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Wilson
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PostSubject: Cambodia Anyone???   Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:33 pm

Taken from Malaysia Triton Club Forum

Kuala Lumpur – Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Expedition 2008


The exciting and historical moments has come -- The Unofficial Triton Club 2008 Angkor Wat Expedition (one of the Seven Wonders of the World)

This Expedition will take us through some amazing driving across Malaysia – Thailand – Cambodia covering 4500km of epic adventure in our Tritons.

If there are several Triton owners interested, we should form an Organising Committee to organize such a mammoth event. So please indicate below if you are interested.

Below are the information and pre-requisites:

When?
Minimum 9 to 10 days during Year-end School Holidays 2008


How much?
Estimated RM1800 – RM2000per car / per room (inclusive hotel accommodation, event t-shirts & memorabilia). Still checking on vehicle clearance fee for Cambodia Border.

Out-of-pocket Expenses:
Take note that fuel costs for the round-trip would be approximately RM1800 per car and other personal expenses not included. Fuel cost in Thailand is around RM4.10/litre and in Cambodia it’s higher.


Itinerary? (Tentative and also need to depend on driving speed)
~ 1 night stay at Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Sakaeo, Thailand.
~ 3 nights stay at Siem Reap / Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
~ 1 nights stay at Pattaya, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Ranong, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Hatyai, Thailand.


Day 1: Malaysia to Central Thailand
~ KL - Changlun - Sadao (Msia - Thai Border Crossing).
~ Sadao - Hatyai - Phattalung - Surat Thani - Chumpon - Prachuap Khiri Khan.
~ 900km Break journey & stay for 1 night at Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Day 2: Central - Eastern Thailand
~ Prachuap Khiri Khan - Petchaburi - Rachaburi - via Bangkok - Nakhon Nayok - SaKaeo.
~ 600km Break journey & stay for 1 night at Sa Kaeo.

Day 3 - 6: Eastern Thailand - Western Cambodia
~ Sa Kaeo - Aranyaphrathet - Poipet (Thai - Cambodia Border Crossing).
~ Poipet - Sisophon - Siem Reap / Angkor Wat.
~ 200km break journey and stay for 3 nights / 4 days at Siem Reap.

Day 7: Western Cambodia - Central Thailand
~ Siem Reap - Poipet / Aranyaphrathet - Chantaburi - Rayong - Pattaya.
~ 560km break journey & stay for 1 nights at Pattaya.

Day 8: Central - Southern Thailand
~ Pattaya - Chon Buri - via Bangkok - Samut Songkran - Ranong.
~ 720km break journey & stay for 1 night at Ranong.


Day 9: Southern Thailand
~ Ranong – Hatyai
~ 500km break journey & stay for 1 night at Hatyai

Day 10: Southern Thailand - Malaysia
~ Hatyai - Sadao - Kuala Lumpur.

~ 550km reaching HOME!

Pre-requisite & Limitation?

~ Compulsory 100% inspection and scrutineering at ORE to ensure vehicle is ready and zero break-downs for the long trip.

~ Limit to maximum 15 vehicles



The above was just something me and HM banged out during the last 30mins. So don’t flame us on any of the details because it’s all just tentatively laid out as a rough guide. Also Itinerary was laid out based on average speed of 130-140km/hr.




Anyone from Singapore interested???
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:49 pm

Singapore Version

Singapore - Kuala Lumpur – Thailand - Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Expedition 2008


The exciting and historical moments has come -- The Singapore 4x4 club and Malaysia Unofficial Triton Club 2008 Angkor Wat Expedition (one of the Seven Wonders of the World)

This Expedition will take us through some amazing driving across Singapore - Malaysia – Thailand – Cambodia covering 5500km of epic adventure in our Tritons.

If there are several Triton owners interested, we should form an Organising Committee to organize such a mammoth event. So please indicate below if you are interested.

Below are the information and pre-requisites:

When?
Minimum 10 to 11 days during Year-end School Holidays 2008


How much?
Estimated $900 – $1000 per car / per room (inclusive hotel accommodation, event t-shirts & memorabilia). Still checking on vehicle clearance fee for Cambodia Border.

