Vietnam Cambodia land border is notorious for its scams. And this scams are more like the norm than exceptions. Vietnam Cambodia land border scams are just surprisingly too common. There are plenty of forums on trip advisor and other travel communities dedicated to these frauds/scams. I was well read and mentally prepared for such a scenario. This was also one of the reasons, I applied for an eVisa as a precaution for both Vietnam & Cambodia. Some of that research and preparation did pay off though as we did face this situation…
Vietnam Cambodia Land Border Scams – Before reaching the border?
We had taken a bus from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) to Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
Land border crossing point was Moc Bai (Vietnam) – Bavet (Cambodia). It’s not as scary as most blogs put it but it’s not straightforward either.
- The Vietnam Cambodia Land Border Scams start the moment the bus starts. Initially the cleaner will approach you asking for the passports and $35 to pay for Cambodian visa.
- This is anyways $5 above the actual fee of $30. I told him we already have an eVisa, but then he said that we need to pay $1/person to get the exit stamp at Vietnam border. He tried to scare me by saying that it will take a lot of time and the bus will leave me if I don’t get it done in time. But I said I’ll handle it myself.
- He did not ask any money from the locals on the bus. Some other foreigner’s Japanese and British decided to pay the money anyways. We were the only ones in the bus who decided to do it on your own. Well, thats what backpacking is, isn’t it?
Vietnam Cambodia Land Border Scams – Reaching the immigration check-post at the border.
- When we arrived at Moc Bai, the Vietnamese officer demanded $5 to stamp the passport. When I told him I had already paid for eVisa he still didn’t budge; meanwhile the cleaner of my bus was getting other passengers passport stamped in their absence. The officer stamped passports of the local and some white folks without asking for money.
- The official kept saying $5 (5 Dolllaaa) in his Vietnamese accent and I decided to film it. As soon as I started my mobile cam, another officer (probably his accomplice & colleague) started shouting at me.
- He pointed me to a sign – No video recording and mobile usage allowed. He was very rude but I think that got the first officer worried and he sent me to another counter.
- Same story repeated again. I was finally getting frustrated and thought of paying the money. But decided against it since I had already stuck for so long.
- So after another 5 mins of repeating the same thing – I have already paid for eVisa, I won’t pay again, he stamped our passport. Hurraaaayyyyy!!!
How to prepare/prevent yourself from these Vietnam Cambodia Land Border Scams
- The best way to avoid Vietnam Cambodia Land Border Scams is to use only reputed bus providers.
- Giant Ibis is the best but a tad expensive ($18-24 – modern buses with water & snacks). Mekong express is next best and little cheaper ($12-15) but very old buses) but still you will have some cleaner/driver trying to make money of you.
- The queue at the borders isn’t that long and depends on the no of buses arriving at the same time. On an average you can get the stamps in 15 mins each side. The cleaners will try to pressurise & scare you, but if you have decided not to pay, then stick to your guns.
- A German guy, I met in Phnom Penh in my hostel said that Faking a call to the embassy or threatening to call the embassy also works and he had tried that on the border crossing.
Some of you might be thinking – Was all this hassle really worth $1/person. Frankly definitely not, but it was a duo backpacking trip and the whole idea of the entire trip was to do things on our own and do it the right way.
If you would have been in my place, what would you have done? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.