Border Crossing: Bangkok to Siem Reap

Crossing the border from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia has become legendary on its own. More and more backpackers are doing the challenge which is proven to be the cheapest yet adventurous and inconvenient way of crossing the border between the two countries.

Several guides have been published on the net including the very popular Seat 61 site which I found very useful. But it was Marcos’ Ambot-ah and Doi’s Travelling Feet that I thanked a lot to which I patterned my trail.

The Angkor Wat of Siem Reap has been on my bucket list for quite sometime now. And finally my time came to fulfill another dream. Two months after my land border crossing from India to Nepal, I was back again to the same kind of journey to different lands.

Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

I armed myself with a lot of reading, research and preparation for this trip. With the route notoriously known for being another tout haven and for me who stupidly can’t get rid of these touts, I was scared as hell. But I had to do it.

Upon reading Marcos’ piece and Doi’s recently published guide, I decided to take the “casino bus” to Aranyaprathet at Lumpini Park. Doi actually suggested that I take this bus which they say is the fastest that I can reach Aranyapratet with travel time of only 3 hours. I decided to scrap the government bus at Mo-Chit or the budget friendly and scenic train ride because my schedule was tight and I had to make the most of my short vacation, thanks to Independence Day holiday :)

I flew to Bangkok the night of June 8 and stayed at my favorite hostel in the city – Lub’D Silom, a merely fifteen minutes walk to Lumphini Park.

It was a short stay at Lub’d, merely six hours which is just enough to recharge my phone, get a good sleep and shower before heading to Cambodia. I left the hotel five minutes before five in the morning, it was still dark and Silom Road was still deserted. I walked for fifteen minutes to Lumphini Park at the northern end of Silom Road and found the casino bus parked at the southeast corner of the park along Thanon Witthayu, near the park’s entrance and across the HSBC building. I approached a lady barker who was shouting in Thai. I presented to her my question written in their language and printed on a sheet of paper “Bus 99 to Aranyapathet?”

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

The lady nodded and pointed me to the double-deck bus parked on the street. I got in and sat on the upper deck. There were still few vacant seats but it was still early at 530 in the morning, so we waited. Shortly after, a lady occupied the seat behind me.

A few more minutes passed and I was surprised when the lady beside me uttered – “anong oras kaya aalis ito?” (what time will the bus leave), to which I replied – “6AM po” (at 6AM). Apparently, she is a Filipino, and she probably noticed my Philippine peso bills when I was organizing my stuff.

She was Annalyn, now based in Bangkok with his European husband. She was going to a casino in Poipet. Actually, everyone in the bus except me were all heading to casinos in Poipet, thus it was called a “casino bus”. So these people need to travel for three hours just to play in the casinos since casino is not allowed in Thailand.

The bus departed at exactly six in the morning and made a short stop at a gas station out of the city, I paid 200 Baht for the fare. Annalyn and I talked almost in the entire duration of the trip. I can feel her longing to chat in Tagalog. I told her I am going to Siem Reap to see the Angkor Wat. She felt a bit ashamed that she haven’t seen it yet and promised to check it out soon.

We reached the border at 0925H and we both walked a few meters to Thai Immigration. We cleared Thai and Cambodian Immigration swiftly without any hassle. Surprisingly, there was no queue on the Cambodian side. Annalyn left me after she got her stamp and by ten in the morning, I was already in the government free shuttle to Poipet parked just outside the Immigration. The bus waited for a few minutes until there were three of us aboard, it was still the low season for tourist crossing the border.

In a few minutes we were already in Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal. I proceeded to the counter and the personnel asked me if I will take a bus or a shared taxi. The bus, cheaper at $9, departs at 3:00PM and takes three hours to reach Siem Reap. The shared taxi costs $12 and leaves as soon as there are already four passengers, travel time is two hours. I chose the latter but I was the only passenger going to Siem Reap that time so I waited.

An hour and a half past, a group of Caucasian tourist heading to Siem Reap arrived, they were six. After their negotiations, the terminal staff called me to join the group in their mini van. We left at 11:40AM and reached Siem Reap after two hours of smooth and scenic travel from Poipet.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The minivan dropped us at their own stop so I needed to ride a motorbike for a dollar to Angkor Night Market in Sivatha Road where Ed and Doi reside.

It was a total of eight hours of land travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap in an unbelievably hassle-free border crossing. I over reacted too much and expected a lot of touts, but aside from some motorbike drivers in Cambodia side of the border that were offering their ride to the Tourist Transport Terminal, I was lucky that I encountered no scam. The ride, the transfer, the immigration and the whole process were all smooth and cheap, not that convenient but not too much of a hassle either.

I arrived Siem Reap a few hours before sun down. There were still some time for some activities and to roam around but I decided to rest and just stay at Ed and Doi’s room. I reserved all the activities for the next day, it would be a busy one.

Bangkok to Siem Reap Border Crossing on a Nutshell

  • Ride a “casino bus” at Lumphini Park to Aranyapathet (3 hours / 200 Baht)
  • Walk to the Thai and Cambodian Immigration
  • Take the Cambodian government free shuttle (right beside the immigration office) to Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal
  • Ride a shared taxi to Siem Reap (2 hours / 12 US Dollars)

For more information on how to travel by land from Bangkok to Siem Reap and other relevant information, check out Marcos’ post here and Doi’s posts here.

