The Sihanoukville Shakedown

Discussion in 'Cambodia - General Discussion Forum' started by mickba, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. The Sihanoukville Shakedown

    Lots of us have ridden in Sihanoukville and are familiar with the way the BiB earn their bonus.
    They lie in wait for barang at the Lion Roundabout and traffic lights etc . Licence and crash helmet are the main target items, but even if they can't find anything they still want small money ($2). Once shaken down you should be excused at the next checkpoint.
    They are usually low rank and don't speak English, but that can be a plus.

    This is not about that, it's about taking your own bike in and being stopped by a higher ranking officer who knew his stuff and spoke excellent English...........and wanted big money.

    I have had a PM conversation with BM Rookie after the event and what he told me confirmed that I went through the correct process at Cham Yeam crossing and had the proper paperwork, which I presented.

    The officer and 2 other BiB pulled me over at Lion roundabout.
    He told me that my paperwork was incomplete and that I should have a Cambodian Permit with a date stamp from the border.
    He told me that the permission to enter by that crossing was limited to Koh Kong Province only and that I should not be in Sihanoukville.
    He produced his book and said that he had to make a full report and summon some more officers to collect and impound my bike and that it would take 1-2 weeks to sort out.

    Although it was obviously a well rehearsed scam, I wasn't sure of my ground re the KK only part.
    I subsequently returned to KK, where they confirmed that I shouldn't have left KK Province, but that I could only get a Permit from PP.
    From everything I've read since, I believe that is BS, but I'd appreciate confirmation and links to the information from any of you experts on here.

    In the event, it cost me $50 to get loose from SV. I was given a sort of free pass reference but told to stay on the main highway and return to KK. Apart from effectively demanding money with menaces, the officer was very polite and helpful and said it would be very unwise to go into PP and possibly face the same problem there.
    He also said that I should tell subsequent checkpoints in SV that I had already been stopped and 'fined' but that it was small money - for obvious reasons, having made sure his underlings hadn't seen how much he took from me.

    I have previously ridden hire scoots around SV and I rode a scoot from Pattaya to PP and back, which was incident free.
    This trip was on a D-Tracker 250cc.

    I'm interested as to whether anyone else has encountered this scam, but mainly, my question to the more experienced travellers here is simply:
    What would you have done?
  2. Sadly these continuous stories of Cambodian police and corruption put so many people off visiting the country with a bike. Me for one.
    Every time I think of going over there I read something like this..

    Guess Lao bike tourism will continue to prosper at Cambodia expense.. Never had one problem with the Police in Laos.

    Pretty sure most of us would have done the same as you and paid.. 50 USD is a lot better than being screwed around for a week or two.. plus you don't know if by fighting them it annoys them more and they make much bigger trouble for you.

  3. It was unfortunate they took advantage of you they pulled me over also twice in sihanoukville but I refused to pay knowing the rules and regulations plus spoke Khmer it was a plus
    I also remember once traffic lights were out in sihanoukville power shortages all the traffic cops disappeared from intersections instead of diverting the traffic it show how things work in Cambodia.
    It is sad in a way these people will continue to scam tourist please have your all your papers in order please... read

    stop at the custom office as soon as crossing the Cambodian border and do a custom declaration (what you bringing in to country) a white paper attached to your passport which indicates make model of your bike and value date and port of entry its all you need in Cambodia free of charge takes 5 minutes of your time
  4. Thanks for the reply and the link.

    Having read that, it does seem that that might be the missing piece of paper that I should have had and which allowed him to say I was illegal (ignoring the KK Province only part).

    I did go to the Customs hut on the Cambodian side.
    The guy wrote something in a book and at one point issued me with a temporary registration plate (deposit 100 Baht) which he then said I didn't need and took back (100 Baht not refunded obviously). However, he didn't give me a form to fill in or give me any paperwork to take with me.

    Are you saying that the "white paper" is a printed form they provide, or do you mean it is something we should do ourselves and hope to get them to stamp it?


    i just found this

    Is this what you're referring to?

    Edit - no it wasn't.
  5. It is actually light blue color paper sorry, passenger declaration form (do you have anything to declare) same as you enter by air. airline provide you in flight to Phnom penh everyone must fill out this declaration form but when you enter via land crossing all you need to do is go to custom department fill it out goods to declare and identify your motorbike models and value it is that simple you must have otherwise you will be sorry if when you have an accident or you may be charged even worse.

    i have no idea with Chinese link you have attached here
  6. OK - Thanks very much. I hope to go in again soon, but I plan to turn left to Phnom Penh next time.
    I'll persist re the Declaration form, but do I take it they will give me a date-stamped copy to carry with me?

    It's bad enough that I'm almost certainly uninsured in there, without the Sihanoukville BiB lying in wait.
    I did enquire about insurance once but I got nowhere.
    Is there a viable policy which covers travel from Thailand into other countries?
    I've currently got First Class which came via Kawasaki when I bought the bike.

