Crossing over the border from Laos to Cambodia and the “Passport Visa Stamp Charge”

Standing In Laos looking south to Cambodia.

The rumors are true, crossing the Lao Cambodia border has some hick ups, be prepared to pay a “STAMP CHARGE” of 2 USD not once but twice and an additional 1USD for some medical paperwork on the Cambodian side.  All in the game of Travel my friends.

Even for the wise traveler seeking a visa prior to will have to pay. As “everyone pays my friend”. Oh and the folks who like to overstay their welcome the allotted time on your visa may be 30 days, remember that each day you overstay you will pay 10 USD. So be ready to pay.

Southern Laos Cambodian land Border check out.

I heard about the “stamp charge” and or “bribe” whatever you wish to call it. I wasn’t thrilled and even questioned it, however eventually forked over 2 USD like the twenty some odd other European sheep crossing over the border. Once you cross the no mans land on the other side  you will be presented the “same same but different” Stamp fee.

As for the 1 USD charge I showed the lady my Yellow Fever booklet and said “No Thanks” to the extra dollar. I think she was confused as all the  other herding sheep just paid out of their fat wallets. She had her boss look at my yellow fever booklet, I was waived through.

Hello Cambodia! In addition to the visa in my passport is the arrival and departure card.

So maybe you can show your booklet too and save a buck to eat your next meal in Cambodia too.  A small price but it adds up after a while when you are on the road. Minor set backs like this seem like only 4 dollars here and there but when you are a world traveling backpacker for extended time away from making money every penny counts. So whether it is legal or not, right or wrong I had to respect both countries Laos and Cambodia because that is the way they handled the border, and  quit frankly I didn’t want to miss my bus on the account of not paying a “bribe/stamp charge”. It’s all in the game of travel my friends. Enjoy.

Crossing the border from Thailand to Laos over the Mekong Rver

The process from Chiang Khong, Thailand over the Mekong River to Hauy Xai, Laos including check out and check in to the other side can be easy but also easy to miss a step, so hopefully this post will give insight on the steps you need to go through.

Once you are in Chiang Khong, you will be excited or you should be. For me I was tired and warn down from the two months in Thailand, but was feeling the blood rush as I was embarking on a new country.Depending on the means of transportation you are traveling by, more than likely if you are coming from another region the driver will drop you off on the main soi/street short of the docks. If so, you can grab a tuk tuk taxi- or walk down to customs about half a kilometer from the main drop off. From the main road, walk down the hill, stop to the left of the boat ramp at a small blue building with an overhang where you will see people filling out papers on the left and people coming up from the Mekong River and singing in on the right. Not hard to miss. Grab a form, fill out the exit requirements give your passport through the small window to the person in the customs office. You won’t need any money to exit, so hold tight, the official will review your stay and if everything is ok, they will stamp you out of Thailand.

After you are stamped out you can walk down to get a boat taxi over the river.
Then proceed down till you see some steps down to the river bank. At the waters shore are a line of taxi boats, you will see some locals sitting under a tent charging a fixed 40 Baht charge to travel across the Mekong into Huay Xai Laos. Buy the ticket, no point in negotiating, they know you NEED to cross and are not lowering their price. It’s only a five minute boat ride.

From the top of Chiang Khong, looking over the Mekong River to Laos and taxi boats.

Leaving Thailand
After buying a ticket you walk to any boat that is open, sit down on the wobbling boat, try not to be that person who falls. It happens, I saw someone spill. and get comfortable, or at least try. The trip across is a quick 5 minutes, enjoy the breeze. Once  you pick which boat to get on to remember try not to over pack all your friends into one boat, as you and your luggage will weigh it down and heaps of water will splash up into the boat as you cross. It is not fun with the water gets into the boat, I’ve seen people bucketing water out, and travelers getting their gear soaked. Just keep your backpack on, and sit one person to a bench as they are only about one meter/yard wide.

my taxi boat pulling away from the river banks of Chiang Khong thailand0

That is Thailand. Behind me is Laos, under me is the Mekong river. above me is the universe. I am here to explore them all.

Then on the other side enjoy and smile as you take your first step off the boat onto Laotian soil.

My first step into Laos from the taxi boat.

Oh yes this happens everyday here at this location I was told by an offical. People in a hurry to cross the river from Thailand to Laos forget or simply just walk past the customs check point in Chiang Khong to board the 40 Baht water taxi across the Mekong River, waiting line and find out an hour later that they have to go back and check out of Thailand. From my experience it was couple from England standing in front of me on the Laos side, like everyone else they waited in line had their entrance paper work ready and visa on arrival forms but were turned to go back across the border to get signed/stamped out of Thailand.

This was inevitably not just a hassle for them to go back across the Mekong river, up the banks wait in line check out walk through the process all over again but they lost time and missed their slow boat. thus had to spend the night in the city they hadn’t planned on and taking an extra day off their thirty day visa plans.

Checking into Customs in Huay Xai, Laos
Once off the old narrow taxi boat, Walk up the cement boat ramp, head right up some stairs, walk to the window that says VISA ON ARRIVAL  It is hear that you will fill out two different pieces of paperwork one small, one large, hand over your passport, one small ID photo, Depending on what country you come from the fee varies a few dollars, for US citizens it is 35 US Dollars. Then wait for them to review your document. You are granted a thirty day Visa on arrival. laos visa

Welcome to Laos. Visa on Arrival

Once you are checked into Huay Xai, Laos, head further up the narrow road to a second checkpoint
Yes a second check point so keep your passport out. It is just a precaution for them to make sure everyone checked in so hand your passport to the guard. He will review the passport, they double check your documentation then waive you through. Make your way to the top of the street to a three way intersection. if you go any further you will be walking up over 100 steps to a temple.

if you have come to thses steps rejoice you are now checked fully into Laos.

 So stop there and breath, then turn around and look at Thailand across the mighty Mekong River.

Stand proud traveler, you made it! Pat yourself on the back or give your buddy and a local a high five.

Entering into Turkey from Greece.

Crossing the border went pretty smooth, I could make complaints but really is it worth the time to write. Overall the trip was a success and the country side was beautiful. Then we hit the city and wow the city was huge, I thought I had seen sprawling city scapes before. But Istanbul spread far and wide like nothing I’d ever seen.

border crossing greece to turkey

crossing the border from Greece into Turkey

Turkish countryside west of Istanbul

Turkish countryside west of Istanbul

Turkish countryside west of Istanbul

Turkish countryside