Cambodia- Laos border crossing

Discussion in 'Cambodia - General Discussion Forum' started by andrea, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. andrea

    andrea New Member

    Hi everybody,
    i'll be in Thailand (Bangkok) in a couple of weeks, where I'll take the moto I've bought. Travel plan: Bngk to Siem Rep, then Siem rep --> Tbeng Meanchey-->Strung Treng --> LAOS.
    I' m wondering how much it will take to prepare all documents (relative to the bike!) needed to go both to Cambodia and Laos. What I've understood reading other topics is that i need a permit for the exportation of the bike outside of Thailand (and on the site I've found the relative document). Where should i go to validate it?
    Should I also go to the Cambodian and Laotian embassies in Bngk to prepare the documents the might ask at the boundaries??? How long should it take?
    Does anyone have recent experience at the Dom Kralor- Voen Kham border? How's the situation there? (I'm really worried about the topics that is speaking of a complete closure of Laotian borders to foreign motorcycles). Any news?
    Thanks everyone who might help me or would suggest something for this trip!!!

    iac :roll:
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  3. Philippe

    Philippe Ol'Timer


    In general they are very easy at that border Dom Kralor- Voen Kham border. Sometime on Laos side you have to beg to make any document.
    If this moto ban is true, rush up as it will take quite sometime before the news will reach this remote place!1

    Good luck and let us know!!

  4. andrea

    andrea New Member

    Thanks pHillippe.. you're giveng me hopes!! I'll be there in a month...hope it won't be late!

    ciao iac
  5. HIKO

    HIKO Ol'Timer

    HI Andrea

    First of all remember that it is not enough that you have bought a bike it must also be registered in your name!!! This registration cannot be made from abroad. You must pick up a residence certificate in the immigration and to get that you will need a rental agreement for a house or condo together with a visa for Thailand. The 30 days"visa" at the airport is not enough.

    When the bike is in your name you can easily cross into Cambodia over Aran/Poipet or Pailin if you are going direct to Siem Reap. The Aran/Poipet border can be very busy especially when the Visa buses starts to arrive at 11 a clock but the southern Pailin border is never busy. The Aran/Poipet border will give you 50km bad road and the Pailin border 95 km bad road. The rest is asphalt or common bad road. The paperwork on the Thai side is huge and take time but on the Cambodian side you will very seldom have problems. Sometimes the customs ask for some tea money.

    The route from Siem Reap to Stung Treng over Tbeng Mean Chey can be very bad after the rainy season. I haven't travelled it in the last months so check up info from the locals along the route. The main problem may be fallen trees over the "road" (an overstatement) which force you to make detours and you can loose the track. Also the crossings over the rivers (hopefully dry) can be demanding.

    The Stung Treng border (Dom Kralor/Voen Kham) is normally easy. The only problem is the Cambodian custom man who tell you that you must go back to Stung Treng to fill up a custom declaration (the same that lorries make) but sit down at his outside table and discuss the matter and it will be solved ( at a cost between 100-1000 Baht) At both the Cambodian and Laos side you will have to pay for the stamps 1 dollar per immigration.... Pls also note that there is no Visa on arrival in the Laos immigration.

    Then how long time will it take for the ban of motorcycles in Laos to arrive in the "Jungles" of the Stung Treng border only Good knows but I think it will take some time.....

  6. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Best to follow HIKO's advise...and of course YMMV!

    My only experience crossing from Cambo to Laos, above Stung Treng was very easy. I'd previously acquired a visa for Laos.
    Both the Cambo and Laos Immigration sites are mere shacks, as seen in the pix below.
    The Cambo Immigration Capt was friendly and completely fluent in English!
    They stamped my passport out of Cambo; I paid $2-US. At Laos Immigration I paid another 2-US and they stamped my passport in. Fortunately no one from Laos Customs was present, so I didn't have to pay for accident insurance in Laos.

    Cambo border with the Captain of Immigration:

    Laos border checkpoint:
  7. beddhist

    beddhist Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the info.

    These "fees" are just bribes, right? If every man and his dog have been paying them then I guess one has no hope of these guys doing the job they are paid to do without "tea money" now?

    I didn't pay a bean entering Laos from China, nor leaving at Savannakhet.
  8. andrea

    andrea New Member

    Oh thanks HIKO really clear explanations. So what would yo suggest me in case I cannot have the motorbike in my name? Do you know what kind of documents should i prepare (and where to go in bngk to have them) in case I should put the moto in someone else name. For example I have my father living there could I put the bike in his name and then prepare a document where he permits me to use it and export it? Moreover once I (hipotetically) have this where can I obtain the other documents (as the exportation form ecc. from Thailand and importation in Cambo) ? Directly at the border..or in the embassy in bngk???

    Thanks for helping me!!!
  9. andrea

    andrea New Member

    Great pics cdrw ... I hope it will be easy as you are saying.. but I still feel unconfident about the chance to pass the Thai-Cambo border with a bike that won't be in my name!! Will it be possible?????

    So please keep informing me..and I'll be gratefull

    ciao iac
  10. HIKO

    HIKO Ol'Timer

    HI Beddhist.

