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Cambodia Overland

Travelers' Reports:
Overland through the O'Smach border crossing

updated July 17, 2008

These are reports detailing experiences traveling independently between Thailand and Cambodia by way of O'Smach. This is a new crossing about 150 kilometers north and slightly west of Siem Reap that opened to foreigners of all nationalities in September of 2002. This should prove to be a convenient border crossing for those who wish to travel between Siem Reap and Laos (Vientiane, Luang Prabang) and northern Thailand (Isaan, Chiang Mai). If you'd like to share your own experiences, please e-mail them to me.

Surin to Siem Reap (July 2008):

We (two girls) did the land border crossing from Thailand (Surin) to Cambodia (Siem Reap) via Chong Jom on the 11th of April 2008. As usual Thai side went smooth. We have catch a mini bus (a little van) for 60Bahts per person from Surin at 6.10am (no extra cost for the luggage in our case). At the bus station we have met two other girls and we made arangments straight away to share a cab to get to Siem Reap. It took us around 1.30h to get to the Cambodian border and that's when the story begins.

As soon as we stepped out of the mini bus several people asked if we're going to Siem Reap. One of the touts followed us since then to the Cambodian side until he realized that he won't earn any money on us (suprisingly he didin't need any passport to cross the border). As we had our visa organised in Bangkok, we just needed to fill in an entry card (no problem). We've arrived before 8am and the Cambodian imigration office (to get the visa) opens at 8am so we had to wait 10-15min, as the other two girls needed to obtain visa. All went very easy without any 'extra' payments. Please note that the visa cost $20 or 1000bahts! As $1 costs around 30 bahts, it's not worth to pay in bahts, as you will overpay about 400bt, or around $13! We have been asked for the same amount (1000bahts or $20) in the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, so there is no scam here.

We have been lucky, as there was a couple Cambodian/Thai with kid crossing just after us and the Cambodian guy, who could speak very well in English told me that they've been asked to pay 500-600bt per person to get to Siem Reap. With this very hendy information we have crossed the border, where as we could have see before was only one/two cars and lots of motorbikes. The negotiation started very high, asking price was 5000bahts for 4 of us. We have been told that it's a Khmer New Year and that there are not many cars available, etc. We have been firm and said that we want to pay 500bahts each no more. The guy wasn't happy and he drow away. Within a seconds we have been surrounded by motorbikes offering us their service and making us feel a bit uncomfortable, as they did not leave us much space. It did not take the car man long to come back with a price of 2800bahts, however that was still too high for us and we thought that 500bahts per person is expensive enough. It took us around 30min all together, including the drive away show to get to our price.

Before we jump in the car, we have confirmed price once again 2000bahts for 4people to get to Siem Reap, yea! Happy days, as it was all getting a bit tirring. But our luck did not last long, after maybe 2min drive, the car stops (just by the first village when you cross the big fillars, which you see when you arrive at the border. It gives you filling like you're in the middle of nowhere, but you're not/but you're=Thai same same). First we tough that it's his breakfast time but no, he was looking for other customers. '1 car in Cambodia 6 people' that's what we're being told, no matter that we have negotiated the price few minutes ego. Any way after another few minutes of discussion we have no choice but to be 6 in the car, for a sligthly less money 500 Bahts each.

The driver could not find anyone, so he drove us through the whole town back to the border in search for the passangers. Not his day, as even at the border there was no one. Back to the first stop and woohoo he got one more passanger and again the waiting process begins because we're missing one more person. After several minutes the Cambodian guy, our new passanger is asking us if we're whilling to pay a bit more just to get going. We're not so happy about it, but agreeing to pay 550Bahts each just to go. The Cambodian guy told us that he paid for his trip $15+the little extra we had to put to go. Well finally on the road and does not take long for our driver to pick up a girl, I think his friend?. Any way as long as we're moving is good. The dirt roads we're passing through are really bad with very big holes, so not suprisingly after our driver silly riding we've catched a flat tire. Awesome! Any normal person would drive probably 20-30khm/hr on these roads but not Cambodians, they don't go below 40km/hr. It turns up that the spare tire in the car is not good, what a suprise! But no worries we're in Cambodia. Our driver gets the motorbike from the local people passing by and grabs the tire to go to fix it in the local shop. It looks like he has done that thousand times before. After that accident we had pretty 'smooth' ride to our destination. Only one little stop, where we have asked the driver to get some water/have a quick meal. We have been dropped off at the petrol station in Siem Reap at 1.30pm, where our driver friends, tuk-tuk's were waiting....and then we process to our choosen destination.

