We have read and heard many horror stories about the crossing the land border from Thailand into Cambodia. Stories about scams and hardships are abundant (we personally know people who have been scammed here at different times). However, we found crossing the border from Aranyaprathet (Thailand) to Poipet (Cambodia) to be quite easy if you have a sense of what you need to do.
We advise you to do a little research about the border crossing to ensure a good experience getting into Cambodia.
Travel by Bus:
There are several options when it comes to taking a bus to Cambodia. You can book online or go the Mochit (Northern) bus station in Bangkok.
When booking a bus you typically have 3 options:
A: Book a direct bus ticket all the way to Siem Reap.
B: Book a bus to the border and then get on a different bus across the border.
C: Book a bus to the border (Aranyaprathet/Poipet) and then grab a taxi or mini van at Poipet to take you to your next destination. *You can also take a bus leaving Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Station (Ekamai).
We took Nattakan (Transport Co. LTD Company) direct bus to Siem Reap for 750 baht. This bus departs at 8 and 9am each day from Mochit in Bangkok. If you want to book your ticket online, you can only get it at ThaiTicketMajor.com. You can also purchase your ticket at the bus station, but you may need to buy it a few days in advance as this is the only direct bus service from Bangkok and seats can fill up fast.
It was an okay ride there, we stopped for 30 minute break midway at a gas station complex and were provided some water. However, once we entered into Cambodia it felt as if the driver was constantly honking every second of the drive. Later on we realized this is what most bus drivers tend to do in Cambodia. When you arrive in Siem Reap, the bus go the Nattakan office. They provide “free” tuk tuk service to your hotel however this service is not really free as the drivers expect a tip and really want you to hire them to take you to Angkor and around Siem Reap during your stay. In Cambodia, Tuk Tuk drivers at bus stations will always offer you cheap rides to your hotel, but they then expect you to hire them for your trips later on. We were always upfront with the driver so they would know that we would not be interested in further hiring them.
Non Direct Buses:
If you do not book a bus all the way through there is a free shuttle after the second immigration office in Poipet that will take you to a transportation hub where you can hop on another bus, mini van or taxi to your destination in Cambodia.
Approximate Time to Siem Reap: 6–8 hours, can be longer
Price to/From Siem Reap: 750 Baht (if you book online there is a minimal processing fee).
* Avoid various scams offering to take you to Siem Reap from Khao San Road
Travel by Train:
A third class trains depart from Hulamphong station in Bangkok daily in the morning. Its a beautiful journey, but beware you are sitting on hard wooden seats without any fan or air-conditioning, that is if you get a seat. The train will only take you to the border at Aranyaprathet. Once you arrive you will need to take a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi to Rong Khlua to go through immigration and customs. Watch out for scams and do not go anywhere else that the driver may try to persuade you to see. Once you walk through customs and immigration you will then have the option of taking a taxi or bus onward to a different destination (take the free shuttle bus in Poipet near immigration to these modes of transportation).
You can purchase train tickets at the train station, via travel agency, or request them from Thailand Train Ticket.
This is your cheapest option.
Approximate time: 6–10 hours
Price to/from Aranyaprathet : 47baht
Travel by Casino Bus:
If you are able to risk it and want to save some money try to catch a casino bus! You can catch the bus at Lumphini Park or Mochit Bus station early in the morning. I am not sure exactly what time to catch the bus as we took this returning from Poipet late in the afternoon. For only 200 baht, hop on a colorful bus with the Thai casino goers heading to Cambodia for the day.
The Return Journey
If you want to catch a casino bus back to Bangkok, cross the border back into Thailand. The buses are located in the car park around the corner to the right of 711 past the local vans after immigration and customs. It costs 200 baht and the attendants are extremely friendly and happy to have you on board. When it was time for our stop at Lumphini Park returning to Thailand the whole bus somehow knew and made sure we knew when to get off.
Approximate time: 4 hours
Price to/from Poipet: 200 baht
There is always the option to fly to Cambodia if you can afford it.
If you are an American Citizen you can either get your Visa at the border or order it online through Evisa beforehand ($37). Personally, we read some horror stories of people getting scammed into buying fake visas at the border so we went ahead and spent the $5 extra to do it before hand. It is important to note, that not all borders accept the EVisa. We are pretty sure that Poipet is the only land border to accept this visa.
*Other nationalities may be able to get a Visa upon arrival for 15 days
What to do when you get to Poipet border:
First check out of Thailand, then walk across border a few minutes until you reach the casinos and cross the road. If you don’t have an evisa, go to immigration building number one to purchase your visa on arrival. You need to have a passport sized photo with you, if you don’t you can just purchase one at the counter. We have also read that sometimes the officials ask for a “fee” to speed up the process but cannot attest to whether this is accurate or not.
If you have an evisa just go further along to building number 2 (you just skip the first building/process), fill out the small slip and get your entrance stamp.
Overall, this can be simple border crossing if you are aware of the procedures.
*Avoid any people trying to sell you an visa as it will most likely be a scam. Also we know people that were scammed by men in police uniforms (who were not police).
Just use your head. We had a little trouble finding the second immigration office but we made sure to ask an official who we determined to be legitimate and he pointed us to the correct building without any issues!
Please let us know if you have any comments or further questions about crossing into Cambodia from Thailand!