    I could read your message between the rows and I understand your point.

    Yes they are bribes.

    On the other hand are we the Messiahs coming to these countries as tourists and teaching the people about the destructive impact of bribes....

    You can never change the system from bottom up it must be made from the top.

    If a Thai policeman after 20 years of service get less than 20.000 Baht a month in salary, do you think there is any Police man not taking bribes....

    A custom clerk in Cambodia earns less than 100 Usd a month how do you think he feeds his kids....

    That is the system, the locals pay bribes to "help" their lives and so must we do if we want to live like locals in this matter. Whatever you do in Thailand, buying house, make visa,need paper from government you have to pay to get the work done or you end up in a long que.

    I know that there are people who put a pride into. not paying 1100 Baht for the Cambodian visa at Had Lek but the official 20 Usd. And I know people who refuse to pay any bribes or tea Money anytime spending much more time in customs, offices etc. But You people you will not affect this corrupt system in no way, you will only cause more delays for other foreign people and increase the amount of money that all these people must collect every month to make a living.

    If you want to change the system talk with your local politicians back home and press them to press the respective local government to increase the wage level for state employed people to a level that can feed their families and also ask your government to pay the bill with your tax money...

    In Thailand there is no big pressure from abroad, only a knowledge among the "wise" people that Thailand can never get rid of the corruption before the salaries for government workers increase, but how do you do that while cracking down on corrupt behavior at the same time...

    In Cambodia there is pressure from abroad, maybe the amount of Lexus cars is too much for the foreign donor countries but also there it is a long way to....

    Laos is less corrupt, Malaysia almost Zero learning from Singapore.

    Just to give you a picture of how deep in society the corruption works: To become the police chief of Pattaya will cost you 5-10 million baht plus good records from before. The money goes to your superiors and if you get the post you have 3 years time to "re-collect" the money which means fees to keep bar open late, tea money to help foreigner out of self induced problems, speeding ticket collection etc

    Do anybody really believe that they can change the system by demanding a receipt for the 200 Baht helmet ticket to be collected at the police station 3 km away. I don't.

    I pay the bribes as long as they are in scale of the service I need. If they overcharge I don't pay.

    A special case of "bribes" are accidents were foreigners and locals are involved.

    My friend had an accident in Cambodia last year and I was taking care of the "traffic tribunal" next day. After reading the papers the police chief said: This case is very easy the two drunk Khmers have caused the accident but taking into account that the Khmers have nothing but the Falang have much more I think it reasonable that you agree about how much the falang have to pay. I think it was 11.000 Baht and the speech was beautiful because that is how it is. No accidents or any bribe situation will ever occur if you stay away....

    I never crossed the border from China to Laos so I never have paid any bribes there....The border to Savannakhet I have crossed many times never paying bribes.

  11. HIKO

    HIKO Ol'Timer

    Sorry Andrea I got another hot topic on my desk.....

    If you have bought the bike check up where it is registered. If Bangkok or some close provinces you should be able to get a registration in your name in a day provided that you have the right documentation which includes a at least 2 month vias and a letter from your father that you live in his house.
    Forget about registering it in your fathers name, even with a letter of authority you will never be sure if it works at the border.

    When the bike is in your name you do not need any other papers, you will get them at the border.

  12. beddhist

    beddhist Ol'Timer

    Very good explanation, Hiko, thanks. My concern is that these bribes are perhaps only demanded from foreigners.

    In Yemen I was escorted by police/military through certain areas the govt. had deemed dangerous for tourists. Once a cop demanded money and I gave him a little, he then asked for more, but was forced to leave when his car left. His colleagues at the checkpoint where they dropped me off then proceeded to feed me and refused payment for that.
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I think that you should take a look at the Crossing Borders info on the main GT Rider site ... ssings.htm
    specifically the bit about crossing with a bike that is not in your name at
  14. beddhist

    beddhist Ol'Timer

    Here is our experience with the Donglor border crossing: At Lao customs we are finished in record time, but we do have to pay overtime charges for crossing on a Saturday. (there is a printed sign to that effect on the wall, so I guess this is legit.) At the Cambodian shack we are met by a sour-faced man who takes us to the customs building. First, he asks for a Carnet de Passages, which we don't have. He then shows us a "Customs Permit", which we apparently need to get from customs in Phnom Penh for 20$. Without it we can't take our bikes into Cambodia. He then sits around, staring into blank space. It is immediately clear to us what he wants: bakhsheesh. After a while he produces a standard customs declaration form and says that with this and 20$ each we can go. I notice many new-looking cars around, lovingly being cleaned by their hapy owners, no doubt financed through 'tea money'. We refuse and after more waiting and staring into blank space on his part we leave, get our Lao exit stamps cancelled and head back to the Thai border at Vangtau. We don't know whether this requirement for a permit is real or merely a scam to extort money from tourists. In any case, it is Cambodia's loss. (We met some people in cars recently who told us that they had met others in Cambodia with foreign cars and bikes and they were refused entry from Laos.) Now, the really amazing thing happened back at Lao immigration: after cancelling our exit stamps he offered us our overtime charge back, because we didn't cross the border. I was happy to refuse this, as he had done twice the work, so he is entitled to it.