Out-of-pocket Expenses:
Take note that fuel costs for the round-trip would be approximately SGD 1500 per car and other personal expenses not included. Fuel cost in Malaysia is around RM 2.50, Thailand is around $2.10/litre and in Cambodia it’s higher.


Itinerary? (Tentative and also need to depend on driving speed)
~ 1 night stay at Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Sakaeo, Thailand.
~ 3 nights stay at Siem Reap / Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
~ 1 nights stay at Pattaya, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Ranong, Thailand.
~ 1 night stay at Hatyai, Thailand.

Day 0 : Singapore ~ KL
~Tuas - Johor - Malacca - KL.
~ 350 km Pit Stop (Smoking Break) at KL for meeting Malaysian Tritons.

Day 1: Malaysia to Central Thailand
~ KL - Changlun - Sadao (Msia - Thai Border Crossing).
~ Sadao - Hatyai - Phattalung - Surat Thani - Chumpon - Prachuap Khiri Khan.
~ 900km Break journey & stay for 1 night at Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Day 2: Central - Eastern Thailand
~ Prachuap Khiri Khan - Petchaburi - Rachaburi - via Bangkok - Nakhon Nayok - SaKaeo.
~ 600km Break journey & stay for 1 night at Sa Kaeo.

Day 3 - 6: Eastern Thailand - Western Cambodia
~ Sa Kaeo - Aranyaphrathet - Poipet (Thai - Cambodia Border Crossing).
~ Poipet - Sisophon - Siem Reap / Angkor Wat.
~ 200km break journey and stay for 3 nights / 4 days at Siem Reap.

Day 7: Western Cambodia - Central Thailand
~ Siem Reap - Poipet / Aranyaphrathet - Chantaburi - Rayong - Pattaya.
~ 560km break journey & stay for 1 nights at Pattaya.

Day 8: Central - Southern Thailand
~ Pattaya - Chon Buri - via Bangkok - Samut Songkran - Ranong.
~ 720km break journey & stay for 1 night at Ranong.


Day 9: Southern Thailand
~ Ranong – Hatyai
~ 500km break journey & stay for 1 night at Hatyai

Day 10: Southern Thailand - Malaysia
~ Hatyai - Sadao - Kuala Lumpur.

Day 11
~ Kuala Lumpur ~ Singapore
~ 500 km reaching HOME!

Pre-requisite & Limitation?

~ Compulsory 100% inspection and scrutineering at own Service Centre to ensure vehicle is ready and zero break-downs for the long trip.

~ Limit to maximum 10 vehicles



The above was edited by me from the malaysians. So don’t flame me on any of the details because it’s all just tentatively laid out as a rough guide. Also Itinerary was laid out based on average speed of 130-140km/hr.
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tsvc09



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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:04 pm

Dear Wilson,
Interesting to find the overland trip plan to Cambodia.

Heard that there are problems in bringing in foreign registered vehicles into Cambodia... not sure if the customs rules are changed. For Vietnam, heard that RHD vehicles are not allowed as I was planning to drive to Hue from Lao PDR last time.

I have been to Thailand few times and also went to Lao PDR in last Dec holidays on my own and happen to meet some of the 4x4 expedition members from Penang. We had our new year day at Surat Thani resort during my return leg to Singapore.
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:35 pm

Hi TSVC09,
None of the singapore 4x4 rigs have confirmed this trip yet as it is organized by the malaysians. We will be making a trip up to KL during the national day to do some planning and organizing first and most importantly to get more information on how to get our vehicles into vietnam, laos and cambodia.
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:04 am

Hi,
Ok..in case you guys needs any information on customs, immigration - insurance formalities and how to bring in Singapore vehicles to Laos etc. then I can share with you on this as I have been there during last Dec holidays.
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:07 pm

Pls share with us!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:27 am

Wish you all a Happy National day !

Sure, I will be happy to share with you my experience about my trip. To start with, I will describe about the experience about the Malaysia - Thailand border crossing leg Bk Kayu Hitam- Sadao for now and l will update the remaining events at a later date.

