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It's only for the beer money

By: Vanessa Vrdoljak Posted: December-18-2010 in
Vanessa Vrdoljak

You would think that getting on a bus and travelling from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City was pretty simple, a standard journey and only 240km apart. This would be considered child’s play back home.

However, no one journey is ever the same and each time I travel I am amazed at the scams and inconsistencies I come across.

So things to keep an eye out for:

1. The $5 Cambodian visa charge levied by the bus companies. You DO NOT have to pay this. All they do is fill out a form for you and drop it off at a counter that you pass yourself on your way through Cambodian Immigration. So, for $5, you buy yourself 5 minutes waiting time inside the immigration building, instead of saving yourself $5 and spending those 5 minutes outside waiting by the visa counter.

2. Should you decide to get the visa yourself, don’t be conned into the $2 “Express Visa Service Charge”. This DOESN’T exist and it’s the visa official trying to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting “barang” and pocket some beer money! Be assertive, tell him you know it doesn’t exist and you are NOT going to pay. They will try and stare you down, but as long as you don’t hesitate and hold your own, they give up, hand over your visa and never mention it again.

3. The obligatory “visa photograph”. If you don’t have one, don’t panic. It will cost you $1 (and no, they don’t actually take a photo in return), but it’s easier and cheaper than racing around town like a headless chicken desperately trying to find a photo booth at the last minute. Splash out on the $1 and buy yourself a relaxing night out on the town instead. I’m sure they bin the photos as I am yet to see one attached to my application form. Additionally, there have been several occasions when they haven’t even bothered to levy the $1 charge when I haven’t had a photo.

I would love to hear other stories.

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