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From Bangkok to Cambodia - Visa Run and Visit to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Whilst visiting Thailand for six months
[from October 2007 - March 2008] on a multiple entry visa, valid for 12 months, we had to refresh our visa authority stamp [before 89 days elapsed]. We had decided to do this twice, once in Late November 2007 (Cambodia) and again in Late January 2008 (Laos).
In November we were to be in Bangkok, so we arranged to combine our visa run with an excursion to Angkor Wat, Cambodia's premier visitor attraction.
The road trip transport for the whole journey (both sides of the border) and the Cambodian hotel accommodation was arranged through our preferred local travel agents Mini Tours - Bangkok.
We were picked up by air-conditioned mini bus outside the Mini Tours office at about 07.00. We travelled to a restaurant fairly close to the border, and arrived there at about 11.30. The restaurant acted as a meeting point for all mini buses and for visa administration and was just a few minutes from the Aranyaprthat, Thai / Cambodian border crossing. We stayed at the restaurant for about an hour, giving us time to have refreshments.
A visa is required to enter Cambodia and this is best applied for in your country of departure in advance but can be obtained at the Cambodian / Thailand border. Requirements were a valid passport, with at least 6 months to run, two colour ID photographs and the fee ($20 USD - 2007). For research purposes we travelled without a pre-purchased visa. As part of the transport arrangements, the transport service provider handled the border crossing formalities apart from presenting the passport at the Cambodian immigration control post.
From the restaurant meeting point, the transport company local representative escorted about 40 passengers and luggage with our passports to the Cambodian Consulate General's Office for The Kingdom of Cambodia, a short distance from the Aranyaprthat, Thai / Cambodian border crossing in Thailand where the official visa was issued. During this phase of the journey We were on a shuttle vehicle. Our journey continued at about 13.30, travelling on to the actual border, where at about 13.45 we all received our passports complete with visa.
At the border we had to exit Thailand, waiting in a queue for a little under an hour with many other tourists and travellers, before crossing no-man's-land to the Cambodian Immigration Control where we waited again with the same people for our visas to be checked before entry into Cambodia.
Once the reps had identified all the group members on the Cambodian side, we were allocated transport to the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Many passengers had not arranged accommodation and were to be transferred by bus. To our good fortune(?) we had pre-booked into a hotel that upgraded our transportation to a 'Taxi'. 4 passengers to a three seater Toyota Camry car, to quote one of our travelling companions, 'squished like bugs'!
We left the border at about 15.00 [maybe later - we were beginning to loose the will to live by that time] and found ourselves travelling at speed along a badly maintained dirt road, that shows on the map as the main highway between Thailand and Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our driver was considerate enough to stop every hour or so for a comfort break. The three of us in the back had the benefit of not being able to see clearly the oncoming traffic looming out of the dust. Our thoughts and commiserations went out to those travelling by the non-air-conditioned bus, which we were given to believe would take at least an additional hour or two. After sunset, at one point our driver had to take evasive action, taking us over a particularly bad pot-hole that punctured a tyre. In the dark, we all exited the vehicle and where possible assisted the driver to change the wheel. This was obviously a frequent occurrence as the whole process only took a few minutes, giving us the impression it had been a well practised event.
We arrived at the Sawasdee Angkor Inn, Siem Reap, Cambodia at about 19.30 - over 13 hours after leaving our hotel in north Bangkok.
The return journey was a slightly quicker reverse of the above, at 9 hours, without the flat tyre and the wait for the visa as we already had that.
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