Pls spare me for typo errors if there are any and also in case you find it long winding.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Legal Disclaimer : The information provided below is based on my experience, so I will not be held responsible for any errors, inconsistencies, inaccuracies below. The information shared with you guys is purely for sharing purpose. The reader is adviced to do further research and gather the information from other sources as well. thanks
=================================================================================

It is good idea to do some preparation before hand and know what are the things you need to take care at the border crossing for clearing your vehicle and you as well.

After Alor Star you will arrive at Changlun – Bk Kayu Hitam which is 46 kms, slow down – no more 100 km speed. But remember to fill-up your tank at Changlun – the last petrol kiosk of cheaper Malaysian petrol – (I filled up at Shell but no V-Power brand is sold – only normal Shell Super).

You will also find bus terminal, food outlets on the left side displaying adds for taxi, vehicle insurance, day trip to Thailand, buses etc. it is good to take a short break there for toilet stop but importantly to get the Thai immigration forms (the same embarkation forms given for Thailand in the flight). It is better to do the form filling beforehand instead of doing it at the border or in the vehicle while driving - it takes long time to fill in the passport / visa details that to be in square boxes in all the 4 pages. You will get this for 50 Sen or RM 1 which is ok as people there make living with this.

After a while you will find the Immigration / Custom gantry – that is end of the 840 kms North – South Expressway criss-crossing Malaysia from JB at south to Bk Kayu Hitam. (the actual expressway ends at Changlun and normal road that goes right upto the Thai Border.

The immigration clearance is pretty fast as the good thing about this border crossing is that there are no long queues. It is only crowded occasionally during festive period but not like the causeway crossing. It took me less than 10 minutes to complete the formalities.

Once you leave the immigration gantry you will enter into no-man’s land (doesn’t mean women’s land): just called as no man’s land but actually under Malaysian control) where you will find a Duty Free Shop (run by Zon group of Malaysia) on the left hand side, good to stop there to take a look and importantly you can buy the 3rd party Insurance (booth located at the entrance) for Thailand from Viraya Insurance – fyi, all foreign vehicle must have atleast 3rd party insurance – it is compulsory. It is extremely basic as it covers you only for the 3rd party damage but not you, your vehicle and your passengers (see footnote below) . It cost me RM28 (THB 280) for 15 days which I found very reasonable as last time during my Phuket trip in 2006, it cost me THB 400 for 9 days duration ! They charged me Station Wagon rate (as it was stated in the log card) instead of saloon car so couldn’t do much and language problem was also there (they will speak in Thai , you hardly can do anything than wasting your time).

As Duty Free shop being proper supermarket, you get a proper service and you can also buy any duty free items there but not necessary as things are much cheaper in Thailand (may be good idea to stock-up branded goods during return trip to Singapore – branded items like Armani, Diesel, Police and others are cheaper here as compared to Robinsons / John Little).

Once you leave the Duty Free shop, Turn left (to Thailand) and you will find a Malaysian police check post where you have to show your original log card (certified true copy from the bank in absence of original – since it will be with the bank because of hire-purchase/loan) . The cop will ask you something - Adalah Singapura (in Malay …something like that….) as he will see your Singapore plate vehicle. Just nod your head and smile, your log card will be given back and then you can proceed. For Malaysian vehicles, they do more stricter checking as lot of Malaysian vehicles get stolen and smuggled into Thailand – therefore sometimes the queue may be longer as compared to immigration queue. (We encountered this during our last trip).