    I asked a crew from here who regularly take 4-6 Harleys down to SV from Pattaya how they get on.
    It seems they have an agreement through a certain 'Lady in Blue' that they pay $5 per day for no hassle and the BiB get their money that way.
    He knew nothing of the form either.
  7. Thanks for your honesty. It's easy to say just refuse to pay from a distance, but when faced with the possibility of your bike being carted off, your travel plans ruined and still having to pay, possibly more, it's not that simple.
    The BiB know that of course and exploit it.

    It won't stop me going back to Cambodia, but Sihanoukville is a real PiA and considering they are obviously desperate for visitors it seems pretty short sighted, but the BiB need their bonus I suppose.

    Yes, I hope to make it into Laos as well before I get too much older.
  8. Hi Guys.. I will repost this here as the same subject crept in to my thread about Sihanoukville.

    Will post a trip report soon.. But we tried to ask for the customs declaration form and they said there were none.
    We were as forceful as possible while still being polite and not annoying the guys.

    They said they have no forms and if you want to a form you will have to speak with the Embassy in Bangkok.
    The customs guys said there is no form for Bikes.. There is one for cars..

    We asked what if the Police stop us.. They said there is nothing they can do as Sihanoukville is a different province.
    We asked for a number and their names the Police could call to verify this (more to make the cops life difficult with out just rolling over handing them cash)

    The customs guys said they would not give a number or name as different province.. So I took note of the numbers of their badges and was still going to tell the Police to call for them and verify there is no paper work needed..

    In the end we had no problems what so ever and a very enjoyable weekend.. Just a damn shame your holiday has [email protected] like this in the back of your mind all the time.

  9. Not at all what I wanted to hear as I'm planning to ride back in in a couple of weeks, but to PP not SV.
    Thanks for posting. As you say, you just don't need this stuff in the back of your mind all trip.

    I'm kicking myself as I've since flown in and seen the form but didn't get a spare.
    Even then, the procedure is that you hand them in as you enter, whereas my BiB said he wanted to see something with a date stamp from the border on it, so I'm not clear how it would work if I got one.

    I got a similar answer about getting a Permit from the Embassy, but they said I had to go to Phnom Penh.

    Just to be clear, was this at the Cham Yeam/Had Lek/Koh Kong crossing?
    BM Rookie said to go to the Customs on the Cambodia side, which I took to be the wooden shed right next to the barrier.
    Apart from a notepad, I didn't see any forms there. Did you ask at the Immigration window as well?

    Hopefully Rookie can comment further.
    I'm also wondering if it is any different going in at Poipet.
  10. Rookie - Can you comment on Brian_bkk's experience please?
  11. I have not crossed border at koh kong yet I come from isaan so crossed at poi pet it is always easy never had any problems
    I arrived in sihanoukville few days ago I was also stopped like everyone else just entering the city others paid and left here I am answering questions in Khmer but all my papers in order I was asked for money but I said no with smile police chief handed back my papers.
    As I ride everyday in town I noticed some trafic lights were behind the trees it is impossible to notice police are waiting cross the street so go figure one of my friend actually paid local guy 5$ to cut off the branches of that tree.
  12. Thanks for your reply.
    Somehow I never picked up from your previous posts or PMs that you hadn't been through via Koh Kong.

    I'm going across in the next few days and I'd planned to go that way again.
    Given that we still haven't had confirmation that we can do it correctly there, given both brian_bkk's and my own experiences and given that you say it's OK via Poipet, I'm looking at trying it that way. I'm going to Phnom Penh and if I do go to SV my paperwork should be good and I can go out via KK/Cham Yeam.
  13. When I crossed at Koh Kong last year there were no custom forms available on the cambodian side ????
  14. That seems to be precisely the problem.

    I should have picked some up when I flew there, but I'd still have had to persuade someone at Cham Yeam to date stamp it with an official stamp and I doubt the guy in the shed had one.

    Having looked at the maps I'm going through Poipet and go to Siem Reap before Phnom Penh.
    I'll try to get a couple of spare forms for if/when I go through via KK again.
  15. We had a look on google maps.. It is possible to avoid that roundabout.. Takes you out of the way to get where you want.. but it does remove the possibility of the cops standing there waiting for a hand out.

    Also when leaving we walked down to the roundabout and checked.. Saw no cops and rode on through..

    Not sure I will be rushing back to Cambodia.. Extremely dodgy cops.. no insurance and in general a bad vibe... Sure all the regulars that love it there will disagree with the bad vibe.. but I am not the only one to feel this way out of all the people I talk too..

    Laos here I come again and again.

