Laos to Cambodia - Border Crossing Facts
Negotiate a river by following its bends, enter a country by following its customs - Cambodian Proverb
Welcome to my first published blog post! Since this is fresh in my mind, I will start with a bit more factual post of the Laos to Cambodia border crossing and I'll discuss the actual 15 hour adventure in the next post.
So here it goes...
There are no ATMs at the border, make sure you have USD, or enough Laos Kip to be converted into USD. Best bet, have American dollars!
You do not need to use the services of an agent to obtain your visa. While waiting for the bus, a man aka an "Agent" will start passing out border crossing forms and telling you to fill them out. So fill them out, but keep them DO NOT give them back to the "Agent" as he is going to charge you $40 USD to do the whole thing for you instead of the $35 USD. This "Agent" was not honest in telling people of what he his role was. Basically, like lemmings, foreigner after foreigner passed over their passport to him. He does no extra service, other then giving the officer your passport and say it will be quicker. However, everyone is on the same bus and leaves at the same time so it will NOT be any faster. Luckily I read about this prior, so we did the visa process ourselves.
The bus will drop you off at the Laos border, here is where you will obtain your exit stamp. Technically, there is no fee to stamp you out, but it's Laos, so you will be required to pay $2 USD for the stamp. Note: You might get lucky and not have to pay what essentially is a bribe.
Once the ridiculous stamp is obtained you are required to walk through "No Mans Land," basically the area which is neither Laos nor Cambodia. P.S. You will be carrying all of your possessions, but don't worry they don't check anything!
As you approach the Cambodian border you are directed to get an "Ebola" test. What I like to call a waste of $2 USD and a fun game of where are they going to point this toy. Again, this is another way to make you pay for something unnecessary BUT you can skip paying the $2 USD by saying your passport is with the guy, and just point ahead of you. (We did this since they think that the Agent is doing the visa for you). You will receive this yellow piece of paper, which is your "evidence" that you do not have Ebola.
There are two huts that you will need to go to. The first one, on your right is the hut where you receive the stamp for after you obtain the visa. The hut that is further back is where you obtain your visa. Yes, the order doesn't make much sense, but again why would it?
They will hand you a form that is the same as the one the Agent made us fill out. (So if you still have that form then you can use it.) Fill out that form and hand it back to the side window with your passport photo and $35 USD. The price for the visa, for every country is $35 USD not $30 as what most read or paid for at the Cambodian Embassy. The extra $5 USD is for the "unnecessary stamp," regardless, even if you already have the visa. If you don't have a passport photo you can pay $2 USD and they will take one for you.
The other officer in the hut will start filling out the sticker, placing it in your passport and then adding 3 more stamps to it. After which, you will proceed back to the first hut to fill out a second form, again if you have the form from before you can just use that. Here is where you receive your exit stamp, and a form stapled into your passport wherever they feel fit - in my case attached to my Vietnam visa.
As you walk across the border, another officer will walk over to see your stamp and visa. The officer will do it again once you are on the bus.
Overall, you can do the border crossing without the use of an "Agent." It takes the same amount of time, since you all wait for everyone anyways. For us it took around 3 hours, so remember the whole process takes time!
Note: They don't really read the forms, so you can be creative with your occupation, perhaps Cat Owner, or Batman.
Total Cost = $39 USD