Right in front, you will find the border between Malaysia and Thailand with Iron gates. That is
Sadao boundary post. Thailand immigration clearance is a different experience but don’t worry it is very relaxed and cool. It is not like you do clearance while you are inside the vehicle i.e. wind down and handover of the passwort like it is done at Singapore – Malaysia or at Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration post.
Turn to left, you will by the booth but don’t worry as the guard there will direct you to turn to left which is the parking area behind the immigration office. Park your vehicles there wherever you find a space. (don’t do unnecessary reversing as you may hit the drums or hidden object accidentally). Lock your vehicle as all passengers including driver have to get down to clear the immigration and vehicle clearance. Go towards the immigration booth and queue up for the passport clearance. For Singapore passport, there should be no problem as visas are not required for Thailand but if you have passengers holding passport of countries whose nationals requires visa beforehand, then the immigration clearance has to be done inside the office where senior immigration guy will check the passport – visa and ask all sorts of funny questions such as whether you have sufficient money for your stay in Thailand etc. I encountered this problem as some of my friends were holding Indian passport with all proper visas obtained from Thai Embassy in advance. The immigration officer demanded them to handover their money to him to count etc….all nonsense as the money could be pocketed easily what’s the guarantee or worst if they don’t return back….I had to then intervene and told him that we have our credit cards to show and for money, we will count in-front of him and show much we have but will not handover to him to count otherwise we would like to video record then the guy understood what I meant. Anyway, that’s the experience one may encounter that should not deter us from making future trips to Thailand or anywhere, just that it was a learning experience for us that we have to be prepared and must know how to deal with the situation.

Well, I assume you may not have to encounter all this as clearance for Singapore passport is straight forward. Probably they may charge you some informal fee – RM 1 or 2 per passport. It is official not a bribe but they don’t any issue receipt (a notice stating there is self explanatory that Sadao immigration is not funded by the federal government etc. so they charge the fee for the service) Once this is done, then go to the last booth which is for the Customs, queue up there for vehicle clearance . Handover the log card, they will key in all the details into the computer and issue a printed copy - thin form which is “Temporary Importation of Vehicle into Thailand”. No fees to be payable for this process, just need to sign of on the bottom. The form states that your vehicle must exit out of Thailand within a month otherwise you will be liable to pay the value declared in the form which is the cost of your vehicle in Thailand. The date will be Thai Chakri date –2445 (or some number) as year , month and day is like normal month and day. Keep this form safe as you have to handover this form when you exit out from Thailand - better to take a photocopy of this form (in case if it gets lost or just as a souvenir item. You may find the photocopy shops further down after the immigration). Once this formality is over, you can go to your vehicle, drive it from the exit on the other side and then just pass by – the officials there will let you pass will not stop you then further down wind down, handover the original copy of the vehicle clearance form to the customs official, then he will let you go. After that you and your vehicle can freely travel in Thailand. You can also stop by at the coffee shops there just few meters away from the border to have good tea/coffee, taking photos etc. before starting your onward journey.

Footnote: While non of the Thai insurer will do comprehensive cover for the foreign vehicles but it is possible to get your Singapore insurer to cover for you You can ask your insurer to extend the geographical coverage to Thailand temporarily by paying additional premium. Fyi, AXA’s insurance coverage is good as it covers for Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand (1 trip upto 14 days in a year). For my case, I asked my insurer - AIG to cover for 2 weeks by paying $200 + GST but not for Laos or other countries cover (I didn’t heard anyone will cover you in Singapore) It is good to have comprehensive cover in case of accident or your vehicle is stolen in Thailand. While this is not a usual practice in Singapore and Customer service officer will not entertain for this request but if you insist that they check with underwriter, then things will work.
===================================================================================
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:51 pm

Thanks alot for your info for singapore to thailand. We are also interested to know how to go to laos, cambodia, vietnam etc. We have been to thailand too but have not ventured further than that so we need info for passing thru laos, cambodia, vietnam etc. Btw wads ur name and what vehicle u drive?
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:36 am

Hi Wilson,

Thanks, you can address me as Dev.
Sorry, I couldn't update the remaining info on Thailand and Laos experience as I didn't complete the compilation of the info from my personal scrap book that is required in this context.

Well anyway, it is good to know that you guys have already drove to Thailand then in that case may be I will just briefly share with you about Thailand and Laos leg of journey including Thailand - Lao PDR border crossing using my Toyota Fortuner.

Pls share with the info on Cambodia – especially on vehicle clearance that you obtain, in turn I will also provide you if I get.

