Asia Cambodia Destinations Laos

GUIDE FROM DON DET TO SIEM REAP – Times, Prices, and Rip-offs.

The journey from Don Det to Siem Reap is really straightforward and simple.
Even if the immigration officers pocket a little extra money from you…. and they will.

Let me start by saying I don’t know the name of the bus company I took.
Everyone that left Don Det with me were all on the same bus to the border.
Once we were in Cambodia we were also all on the same bus until Stung Treng.
At Stung Treng is when people transferred buses to their specific bus companies.

Don Det to Siem Reap. Sunset over the rivers around Don Det, Laos.

Don Det to Siem Reap begins.

8 am boat departs Don Det.
8:30 am arrive at Ban Nakasang bus stop.
10 am bus arrives.
The Laos/Cambodian border is only 19 km away.
10:30 am arrive at border.

There were some guys with a table set-up outside the immigration office windows. 
They were offering to help with visas(for a fee) and talking all types of bullshit.
Don’t listen to them at all.
Just wait in line and approach the immigration window.

As you wait in line you might see a purple sign that mentions certain “Service Fees”.
It looks legit, but a couple of us weren’t believing it to be real.
So we decided to test our luck and refuse to pay the OUTRAGEOUSLY Mind-Blowing “$2 Exit Fee”.

Don Det to Siem Reap. Purple billboard of different Service Fees.

Maybe we were bored, but a British couple and I argued about this fake fee with the immigration officers.
Everyone knew the officers had the upper hand, but we were persistent.
Eventually we decided to sit back and let everyone else go through and then we attempted again.
We figured since everyone else was gone(and already lined their pockets) they’d get sick of us and let us through without the extra charges.
But they held their ground and eventually we paid.

Well played guys.
Well played.

It wasn’t about the money, it was the principle.
And honestly it was a little funny too.

Crossing from Laos to Cambodia.

As you approach the Cambodian Immigration Office there might be people telling you to go to the Medical Booth.
It’s basically a $1 scam.
They give you a paper to fill out about your health and try to charge you a dollar to stamp it.
It’s not official, so you can skip it and walk right into the immigration building.

Once you’re in the building you fill out a visa form, hand over your paperwork and passport, and get ripped-off again.
The immigration officers charged an extra $5 on our $30 Visa for some goofy reason.
I think they said it was because we were crossing by land(any excuse to make you pay more).
It also could have been a “processing fee”, but I’m sure the extra money was pocketed.

The British guy from earlier attempted to argue with these guys too.
But these immigration officers weren’t having it.
One guy grabbed his passport, slammed it on the table, and screamed “YOU PAY”.

I immediately busted up laughing, because the room had a really big echo.
So his screaming sounded even more dramatic than it was.
I’m sure those officers use that tactic all the time.

Once you’re done with them you go to another set of windows.
That is where you fill out a entrance/departure form, get your picture taken, visa stamped, and passport given back.
After messing around with immigration, we were officially in Cambodia at 11:45 am.

Don Det to Siem Reap. Welcome to Cambodia sign.

Border crossing complete.

There’s a few shops and restaurants after Cambodian immigration where you can rest.
The restaurant closest to the offices actually had decent Wi-fi.

1 pm
bus arrives.
1:30 pm bus departs.
2:45 pm arrive at Stung Treng Bus Stop to transfer buses.
4:05 pm
new bus departs Stung Treng Bus Stop!!!
6:45 pm bus stops for food(161 km from Stung Treng).
7:25 pm depart restaurant.
9:40 pm arrive at Siem Reap Main Bus Terminal.
This terminal is 5 km from most hostels and Pub Street.
But there are tuk tuk drivers all around.
With $2.50 I was at Mad Monkey Siem Reap hostel in a matter of minutes.

Total time from Don Det to Siem Reap.

I was told the journey would be 12 hours.
When it was actually closer to 14.
But this is Southeast Asia.
Don’t ever expect anything to be on time.


$27(235,000 Kip) – Bus.
$2 – “Laos Departure Fee”.
$30 – Cambodian Visa.
$5 – Additional Cambodian bullshit border fee.

I’ve heard absolute horror stories from some border crossings.
And I don’t think this border crossing is one of those areas.
It might be a little corrupt, but that’s kind of expected.
No one held our passports, our transportation arrived, the extra fees weren’t much, and there was actually food and wi-fi nearby.

Going from Don Det to Siem Reap is actually quite easy.
Just expect it to take all day.

Do you have any horrible border crossing stories?
Or maybe even some easy border crossing locations?

Let me know in the comments below.

Jeremiah Cooper

By Jeremiah Cooper

Welcome to Live Life Extreme, a travel blog about thrill-seeking travel through some of the largest cities to off the beaten path getaways.

My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.

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