from Don Det to Siem Reap with Asia Van Transfer

AVT tuk tuk
This review was written and sent to BABA guesthouse by a guest to help other travelers.

« According to the adds in Don Det in Laos, a lot of travelers want to travel to Siem Reap in Cambodia. When we were in Don Det, we would make the same trip. A bit worried about the distance and the time to Siem Reap, we started to ask the locals about the best way to travel. Nearly all of the travel offices on the island sell tickets by 'big bus' to Siem Reap for prices between $35 and $40. There were tickets for the old road (11-14 hours) and tickets for the new road (8-9 hours). The new road we took was a lot faster and more comfortable than the old one with holes in the asfalt.

After a lot of reading on the internet, we found a company named Asia Van Transfer (AVT). The company claimed to transfer us from the border of Lao to Siem Reap in only 6 hours and for a price of only $23 ! Seemed very attractive to us, so we tried this out. Here you will find our story and some tips.

After we found the website we couldn't find anything about the trip on the website, so I emailed AVT via the contact form on the website. The direct email address is . Because AVT is located in Cambodia they are not allowed to sell tickets in Lao, that's why I couldn't find anything on the website. I got a quick reply and we emailed a couple of times after that. All emails were in understandable English. I made a reservation for the next day and got a confirmation with a voucher in it. They told me I had to come to the border by myself so they could pick me up. We would meet their contact, named Mr. Hout, at the border.

They gave me an explanation how to get to the border by myself, you can find this down below together with my own experiences and tips.

1. Take the ferry at 8am. We were told that we would be in Nakasang (the small town in the opposite of the river) at 9, but my experience is that you'll arrive at 08.15-08.30. The trip costs 15.000 KIP a person. Be sure you have KIPs.

2. When you arrive in Nakasang, walk about 500 m to the bus station. You can find the bus station on your left hand behind the ATM. You probably will arrive there at 08.30-08.45. Buy a ticket a the counter to the border of Lao/Cambodia for $5. This bus is scheduled at 09.30 every day of the week. You have to wait 45 minutes at the bus station.
I did expect a normal touring bus, but at 9.45 two minivans arrived to transfer us to the border. Be aware that the driver will fill the minivan with as many persons there may fit in.
We left quickly to the border. This 20 km ride took 25/30 minutes on a bumpy road.

3. When we arrived at the border, my friend and I got off the bus quickly. We were with I think 40 other travelers and I don't like the waiting at all, so I had to be quick.
At first, get stamped out of Laos. You need to pay $2 to get stamped out.
At this point, there probably will be a local guy sitting in front of an open counter. He acts like he's the guy you need for help when filling in your visa papers and your arrival document, but you need to pay him $5 for that. You can easily fill in the partly English forms yourself and you don't need any help of this guy. Just get the visa form and the arrival/departure forms from him and fill in yourself.

4. Walk through, from Laos to Cambodia. Here we met Mr. Hout. Pass the first barrier at 100 m and walk to the second barrier. At the second barrier, there are probably some guys waiting for you on the left side of the road to do the required health check. This is nothing else than a SCAM ! You don't need the health check, although they're saying it's required. Just ignore them or thank them.
On the right side of the road there's a little counter which you need after you arranged your visa. You need the building behind this counter to buy a visa. Get into this little wooden building and hand over your filled in visa form, or you can ask a blanc visa form for free. You need to pay $35 dollar in cash for your visa. I don't know if they also accept KIPs or the Cambodian Riel. After they stitched your visa in your passport, walk back to the barrier and hand them over your passport and your arrival document. We didn't had to pay anything at this point.

5. Congrats ! You now passed the border of Laos and you're officially in Cambodia right now :D. Took us only half an hour to pass the border, it is now 10.45.
AVT sign
If you want to get to Mr. Hout's cafe, look out for a green AVT sign on the left of the road. It's only a 150/200 m away. You can wait here for the van to leave or to make a reservation to get to Siem Reap.

6. After a small lunch at Mr. Hout's cafe we left at 11.45 with 6 guys in the van. I paid the trip to Siem Reap here. Be aware that paying in dollars is much cheaper here than paying in KIPs or in Cambodian Riels. The rate for 1 dollar was 9000 KIP at Mr. Hout's cafe, while it was 8200 KIP in Don Det.
The van was quite comfy and had air conditioning, no wifi onboard. There was place for 10 persons in the van and our luggages were placed in the trunk. If the bus was full, there were 3 seats extra in the trunk, so place for max 13 persons in the van. I can imagine if there are 13 persons with luggages in the van it gets quite uncomfortable.
We were sitting in the front of the van and had plenty of space for my long legs and our hand luggage.

7. After a ride of 1,5 hour without stopping we arrived at stung treng. Here we were dropped by Mr. Hout in a cafe to eat something and to switch to another van. Mr. Hout left back to the border.
AVT sign
8. After a quick lunch (not included in the price, but cheap), we got into another, quite older van. The van wasn't uncomfortable and the aircon was working well. The only thing damaged was the seat next to me. It was a seat which was attached to some rail so it the seat could get collapsed to create some more space. That same rail was damaged, so the guy on that seat was moving forward when the driver braked. Quite dangerous in case of an accident.

Also in this van the same 6 passengers and same place for passengers. We left at 2 pm and we should arrive in Siem Reap at 7 pm.

9. The new road was the most comfortable ever (in Asia, July 2015) ! Brand new asfalt, no holes so no bumpy ride. The only thing we had to stop for were a couple of lost cows and dogs in the middle of the road and to pee. We only stopped for a break once, 10 minutes max. The driver drove safely and most of the time 80/90 km/ph. I don't know which speed is allowed on this track.
Although AVT told us we would arrive at 7 pm, we arrived much earlier. We were dropped at AVT headquarter at 6 pm ! After being dropped we got a 2 minute explanation about Siem Reap city and a tuk-tuk driver was waiting for us to bring us for free to our hotel. Be aware that it actually is not for free : the driver tries to make an appointment for the next day to drive you the whole day to the Angkor temples. We didn't need this because we did it by bike, so we thanked him for his generous offer and paid him $3 for the ride.

Conclusion : just do it! It's the most comfortable, quickest and cheapest option to do !

Sorry for the typos in this post. I'm writing this on a very bumpy road to Phnom Penh on my iPhone >_<

Visit the Asia Van Transfer website.

Note that most often, travelers use AVT to go from Siem Reap to Don Det. Although it is also possible to go with them in the other way.

Back to the main Don Det Transportation section.

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