Thanks
p.s. I tried to extract and amend contents as much as I can to make it general in this context so pls spare me for type error or if you find the info or view is inadvertently giving the impression otherwise. thanks
===================================================================================

Preparation beforehand : Actually it was my 2nd trip to Thailand so thought of trying new route and Lao PDR came in my mind (while the unlimate dream is to cross Myanmar - India but looks like have to wait 10-15 yrs or more:) . I did research - got info from lonely planet and few others from NLB - but I find they are not suited or people like us - so had to rely on Google search. An Ausie guy had kindly shared some info abt Laos (he traveled Australia - Singapore - Indo-China including Laos, China - Nepal - India - Pak - Iran - Turkey - Europe - London). He used Carnet de passage (pronounced - carnae) but came to know from other sources that this is not needed for Laos (however, AA couldn’t confirm when I called up few times). For vehicles registered in Asian countries is not required. Same is true for the driving license. Our driving licenses are valid there as well. While the Lao embassy (it is at #18 storey at UE sq tower) couldn't able to provide much info on bringing in of vehicle, where to get the insurance, how to clear etc. but they gave me assistance on this by providing telephone, email contacts of few guys there at the friendship bridge border and Lao National tourism official. I tried contacting at these numbers but couldn't contact but embassy did a excellent job by providing me a letter (written in Lao) addressed to Customs and immigration for facilitating the clearance which helped me. As this was a great help I then decided to take a try rather than asking others and getting into confusion which may jeopardize my trip (if my mind get influenced:). Well, I then focused on other important things - route planning, fuel types (my vehicle needs atleast of grade 91), where to stay, importantly where to get food - atleast KFC, MC Donald, Lotus-Tesco for salads etc. (because some of our members including kids were vege so important considerations) visas - re-entry permits for my family members (as some hold Indian passport requiring visas , re-entry permit for Thailand/Laos) hotel bookings, 3rd party insurances in Thailand and Laos (it is AGL in Laos - the only insurance co - detail I will provide later but rest assured it is very straight forward process).

Before Thailand: It is already covered in the previous post - except that I made a night halt , picked up my bro (who joined upto Bangkok leg) which I usually do as I prefer to start from KL instead of SG so that journey time of 5-6 hrs can be saved (KL no immigration - so start in the morning 4.00 am head straight to Ipoh then Butterworth - Changlun and you reach Bk Kayu Hitam - Sadao border by noon. Another reason was due to re-entry visa formality that we decided to do it in Sadao (for indian passport) as it was on the way and Fri was working day otherwise to do it Bangkok on following Mon means whole day to be wasted on Mon and again the hassle of Bangkok traffic, long queues.

In Thailand : We followed almost the same route upto Bangkok (highways 4, 47, 35 )that you described - except that we took short stop-overs fuel and leg stretching. The main halts were at Sadao (immigration office), Ban Na-Not (15 kms b4 Phattalung )for late afternoon lunch break (I like this place - roadside eatery - that we see in south asian part of the world), Cha-Am for 2 hrs (the beach is very natural and less crowded unlike Phuket, Patya or even the Prachuap Khiri Khan beaches I find) then strait to Surat Thani for night halt. The good part of Thailand is that accomodation is damn cheap except Bangkok - (a fairly decent one around THB 450-500 per night in most of the towns).

Next day, we headed via Chumpon, Chiaya, Phetchabury and took bypass - via Samut Sakhon - Samut Songkhran, Dao Khanon and exit to Ding Daeng via the elevated toll roads (their way of ERP !) . As most of the hotels were fully booked during Dec period, we had to stay in the budget hotel for THB 900 with b/f - was fairly decent and value for money. We stayed there for 5 days had a good time there and some of our members changes as my bro had to head to middle east from there and another of my family members to join in Bangkok from India so got a chance to drive to Suvarnabhum airport. The 8 lane expressway is fantastic with speed limit of 120 KM- may be we don't get to see this in Singapore or even in KL. Well it was amazing. The good experience that I had in Bangkok was driving a Singapore registered vehicle in crowded Sukhumvit, Pratunam without a single dent or scratch in that traffic jam road. Once I entered in a no entry road then a cop pulled me to side but didn’t issue ticket – I told that I can’t read the no-entry sign written in Thai and when I asked a tuk tuk driver – he said yes, can pass by ! The good part is that Thais are very cool people , they do not loose temper or honk at you in case you change lane or even stop in the middle to let the passenger alight or even parking ! they give you the way and help you in all way they can.

