Border crossing Cambodia – Thailand (Hat Lek)

I made it into Thailand! Not completely legal, but almost 🙂

Thailand changed the rules last year for travelers with their own vehicles. Officially it’s now required to get a special permit, a guide and a temporary Thai drivers license (they don’t accept the International Drivers License convention of 1968, they want the one from 1949!)
The whole procedure would take about 15-20 days and costs a minimum of about 1000$ for a two day Thailand transfer! For a 30 day transfer this could go up to 5000$!

Some friends tried to get into Thailand without the permit on a big border in Laos and were being rejected. So I tried a small border crossing, the most southern border from Cambodia to Hat Lek in Thailand. And it worked! They either didn’t know the new rules or just didn’t care to enforce them.

Here’s the report:

I arrived at the Cambodian border at about 8:45 in the morning. I guessed they open at 9:00 as it was Sunday. But the border is open daily from 6:00 until 22:00.
It looked closed when I arrived. Not many people there and a metal barrier, but a guy just motioned that I have to drive around it.

I went to the right building to the departure booth. Only three people in front of me. After about five minutes it was my turn. Don’t forget to fill out the departure card which is likely stapled into the passport. The officer stamped it and I needed to look into the (Logitech) camera for a photo. Then they took my fingerprints of both hands! Three weeks ago when entering Cambodia from Laos they didn’t even had computers and wrote every person manually into a big book!

After the passport check I headed to the left side of the street to the customs office. The officer said I can go directly to the Thai border. But I needed the stamp on my carnet de passage (CPD)!
I insisted and said this is important. So he sat down, looked at it and gave me the stamp with signature. I ripped off the lower part, which the customs office must keep and gave it to him (he didn’t even fill it out!) and said “this is for you”. His answer was “I’d rather have  money”. But he just smiled and didn’t want a bribe. Not even the usual 2$ fake exit fee.
Then I was free to go.

On the Thai border I’ve been instructed to park the bike on the left side (left driving in Thailand!).
I headed to the building on the left side and an officer handed me the immigration card. I filled out the arrival part of it and went to the booth nr 4 “Immigration” and gave my passport with the card. The lady recognized my motorcycle jacket and asked for the bike papers.
I had to give the carnet de passages and the vehicle registration. She entered everything into the computer and printed out two papers for the bike, which I had so sign. Then she sent me over to the booth nr 2. There an officer stamped my passport, and I had to sign in a big book. He took one of the papers and gave me the other.
For most Europeans no Visa is required for up to 30 days. Even on land borders like this (it used to be 15 days on land borders and 30 on Airports). But they limit it to two land border crossings per year!

After that I thought this was it (because they entered the bike info from the carnet into the computer) and headed back to my bike.
But another guy came to me and said I had to go to the right side to the customs office. My heart stopped for a second, as I thought that I already made it!
At this booth he entered the information of the carnet into another computer and asked the same question as booth nr 4 (which color is your bike?). Then he correctly filled and stamped the carnet, printed another paper (which I had to sign again) and gave everything back to me. In Thailand it’s required to have a vehicle insurance, but they didn’t ask for it (I bought one online for about 20$).
No fees and no bribes on the Thai side neither, very professional and fast.

The whole border crossing took me about one hour.

Now I’m in Thailand without the permit. But I guess that no police officer knows about the new rules and just cares about the standard papers, which I have.

3 thoughts on “Border crossing Cambodia – Thailand (Hat Lek)”

  1. Hey Dominik,we are so happy that you finally made it :-). We will try to do the same at the same border.. we are now in Indonesia super nice. :-D…

    1. How is Indonesia? Make sure you’re having the carnet for cambodia and thailand!
      And you need the green temporary import paper to exit Laos!

  2. Hi Dominik
    We are a month away from Laos about to enter China. Thanks for this great information.
    We have carnets (three bikes) and want to go Laos, Thailand, Malaysia – Australia.
    Looking forward to Tibet – kind regards Paul

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