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Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM

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1 post
6 reviews
5 helpful votes
Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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It is just to inform people of the recurrent scams happening at the border crossing. My boyfriend and I left from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to go to Don Det island (Laos). We booked a 8h mini van journey. There were 5 of us in the bus. 2 Chinese sisters, 1 Swiss guy, my UK boyfriend and myself (French). Everything went fine until we reached the border. At the beginning we just got off the van and headed towards the Cambodia counter. We knew we could get a visa on arrival and that they usually charge extra "processing fees" of a few dollars. But anyway we went to the counter. And this Cambodian guy rocked up out of no where, telling us to give all our passports to the person behind the desk, which we did. But then, he barked at us, telling to give 2 USD for the stamp to get out of Cambodia. He literally said:"give the money! Hurry up!" I did not understand the urgency given that we were the only people in the building. But we all paid. Returning to the van outside, the same little angry guy came to us again and asked for all our passports again as well as our bus tickets and 38 USD for the visa. We found it quite suspicious and asked him to explain why the bus tickets and why 38$ and more importantly who He was. He then completely flipped and gave everything back to us because we were (Aand I quote him) "talking too much and asking too many questions". At that moment we knew for sure it was a massive scam. We then headed to the Laos building by ourselves, found the exact price we had to pay (different depending on your nationality). I only had to pay 30 USD and the Chinese girls 20 USD. But once again they asked for 2 USD for the stamp. 3 of us paid but the Chinese girls refused. Then the angry Cambodian guy arrived again and started shouting at them to make them pay. He was threatening them to either pay or not get back on the bus. Meanwhile, someone was already taking their suitcases out of the bus which I found completely crazy. Then we got told to get back in the van. One of the sister was sitting in already and 2 men tried to take her out but she fought back and stayed. Then out of the blue, our minivan driver started the engine and drove off. Only one Chinese girl was in the bus, the other one was still arguing at the desk. But the van left. I was so chocked!! We asked the driver to stop but he didn't. He took us a good 2 or 3 min with repeated shout at the driver for him to finally stop. The Chinese sister (who could barely speak english) was totally panicked and chocked too. I asked if we could turn around to get the other sister but the driver refused. I said it wasn't right to leave someone behind! He replied that they didn't pay so they can't get on the bus. We had a aggressive discussion and I had to explain to the Chinese girl to walk back to the building and get back with her sister. There was nothing else we could do to help and I felt extremely bad and angry.

A day later we met the 2 sisters again randomly on Don Det island. She explained to me that they didn't pay the extra fees for the stamp and that she got given her passport back as soon as the van left. Which shows how much of a big scam the whole thing is.

It is crazy to be thrown into such a situation for the sake of a couple of dollars.

If you want a smooth border crossing, just pay, but be aware that you encourage scams and corruption. If you don't pay, good on you! But be ready to get in troubles...

Seams like there is no good solution here. It disgusts me!!!!

39 replies to this topic
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level Contributor
2,966 posts
3 reviews
1 helpful vote
1. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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Amusing and informative read. The "little angry guy" hmmm, have seen him in various forms at remote border checkpoints prone to corrupt scams. He probably lost a lot of money at the poker table night before, and is stuck in the middle of nowhere with male-only companions. Agree there is no real solution - pay a couple $ or prepare for confrontation. These guys rely on daily income based on scams.

Brisbane, Australia
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2,995 posts
10 reviews
12 helpful votes
2. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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Years ago when I was going from Laos to Cambodia 2 people refused to pay the Lao post the $2 stamping fee. They grabbed their passport and proceeded to the Cambodian side. The Cambodians refused to let them through into Cambodia until they had gone back to the Laos side to pay the money (escorted by a Laos official who came to get them).

United Kingdom
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12,211 posts
155 reviews
72 helpful votes
3. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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A few years ago I went from Cambodia into Laos. No fee at Cambodia post but at Laos he wanted $2 to give passport back, I refused but he gave my passport back by mistake, so I did not have to pay. Also they were trying to tell me I needed different transport to Kong Chang but I refused, just got off minibus at junction, the minibus driver was fine. Yes this has been going on years but seems to have got worse.