Initially our Lao leg of journey was like lost world as were circling around the same place for 2 hrs since 3 pm while trying to exit out from Bangkok to find highway to Saraburi – Highway 1 (locals pronounced it as Salaburi). Amidst all the language barriers – like we were illiterate as we don’t know reading, speaking and understanding Thai, so everyone of us used whatever ability that we had - using bi-lingual map (that I bought from Singapore and some collected in Bangkok), body language skills and common-sense, we managed to get out of Bangkok and got to the right track – a nice elevated expressway via Don Muang (Bangkok’s old airport) which ends at Bang Pa-in. After paying the tool at Bang-Pa-In (total around THB 100 TB) we headed to Highway 1 to Saraburi. The traffic is heavy all the time but road condition was superb which your engine and tire sounds can be self explanatory – I would say better than the Malaysia’s North – South expressway’s aggressive and stressful driving – people tend to speed and blink the headlight if you are in their way so you get forced to drive at high speeds which I certainly like to avoid. After brief halt at Saraburi and fill the tank with Shell 95 (while my SUV can take the Gasohol (Bio fuel – 10 % Ethyl alcohol and 90% Grade 91 or 95) fuel which is cheaper than 5 -6 bhatt per litre and tried once but the Singaporean minds comes in the way to go for safe Grade 95 (was THB 33 bhatt per litre now THB 41) – never use 95 in Singapore and fill up the cheaper SPC 92 )
We headed for Nakhon Ratchasima, which evening 7 pm, the night market on the road side was amazingly big – infact this nigh market concept we found in everywhere in Thailand. We decided that we stop by during return trip. From Nakhon Ratchasima, we headed to Highway 2 to Khon Kaen – another big city with same night market – stalls all along the road. Didn’t stopped here other than petrol stop at Shell. From there we headed to Udon (Udon Thani) reached there by 11.30 pm. We didn’t do any hotel booking as we decided not to do so in case we get late then hotel will charge us to the credit card so best is try searching when we reach the city and that way we have plenty of choice but offcourse with kids and family one really have to look at how far one can go. We stopped in front a 7 eleven to buy some tit bits but the main purpose was to enquire about the hotels from there – to customer s visiting there. Surprisingly a drunken guy – was not Thai, recommended a good hotel there – THB 450 per night nice clean rooms with tea/coffee and WI FI facility! . We just took 2 rooms didn’t removed our luggage from the vehicle, just slept it to called for the day.

Next day, we had to head to Nong Khai – 56 kms bordering Vientiene. We started of as per planned. Stopped at Nong Khai, filled up the tank as petrol in Laos may be expensive we thought and may not be abundant. We packed the salads, water bottles and other stuff from Lotus -Tesco some of us had their early lunch at KFC and then we headed to Nong Khai immigration which we managed to found out ( some family members from India didn’t able to obtain the re-entry permit at Suvarnabhumi airport so the reason). The process was pretty straight forward and fast within 20 mints we were on to our journey towards Laos.

The Nongkhai – Laos crossing is via Thai – Lao friendship bridge which open until 11 pm. We headed to the immigration and customs as usual like in Sadao. Stamped exit chop on all our passports, handed them the Temporary vehicle entry permit (computer processed form) to Customs – the same form which we got at Sadao so the vehicle clearance was pretty straight forward as nothing much is required for Singapore registered vehicles as it is out of Thailand ! For Thai registered vehicle, the process is little complicated as it requires approval – called car passport obtainable from regional transport office (LTA or ROV of Thailand) to get their vehicle out from Thailand – this is to prevent the smuggling.

