pocket), to the Cambodian border at Chong Sa Nham.
  7. Wake up the border guards (cuz only a few people crossing a day, a few farang per year) who open up the wood huts that serve as border crossing.
  8. On the other side of the border (in Cambodian Choam) you take another motorbike-taxi to Anlong Veng, the sun still as hot and scorchng – but you pay in dollar (3$) instead of baht: Same Same but Different ;-)

120 km - 3 hours like this (in the sun)

So what did we learn?

  • Always put sun screen before setting off on day trips. Water and snacks to replenish the energy lost in the expedition is a plus.
  • Investing 3000 Riel (50 cent) in a Chinese made American cap is worth it, despite of all moral objections you might have to this.
  • Big sunglasses are great – not so much to create a Beyonce or Men in Black look – but to keep all the flying animals out of your eyes (speeding on the back of a motorbike).
  • Find people and maps in a language you understand. Or at least match the language of the map and the people that need to use them to bring you somewhere.
  • It is ok to have breaks during your 120km cross-country road trip. Your bottom will be very grateful.
  • Arrival at destination: Anlong Veng

    Don’t carry more luggage on such a trip than fits (comfortably) on your back or (even more comfortably) between the legs of your motorbike driver (as he has to get you there safely!).

  • Being the ignorant tourist does cost a bit of money, but admit, they are worth spending on an experience like this (and you probably can afford it).
  • A smile even works on woken up border guards. I didn’t have to pay any extra dollars (as written on many travel websites – but have small dollar bills ready anyway).
  • Be prepared to switch over from your strenuously learnt ‘sawasdee kap’ and ‘kap kun kap’ (TH) into ‘suwaseedai’ and ‘o kun’ (KH), and numbers are also great for bargaining transport.

Smile and go with the flow ;-)


Euh, what's this elephant doing in Khun Han?


2 Responses to “Border crossing from Thailand into Cambodia”

  1. Luc 29 January 2011 at 11:53 #

    And don’t forget to wear a helmet – for your own safety and to avoid fines !

  2. Tony Geudens 29 January 2011 at 12:13 #

    Indeed, the police was stopping people at the Khun Han grandstand stadium, but as my motorbike driver was the ‘big guy’ of the motorbike group, the police let him (and me without helmet) through. Actually, it was the police that drove me in their police car (when i asked them for getting to Cambodia) to this motorbike guy – so the helmet might depend on the guy driving ;-)

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