If you fancy to read more info about our travel, please see our blog:

Round-trip crossing O'Smach/Chong Jom (January and February 2007):

I did the land border crossing from Thailand (Sisaket) to Cambodia (Siem Reap) via Chong Jom in January 2007.  It was my virgin land border crossing and to my surprise, was a smooth journey, save for a little hiccup caused by an idiotic tout.  I was fortunate to have friends in Thailand who drove me to the border at Chong Jom so I did not have to jostle with people in the public busses or travel at unearthly hours to catch the transportation.  Aware of the notorious touts at the borders, I was wary of the throng of them surrounding me when I reached the border.  Fortunately, I have my Thai friends with me, else I am pretty they would have devoured me.  I had no problems with both the Thai and Cambodian border police - whizzed my way through with my exemption visa passport - so I was spared from the notorious 'tea money' or '1000 Baht visa' nonsense.
My real and only trouble began after my passport was stamped at the Cambodian office.  Since this border is relatively 'quieter' compared to Poipet, there are fewer means of transportation available - only cabs were available when I arrived there.  As such, travellers bound for Cambodia are at the mercy of the touts.  A tout with a crew cut head that appeared to be in his thirties or early forties, had been following me ever since I stepped foot onto the border area and insisted on driving me to Siem Reap, soon as he found out from my Thai friends that I was Siem Reap bound.  I had not spoken to any of the touts but they had been talking to my Thai friends who unfortunately, made the mistake of answering all their questions.  I had met a Swedish family at the border who was also heading for Siem Reap and had made arrangements with them to share their cab.  But that afore-mentioned tout (for simplicity of narration, we'll call him 'Jerk') totally ignored my constant replies of "No" to his offer to drive me to Siem Reap - he understood English pretty well and had been speaking with me in English - and kept pulling me and my bags towards his cab.  It was a tug-o-war walk towards the cab that was waiting for me with the Swedish family.  Although it was only a few metres from the Cambodian office to the cab, it took me about 15 minutes to get there amidst the jostliing and wrestling of getting my bags back from the tout and his cronies.  In the frenzy of getting to the cab, I had forgotten to bade my Thai friends farewell so I ran back to the Cambodian office to say my goodbye after leaving my bags in the cab with the Swedish family.  When I returned to the car afterwards, much to my chagrin, Jerk actually had the audacity to strong-arm the cab driver into not driving me.  He and his cronies had threatened the cab driver to refuse my fare and were starting to grab my bags from the cab.  Naturally, I was furious when I learnt of this.  Despite my protests and increasingly not-so-polite retorts to their 'offer' to drive me to Siem Reap, Jerk and his rowdy gang were insistent on making me their passenger and proceeded to grab my bags.  By now, the cab driver and the Swedish family was beginning to feel afraid of Jerk and his cronies as they had turned hostile. They thought they could strong-arm me, a lone girl, into taking their cab with the hostile behaviour.  The tussle carried on for a while with my defiant refusal to go with them while they kept pressuring the cab driver to go without me.  The door of the cab kept opening and closing - I was trying to open it and get into the cab while they kept slamming it close to deny my boarding.  I was so furious that I very nearly kneed Jerk where it hurts most in the male anatomy.  Just before I was about to do so, my Thai friends got the border police to help me.  Soon as the border police stepped in, Jerk and his cronies had no choice but to let me go with the Swedish family.  Phew!  Subsequently, it was a smooth (not literally of course!) ride to Siem Reap.  Ashamedly, I slept my way to Siem Reap so I did not manage to view much of the scenery of the journey, which the Swedish family was very excited about and kept filming and taking pictures.  The shared cab cost me 1000 Baht and I paid the family USD$25 as I did not have enough Baht.  About four and a half hours later, I arrived in humid Siem Reap at about 1.30pm.
A month later, I was due back in Thailand.  As my destination in Thailand was in Isaan (Sisaket), I had to use the O'Smach/Chong Jom border again.  Again, the lack of passengers for the O'Smach route meant fewer transportation options.  Unlike Poipet-bound travellers, there are no busses available, only pick-up trucks and cabs.  However, it is easier travelling to the border than from the border.  You can find pick-up trucks and cabs more easily and cheaper (as there are people to share the ride).  I was hesitant to take the pick-up trucks after hearing the 'hernia risks' and discomfort associated with it so my preference was towards the cabs. And as luck would have it, I met Jerk again at the O'Smach bound transportation hub.  Again, he tried to strong-arm me into taking his cab, in the same manner he had done so a month ago.  He certainly has a way of convincing people to take his cab.  As I remembered him vividly, I was insistent that I would not take his cab.  Fortunately, I had my Cambodian friend with me and he spoke to those cab drivers in Khmer and got me a shared cab in the end.  Jerk nearly pulled the same stunt of getting the other cab drivers not to drive me again in order to force me to take his cab.  Luckily, the cab driver this time did not seem intimidated by him (he was alone this time) and proceeded to accept me as his fifth passenger after agreeing with my friend to take me.  I paid for two seats to take the front seats - one for my bag and one for myself.  Although this cab driver seemed pretty nice, I was still wary to leave my bag locked in his trunk.  We left Siem Reap at about 8.45am after a 45-minute wait for the rest of the passengers to arrive.  In the back row, four adults and one kid were squashed into the seat.  Don't ask me how they managed to do that for five hours.  It's beyond me. 
This ride to the border was more uncomfortable than the one from the border.  Our cab made many stops along the way for the driver to take his smoking breaks and a man in the back who kept wanting to get to his bags in the trunk.  For the frequent stops made, the driver made up with fast driving.  We were travelling at about 80km/h most of the time.  I had also caught sight of the speedometer clocking 100km/h several times.  Ordinarily, I would have loved the fast driving but not this time, not on pot-holes-filled dirt roads.  The high-speed driving meant more 'rollercoastery' ride with harder jerks each time we hit a pot-hole.  Again, I slept through the whole journey as I have found it to be the easiest way to make it through the arduous travelling.  Time passes faster when you are sleeping and semi-oblivious to the tumultuous travelling on the pot-holes-filled roads.  Of course, I was not sound asleep and was vaguely aware of the bumpy ride but still, it was better than being awake and having to entertain the rest of the passengers and the driver who kept wanting to talk to me in Thai/Khmer, which I do not understand at all.  Bear in mind that all these were taking place amidst the cab's super loud radio -  the driver blasted his radio through the car's speakers - that were located right before me in the front seat - atypical to the Thai/Cambodian way of 'listening to music', a deafening level of goodness-knows-how-many decibels.  Enough to drive me to jam my ears with ear-plugs after the noise was assaulting my eardrums so badly for 20 minutes - I could not care if I appeared to be rude anymore.  I have decided that the safety of my ears is more important than courtesy.  Subsequently, I reached O'Smach/Chong Jom at about 1pm.  Upon arrival at the border, I paid my fare to the driver and proceeded to the Cambodian office for my passport to be stamped.  The border police were having a siesta but did not give me any problems with the stamps (thanks again to my visa-exemption status).  Again, no trouble with the Thai side too.  And that's my rather smooth encounter with the land border crossing at O'Smach.  Of course, the toa webby certainly helped me a lot in making the trip possible with all the kind information detailed.  Gordon has been particularly helpful when I sought his help and advice on the border crossing.  All in all, I would say that my land border travels have been pretty good.  I would definitely recommend doing it for the experience.