  16. Fair comments Brian.

    I've lived in Snooky for 10 years and the cops still pull me over around once a fortnight to check my license
    and registration.
    Ive always had everything correct, yet they keep pulling me over.

    On several occasions over the years, the Governor at the request of the motodops, banned foreigners from riding motorbikes unless they had a Cambodian drivers licence and the bike was registered in their name.
    Eventually the moto rental places must have paid some money and the rule was relaxed.

    I'm philosophical about it. If it wasn't such a ****ed up place, a lot of other aspects about Cambo wouldn't be as much fun.
  17. I have not paid any fines in sihanoukville yet but if you have to pay fines for not having licence, helmet, or head lights on fees are 3000 reils to 2$ and also quard your belongings thefts are on the rise
  18. #18 mickba, Jan 20, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2016
    I just came through Poipet yesterday and all papers look OK.

    If you do ever come through Cham Yeam / Koh Kong you're in for a bit of a surprise.

    For those who are familiar with the scruffy little garden shed which passes for the Customs Office at CY, this is what you're looking for at Poipet.

    Attached files
    275464=8060-cambo%20jan%202012%20010a. 275464=8059-cambo%20jan%202012%20011a.
  19. I have a dilemma.

    Having come in via Poipet, I believe I should hand my Customs Declation back in to show that the bike has left Cambodia.

    I would much prefer to go out via Koh Kong, but they don't operate the system there and I'm not convinced they will send the form in.

    My worry is that if I came in via Poipet again I might have a problem.

    Any thoughts anyone?
  20. They wont care as there is no nation wide system that logs this.. So in theory you could leave via any sanctioned border crossing.

    That customs slip is really a placebo that makes us feel good against the cops asking for money.. They will just find something else :)

    I really would not be concerned..

  21. I'm sure you're right.

    I came down from PP and I was planning to turn right to KK, but changed my mind and headed down to SV.

    Guess what, just before I got here, after the factory, the road was coned and about 6 BiB are just pulling bikes in - about 4pm.
    I am a bit conspicuous and they were clearly excited at the prospect of a good catch.

    The guy spoke very good English and it was a bit deja vu.

    First the International Driver's Licence - OK no problem.

    Next the Thai paperwork - not convinced he could read it but OK.

    Then, before I produced the Customs form from Poipet, he launched into the same speech I'd heard before.

    "So now you have problem because from Koh Kong you can only stay KK Province, so......"

    I let him finish and then I said "Yes I know, your boss told me before".

    "OK so you know you have big problem".

    "No, because this time I come from Poipet and I have the correct paper - no problem" and I passed him the form.

    He was clearly very disappointed and gave me the papers back.

    Then he said I was speeding. I said no, cannot, too many cars.

    Finally he said my Thai number plate wasn't legal and I should have a Cambodian one.

    At that point I just shrugged in disgust and put my helmet back on. He said OK you can go.

    The bottom line to all this is that I am now totally convinced that you cannot go in via Koh Kong and travel down to SV...or anywhere else in Cambodia, legally and hassle free.

    As rookie has said - Poipet OK and you should get this.

    Attached files 276090=8438-IMG_6724.
  22. I just returned from a trip from Pattaya to Sihanoukville, no problem anywhere but Sihanoukville and I've done the trip before several times. Just for the record, the Sihanoukville Shakedown is still alive and going strong. This time I had everything, IDL, headlight off, helmet on, and Cambodia and Thai customs forms. I still received the, "This is only good in Koh Kong Province" with my Cambodia customs form. The cops eventually came down to $5, then they wanted $5 per day but settled for $5 for the four days I was there. I guess it's just a part of visiting Sihanoukville, every time they have their hand out :(.
    • Like Like x 1
  23. #23 sharpeyes, Oct 18, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  24. I was threatened the same way, they were going to impound my bike, etc. but I had had the same thing happen before so I knew that wasn't going to happen. They started out wanting $50 US and I stood my ground and said no way. Eventually they settled for $5 US, they wanted $5 per day but I said no way, $5 total was going to be it and they agreed. The next time I make the trip, I have friends that I visit in Sihanoukville, I'm going to give the Koh Kong customs guy 100 baht to put the Sihanoukville province on my customs declaration also and see if that works. Otherwise I'm going to avoid the roundabout, it looks like there are ways to go around it. Everyone who makes a motorcycle trip to Sihanoukville has this problem, sad but true.
    • Like Like x 1
  25. I came in by Thai car in April and passed this roundabout in SHV, no problem. Entered and exited the country through Koh Kong. Also went up to Phnom Penh, got stopped there, senior officer mumbled something in Khmer, second guy in Thai (LOL!) and then had to pay $3 (had no idea why I was stopped - probably for having Thai number plates? Or was it my daytime running lights?) This was just after the big roundabout on Nordom boulevard, just before the JOMA bakery heading south towards the Thai embassy.

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