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The Thailand Cambodia border crossing should be easy to cross.
Crossing into Cambodia from Thailand can also be so daunting that you'll never forget the endless hours of waiting and uncertainty.
The information here will help make the journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat trouble free and enjoyable.
Here's how to do it in every way possible.
How you travel from Thailand to Cambodia depends on how much time you have and how much money you're willing to spend.
Everyone needs a visa. Even Thai people will need to get a visa from Cambodia.
The visa is available at any Thailand Cambodia border crossing. All you have to do is fill out a form with personal details, attach a passport sized photograph and 1000 Baht or about $20USD.
You can also order it online.
No Joke. It's a Cambodian Government website and they'll issue you a visa online that you just print out and then show at the border.
Click the link to our Cambodia travel web page or just click on the e-visa button.
It'll cost you $20USD for a 30 day Tourist visa and $25USD for the Business Visa. The Business visa is also good for 30 days travel but it is renewable multiple times for up to 6 months.
I always get the Business Visa because you can renew it in Cambodia without ever having to leave the country.
Just remember that you'll need a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport to qualify for a Cambodia Visa.
The Cambodian Government has taken to enforcing travelers to carry a W.H.O. (World Heath Organization) Certificate of Vaccination. They know you won't have it so you are required to pay $1USD if you can't produce it.
I make the trip so often that I bought a forgery for 70Baht on Khao San Road in Bangkok. The border police look shocked every time I produce it!
From Bangkok to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat by Train
I'll give you all the details on how to do that and every other option there is. I've tried every mode of transportation available. My favorite is the train.
The train departs Hualamphong train station in Bangkok daily at 5:55am in the morning.
Tickets cost 48 baht (1.4USD) and can be purchased at any of the many ticket windows inside the Hualamphong Train Station.
Tickets get scarce during the peak months of November to mid-March.
Make the trip to the train station a few days in advance and get your train tickets. You should be OK if you get your tickets 2 days before the train leaves.
I have personally arrived at the station and was forced to delay my plans because the train was sold out.
Hualumphong Train Station is very near Siam Square and MBK shopping center. It is no more than 15 minutes in a cab from Khoa San Road depending on traffic.
There will be very little traffic at 5:25am!
The train arrives at the border town of Aranyaprathet at 11:20am. The entire journey to the Thailand Cambodian border is 300km and takes about 5.5 hours by train.
There is a second train that departs Hualamphong train station at 13.05pm daily, arriving Aranyaprathet at 18.05pm. All arrival and departure times are quoted by the Thailand Rail Authority.
So don't set your watch to it and expect delays! These times are as close to exact as you're going to get, though.
You should get the morning train because you'll have to spend the night in the border town of Aranyaprathet if you miss it. There are few transportation options available to get you to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat after nightfall.
I wouldn't make that trip unless you own a magic buffalo that can fly you out of danger.
It is never a good idea to do any Cambodia Travel at night. Even with the recent road improvements that has transformed the trek to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat from ... well, see the videos at the end of this page.
The Train is the cheapest way to get to the border at 48 baht (1.3 dollars US) but it takes a little longer than the bus and that 5:55am departure time hurts.
But the pain is not so bad because it is so early in the morning that you 'll be too oblivious to feel anything. And you can sleep on the train in the rearmost car on the long wooden bench seats.
The train ride is a great opportunity to see Thailand in a way you can't from the wide expressway you'll be stuck on in the crowded bus. The windows on the train are all rolled down so you can feel up-close to the passing country-side.
Whereas the air-conditioners in the bus demand that the grimy windows be sealed shut.
You'll also lose most of the Cambodia travel guide-book toting backpackers by taking the train. Not that they aren't great people. I'd just rather not line up behind them for everything.
From Bangkok to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat by Bus
If you decide on the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, then the best one is the Government bus. It departs Mor Chit Bus Station (Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal) on the hour, every hour and everyday from 4am in the morning to 6pm at night.
It takes only 4 - 5 hours to get across the Thailand Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet versus 5.5 hours on the train.
You'll find Morchit bus station at Thanon Kamphaeng Phet 2, near Chatuchak Weekend Market in the far North of the city.
A 1st class bus ticket to Aranyaprathet costs 164 - 196Baht and the 2nd class bus ticket costs 140 - 155Baht But first class and second class are 2 entirely different buses.
If you don't mind the longer journey time (1 or 2 hours extra), then you can enhance your trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap by taking the Second Class bus. You'll meet a lot of the country folk in the different villages along the way through the Thailand Cambodia border.
I took the 2nd class bus just once. The children from the villages who came to see me seemed so happy until they saw my shiny watch and digital camera. It was obviously hard for them to go back to playing in the dirt after that.
I felt some regret for that because they had been so nice to me. I still think about it today and wish there was something I could do like buy them better books for school or at least have a school for them to go to.
That's the thing about Cambodia. Like no other country do people redefine their holiday plans to do some charity work when they make the trip from Thailand to Cambodia. There are a multitude of agencies here who would gladly accept any help you can give.
Try to avoid buying your Thailand to Cambodia travel package trip from a travel agent on Khoa San road in Bangkok. Many private tourist buses that travel across the Thailand Cambodia border are readily available at and leave directly from Khao San road.
But they are more expensive and less comfortable than the government services. And in my opinion less safe.
The private bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap will charge you anywhere from 900 to 1200 Baht. The private tour buses are older and not well maintained because the owners and the drivers don't have any governing standards to live up to.
Thus they have little incentive to spend any money on maintenance or quality de-alcoholized drivers.