Another Surin to Siem Reap (November 2006):

We took a local bus from Surin to the Chong Chom (Thai ) / O Smach (Cambodian) borders. Cost us 60 Baht each but had to pay an extra 60 Baht for the luggage which took up an extra place. No hassle at the border crossing - very quickly through but once we got to the Cambodian side we were a bit stuck as it seems that very few travellers pass thru and so the taxi drivers can ask you for anything. It started off at 3000 Baht for the Taxi and no other passengers - then after waiting around for nearly one hour bartering here and there - we were offered a taxi for ourselves (no one else around anyway!) for 2000 Baht. We agreed - set off in a mercedes - pretty decent car - swopped drivers about 2 kms into the trip and assured that we would be the only ones in the back seat.... . Seemed to take forever, via Anlong Veng - although seems a long detour we think that the road to Sisophon is probably horrendous and so they usually take you East to the next border town before dropping south to Siem Reap! Thought we were being taken for a ride at one point - scuse the pun, but the roads were so poor and we seemed to be travelling for hours through very remote forests etc. However, hang in there and you will arrive. We left Surin at 7.15am, left the Cambodian Border at 10am had a lunch break at Anlong Veng (not realising the significance of the town for the Khmer Rouge), and finally reached Siem Reap at 5.15pm. A heck of a ride down the bumpiest of dirt roads - but a great adventure all the same, And yes we did manage to keep the back seat for the two of us and no one /nothing was picked up throughout the journey.