    Our trials are not quite over for the day, though: the Thai customs computer in Chong Mek has a problem with my bike, which turns out a failure by customs staff in Mae Sai to do their job. They forgot to cancel my permit when they issued me a new one. We have to wait a long time while customs ring their colleagues in Mae Sai, who then have to search for my old form and punch it into their system before a new permit can be issued. It is almost dark when we finally get away.
  15. panok

    panok Member

    I missed this topic .... I got problem like HIKO

    but custom man said I've to go back to Phnom penh or Poipet ....

    Finally he told me to give him 2000 bth ... then Go !!
  16. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi all

    Me and a friend are more or less planning to do the same as Andrea; Poipet, Siem Reap, Strung Treng. Laos border, Savannaket, Mukdahan and back to bangkok.

    We have been several times in Cambodia so are not too worried about the Poipet border crossing. My friend's motorbike is not in his name but he does have a letter of consent of the person mentioned in the green book. Our experience is that if you have the right papers and number of copies you can pass in 30 - 40 minutes.

    However we do have some questions:

    In our previous trips to Cambodia we never visited the Cambodian border customs to get temporary import papers (if they exist). We were always going back through the same border post and the Cambodians do not care anyway. Our question is, is there something as a temporary import papers? Do we need them to get out of Cambodia to Laos in Strung Treng?

    We have Thai registered bikes. It is difficult to get from Thailand in to Laos. Is it a problem to get with Thai registered bikes in to Laos from Cambodia?

    Is it possible to get back in to Thailand from Savannaket to Mukdahan?

    If somebody can advise then that would be apprciated.



    PS: Did Andrea ever make her tour?
  17. beddhist

    beddhist Ol'Timer

    From what I have read and heard most people don't get any paperwork for Cambodia. However, lack of such with give Mr Sourface Customs another lever to extract 20$ from you. According to him, you need a customs permit from Phnom Penh to cross this border. If you don't have it you have to pay bakhsheesh.

    Can you please elaborate on your statement? The only restriction I have heard of is that Thai bikes under 150cc can't enter at Vangtau/Chong Mek (see separate topic). We didn't stop at the Lao customs post, some distance away from the border and if you do the same you will not have a problem.

    Maybe. Try to speak to the head of immigration and he may be able to get you across. If he does facilitate it for you ask him to speak to the bridge toll collectors before you leave or they will hold you up. I suggest you cross at Thakek or Muang Pakxan instead (weekdays only), or Vangtau.
  18. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    On both the "Freedom" bridges you have no problems going Laos to Thailand in my experience on either Thai or Cambodian registrations. The other way (Thailand to Laos) I have never succeeded over the bridges always having to take a ferry.

    The permit/letter authorising to take a motorcycle not in your name out of the country (Thailand) has only worked twice for me in 20 years. Once the bike was in my wife's name and we have the same surname, so they didn't ask for a letter. The second time the owner of the bike was in the group with the bike. I wouldn't rely on this method working 100% and maybe messing up your planned holidays.

    The Cambo customs temporary import paper may or may not get you out of a bribe , the guy at that border will try his best what ever you have. Hopefully this will change once/when the new border crossing post is opened (not holding my breath). On a Thai registered bike the Thai export paper is normally enough for police etc, and sometimes the customs used to just stamp an Cambo entry stamp on this document. usually now I don't bother to go see them.(one less bribe!)
  19. uk_morgan

    uk_morgan Member

    during my 2 weeks time in cambodia, i asked mr lee who runs a motorcycle rental service in cambodia if i could ride the bike directly to laos. he said it would be a headache if there was something wrong with the bike and paper work could be hard.

    can people tell me if we can rent a bike in cambodia and ride it into laos? i plan to do another trip thru bike soon.
  20. beddhist

    beddhist Ol'Timer

    Some more info on the Lao-Cambo border crossing: met some more people in campervans yesterday. They had also heard the rumour about the border being closed, so went there without being stamped out by Lao immigration. The Cambo customs man (apparently not the same as the one we dealt with) just shook his head and said "No permit, no go." They even tried to offer him money, but he wasn't interested. He confirmed that to cross this border with any vehicle you need a permit from Customs in Phnom Penh.

    Sorry about this bad news.

  21. khassan

    khassan New Member

    Hi All,

    I just came back from a trip taking me from KL to Hadlek to Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri and to Southern Laos to Pakxe and out to Chong Mek/Ubon.

    For me, when entering cambodia at had lek/koh kong we have to fill up a custom form which we paid US5. No problem exiting throuhg donKlar post to Laos.

    In Laos, you have to again fill up forms at the custom office which is about 2km from the don Klar border point and pay US5. Exit from laos to Thai was a breeze but remember to pass back the Lao custom form before you exit.

    Guess that Cambodia and Laos are now becoming more systematic in bringing vehicles in. Last 1 and 2 years when I enter there was no documentation at all.

    Hope this help a bit.

  22. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Hmmm....There is no charge at Immigration at Hat Lek (or other Thai borders) for the customs Temporary Import/Export documents needed for a vehicle.
    I guess the clerk needed some lunch money... :D

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