Cambodia // Visa Run

Friday, March 14, 2014

Almost three weeks ago now we made a quick trip to the Thai/Cambodian border for our last visa run!  I am thanking God that we are so done with all the stress of keeping up to date with this visa stuff... what an unexpected nuisance it all turned out to be.

Anyways before I turn this post into a rant I'll get back to the point... our visa run to Cambodia. Here's hoping it will serve somebody well in their journey to adding new stamps to their passport!

We looked into many ways of how to get to Poipet from Bangkok and for us the train worked best for getting there. Although the train takes longer than the bus we had two small children to worry about, and sacrificed time for comfort.

There is one third class train that departs Hualamphong Station in BKK at 5:55am (cost: 48 baht / $1.60), we arrived around 5:15am to purchase our ticket and ensure we got seats. The train left right on time but it makes a lot of stops, maybe more than normal, but we arrived at Aranyaprathet (Thai border town) around 12:30pm, about an hour later than scheduled. It's a nice ride through the countryside as the sunrises. There are lots of food and drink vendors wandering through the train, so don't fret if you missed breakfast. Do note that leaving so early you might want to have a light jacket or sweater to keep you warm until the sun is up... after that it gets a bit hot and sticky (no air con just windows in these 3rd class trains).

From the train station in Aranyaprathet we wandered out to the main road and caught a tuk tuk for 80 Baht (which you will have to barter for) to the border which is about 6km away. Beware, drivers will ask you if you need a Cambodian visa, if you say yes they will take you to what looks like an official office and scam you into paying more than you need to.  Just an FYI, if you haven't gone through the Thai departure building then you are not at the official Cambodian visa office...

Once arriving at the border you go through a long tunnelled area, foreigners keep right, and head up some stairs and you will be at the Thai departure border patrol. We were in and out of there within 20 minutes (but that included extra time for processing Zach's passport which didn't have an "arrival" stamp in it yet).

After the departure gate you are now in no mans land, you will walk for about two minutes or so until you find yourself standing before the Cambodian gate (note the picture above). This is the only picture I have from our trip because this is where I realized our Iphone was no longer in the pocket I stowed it in... so long cute pictures of Rylee and Zach on their first train ride because of some dummy who stole them! So PLEASE beware, this area is known for pick pockets.

To the direct right of this gate is the official Cambodian visa office, go there if you haven't already got a visa. You will need one passport photo and $20US, the guards will push you for an extra 100 Baht...which is a scam but you might get lucky like us and get out of that (we just said we didn't have anymore Baht). Processing for your visa takes less than 10 minutes and then your on your way to "arrive" into Cambodia!

By this time both kids were in meltdown state, Zach was hungry, Rylee was hot and tired, and there were 4 more forms to fill out... talk about awesome! Thankfully one of the guards had compassion on us and let us jump the line once I got the arrival cards filled out. Once through we took a moment to regroup and cool down in front of fan in what seemed to be a little bus station.

Once both kids were fed and calm we crossed the street and went straight through departures, no waits halleluyah! We headed back to Thailand and again no waits in the arrival building and we had the sweetest most lighthearted border patrol officers I've ever encountered.

After about two hours of filling out a bagillion forms, blazing heat, pick pockets, and two screaming children, we were back in Thailand! After dealing with Thai Tourist Police reporting our stolen phone we were directed to the bus station...which was a private tour company...typical. We were totally frazzled by this point and just bought our tickets back to BKK (only 20 baht or so more than being at the real bus station). However it took us a lot longer to get back than we had read... instead of 4 hrs it was more like 6!

With 4 new stamps and 1 visa sticker in our passports we got home after the longest, most exhausting day ever around 9pm! But alas, its over, and I am ever so happy for that!

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