Surin to Siem Reap (August 2006):

I recently crossed the border between the southern part of Isaan, Thailand and Cambodia (22/8/2006). What follows is my account.

We left from Surin by official transport at 8 o'clock in the morning. It's a minivan that takes you straight to the border crossing and leaves from the the Surin bus terminal close to the Surin train station. They charged us 110 Baht a person for the a trip that took about 2 hours. The minibus stopped a couple times along the way to pick up or drop of passengers.

When we arrived at the border crossing there weren't a lot of people there, so the border crossing went pretty smooth. When you get your exit stamp you have to cross a large square to get to the Cambodian side. I had my visum arranged in my country of origin so I only had to fill out the arrival immigration form. 10 minutes after arrival I was on Cambodian soil.

At the Cambodian side some guy was trying to sell us taxi service to Siem Reap. They charged 2400 Baht for a taxi ride in a Toyota Camry. Since there were no other Siem Reap bound visitors around I took the offer. The trip to Siem Reap by taxi is somewhat of an experience on it's own. It took about 5 hours, excluding lunch break, through muddy roads filled with potholes.

The driver we got (another guy than the one that did the taxi sales) first stopped to load the trunk full of old televisions, why exactly remains completely unclear to me... Then he headed for the gas station where he attempted to "loan" 500 Baht from me for gasoline. I had already payed the taxi sales person 500 Baht (of the 2400) in advance for gas and informed the driver of that fact (meanwhile I had already noticed that there was a 1000 Baht banknote on the cash register at the gas station). After some convincing he backed down and we were on our way. The first part of the journey was to Anlong Veng. During the trip we picked up another Cambodian who also needed a taxi ride. The driver continuously honked the horn and didn't stop for anything, one time we actually hit a dog, the driver didn't mind nor slowed down. Once in Anlong Veng we had a quick lunch at a restaurant that looked pretty clean (UNICEF personal was also having lunch there apparently).

The next part was straight to Siem Reap through some very muddy terrain (we picked up two new Cambodians along the way). Lots of cars got stuck, but our driver miraculously didn't get stuck for even a second along the way.

In Siem Reap the driver dropped the Cambodian passengers of and dispersed the touts that swarmed around the car to get me into a tuk tuk or whatever. One of them popped is head through the door but was quickly dismissed.

All and all the trip was rather nice, good view of the country side of northern Cambodia. I recommend taking the Camry taxis, if not, you WILL have a hernia.

In and out again, an English teacher's account (February 2006):

This is my account of crossing the boarder both ways in a week’s time. February 1, 2006 and February 7, 2006.

The road is very dusty and would be hell in the back of a pickup also during wet season the road would be garbage and the cost to travel would be higher and much longer. During the dry season do not listen to the touts when they say the road is bad this is a typical Cambodian back road highway and they are only bad to foreign travels.

