Cambodia to Vietnam Border Crossing

Well we managed the short journey to the border in a small transit carrier, full of holiday makers and other backpackers. Before we arrived at the Cambodian side, the driver asked for all our passports and also gave us an exit form to fill in. As we filled in the form, the driver asked everyone for the 1$ exit fee for the immigration service. Scam ! I just asked Michelle in a loud voice if she was willing to pay this unofficial exit fee. Everyone else in the minibus paid the dollar, but the driver just ignored the two of us, so he must have heard me and realised there may be some trouble ahead if he was going to persist.

While he was away with the passports, and the dollars to have all the passports stamped, a few travellers asked me if I had paid the fee. I explained that I hadn’t and I that I did not intend to pay anything on the Vietnam side either. This was just a scam, with so much for the driver, and so much for the greedy fat sweaty immigration officials. I would rather see the money spent on the local kids.

On the Vietnam side, we filled in the forms in front of another fat uniformed sweaty bloke, and on handing back the form duly completed, the anticipated demand came for the dollar “administration fee”. I straight away said “No Dollar!” and shook my head. The guard just about blew a gasket, pointing threateningly at me and shouting in broken English “Send you back to Cambodia, no let you go through”. I absolutely bricked it, and was shaking like a leaf, all eyes were on me. I just repeated “No Dollar” again, shaking my head and then slowly backed away from the counter. Michelle came close to me, and we both kept cool waiting to see what would happen next. As we waited patiently and nervously, a few travellers seemed to show a bit of support and also backed off without paying. Other’s seemed to think it was not worth the stress for such a small sum. It’s the principle though, and it was quite galling seeing a large laptop bag sitting on the counter stuffed full and overspilling with illegally acquired dollar bills.

Thankfully, our passports were returned. We were the last in the group to receive them, and handed back from the official with no eye contact.

I refrained from allowing myself a smug smile, let’s not aggravate the situation. We were on our way across the border to Ha Tien – with an extra $4 in our pockets 😉 For budget travellers, every cent is a prisoner.

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6 Responses to Cambodia to Vietnam Border Crossing

  1. Herve Nuttall says:

    Pete and Michelle,

    I had the same experience going from Laos to Cambodia. I just was not going to put up with the dollar for this and the dollar for that. In the end, they didn’t give me any stamps, which meant that I had technically not left Laos which meant that I could technically not enter Cambodia so I had to go all the way back to the Laos immigration, wasting a few hours. I definitely agree with the principle though. In the end I had to pay

  2. Sheila says:

    Hi Pete and Michelle, Just checking where you are.
    We have a new addition to the family, little Joseph arrived last Friday and weighed in 8 lb 2 oz by C section. We were home on Sunday afternoon as it is much easier to recover at home without all the disruptions of a busy hospital. Just taking it easy recovering and settling in. David is off with me for two weeks and is looking after us all well.
    You sound as if you are having a great time still, we are a bit sad that you are moving away but at least it will give us an excuse to save and come and visit you in a couple of years time when the baby is a little older.
    It will be one long party when you come back in the summer – David wants you to be here by 16th July as Jim is playing North Park Inverness supported by Big Country and Craig is booked for it as well so you will have to make it or there will be big trouble around here.
    Love to you both will send you a text of our new boy.

  3. bohobos says:

    Dear Mr S.O.H. Back,
    We too experienced a similar situation at the Thailand to Cambodia border. It is indeed a small world. We marched through at a ferocious pace considering the excess baggage and smuggled items we were carrying/had inserted. Some imposters wearing what resembled their father’s uniform were rather keen to extort a dollar or two from ourselves. I was appalled. I talked loudly in old colonial English, most phrases starting with “Now look here … “. The border chappie, let’s call him Dave (for legal reasons) was aghast at our non payment of bribe/entry fee. Only when he put on his rubber glove, did I decide that it was worth that extra dollar.

  4. Jo says:

    Just caught up on your blog and emails WOW – still sounds as though you are having a fantastic time, and its wonderful that Stacey and Mark can be part of your journey. Still really miss you both, but on the upside I haven’t had to listen to The Minds since last June ….. PM us to let us know when you are coming back … must go now I have a real need to listen to Jim x – Take Care, Keep Safe, Love to you all xxxx

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