Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cambodia Border Crossings

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I now work for Hanuman Tourism in Phnom Penh. One of our more mundane tasks is to try and keep track of the myriad number of international border crossings that seem to open up almost on a monthly basis in recent times! It sounds easy enough but believe me, it ain't. Cambodia shares a border with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodian visas are available at all land borders with Laos and Thailand, but only two of the land borders with Vietnam. They are not currently available at Phnom Den. Here's a look at the international border crossings currently in operation. There are dozens of 'locals-only' border crossings between all the countries.
From Laos:
The only border crossing with Cambodia is at Voen Kham (L). Confusingly there are two Cambodian posts that service this crossing, which connects Si Phan Don in southern Laos to Stung Treng (C): one on the river (Koh Chheuteal Thom) and one on the new road to Stung Treng (Dom Kralor). The river route is rarely used these days, as minibuses ply the road.
From Thailand:
There are now as many as six land crossings between Thailand and Cambodia, but only two are popular with travellers. The border at Aranya Prathet (T) to Poipet (C) is frequently used to travel between Bangkok (T) and Siem Reap (C). Down on the coast, crossings can be made from Hat Lek (T) to Cham Yeam (C) by road, which connects to Koh Kong (C) and on to Sihanoukville (C) or Phnom Penh (C).
There are also three more remote crossings, which see little traffic: Chong Jom (T) in Surin Province to O Smach (C), connecting with Samraong (C); Choam Sa-Ngam (T) to Choam (C), leading to the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng (C); and Ban Pakard (T) to Pruhm (C) leading to Pailin (C). Bear in mind that road conditions on the Cambodian side are pretty poor.
There is also a border at Prasat Preah Vihear (C), the stunning Cambodian temple perched atop Phnom Dangkrek mountain range. This is currently just a day crossing for tourists wanting to visit the temple from the Thai side, but may open up as a full international border in the near future.
From Vietnam:
There are new border-crossing options opening up every five minutes! The most popular option is the road border linking Moc Bai (V) and Bavet (C) for quick passage between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. The most evocative route is the river crossing linking Chau Doc (V) to Phnom Penh (C) via the Mekong border at Vinh Xuong (V) and Kaam Samnor (C). There is also the rarely used option of Tinh Bien (V) to Phnom Den (C) that connects Chau Doc (V) and Takeo (C). More recently, there is the new border at Xa Xia (V) and Prek Chak (C) linking Ha Tien (V) and the island of Phu Quoc (V) with the popular Cambodian destinations of Kep (C) and Kampot (C). Finally, there is a new border just opened in remote Ratanakiri at Le Tanh (V) and O'Yadaw (C) which links Pleiku (V) with Ban Lung (C).
Tourist visas, costing US$20 and requiring one photo, are available on arrival at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports and all land border crossings except the Phnom Den/Tinh Bien border crossing with Vietnam.
It is also possible to arrange a visa through Cambodian embassies overseas or an online e-visa (US$25) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: here. Arranging a visa ahead of time can help prevent potential overcharging at some land crossings. However, this e-visa cannot be processed at certain land border crossings. Anyone planning an extended stay should get a one-month business visa for US$25, as these are easier to renew.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used the Hat Lek - kong koh Kong crossing on 21 Jan. 2008 and got caught with three other backpackers in an apparently new scam. The Cambodian immigration officials there would only accept Thai baht for the visa, at twice the usual cost, despite our protests. It was 1200 baht, about $40. Also, a share taxi to Sihanoukville, with only us four backpackers, was 1000 baht each. Expensive, but we were amazed at the lack of traffic, and people, along most of the 250km. or so route. It's a very good, new road (with bridges unfinished)with lots of business propects to follow I'm sure. All for now.