The night before crossing I stayed at Pirom’s Guest house better accommodation can be found cheaper and nearer to the bus station. I talked to a gentlemen traveler that was staying there. Pirom’s has more character than any other accommodation in Surin and reliable information and good English too. Rising early the next morning to catch first bus to the boarder (leaves 5:55 am) I met 3 other travelers and quickly maid arrangements to get a share taxis with them once at the boarder. The bus to the boarder takes about an hour and a half stopping at one bus station for 20 minutes on the way and anytime someone wants on or off. Once you arrive at the Thai boarder crossing fill out any paper work (customs papers) and present them at the check point. Once our stampped out and head over to the Cambodia station which there should be enough taxis touts to help everyone in your group. (They work for the boarder police) I have read that the boarder police can ask for more money, just be confident when you hand over your US $20.00 dollar bill as paying with Thai baht is a rip off. I tried to find US money in Surin the night before but none of the banks had US money but wanted to change US to baht if you had any you wanted to get rid of. (Siem Reap has all the US money you could want.) Once all the paper work was done Negotiation began with the head Taxi tout 2200 baht was his starting price we had determined to pay 1200 baht so the game began and when they would not move off 2000 baht we said will walk till we find someone else. 5 steps and we had someone for 1600 baht still to high we worked on this guy until the head tout ran to the boarder police and back to us saying 1400 baht. We decide this was a decent price and ask the second tout if he could meet this price he declined so we went with the head tout. Loading are bags into the Toyota Camery and stopping at the gas station across the last boarder check we filled up (included in the 1400 baht price but we were asked to pay up front the cost of gas) with gas and off to the races we go. (A good looking bath room can be found at this gas station). Roads were in better shape than I expected and travel times were a good 3 hours at a rally sport pace. When we got to Siem Reap and I was dropped off at Jasmine Guest house (better than average) for the week. Then it was back Osmach to return to teach English in Thailand. The taxi stand for Osmach is near the bus station with no foreigner around. Do not walk as it is a long way from anything. I walked but it would have been better to get a moto driver to take me there. You might give the moto some extra riel to help you negotiate instead of doing it your self as I tried the first time with out much success and after walking to the bus station and finding nothing their but Khemmer people wait for small over loader buses I started to walk back to the taxi stand (corner of the street) and a moto driver picked me up and drove for free because he received payment for bring me back to the taxi stand. I wanted to pay 800 baht as I speak a little Thai and they speak very little English we were negotiating in Thai English Khemmer and Confusion. They wanted 1600 baht and I came up to 1000 baht they were not moving I really had no choice as no one in Siem reap will mess with Osmach taxi for under $60.00 Us dollars. So being alone on this deal I moved to 1200 baht finally settling at 1300 for a trip to Osmach. (Btw the drivers will look at you as if they want a tip at the end of a trip). I told them to pick me up at the guest house and they not knowing where it was gave me a free ride back to my guest house which beat a long boring walk back. And I arrange to be picked up at 5:30 am as I wanted to get to the boarder early as possible to catch a bus back to Ubon from Surin. The ride went well we stopped one time for the driver to eat at Along Veong. I did not eat as I wanted to get to the boarder with no problems (bowel) and catch my bus. Once at the boarder drop off and proceeded to Boarder Police without no problems and into Thailand for a 2 hour wait for a bus that probably came before I arrived. Getting there early might have solved this problem at they told me only 2 buses a day leave from the Thai side. After waiting for 2 hours a bus showed up but not heading north so finally a moto tout said there is a shuttle to the next city with a bus station via a mini van bus with air condition. I ‘m game for 40 baht. Once in Prasat I caught a bus onto Ubon by passing Surin.

Siem Reap to O'Smach (January 2006):

Boarded a pickup truck from the gas station on the main road before turning to the Bus Station. Inside from $8, probably could have negotiated better. Arrived at 8 am, pickup left at 8:45. Two hours later arrived to Kralanh. Another two hours to Samraong. 1.5 hours later to the O'Smach border. I was the only one crossing and no hassles. Crossing the other way, I clearly saw signs advertising the Cambodian visas for $20, so doubtful of scams.

The road was terribly dusty. A passing vehicle would cause zero visibility for 5 seconds. I highly recommend inside albiet crowded, 3 (including driver) in front row. Four in back row. Please note, the back row has no leg room and virtually no seat padding.

Nevertheless a fun experience and a good way into Northern Thailand. On the Thailand side, minivan buses leave to Surin every 30 minutes on a paved road.

Siem Reap to O'Smach (January 2006):

We took it easy: In Siem Reap, we asked a group of taxi drivers and a number of travel agents about taxi fare to O'Smach. For two of us, the most expensive wanted $100; the cheapest $80 - if we had the knack for haggling, we may have got it cheaper. We eventually went with a travel agent who was looking for $80. We reluctantly paid up front for the trip the evening before.

A Toyota Camry picked us up at our guest house (can't remember the name) at about 8am. This got us to the O'Smach crossing around noon. The trip which was a bit bumpy but relatively comfortable. It seems a lot but we were happy to pay this for a direct route and to avoid the dreaded pickup trucks.