===================================================================================
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:37 am

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Our journey to Lao PDR: After all the photo taking and bye bye to Thailand, we headed further onto a 2 km long bridge – called friendship bridge (built by Australians in 1994) over Mekong river (infact Laos is a land locked country but this 1800 km long river makes a difference – it is their sea, border (with Thailand and Cambodia as well), source of prosperity everything. It is next to Ganges that I saw in India. The train track from Udon Thani ends somewhere in the middle of the bridge (the plan was to link Lao with Thailand but project didn’t complete). After few distance from the bridge, there is a traffic changeover signal to change our tracks – Thais drive on the left, Laos drive on the right (their vehicles steering is on the left hand side – same for Vietnam and Cambodia).It was green for us we didn’t got as we wanted to take the interesting photos of this place that I read on the internet. There was well sign-posted board – Welcome to Lao PDR and not allowed to turn left – wrong way go back etc. ! Just after the change over, we were on the right hand side of the traffic and were stopped by Lao quarantine – to disinfect the vehicle – they will spray water with some chemicals on the tyre and issue a receipt for some few thousands kips (don’t remember not body takes that currency as Thai Bhatt is the accepted currency). The Immigration, customs, vehicle clearance, and insurance – all that formality was there for us to clear. First thing first – the immigration – Singapore, Thai holder didn’t need the visa as usual ( not sure about Malaysia but all other passport requires visa) - they will give you 1 month entry stamp. For Indian passport, had to apply the visa on arrival – it took us some 30 mints to complete the process without any fuss, then comes the immigration clearance – sometime long queue forms in case all of a sudden 2 – 3 busses arrives at the same time and passengers rushes to the counter. While all this process taking place, the vehicle is there standstill. Then comes the customs for vehicle clearance. I took the log card, copy of Thai clearance (original was taken away at Nong Khai but just in case if they ask). Then the officer their directed me to visit upstairs to the officer. A lady there asked me some question (nicely) where are you from, what do you do, How people live in Singapore …probably testing my GK but then she asked which side the steering while of your vehicle is at – left or right to which I replied right mam ! I thought some trouble ahead so just kept quiet. Then she asked me THB 60 don’t know for what – I just paid then a drunken woman cop came there asked the lady officer for another bottle of wine which she took out from a crate and gave her. She then told me it was a new year and they hardly get any leave so they enjoy at their work site – work and play ! (wine / liquors are much cheaper in lao – duty is very less as compared to Thailand). After I got the papers an green form (similar to Thailand’s form but hand written filled in Lao) she then directed me to visit another officer to get a sign-off on the form and did a good bye. The officer at the downstairs office signed and wrote something in lao and then directed to go to custom counter where the local Thai and Lao vehicles were doing their clearance (Remember to retain all the documents as these have to surrender when you exit Laos - the information is captured in the computer btw). I had to pay THB 300 entry fee and THB 40 overtime fee (because after 4 pm this fee is chargeable – although no receipt is issue but it is official – not under the table). Then they asked me to drive the vehicle and get the insurance at the office – which was AGL – Allianz’s subsidiary (http://www.agl-allianz.com/) that’s it. At insurance, not many people were there except me and an Israeli – doing a clearance for his speed boat and surf boarding equipment. When my turn came in and guy was started preparing the proposal form then asked me – were you the guy called me from Singapore enquiring about the insurance to which I said yes, he then said – I am the one. Nice meeting you, how was your trip etc. etc. then he explained the charges and coverage for the insurance – very basic coverage for THB 300 for 5 days which was ok to me as I didn’t planned to stay for that long and intend to drive their much. But yes – the insurance that I arranged from Singapore will not cover me here – so I have to be extra careful.

