It is commonly known that border officials are somewhat corrupt both in Cambodia and Laos. There’s one border crossing between these countries, Voeung Kam – Dom Kralor, and by nature is one that can freely ask for bribes (when not presented – no crossing will be possible).
Both sides ask for “exit or entry stamp fees”, which are unofficial. Although commonly it is $1 for each side, sometimes they ask for $2. This was the case when I crossed. Having known that it’s likely they will ask for a stamp fee, which really is a bribe, I found a way to waive this, which was 50% successful.
Once I reached the hut where border official stationed (yes, it’s really small crossing), I said that I have no problem with paying as long as they can issue a receipt for my employer. Cambodian officials waived the fee (possibly because I was leaving Cambodia and they can’t really stop me), while Laotian officials said “$2 or go back”. I paid it…
On my way back from Laos to Cambodia, I was hitchhiking and walking whenever I couldn’t get a ride. Therefore, when I arrived at the border, I said that I simply don’t
have any money before I access an ATM in Cambodia. The nearest city with an ATM is 60 km away (according to border crossing officials). I had Cambodian visa already in my passport, so didn’t have to pay for this.
Therefore, both Laotian and Cambodian border crossing officials let me go through without paying bribes.
"We left early this morning in Laos. First by boat and then by 3 minibuses...on the bumpy road towards the Cambodian border one of the backpacks fell off the roof (luckily not one of ours) and few minutes later we had a flat tire...the roads speak for themselves...
We felt a bit ripped off at the border, as the Visa was supposed to cost 20 USD and ended up being 24 USD since they would lead us through 3 different check points charging each time we passed (2 Dollars when leaving Laos, 2 times 1 Dollar when entering Cambodia). We knew this money probably goes right in their own pocket, but not much you can do about that.
The bus took us to Stung Treng and stopped at some restaurant where we were sort of expected to have lunch...Us and 2 others left on a minibus to Banlung after lunch and we also picked up Marion and Kerstin along the way. We got kind of ripped off once again, when they tried to squeeze 10 people into a minivan that was designed to be for 8...we tried making a fuss, but those guys wouldn't budge and we had no choice but to come with them - for an expensive 8 Dollars each. The ride was only 3 hours, so we survived!
In Banlung, we were dropped of at the Tribal Guesthouse and were too lazy to search for anything around, especially since that was the one that Tom (the German guy from Don Det) recommended us so we checked in, and the rooms were all right and just 5 Dollars for a double room.
It was so nice to have electricity again and a sink and a nice bathroom after the islands...amazing how we begin to appreciate silly little things like that
In the evening we had some very good dinner at the Star Guesthouse and Restaurant in town where we booked a trip for some Elephant riding the next day (10 Dollars each for 3 hours)- exiting!"
Road to Banlung
Banlung City is the provincial capital of Ratanakiri. Most visitors to Ratanakiri base themselves in Banlung City from where they make excursions/treks to Khmer Loeu villages and jungle areas, waterfalls, gem mines, and Ratanakiri's famous Yeak Laom volcanic lake. The city of Banlung is fairly small but offers some interesting shopping and a few decent hotels. The main market, Phsar Banlung, is a relatively unextraordinary traditional market offering the usual range of items for local consumption. There is one souvenir shop in front of the market, and food stalls set up in front of the market in the evening.