Cambodia-Thailand Border Crossing and Airbnb-Agoda Misadventures

Cambodia's side of the border on Poipet

It was our third day backpacking and this I swear is one of my most hassle days in 2018. I am not exaggerating that. We had a very stressful problem with our Airbnb host and Agoda booking. But first, let me start the post by narrating how we did border crossing by land!

I am always a fan of border crossing because living in the Philippines means we don't have a neighboring country that we could travel to by land so it was really fun crossing borders and observing how just by one single border changes how the way people live. This is most evident when we crossed the Laos-Thailand border. The way the drivers navigate is different from both countries. In Laos, they follow right-hand drive while in Thailand, they follow left-hand drive. So you could literally see differences by just how we changed lanes when we arrive in the border of Thailand. Little things like that fascinate me.

 Anyway, back to Siem Reap. I had to research this thoroughly because if not done right, border crossing will get more hassle. Upon searching the world wide web and countless border crossing guides, they all say one same thing, there are A LOT of scams happening. With my experience in Hanoi being scammed by a taxi driver, I know we have to be vigilant since I think this is one of the meccas of scammers. The thing is, when you cross borders, you cannot do it during an overnight trip because the immigration office will be closed by that time. Unlike airports whose immigration is manned 24/7, these border immigration offices only open in the morning and close at a certain time so better check the time to avoid problems.

Of course, the initial plan was to ride an overnight bus but since the immigration office closes at nighttime, we opt to take the day bus. There was an overnight bus but the reviews were all terrible like some would say the bus was very small, there are cases of where some of the belongings got lost, most would say they feel it is not safe, and they had to wait for the immigration office to open.

So when we established that we will take the morning bus, there's one bus line that netizens always recommend, the Giant Ibis. I cannot remember if we booked the ticket online or if we booked it via our hotel.

Giant Ibis bus ticket from Siem Reap to Bangkok
Our bus ticket

The morning of our departure, we were picked up by a tuk-tuk going to where the bus was parked. I like how they pick up passengers instead of just waiting for them to arrive. Maybe it's to avoid long waiting time and not knowing whether the passenger will show up or not?

Once we were at the place where the bus was parked, there was also a mini convenience store. We decided to get some food because it would be a very long ride. I think 8 hours more or less. Good thing we got food from the store because we had problems changing money later that day in Thailand's border.

The border is located in Poipet for Cambodia's side and Aranyaprathet for Thailand's side. The area was very busy that you should be attentive all the time. ALWAYS hold on to your belongings.

Thailand's side of the border
Thailand's side of the border

Anyway, when we arrive at the border, fortunately, we didn't encounter any issue. Since we have Philippine passports, we are entitled to a visa-free entry. However, for western people, I heard rumors about how they always have a hard time passing the border with different scams targeted to them here and there.

We had to alight the bus and go to the immigration office ourselves. They said the bus will wait for us at the other end.

I guess it took us more or less 15 minutes in the Siem Reap border then we had to walk all the way through the Thailand immigration. Now, this is where it gets interesting because, during the time we were there, there are limited signs to where you will need to go in order to go to the Thailand immigration. It was a long walk and you can easily get lost.

When in doubt, ask for people who looks like a tourist too because locals can scam you and might bring you somewhere else. Tourists might not know as well but at least you know you are with someone who is also looking for the correct place. Walk as fast as you can and move faster because remember, the bus is waiting for you.

Thailand immigration, on the other hand, is very different from Siem Reap. Well, for one, it is airconditioned. Imagine walking under the sun at a southeast Asian country, the aircon was such a relief. LOL. Also, this is where the line gets long. We are already worried about the bus leaving us but luckily there are also other passengers from the bus who are in the line.

Once we got our passport stamped, we hurriedly walked to the other end to ride the bus. The guy there told us to eat lunch first because the bus was not ready. So we looked for money changers and actually went to ALL banks and money changers we could see but they don't change Philippine Peso and Cambodian Riel to Thai Baht. LOL. We didn't have any USD with us so we are all starving. Thanks to the snacks we got from the convenience store, we managed to get through the day. The bus also took a lot of time before we were asked to ride again.

I think it was 4 or 5 PM when we arrive in Bangkok. Finally!!! It was soooo exhausting. Our first stop was Khao San Road since we were dropped off nearby, we decided to eat there first and change money. First order of business? Pad thai and mango sticky rice of course! Oh, how I miss legit pad thai. If you don't know yet, Khao San Road is like a party and backpacker street in Thailand. This is where you will most likely find cheap hostels starting from 350 baht per night. This is where we stayed when my father and I backpacked in Hanoi, Laos, and Bangkok.

Shrimp pad thai from Khao San Road

Mang Sticky Rice from Khao San Road

This time, since I am with my mother and my sister, I am pretty sure they will not like the room situation in Khao San Road. It was decent but well, you know what I mean.

After eating, we decided to go to the Airbnb place I booked. AND GUESS WHAT?! THE HOST IS NOT RESPONDING TO ME. Take note this is already 7 or 8 ish in the evening, we are dead tired, and we might not have a place to stay in for the night. It sounds funny to me now but believe my horror and my stress when I thought we had no place to stay in. What's a girl gotta do you ask? I tried contacting Airbnb. I used my PH number (which was billed 1000+) for the call I made. Huhu. To make the story short, they gave us $50 to go and book a hotel where we can stay in for the night then they will find us a place the next day in Airbnb where we can check in.

So I booked via Agoda. My patience was getting shorter and shorter and the fatigue is eating me alive. GUESS WHAT?! The hotel we booked was fully booked!!! We had to climb a flight of stairs with our luggage only to find out it was freaking fully booked. By this point, I feel like crying already. To make it worst, my card was already charged.

The people in the hotel though recommended one hotel which is just nearby. They made the call for us and told the other hotel that we are coming. Agoda, on the other hand, assured me that the payment will be refunded plus they gave a voucher I can use on my next booking. I am not pleased with the voucher, just imagine the hassle. And all the taxi fare we had to shoulder because of all this.

But thank God though because the hotel we stayed in for the night was sooooo posh and has one of the most amazing beds I slept into. THA Hotel's interiors are amazing, and again, the bed! I cannot stress this enough. LOL. Maybe it was just that we were all tired but we all agree that the bed was soft like we could sleep in all day. Unfortunately, we just have one night in this hotel and our call time the next day is early.

The hotel's details are as follows:

2 Ekamai 6 Sukhumvit 63 Phra Kanong Nua Wattana Bangkok 10110
Tel+662-7140888 Fax +662-7140999
Email: info@tha6.com

THA Hotel Lobby in Bangkok

THA Hotel interior

Everything about the hotel is aesthetically pleasing. We were able to rest at around 11-ish that day. So sad that we weren't able to maximize our stay in that hotel because our call time the next day is super early.

So that's how we spent one day in our Siem Reap-Bangkok trip last year. Good thing I still remember some of the details. Hehe.

THA hotel lobby in Bangkok Thailand

 I would say Airbnb handled our concern appropriately but I still wish this incident didn't happen. Their support calls and checks in on us, they are also very responsive. As for the host? I don't know what happened to him. He had many good reviews so I don't know what happened to him that night. All's well that end well I guess. :)

Up next: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market! 

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