DON'T rent a motorbike in Sihanoukville
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Dec 11, 2012 3:36 AM Last Post By: Josh69
Apr 8, 2012 4:58 PM
DON'T rent a motorbike in SihanoukvilleI now live in Vietnam. I just return from a visa-run to Cambodia. I wanted to take a few extra days on the beaches. My Vietnamese girlfriend and I rented a motorbike – she was driving. Within 30 minutes we were arrested by one of the numerous "watching-for-a-foreigner-on-a-motorbike-squads". They are all over town waiting for you. The hotel never warned us about the 100% chance of being arrested for whatever the reason - they just want to rent motorbikes. These hypocrites traffic police have one ready just for you: 1. “*It is illegal to drive with the lights on during the day*.” (On some motorbike they come on automatically when you start the engine! And I always thought it was wise to do so in all times. Nope! In Sihanoukville it is and obligation during the night or rain only!); 2. Helmet – of course (We had); 3. If so fare you are okay (lights off and helmet, and hadn’t made any traffic violation…): “*Where is your International Driver License?*”, one of the policeman said (they are generally 2 or 3 hiding, with another one hiding further up the street with a walkie-talkie) he said that he can let go for the light on, but not having an International Driver License was a serious offense! Then the scenario: Option 1. “*We now need to go to meet the “big chief” at the police station… It will of course be time consuming… And a heavy fine… bla, bla, bla…*”; Option 2. “*But it will be much simpler to talk with my chief right here…*” Okay, I said… How much…? A $10 US bill was enough to made the “little chief” shake my hand… They said that we were now okay to drive for two more days…! Did I believe them? We immediately returned the motorbike, negotiated a tuk-tuk, transferred the $4 fuel we just bought in his tank, went for a tour… And left Sihanoukville the next day…
If, before, I had only read the “Sihanoukville Visitor Guide” they gave us at the hotel, I wouldn’t have rented this motorbike: “*Over the years there have been a couple of official bans on renting motorcycles, but it is not in force at this time. Still, the traffic police seems to be talking a particular interest (Sic) in tourists on rental motos…*”
I don’t know about Phnom Penh, but I also saw many of these police squads all over…
Apr 8, 2012 5:59 PM
Apr 8, 2012 6:29 PM
Apr 8, 2012 7:04 PM
Apr 8, 2012 7:26 PM
4My girlfriend and I both had a valid Driver License (Vietnamese and Canada) But no INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LICENSE. Many people are confused with this IDL. It is NOT a driver license in itself. It is only a translation of your valid Driver License - they go together. In most countries it is NOT an obligation to have one... But in Sihanoukville it is...! The police even told us that we can drive in Cambodia for 3 months with our DL before having to apply for a Cambodian one (This according to the Geneva Convention). But he kept insisting on showing him this IDL. It is clear that all he wanted was to intimidate us to get money. In that case, as a foreigner, what chance do you have with any argument...? They won't loose the face... So I paid not to have to go to the police station. They know this is what most foreigners will do. They abuse.
Apr 8, 2012 8:15 PM
5What I do when I get pulled over for doing nothing wrong here in VN, I look at the officer, then look at his number and say it aloud as I put it into my phone.They get very nervous when you do this as they know you are not putting up with their crap. But if you break the law then its a different matter, you did have your light on and yes it is illegal as strange as it seems.
Apr 8, 2012 8:26 PM
6Yes driving with lights on during the day is against the law. I got done for not having a license on a rented motorbike in Sihanoukville as well about 6 months ago. The cops seemed to be stopping everyone not just the barang. I was told it was a one way street. No sign anywhere to say it was one-way and funnily enough in the afternoon when the cops had left it seemed to have resumed being a 2 way street. I payed 5000 riel for the license infringement and 5000 riel for going the wrong way on a one way street and the cop seemed to be happy (those are the correct fines for those offences). $2.50 all up and enjoyed the rest of my day. Number one rule i was told in these situations is to carry a photocopy of your drivers license and never hand over the real license if they ask for it or you may have a hard time getting it back. I agree that you need to be careful about renting a motorbike in Sihanoukville. Welcome to Cambodia and have a nice day.
Apr 8, 2012 9:41 PM
7Conversation I had in Mr. Policeman after he stopped me in PP:
Him: Driving License?
Me: Yes, here is my Cambodian license.
Me: Here, Sir, are my valid insurance papers?
Him: Road license?
Me: Sir, take a look at the sticker on my windscreen.
Him: USD 10.00!
Me: But why, Mr. Officer?
Him: You are going down a one-way street the wrong way.
Me: (after looking out the window at the bikes cars, and trucks barreling down said street both ways) Since when is this a one-way street?
Him: Since just now!!!!!
I had to laugh and thought the USD 5.00 I finally paid were well worth the entertainment.
Apr 9, 2012 1:08 AM
8I got pulled the other week going the correct way down a 1 way street, right under the arrow sign. I asked what the problem was. I pointed to the sign and said sorry I'm doing nothing wrong and went to pull away. He then put his baton across my neck and straddled the front wheel of the bike. He said $10 without looking flustered. I pulled out a one dollar bill, waved it in front of his face as I was angry by now, he took it and let me go on my way. Always keep a small note in easy reach.
Apr 9, 2012 5:00 AM
9As far as driving without a license, well most locals dont have one either so whats the point of getting one.
Locals haven't until recently been required to have motorcycle licenses, but foreigners have. There isn't a lot of point in getting one, but they are required for insurance. The traffic police in Sihanoukville are notorious, they aren't as bad in other parts of the country.
Apr 9, 2012 5:17 AM
Apr 9, 2012 9:26 AM
Apr 9, 2012 10:49 AM
Apr 10, 2012 10:58 PM
14Me and my girlfriend both traveling on motorbikes through Vietnam and Cambodia. We got stopped in Sihanoukville by the traffic police on our first day in Cambodia.
The cop goes through the whole routine and they'll try to scare you a bit by naming heavy traffic fines for small violations, some real, some made up. Just keep smiling and be polite that you didn't know. We talked them down to $1 and where on our way again. It also seems that they pull over more foreigners because of the new year. They need money to buy presents for their family, so we've been told.
If you haven't broken any law they'll just say they need beer money or coffee money or whatever. It's so funny.
Sadly there are some tourists who pay $60 fines because they are just scared shitless. Oh and they won't chase you because they have to pay for their own petrol and their bikes are small 125cc, so there's no point. Don't know the case with the gendarmerie.
We also got stopped by Vietnamese police. They where with the three of them and demanded 300.000 dong for some made up violation. I think they wanted 100.000 each :p. Vietnamese police hardly speaks English so acting stupid and shaking your head all the time will make them give up. We didn't pay for anything.
Edited by: TravelFeggel
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