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Aranyaprathet's visa scams

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Johnmac's picture
Joined: 23-May-08
Posts: 153

Aranyaprathet, a land gateway to Cambodia, is the scene of some of the world’s great border scams - a major local industry. The Thai police are paid off to turn a blind eye, so will be of no help. Those heading into Cambodia may be subject to any of these:

* At the train or bus station you will be told you need to board a ‘government bus’ to take you to ‘the right place’ for your Cambodian visa.

* A man will approach you at the reception desk of your hotel, saying he works for ‘Thai Immigration’ - and can expedite your exit from Thailand and/or visa into Cambodia.

* A tuk tuk driver will want to take you to a special ‘visa office’, to get a faster/easier/cheaper visa.

* There are even offices set up to sell you Cambodian ‘visas’ right next to the border.

* If you need a passort photo (as you usually do for Cambodia) a tout at the border will take you to a ‘scanning shop’ that will sell you a photo + fake visa, requiring a payment of $35.

There are many more variations, both in town and at the border itself. Most of Aramyaprathet's hotels and tuk tuk drivers are in on these scams.

The result? Lots of time and money lost. For example, instead of a 15-minute journey to the border, you will find yourself driven in circles - sometimes for as long as seven hours - visiting offices, shops and restaurants owned by relatives of the scam operators: and paying at each for spurious paperwork, fake visa stamps, food and drink. (To ensure the latter, your driver will simply disappear for an hour.)

All this can be easily avoided. Once you arrive in Aramyaprathet, getting into Cambodia is simple:

1. Find a tuk tuk to take you to the border. This should cost 80 baht, and will take 15 minutes maximum.

2. Exit Thailand through Thai Immigration and (after producing passport, photo and $20-30 fee) enter Cambodia through Cambodian Immigration.

That’s it.

In town, negotiate your tuk tuk fare in advance, and insist the driver take you to the border (everyone knows that word). Refuse to get out at unplanned stops. Keep saying ‘Border!’ A fallback is to say ‘Mee visa lao!’ (I already have a visa) or 'Ba!' (Go!). This should ensure they drop scamming attempts. Hundreds of fresh victims arrive every day, and it doesn’t pay to waste time on the non-credulous.

Bottom lines:

1. No Customs or Immigration formalities take place anywhere but the border itself, and then only after you have entered Thai Immigration.

2. Crossing from Thailand to Cambodia does not require intermediaries of any kind.


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