The driver was a young guy with little or no English and he stopped for a 20 minute break in a small village about half way to our destination. Would probably do the same thing again if faced with the same journey.

Quick note (December 2005):

Just a quick one for anyone exiting through OSmach. Share taxi from S.R. is 4-5$ per seat, journey time three hours with a snack stop. Anlong Veng is not the nicest place I've visited in the kingdom, the moto driver who claimed me on arrival being typical of most, but not all, of the folks in town, a rip off merchant who thought, and I quote, "Ta Mok was a great guy, and things were a lot better up here when he was around".  There are a few places to stay and eat, the pick of the bunch being the hotel just over the bridge, as you leave town, and the restaurant next door, run by a great guy, Oun, who put me on to the scams and served excellent food. Moto dop to O Smach is 10$ and journey time was two and a half hours. The ride was really good and made up for the time in Anlong Veng.

By Bicycle (October 2005):

I rode my bicycle from Surin to Samroang on October 19. Taking the long way it was 70 km to Kap Choeng. On a bike it's best to go straight to the Immigration guy in the booth in the middle of the road. He will send you over to be stamped out at the booth to the left.
After stamping out of Thailand it is over to the a bunch of Cambodian guys in a booth just before the fence. They will then point you to the visa on arrival booth which is on the left hand side of the road, although by this time a tout will have attached himself to you, who will also guide you through the process.
At the visa booth, the guy gave me the form, which I filled out, and handed back with a photo. The only thing they said to me was "you pay money". I gave him a crisp $20.00 bill, and they gave me back my passport with a visa in it. Nothing else asked for.
I cross the street to be admitted into the country and filled out the landing form and waited while that was processed. Once I was admitted into the country, my tout asked me if I want a beautiful Khmer lady. I didn't take him up on the offer as I was in a hurry.
After being admitted to the country it's down the big hill where some more immigration guys will want to look at your passport.
If on bike get some water here. The ride to Samroeng is 40 km. The road is fine for the first 7 km but quickly turns to shit. At the intersection with the road to Anlong Veng (20 km) you have a big choice of food and drink spots. There is also some stores along the route.
Samroeng has three guesthouse now all across the street from on another. The road from Samroang to Highway 6 is OK and the distance between the two spots is 75 km, drink and food all along the way. On highway 6 I continued on to Sisophon, this is the worst conditioned road I have ever been on.

Avoiding Poipet (October 2005):

...We caught an early bus to the border (40B). We got there around 10am, and the trip through Cambodian immigration was uneventful. No hassles, no con games. The Thai immigration man told us a taxi to Siem Reap was 2500B which seemed high. A tout found us searching for a taxi or pickup and offered his services. There probably was an early truck going to Siem Reap but we were too late. The tout said the road was muddy and took seven hours (no lie) and cost 3000B. We offered 2500B and the driver accepted (we later met another couple who paid the same so maybe this is the going rate now). Anyway, not a bad investment because the car was good and the road pretty bad, not even a road in some spots. We drove south on a muddy track through dense jungle, then south on a sandy trail that entered Siem Reap province. No asphalt till Puok, near Siem Reap. Cool experience, the road went through numerous tiny villages. Ox carts and pony carts were the usual vehicles we passed. A nice way to enter Cambodia...

The full story can be read here: Chiang Mai to O'Smach and through to Koh Kong Sept 1- 18 2005

Surin to Siem Reap by moto (April 2004):

There is a regular bus from Surin to the Chom Jom Border Pass, it leaves about 5 times a day, takes 2 hours and costs 30 baht (Pirom of Pirom's guesthouse in Surin was a lot of help!). The bus goes directly to the border where it's only a few meters between the Thai and Cambodian immigrations. The Cambodian visa on arrival cost me 1,100 baht (maybe negotiable, I didn't try), you need one passport sized photo and it all works out quickly. I was the only tourist there at that time and the officials were really friendly.

Already when I was getting off the bus at the border, there were 2 or 3 touts screaming "Angkor Wat?" at me, trying to arrange transport to Siem Reap. The asking price was 1000 baht to go by motorbike, 2500 for a taxi (one person). I guess it's no problem bargaining down these prices but as I' m very bad at bargaining ;-( I agreed on the 1000 baht and took the moto. The driver awaited me at the Cambodian side and the touts asked me to hand him the money in advance. This usually isn't the best of ideas but they made me do it.

