Pattaya/Cambodia/Laos/Pattaya

Discussion in 'Eastern Thailand - General Discussion Forum' started by fm2002, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    As my trip started from Pattaya I guess this would be the best section. Feel free to move if necessary.

    Did this trip about a month ago in my truck. Could only find info of people who have dome this on motorcycle so I thought it would be useful to post on Gt-Rider.

    Day 1 - got a late start as I had to go to Immigration to make sure I had my passport/visa in order as my car passport had expired and to have it renewed you need to show your Visa. Decided to wait until we got to Chanthanaburi. We handed over all the proper paperwork and was told all was in order and to just have a seat. After a few minutes they informed me all was done, but only one person can sign it and of course as it was 2pm this person was gone. They promised he would return shortly. Hour 1 went by at hour 2, 4pm I had enough and told them. They said well he won't be back today and to come back tom. I demanded they sign it and hand it over. After much debate they found somebody to sign it, but the stamp they usually use was substituted with a handwritten one. Off to the border. My friend was 2 hours ahead of me and after he crossed he called me and said it was pretty straight forward. He paid someone on the Cambodia side to have someone do all the paperwork and suggested I do the same. We arrived late at the border just after 8pm. Well I have been to alot of third world borders, but have to say this was an eye opener. The Thai side was easy and professional. The Cambodia side was a complete contrast. There wasn't really anyone around to help us so we did most of it on our own. First you have to go to the Immigration office. Instead of going to the window an officer invited us inside to their office where we were seated. Than a bag full of cold beer was produced and we were all offered one. I said sure I sat down with 5 immigration officers drinking beer while they filled out our Passports. It's now 1200 baht w/o debate (I tried). After 2 beers and some candy we were finished. You than walk across the street to Customs to handle the car paperwork. We told them 2 days, paid 200 baht for that a 100 baht for the lifting of the gate and off we went. Arrived into Koh Kong about 9:15PM. We went straight for Fat Sam's where our friends were waiting for us. Had a few beers with Fat Sam. He's a very nice guy with alot of useful info. However he's really neagtive about driving your vehicle outside of Koh Kong Province. Warning us we could be extorted for large amounts of money or worse have our vehicles confiscated. I have to say it even had me concerned.. We ended up staying at a nice place on the river.

    Day 2 - headed out early. The road all the way was very good and we made good time. Right before the turn down to Snooky we pulled over and removed our plates. We arrived into Snooky. The drive took us a total of 2 1/2 hours. We checked out a few places and decided to stay with Luna at Beach Club Resort. The place was nice, but made all the better by a wonderful host. Luna really is great. She helped with everything and actually arranged to have her cook go to the market buying us all sorts of fresh seafood. Than she arranged to have a place she knew at Otes beach allow us to have her cook Bbq everything and also they let us bring our own wine and champagne. Luna even came with us and we had a great day at the beach. If ever you guys get to Snooky I highly recommend Beach Club Resort.

    Day 2, 3 & 4 were spent in Snooky

    Day 5 - we headed for PP. My friend had the idea of instead of taking Highway 4 we should take Highway 3. He thought it would be more interesting. Well the road sucked ! I would say at least 80% was under construction. What should of taken 3 1/2 hours took us 5 1/2.

    Day 5 & 6 spent in PP

    Day 7 - our goal today was to reach Kratie which is pretty straight forward. You head out of PP to the river crossing over and onto Highway 6A. You follow 6A and the Mekong. You leave the Mekong making a wide sweeping turn due East. We stopped at Skun as I read about Spiderville. I was not brave enough to sample, but one of our party members did. At Skun you switch to Highway 7. We wanted to take the shortcut, Highway 73, but I never did see the turnoff so we stayed on 7 all the way to Kratie stopping for lunch along the way at Kampong Cham. Once again staying at a riverside hotel. Total trip about 6 hours. Road condition very good

    Day 8 - race to the border. Before we followed the river up to Kampi to see if we could see the illusive dolphins. It really was easy. We motored out maybe 100 meter and there they were. We spent about 45 minutes with them. Pretty cool. From Kampi you keep heading north rejoining Highway 7. The road once again is very good. We were going to stop for lunch in Stung Treng, but after we searched around for a good place to eat we gave up and decided to keep going. We crossed the bridge at Stung Treng and made the border in about 30 minutes. I think we left the dolphins in Kampi around 9:30 and arrived at the border around 12:30PM. Right before the border we put our plates back on.

