Our unpleasant bus trip to Laos from Cambodia

by Ariel

My friend and I took a bus from Siem Reap to 4000 islands, and it was absolutely awful. Textbook corruption.

VR Express is either working for or with Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co., as we bought tickets with VR Express but the actual bus we took was from Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co.

Here is a general summary of the trip:

1. The bus driver talked on the phone for a significant portion of the drive.

2. There were multiple vehicles changes that were not mentioned beforehand, and at one point, we were left stranded at a gas station in Stung Treng (route from Siem Reap to 4000 Islands/Don Det, Laos, which is an hour from the border crossing) for 1.5 hours as we waited for a bus coming from Phnom Penh to pick us up.

None of us were informed of what was happening, and a man who had not even been on the bus with us and did not work with VR Express explained all of this to us. The gas station attendant also openly ripped us off, and the location seemed to be a common stopping point for travel buses.

3. After getting picked up, one of the VR Express employees said the US visa fee was $41. I have heard that bus company employees charge higher since they take care of the visa process for you, but the VR Express employee also lied to my friend saying that the border patrol officers charge $43 for her nationality but that he is doing her a favour and only charging $42.

She politely refused their help, was told to get her luggage out of the bus, and ended up paying $30 for her visa.

4. Unbeknownst to the 14 people who decided to get their own visas, there were also additional charges ($2/person/stamp) from both the Cambodian/Laotian border officers for receiving the exit/entry stamps, respectively, etc, not including an additional fee for the visa. The Laotian
border officers charged $2/stamp AFTER we already paid the visa fee, so many of us refused.

The VR Express employees DEMANDED we pay, threatened to leave us at the border, saying they already contacted their boss who gave the OK, and then laughed at the people who didn't have the extra cash because they had not previously known there would be multiple additional charges and fees.

4. One VR Express employee arrogantly and gleefully dared us to call our embassies or whoever we wanted because "it didn't matter." He also strongly encouraged us to "go on the internet and leave a bad review!" So I am kindly obliging him. Please let me know if there are other review sites that travelers frequent and could use the info.

5. The VR Express employees then removed our luggage from the bus, and those of us who finally paid to get our passports back had to pick them up off the ground and board the bus before it left.

6. The vehicle change in Laos was into a boxed pick up truck, which is often used to carry cargo or animals. There were well over 15 people with their luggage squished inside, with the people at the end having to hold on to the side rail so they nor the luggage would fall out.

The bus then took off farther into Laos, and the drive we took to 4000 islands took an additional <10 minutes, which seems like this was an unnecessary vehicle change.

This is absolutely unacceptable service from any company, especially one for foreigners to use. The employees were prioritizing the extra money they put in their pockets with no regard to what happens to their customers.

For the reliability and reputation of your company, you should discontinue your support of VR Express and Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. Regrettably, I would be unable to utilise or recommend your services if you do continue working with them.

Ariel Sine

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Mar 07, 2017
Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience
by: Duangpy

Hi Ariel,

I'm sorry and sad to hear such story. I've heard some travelers had bad experience at the border being charged one or two extra dollars by the immigration officers, and bus staff charged a bit for their service doing visa for them but never heard off them (the bus staff) lying and demanding as you mentioned. So ashame.

For the extra charge by the immigration officer, it seems normal because here in Vientiane we're charged a bit extra as well (a bit over $1) when we cross the border on weekends or outside working hours (working hours are from 8:00 to 16:00). That is an overtime fee. The Cambodia/Laos border is in remote area so...you can almost always expect that they charge the OT fee all hours.

As for the bus staff adding an overhead of over $10, I think it is a real rip off. I guess they get rude too when someone catch them doing so.

One last thing I'd like to let you know that we (our company as you mention in your post) don't have anything to do with the bus company, we don't work or partner with them nor receive any commission of any kind. All we do here is just providing information in a hope that what we provide here on our website will be useful for travelers looking for ways to travel to our country. That's all.

Thanks you so much for sharing your experience here. It will be useful for fellow travelers I'm sure.

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