Driving from Phnom Penh to the Cambodia / Laos Border

Driving from Phnom Penh to the Cambodia / Laos Border

OLIVER took longer than we expected to arrive into Phnom Penh such that we only had 6 days to cross Laos and arrive at the China border to meet our convoy. Needless to say we were eager to get going and explore the world!

Once we had confirmation from the shipping company OLIVER had arrived we were driven to the shipping yard and the container was opened and OLIVER was driven out into Cambodia at the end of May 2017!
We grabbed our bags and drove up to the border town of Stoeng Treng. Driving along Cambodian roads is an interesting experience, there is a lot of sealed roads but also a number of pot holes and unsealed sections dispersed throughout their network. We also had one experience of a road being built while we were driving on it.

We arrived at Stoeng Treng and we went out to grab some dinner. The accommodation manager recommended the place up the road.

Everything about the place was in Khmer, the sign and menu and the waiter did not speak English. With our broken Khmer, a phrasebook and some pointing we ordered four dishes of what we thought was beef. We received vegetables and rice…and four plates of pigs ears. It was the first time any of us had eaten them but they were certainly a surprise meal for us.

The next day we drove early to the Cambodian / Laos border. The Customs officer kept us there for a couple of hours questioning our import paperwork and saying it was wrong. There were a number of phone calls back and forth with our shipping agent and Cambodian Customs. In the end we were told to leave and get an export document sent to us. After talking to our shipping agent outside they confirmed everything was ok and the Customs Officer came out and told us to come back inside. He stamped our Carnet De Passage and allowed us to proceed to passport control.

A few tricks we noticed with our first overland border was that they are trying to hit you with “fees” and will do their best to catch you.¬†They will be hard to avoid if you are not familiar with Cambodian customs laws but it does not cost anything to take your car from Cambodia to Laos, you just may be there for a few hours defending your paperwork from claims it is not completed correctly.

Both sides of the border asked for a “stamp fee”. We learned to question the fee and request a receipt to try and avoid them.

Laos and Cambodia are not signatories of the Carnet De Passage but will sign it as proof of import. You may need to advise them where to stamp it though.

Please note these are just our experiences, we are not lawyers or import specialists so please consult relative experts in these fields for advice.

With our border crossing complete we drove into our second country, Laos.
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