    Cambodia/Lao Border Crossing - we first were instructed to go to Customs. The Customs guys he and hawed and I didn't really know where we stood. However one of them spoke Thai and we had a Thai national with us so at least we could communicate. At this point it wasn't looking good. It wasn't like they had their hand out, but according to our Thai national they were asking for a paper showing our vehicle entry into Cambodia. I really don't know what exact paper they were after. After much back and forth they finally agreed to issue us an approval paper to cross over into Laos. This paper cost $20 each vehicle. Like I said it really wasn't about wanting a bribe, but a mixture of wanting this "paper" and not knowing what to do. Let me tell you as dicing as it was I was glad to pay the $20 and move on to Immigration. Immigration was easy. They charged us $1 each. We crossed and stopped at the Lao border point. A guy came out and offered to help. Our Thai could also speak fluent Lao so it was pretty easy. I have been to Laos too many times to count and felt very comfortable once there. We all got Visas ($30 for Aussies and Kiwis and $35 for me U.S.) There is also an Insurance agent who turned out to be the guy helping us. It took us about 30 minutes and off we went. Customs was about 400 meters up the road, but the gate was up and my friend in the back said the Customs agent waved us through so off we went into Laos. We went straight for Phapheng falls for a much need cold Beer Lao and food. As we were stopped at the ticket booth to enter the falls a truck flies up both door open and out come two Customs agents. My friend was obviously mistaken and we just ran the Customs stop. We had to follow them back. They ended up being nice. The cost was $10 each vehicle.

    We stopped at the falls which cost a dollar for parking, had lunch, a quick look see a swim and off for Don Khong. After crossing over the river on the ferry (250 baht each vehicle) found a decent hotel and chilled out.

    Day 9 - our group decided we would head for Pakse which was 240km away. Road was once again very good and the trip took us about 2 1/2 hours stopping once for gas. That night I could sense our group had had enough. My original plan was to get to Attapeu, but I guess it would have to wait until next time.

    Day 10 - back to Thailand. My friend decided he would cross over at Pakse. I travelled North on 13 to Savankhet/Mukdahan. We left at 10am and arrived around lunch time. What I thought would be the easiest of border crossings turned out to be the hardest. The problem was Customs. They looked at my Car Passport where there was no stamp showing I exited Thailand. (They don't ask for your Car Passport in Khong Yai so no stamp. When you enter Cambodia they don't ask for it either.) They also asked for the paper issued from Thai Customs proving I exited Thailand, which I didn't have. This is where I'm not sure, but this paper may have been taken by Cambodia Customs. I remember reading Phuket2006 report of Cambodia Customs keeping this paper in return for the red temporary plate. You than are suppose to return the plate and they give this paper back. After much debate they called the head of Mukdahan Customs out. He said without this paper we would have to re enter where we originally exited. NOT GOOD ! They said they never had this issue happen before. We explained, maybe lied that they never issued this paper to us. They than tried calling Khong Yai. Luckily they couldn't get through. Eventually they just gave up and waved us through. What a relief. (My friend had the same problem at his border crossing)

    Final thoughts - the border crossings turned out to be easy where I thought they would be hard and hard where I thought they would be easy. The crossings are by no way straight forward and still a risk. I can easily see a vehicle being turned away. The road concerns are exagerratted. I found them to be in very good shape almost as good as Thailand. We never had trouble with police so I can't comment about this. I found Snooky ok, but not great. It reminded me of what Pattaya would of been 20 years ago not Koh Samui as some have mentioned. It's a low cost place with a counter culture type feel. PP has enough written about it. The drive north of PP was flat, flat and flat with never ending rubber tree plantations. Once you cross over to Lao things change. The Mekong at the border is really cool and the more north you go the more mountainous it becomes. Would I do this trip again; probably not. Am I glad I did it; yes.
     
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  3. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Interesting! Re; taking my truck to Cambodia, I have been told "You Can", "You Can't", "Don't", without ever getting a definitive answer or hearing from someone with experience. I have taken it to Laos on a couple occasions and also traveled by bike innumerable times. I have yet to drive into Cambo but it is on my list.

    Can you explain this in a little more detail? Why?

    Thanks for the info.
     
  4. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    If you enter Cambodia at Khlong Yai they tell you that you can enter, but can only drive your car within the Koh Kong province. They actually give you a temporary red plate to display in your window that tells whoever's looking that you are limited to Koh Kong province. So once you leave this province you remove the red plate from your window and your "Thai" plates so for the roadside lazy cop seeing your vehicle from a far or whizzing by won't know it's a Thai vehicle. After I arrived into Snooky this practice was backed up by a few at the hotel in my same situation. In fact if you remember me mention of the paper the Cambodia Customs at the Laos border was asking for; I believe he was checking to see if I had been issued a drive only in Koh Kong province. We never were stopped in Cambodia so not sure how to assess the risk/reward of taking my plates off.

    I'll let you decide, but being familiar with your posted travels Cambodia just didn't turn my crank. I mean Ankhor Wat is incredible and worth walking to, but other than that I'm just not sure ???
     
  5. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to know. I would like to drive Angkor Wat. I feel like having spent all this time here and never going there is really a shame. I thought a truck trip would be OK for something different. So are you also saying that crossing at other border points with the truck would be unlikely?
     
  6. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    No I'm not saying that at all. I thing at the popular Cambodia border crossing points entry and exit are pretty straight forward. Where it gets tricky is when you enter and exit at different points.
     
  7. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    OK thanks. That where it gets confusing. My friends were refused entry with a truck at Aranyaprathet (I believe). I will have to research it more when I get serious about it. Thanks for all the info. :clap:
     

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