While all this process took around 2 hrs but me and my family members were very happy to see the outcome - a different experience altogether because they only know how much research I did during the last one year before the trip, reading books, google searches – page after page – phone calls to so many offices in Lao (thanks for free IDD 018 calls by starhub). Anyway, we started of with our onward journey to Vientiane which was not far off. Upon reaching, first thing we did was to eat - a good Indian food as we didn’t had since past 1 week – eating the junkies – salads, bread….We stopped at an intersection and luckily able to trace the restaurant Rashmi Fusion food that was marked in my plan (surprisingly Laos has many Indian restaurants 4 in Vientiene, 3 in Lua Prabang and lone one in Champasak) . Although the food was ok in general – some items were with Lao preparation which was good – the bill came out was KIP 220,000 (every thing in hundred thousands !) but we paid USD – 22. Anyway having the good food after so many days, we were sort of relaxed for a while but the next hassled – the hotel as we didn’t booked in advance. The friend of mine in Laos couldn’t get one for us due to high season. I asked the restaurant owner to provide info on hotel and after he got to know that we came all the way from Singapore – he then informed to rest of the guest, some asked all sorts of questions, how long it took, did you alone drove it etc. .. the restaurant owner then took his left hand drive CRV and we followed him. We tried many hotel - $35 USD to $60 USD but all full or some were not ok to us so we end up staying in at Lao Plaza hotel (www.laoplazahotel.com) a 5 star hotel that we got for 100 USD which was overkill but it was ok to us since we came to Laos to really sit back and relax. Had plans to visit my friend there but after 2 days we decided.

Vientiane is really a cool laid back place – infact whole of Lao PDR is really charming country if one believes in the simple life – away from the hustle bustle like our daily routine – MRT, Orchard road, Bugis crowd. The people there are very simple and nice. You have to visit Laos to experience. Although Laos was a communist country but it is catching up with the rest of the region as it started opening up. Lot of Mercs, Lexus even BMWs are seen but anyway, that is different yardstick to measure the prosperity.

We explored Vientiane and thought of trying for a city bordering Laos (some 200 kms) but after hearing that they don’t allow vehicles with right hand drive, I decided to drop that idea altogether. Anyway that was not in my agenda also as our purpose of visit was to really relax in Lao, so in Vientiane we only visited Patuxay, Morning Market, That luang, Mekong river bank and finally visited Singapore embassy just to say high before leaving Lao. They hosted us nicely and wished us good luck for the return journey back to Singapore.

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Money changer: near the morning market , some banks are there or best to find near Nazim hotel.

Petrol : Getting Petrol in Vientiane is not a problem as they are good number of petrol kiosk including shell – In Dec 07 the rate was 10,500 Kip per litres - slightly higher than Thailand’s petrol. Countryside, there are not many so better to full tank wherever you find the petrol statition - carry a jerry so that you can atleast drive for 400 – 500 kms comfortably.
Countryside is safe but own judgment to be used.

In Thailand if you are on major highway then cool – there are plenty petrol stations – Susco, PTT, Shell even Petronas as well. There are 4 -5 types of petrol including diesel brands available.

This site will be giving you daily fuel price – very informative.
http://www.eppo.go.th/retail_prices.html


Food : Getting a food in Vientiene is not a problem, there are lots of Dannish, western, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and even Malay food is available (nazim restaurant – Indian and malay both). Do a google search, you will find plenty of them. Countryside you have to rely on lao food there aren’t restaurants. Better to carry Maggi or cup-noodles and sauce/ketchup.
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Wilson
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:16 pm

Thanks alot for your info.
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PostSubject: Re: Cambodia Anyone???   Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:04 am

Most welcome !

I guess you guys have obtained the info on Cambodia. Anyway, here is also a link with information on how to get your vehicle inside Cambodia which is meant for Thai registered vehicle.

http://www.khmer440.com/chat_forum/viewtopic.php?t=10321&sid=d3a47daaf61eaa8b0aaa16c35006cd11

The author has shared about how to get their Thai registered vehicle inside Cambodia. The mention of blue book refers to a booklet (some called this as car passport) that is required for a Thai registered vehicle to exit out of Thailand and for re-entry as well. I recalled that at Thai immigration-custom counter at Nonkhai during my Laos trip, the custom officer asked me abput the car passport. When I was wondering what this is about and why they are are asking then another of his colleague mentioned that my car is a Singapore registered therefore it doesn't require then they let me go.

Thus, same may be applicable for Cambodia as well and clearance may be easier as compared to Thai registered vehicle but other things needs to be checked - about the fees (official/unofficial) to be paid, 3rd party insurance and importantly, safety and security.

thanks
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