If you're an adventurous traveler the trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia from Bangkok, Thailand by land and sea is both challenging and interesting. For the budget conscious it's a $50-60 ROUND TRIP.
BE SURE TO PURCHASE A VISA IN ADVANCE at the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok prior to your departure. This takes TWO DAYS and you must leave your passport at the embassy with a picture.
YOU CANNOT OBTAIN A CAMBODIAN VISA AT THE BORDER. The Embassy charges $20 US or 1000 baht. Call (662) 254-6630, 253-9851 for specific information.
It is recommended that you take AMERICAN DOLLARS on your trip. They are the currency of choice in Cambodia. Once there you can change dollars to the Cambodian currency, the riel, which is better to use for making small purchases and at the markets. You will get more for your money when you make small purchases by paying in riel.
The Thai baht is accepted but you will lose some purchasing power as the exchange rate favors the dollar.
After being processed you will have to travel several miles [10-15 minutes] to the dock to catch a small boat for a ten minute ride that will take you across the river to Koh Kong city to take the FERRY (big boat). The ferry will take you on a 3-4 hour trip Sihanoukville/Kampong Som, Cambodia. The ferry departs at 8 am. THERE IS ONLY ONE FERRY A DAY.
At Cambodian customs taxi and motor bike drivers will offer their services to take you to a small boat that crosses the river to the ferry. NEGOTIATIONS ARE IN ORDER. The closer you are to the ferry departure time YOU LOSE negotiating power. The price SHOULD BE NO MORE THAN 50 baht per person. They will try and take you for as much as they can. If you take a taxi alone you will probably be charged more.
It is recommended that you travel in a group of three or more. The taxi ride should be 50 baht per person with MORE THAN ONE PERSON IN THE CAR. The motor bike ride SHOULD BE 30-50 baht for one person. It is unlikely that you will negotiate a 30 baht price.
It is advised to take the small boat to the ferry to with a group to share the expense OR you may be faced with having to pay 100-300 baht for the boat on your own. The taxi or motor bike driver will tell you HIS PRICE includes the fare for the small boat to the ferry… IT DOESN'T. If it does?as they say in Thailand?"U – LUCKY."
At the small boat dock at the river, the boat driver will give you a price. It has been my experience on one trip that the price was changed it in the middle of the river. This was while the ferry was sounding it's horn alerting for it's soon to be departure.
Diplomacy is in order here. When you're in the middle of a river in Cambodia and you have a problem who are you going to call? "Ghost Busters" and "Superman" won't be there to help you.
It's important to pick a riverboat driver that you feel you can TRUST. If you're a late arrival and the other boats have departed you are at their mercy. My crisis was handled but that's another story.
Insist that they take you DIRECTLY TO THE FERRY. In many cases they will try to drop you off down the shoreline and tell you to take one of their friends motor bikes to the ferry.
You can pay the ferry fare on the ship. The fare is $15 US or 600 baht (around $16). This is where having dollars works in your favor and you can save money. Make sure you don't purchase tickets from a guesthouse. On a recent trip there were passengers WHO DID and they had to pay AGAIN on the boat. The Ferry Company didn't authorize what they purchased.
An air-conditioned bus to Phnom Penh MAY be waiting for you at the Sihanoukville dock parking area. Depending on unknown factors the bus may not be there. If this is the case you can then take a motor bike to town and then take the bus to Phnom Penh from one of the two bus stations. They are both in the same block in the center of town.
One US dollar will cover the motorbike ride to town. If you have Cambodian currency you can bargain.