The landscape for about the first hour of the ride was just fantastatic, although I couldn't really enjoy it, as I feared the moto would dump and abandon me somewhere in the jungle, as he already got his fare.

But he turned out to be a nice guy - although he didn't know much English - and we made a stop at his family's house and the invited me for lunch.

The whole trip took about 6.5 hours and was a great experience for me. But my bum still hurt after 2 days so I cannot recommend it wholeheartedly...

Thailand to Siem Reap and funny taxi prices (February 2004):

We arrived late in the morning at the very quiet crossing. The Thai officials just wanted to know if we were there for the usual visa run or a longer journey to Cambodia. After we told them we were going to Siem Reap the stamps were quickly arranged. As soon as we left the Thai post we were asked by a Khmer if we wanted transport to Siem Reap. We said that we hadn't yet made our minds up and wanted to first clear the Cambodian paper work. The latter posed no problem as we were the only clients. We (of course) had to pay 1100 Baht for the visa (100 Baht tea money?) and were quickly back in the hands of our taxi-broker. We were not sure if it was wise to hit O'Smach first but we asked about the price.

We were shown a brand new Toyota Camry with clean shaven, white shirt wearing taxi driver. The price was 100 USD for Siem Reap. We said that this was out of the question and wanted to take a taxi to O'Smach market. The price was suddenly lowered to 50 USD and after we said 20 we settled for 30 USD (10 bucks each, it seemed a reasonable deal to us). We were told to wait and after 15 minutes a pick-up arrived with a new driver. The promised Toyota and friendly driver suddenly appeared to be a hoax. We didn't make any fuzz about it because we wanted to arrive in Siem Reap before nightfall. So we hit the road.....we left at 11.30 hrs and arrived in Siem Reap at 16.30 hrs making only two stops (one in Samrong for water and one in Kralanh for some food and toilets). The road from O'Smach to just after Samrong was fine, a dirt road but at least flattened, after we saw a couple of Thai Caterpillars the road suddenly worsened untill Kralanh but large stretches were still quite okay. From Kralanh to maybe 20 km before Siem Reap the road appeared very bad to me (as an unexperienced Cambodia traveller). There were no hassles for guesthouses, the main problem was in fact that many places were totally filled up because of the new year festivities. We had an excellent holliday and no troubles at all.

Siem Reap to O'Smach by way of Anlong Veng (July 2003):

I took the road from Siem Reap to O'Smach on July 20-21, 2003. It was fun! The road north to Anlong Veng was rutted but not very muddy, helped no doubt by five preceding days with almost no rain. The messiest bits were where the road detours around bridges which are being rebuilt. I paid $7 to sit in the second row of the cab. At Anlong Veng I got a guest house ($4) and a moto driver ($6) to ride up to Pol Pot's house and ashes. That road is quite awful once you leave the plain (if on a moto, wear closed-toe shoes!) but the view from the top of the escarpment is beautiful. Very little English is spoken in Anlong Veng.

The next day I got the same moto guy to take me to O'Smach for $9. First we rode due west on a very smooth road through nice forest and little huts by the side of the road. Many piles of cut lumber waiting by the roadside to get picked up. After an hour we changed to a smaller and more pitted road heading north-east into the hills. 45 more minutes got us to O'Smach, where there were no hassles crossing the border. There are motos and pickups on the Thai side to take you where you need to go; the nearest town with a bus station seems to be Pra Sat, on Thailand route 24.

I put some photos from the trip on the web here, from picture 6364 onward.

Easy going and confirmation that the border has remained open (February 2003):

Feb 5 2003, we crossed at O'Smach border checkpoint into Thailand. The border was open to foreigners only, much to the displeasure of the casinos and lingering motos.

We started with a pick-up from a taxi stand a little way out of Siem Reap - this taxi stand was not the one near the river as we had been advised.... We paid 8 bucks each, which the driver and other passengers thought was quite a nice price indeed. We left at 8.15, getting to O'Smach at about 2.30-3, including a lunch stop. The road gets progressively worse, many bridges are unstable or down. But we still made good time I thought and it was never so rough as to be uncomfortable. Our fellow passengers in the cab and the driver laughed for 5 hours straight.