United Kingdom
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12,211 posts
155 reviews
72 helpful votes
4. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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Even at airport now in Luang Prabang there is a stamping fee $1 there is a painted sign, so guess it’s official.

5. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM

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Dubai, United Arab...
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3 posts
4 reviews
2 helpful votes
6. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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Guys, I struggled so much to find a decent company to go with, and now that I finally made it to Laos I absolutely recommend AVT, Asia Van Transfer!

The owner is from Uruguay and he’s basically the only one acting following the law. He explains everything when you book the ticket and the travel was smooth and easy. It all went by the book, you just need to accept to pay the 2$+2$ for the stamp for both borders.

1 post
7. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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I crossed the boarder coming from Cambodia to Laos on Nov. 23, 2018 and was the only one of our group of foreigners (about 10+ people) refusing to pay the 2 USD asked by the customs officer after he could not produce an Official Receipt that I asked for the money. The officials were loud and rude. Very untypical for Cambodians. When I refused I got my passport back unstamped and told I could not enter Laos without having an exit stamp.and if I wanted to stay overnight. I said yes, if necessary and sat down and waited patiently for what will happen. They processed all the other co-travellers and let me wait for less than 10 minutes. Then one of the officers started to speak to me trying to argue to get the 2 USD. He called it a tip and a help etc. while being loud and repeatedly pointing with his finger on me. I explained him firm but polite that I would not tip somebody who is shouting and and pointing with his finger on me, explained him that my country is giving hundreds of millions of Euros to his country every year as grants etc. A useless discussion but showing that I will not give in and that I have all the time in this world. After only a few further minutes fruitless discussion he stamped my passport, called me some bad words and let me go. As I knew already from internet research that they will ask for 1 USD on the Laos side and because they could easily refuse to give me the e-Visa I was prepared to pay that USD. Hoping the van had not left yet I arrived at the Laos side of the boarder and saw most of my co-travellers still not having been processed. As I heard they ask 2 times 2 USD, I decided to refuse payment again. Thus on my turn I asked the customs officer who wanted 31 USD for the e-visa about that USD and got the known answer of late hours fee. I smiled at him, said something about weired ideas they have and gave him 30 USD plus 200 left over Riels (worth nothing outside Cambodia). He starred at me, returned the 200 and asked again for the USD. I refused to pay expecting more drama but not only that nothing happened anymore but also all other following co-travellers did not have to pay the extra USD. The same on return of the processed passports, nobody was asked for the other 2 USD. Bad for the ones who had been processed before me.

My oppinion about this scam is, never ever pay those extortion money (Wegelagerergebühr) . Once accepted by a majority of travellers it will get worse and worse. Never pay those thiefs!!! I salute the chinese girls. Brave and straight.

Vientiane
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6,824 posts
96 reviews
65 helpful votes
8. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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"Thus on my turn I asked the customs officer who wanted 31 USD for the e-visa about that USD and got the known answer of late hours fee. I smiled at him, said something about weired ideas they have and gave him 30 USD plus 200 left over Riels (worth nothing outside Cambodia)."

Interesting as there is no such thing as an E-visa to get into Lao. Also there is an overtime fee, which is clearly signposted at the border.

Melbourne, Australia
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1,428 posts
141 reviews
47 helpful votes
9. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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When I departed Laos via the Chong Mek/Vang Tao border point to Thailand, I did note many other local and Thai people putting some 10,000kip notes in their passports and then handing them to the border guards. I couldn't see any sign indicating what fee was expected, so I handed it over with no cash, expecting it to be given straight back with some demand for a fee.

None came, and my passport was returned duly processed with an exit stamp. I don't know if they just couldn't be bothered trying to explain a legit fee to the single Westerner (me) in amongst the throngs, or if I avoided some sort of existent but unofficial revenue raising exercise.

I have read about "overtime" and "processing" fees, but there was no sign that I could see (in English at least) that mentioned it.

Edited: 8:44 pm, December 07, 2018
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
745 posts
10. Re: Cambodia Laos border crossing Big SCAM
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Hi,

 

I have traveled between Thailand and Laos via Chong Mek / Vang Tao

several times. They would always ask for 'the fee' when I entered Laos

but never when I left the country.

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