Some people have complained that the Private Khoa San road buses often go through the adjacent border crossing at Chong Jom/O'smach instead of the Aranyaprat Thailand Cambodia border crossing.
They do this in all hope of stalling you long enough so that you arrive in Siem Reap at night.
They know that people are less likely to hunt for decent accommodation in the dark and thus it's easier for them to herd you into the guest-houses that they have an 'arrangement' with.
Have a look at the rooms available in Siem Reap before you go. You don't have to book online but it's good to see what the prices are like before you go. My advice is to book online because most good hotels will allow bookings for as little as $1USD.
Have a look at the available hotels in Siem Reap or anywhere else along the way.
If you don't like your room just check out and take a short walk. It won't be far to the next grouping of guest-houses and you can find some cheap jewels to stay in for under $8USD a night.
If you decide to purchase a package trip from one of the travel agents Khoa San road then make sure you'll be on a bus for the second leg of your trip after you cross the Thailand Cambodia border.
Some of the tour companies will stick you in the back of a pickup truck once you get to the Cambodian side of the border. It's too late to get a refund then and it's a much more pleasant ride, especially in the areas that still have rough roads.
Fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
Bangkok, Thailand is the hub of South-East Asia. It's thus one of the best places to find cheap airfares to anywhere in the world.
Once you're in Bangkok try 12flight.com for the best prices. If you're flying out of any other place then CheapOair.com is the best place to find air tickets online. I have used them many times.
If you find better, let us know.
I crossed the border into Cambodia at the Aranyapratet / Poipet crossing.
The first time I saw the Thailand Cambodia Border crossing, it scared the crap out if me!
The level of poverty you'll see at the border is harsh even for the most hardened travelers.
You might even be tempted to turn back when you see Cambodia from the Thai side of the border.
Don't turn back! If you cross the Thailand Cambodia border and then get deeper into Cambodia, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have.
I still smile when I remember seeing the border crossing at Aranyaprathet, Thailand for the first time. The only thing that kept my legs going was my passionate desire to see the Temples at Angkor Wat.
My legs and better jugement wanted to turn tail and run the heck back to Bangkok.
My first impressions here were all wrong!
Where to Cross the Thailand Cambodia Border
If you're not taking a tour then you need to know where to cross the border.
You can cross into Cambodia from Thailand at many different points.
The Thailand Cambodia Border Crossings
Cambodia Thailand Border Checkpoints:
- Aranyaprathet, Thailand / Poi Pet, Cambodia.
- Cham Yeam.(Hat Lek, Thailand - Koh Kong, Cambodia).
- Chong Jom, Thailand / O'smach, Cambodia.
- Chong Sa Ngam, Thailand / Anlong Veng, Cambodia.
- Ban Packard, Thailand / Phsar Prom Pailin, Cambodia.
- Ban Laem, Thailand / Daun Lem, Cambodia.
O.k. so now you're across the border. You'll have to find transportation to Siem Reap unless you've already purchased a package trip from Khoa San road. In that case, you should have been given directions to your connecting bus.
You'll know soon if you got your moneys worth. Just follow the crowd and you won't get lost.
If you are trekking without the tour package then you also have to find transportation.
There are 5 options.
A Private Taxi to Siem Reap
A private taxi to Siem Reap will cost you $40-50USD. The cars are new and the seats comfortable and the air-conditioners are in excellent working order. There is never any shortage of Private Taxis and the drivers will approach you once you are through the Thailand Cambodia border.
This is the fastest (3-4 hours) and most trouble-free way to go. But it is also the most expensive.
A Shared Taxi to Siem Reap
A shared taxi from the border to Siem Reap will cost you $10USD - $15USD a seat. And the taxi will not leave until it is filled with 5 passengers and the one driver.
You might have to wait awhile for the seats to fill and it is a little cramped and some people don't shower as much as you'd like. You get what you pay for.
Official Tourist Bus to Siem Reap
A shuttle bus will take you from the border to the bus station 1km away. It is easy to find and it's free. Once at the bus station, you can purchase a ticket from the Thailand Cambodia border to Siem Reap for $10USD - $15USD.
But again the bus will not leave the station until it is full or nearly full. It could be a long wait.
Package Tourist Bus to Siem Reap
These are the same buses that originate in Bangkok and are filled with tourists who'd bought their package tours on Khoa San road. They are rarely full and you can get on them for under $14USD.
But this was the slowest mode of travel after crossing the Thailand Cambodia border. The bus stops every 2 hours for 'lunch' because the owners of these restaurants have paid the bus company and tour operator to shuffle you off into their restaurants.
Pickup Truck to Siem Reap
Being in the back of a truck you get an intimate interaction with everything around you. But after the 2nd hour every bump in the road is like landing on a bicycle with no seat from 2 stories up.
If you sit in the bed of the truck after crossing the Thailand Cambodia border it's 50Baht and 70Baht if you want to sit in the cab.
I went this way once and sat in the back with my knapsack under my butt for a pillow. The road was dirt in most areas and the ride rough because of the deep pot-holes.
Once through the Thailand Cambodia borer crossing and into Siem Reap, I headed to MOM's Guest House.
It's great value for your dollars and it's in a very convenient area for a visit to Angkor Wat. I Thoroughly recommend Moms!
If you want a glimpse of what I saw the last time I was at Angkor Wat then check out the video on the Angkor Wat Page.
For a look at how the road from the Thailand Cambodia border to Siem Reap has improved, check out the video below.
The first is of the old road before it was paved.
Here is a look at the new roadway.
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