There is one village a few hours from SR that had an old tank rusting in the middle of the road. Half an hour further on temple ruins can be seen on the left side of the road.

The pickup driver dropped us at the bottom of the hill in O'Smach. There are moto guys who will run you up the hill to the border crossing. There was no funny business from the Cambodian guards vis a vis passport stamps. All very quiet up there. The only other person crossing was a foreign casino worker. We got a lift with the very kind casino worker and arrived in Surin at about 4.

Exiting at O'Smach, some good advice (January 2003):

The good points:

It takes about 4h 30min to reach the Thai border (driving really quickly), it cost us 7 USD on a pick-up truck that picked us up at Angkor Wat Guest House itself; the crossing is dead easy and since it's new there are no queues at all. A pick up will take you from the Thai border to Surin for 100 Baht.

The bad points:

Our bottoms hurt quite a lot since the road is pretty bad, the bridges we crossed were pretty scary to say the least (extra adrenalin rush for free). The driver was going far too fast for my liking. And, finally, the area is full of landmine signs, so if you need to go to the toilet....do it on the road itself!

But overall, it seemed much easier to go to Pakse in Lao this way, rather than going to Stung Treng from Siem Reap. A VERY IMPORTANT point: we did the trip inside the pick up truck. We could have gone at the back for 5 USD. Travellers, my advice is: do not do it, your bottoms will hurt even more, you will have to fight for space with people, hens, foodstuff etc and you will be covered in dust.

To Thailand from Siem Reap (December 2002):

Crossing Osmach was very easy. Well you have to except that 10 persons have to check your passport and as the time was 4:45 pm and you know that the Thai border closes 5 pm, sharp I ask them please to hurry up. We came through without any problem. The transport was in a pickup from Siem Reap through Samrong, so it was another way than you described. Sometimes you really felt like travelling on that way God did forget. We paid overprice 15 dollars each?????

From Thailand to Anlong Veng (December 2002):

After reading your piece on Anlong Veng and surroundings I went there, coming from Surin (Thailand) through the newly (for foreigners) opened border. No real problem there - $20 visa on arrival, but they could not resist to ask openly for 100 baht stamp fee - w/o receipt for "drink money".

After the border crossing, of course things changed a bit. It was approximately 1pm - no public transport to Anlong Veng seemed to be available. So a motorcycle for $8 each, a 2 hour trip, had to suffice. Road is rather terrible and this was in the dry season.

In Anlong Veng there are now 3 guesthouses ($ 3/day ) and 1 real nice restaurant at the north end of town with a nice large terrace overlooking the lake.

I followed your suggested trip schedule to check the sites [Gordon here: See my Anlong Veng page]. Everything is as you reported, except there was no police hassle or military checks at all. At the viewpoint there is a military encampment, supposedly charged with improvements to the infrastructure - but of course nobody does anything at all. The major in charge of this outfit runs a bar (of sorts) complete with karaoke and cold drinks for the visitors right at the viewpoint. No problems. Buy a few drinks and chat, perhaps have your picture taken on a digital camera showing yourself and your new buddy (the major) having a beer will be a good insurance for trouble free travel on the mountain. I did not have to use this insurance policy but felt good to have it.

It might be a good idea to let future travelers know that this little excursion takes at least 5-6 hours and your bum will hurt afterwards from the moto ride up and down the mountain.

So back in town I want to get on to Siem Reap - it is 2 pm by now . No transport today - sleep one more night (no AC, electricity only from 6 pm to sunup - theoretically). Take taxi at 7 am. No, I do want to go now -- ok, taxi will cost $35. OK, I go. At least I have the AC cab for myself, but a little side income is of course created by additional passengers along the road.

You drove 2.5 hours -- you must have been driving right behind the graderblade !!!!I It took 5 hours - driving like a possessed maniac to get to Siem Reap not too long after dark.

The road is terrible. Big trucks sunk down to the frames are stuck in the road. Potholes to hide VW beetles in and often total washout right at the bridges. Why is that so - at almost every bridge the road is in much worse shape than otherwise?

So that's that -use the info if you want to.


Thanks. Keep 'em coming.


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