Note: I lost my phone with all my border crossing photos so I just used my photos of Bangkok and Siem Reap :P

30 Comments on “Border Crossing: Bangkok to Siem Reap

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the casino buses, we took it from Bangkok, we found it easily.
    Do you know if there is the same buses if we cross the border near Koh kong in Cambodia to Trat in Thailand ? And if they exist how can we find it ?
    Thnaks again

  2. Hi po! Thanks for writing this beautiful blog entry :) I’m planning a trip with my Parents to Thailand on March, Ask ko lang po sana if okay po na mag-purchase ako ng tickets Manila to Bangkok and ang Departure ko po ay Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Manila? I mean, required po sa Thai Immigration ang return ticket, okay lang po ba if ang maipresent ko ay yung Vietnam to Manila na? Plan po kasi namin ay Bangkok to Siem Reap then to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Thank you po :)

    • I believe there will no problem with this. Thai Immigration usually will not ask you to present your return ticket, it is the Philippine Immigration or your airline that will ask when you depart for Bangkok. For as long as you can present a return ticket to Manila and can explain clearly that you will be backpacking from Bangkok to Vietnam and will fly to Manila via Ho Chi Minh, there will be no problem. Enjoy!

  3. Nice blog…planning to go to Siem Reap via Chon Buri this October. Thanks for the info I got from reading your blog…

  4. Pingback: Crossing Borders : Bangkok to Cambodia | Princess Noelee

  5. Hi. We will arrive in bkk airport at 12midnight. We plan to stay at the airport til 4am and take a taxi to lumphini park to go directly to cambodia. Is it safe to travel at that early?? Thanks a lot

  6. Hello Emma,

    I read your message and wanted to help you, because I have been in Siem Reap a lot of times. The Tara Angkor hotel is a beautiful hotel and is ideally and conveniently located, Tara Angkor Hotel is situated only 6 km from the Angkor Wat Temples, 15 min drive from the Siem Reap International Airport, a few minutes stroll to the Angkor National Museum and a short ride to the city town center with an array of Cambodian souvenirs, shopping and culture. They have a few promotions that you can make use of if you haven’t booked already: Last minute bookings, summer sales, early bird promotion or Angkor temptations. Of course there are a lot more, but have a look at their website. It is not that far to the Angkor temples that I would advise you to see for sure. I would say, grab yourself a 3 day pass and find yourself a decent tuk tuk driver to take you to the farther ruins and for a drive in some of the outlying villages. If you’re up for it consider renting a bike and checking out Angkor Wat on your own. There’s a lot to see and do so a lot depends on your time and budget. A few temples I would strongly suggest you check out besides Angkor Wat itself are Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom and of course Ta Prohm just to see the amazing tree. The Banteay Srei temple is farther out of Siem Reap but has a very different feel than a lot of the others. If you want to do something else as well, you can visit the day and night market. I can really recommend these attractions. If you need to know more, let me know.

  7. Hi! Would you know if there’s a bus going to the other way around? A Casino Bus from Poipet going back to Bangkok?

  8. hi is it possible for us to travel in the afternoon from bangkok to siem reap, how many hours?and is it safe?

  9. Hi ,

    Very informative!, thanks lakwatsero..:)
    Anyway, ask q lang po, first time po kz nmin w/ my friends went to bangkok, ano po b mas better, mag agency po kmi or our own lang po?
    Hope u can give us an advice and info para po sa mga first timer.. thank you so much…
    God bless….!

  10. Hello,

    Your blog was interested to read, and a few question came into my mind. Perhaps you can answer them. I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

    And I want to celebrate my birthday is in September as well, and want to have a fancy meal in Siem Reap. Some friends recommended me the following restaurants; Tonle Sap, Tonle Mekong and the Tonle Chaktomuk. Do you know them by any chance?

  11. Good day!

    Thank you for your very helpful post. I have a concern though. Do Filipinos still need a Cambodian visa to visit their country? I have researched in their website that nationalities like Thais, Vietnamese, Filipinos, etc. are exempted from the visa requirement. I just want to make sure since who have already visited Angkor Wat. Thanks in advance for your help :)

    • Hi Arianne, visa is not required for Filipinos traveling to Cambodia! :-)

  12. I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

  13. Hi lakwatsero,
    Good job on this write up. Question, is it possible to do a day trip to Siam Reap from BKK? Have you heard of the direct bus goin there via the The Transport Co. Ltd? Is it operational? Thanks!-LUI

  14. hi lakwatsero..we are planning to visit bangkok this coming february and we wanted to go to siem reap also..i’ve already read your blog and it is very informative, i just wanna know if we can easily come back in bangkok after out siem reap tour because our flight going back to philippines will be from bangkok?thanks a lot…

    • Hi Lance! Yes, going back to Bangkok from SR is easy. Just reserve a seat from from any bus company going to Aranyapathet Border, ask your hotel for the nearest bus terminal. Then cross the Cambodia-Thailand border. You may ride the Casino bus back or take a songthaew to the train station then catch a train to Bangkok.

  15. very informative thanks angel :)
    quick question lng…. ill be in SR for 4 full days we are planning to have a quick visit in BKK do u think okay lang un or nagpagod lang kmi hehehhe… just want to know ur opinion kasi baka namn ung 4days ay sapat lamang sa SR or baka kulang pa ?

    thanks much

    happy travel !!!

  16. Hi,

    Did you pay for the visa in Cambodia? I’ve ready somewhere that it’s about 800-900 baht?

    Thanks! :)

  17. Hello, from all of blogs that I read, only this blog which tell another option to take bus to SiamRep. If u took a bus from Lumpini park which was more efficient (3 hours only), may I know how does it cost for the bus ticket?
    Im going to explore Cambodia on October so your information will be appreciated :)

    Thank you

    Rgds,
    Mayrina

      • Hi Lakwatsero, thanks for your quick response. I also read Marcos’ blog but he said its took 4-5 hours with
        that bus instead of 3 hours like what u said before. R u sure its only 3 hours?U know, I don’t want to get older that bus :D n beside Angkor Wat, what else another interesting place to see in the evening?Angkor night market?

        Thank you :)

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