Sunday, August 24, 2008

Taxi/Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok

Update [24.06.2009]: A few readers have told me the road from Siem Reap to Poipet is almost all paved, which makes the journey shorter. I checked with a travel agent next to the Bloom shop here in Siem Reap, and she says the journey has been cut by 2 hours, if you are taking a bus all the way. It now takes 8 hours compared with 10 previously - 3 hours from Siem Reap to Poipet and 5 hours from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok (including the border crossing). The cheapest bus ticket I've found costs USD7.50 and will take you right to Khao San Road. You will need to change buses once, after you've crossed the border. In Siem Reap, you will be taking a bus which will pick you up from your guesthouse if you book with a travel agent, but the bus you change to may turn out to be a mini-van, depending on the number of people who go on to Bangkok (many people, Cambodians especially just take the bus to the border).

Right, as promised I will tell readers about how I travelled by land from Siem Reap to Bangkok. Before embarking on the trip I tried searching the Internet for advice and found that most shared advice on going from Bangkok to Siem Reap, but few write about the trip in the other direction. So here goes:

Cambodia and Thailand share a border. The Cambodian side of the border is called Poipet and the Thai side is called Aranyaprathet.

From Siem Reap, you can either take a bus or a taxi to Poipet. I booked a taxi for USD30 and for that you get the whole car to yourself (a Toyota Camry with air-con which is necessary because the road can get very dusty). I booked the taxi through a travel agent but asked the driver how much was his cut and he said USD25, so presumably you can pay USD25 if you know a taxi driver and bypass the agent.

It took us a little over 3 hours to get to Poipet. The roads are not as bad as we had been told. It was a bit bumpy in the beginning for about an 1 hour but it was fine further on. The roads are mostly like this--red and dusty but you will come across stretches of concrete roads. Really, it is not that bad. You will come across many detour signs -- it seems the Cambodians are building small bridges everywhere, for what purpose I do not know. I was told by the taxi driver that the Cambodian government will be improving the road (rumour has it a Thai airline company has been paying the Cambodian government to keep the roads bad so more people will choose to fly). You will also see electricity poles and about 2 hours into the trip, you will see a number of houses that carve large buddhas from stone.

The taxi does not take you up to the border, only to a roundabout from where you can walk to the Cambodian Immigration booth to get your passport stamped. As soon as you alight from the taxi, you will be approached by young men pushing large wheelbarrows. These guys will offer to take your luggage for you to the border. I did not use their services because our bags were manageable, but I think they were just trying to earn a living. So if you cannot be bothered to lug your bags, you can consider paying one of them USD1 to help you (they'll take your bags right up to the border).

It is a 2 min walk to getting your passports stamped. It is on the right side of the road--you will not miss the immigration office, so don't worry. We left at 6:30am and arrived before 10am, so there was hardly any one in the queue.

After you get your passport stamped, it is still a long walk over to the Thai side. Just keep walking straight ahead for about 15mins. Along the way you will pass by a couple of large casinos and even though you are still on Cambodian soil, the roadside stalls and cafe all charge baht. There is an ANZ teller along the way and I took out some USD to change into baht.

Then you keep left to go to the Thai immigration room. Remember to fill in a departure card--both sides--before getting your passport stamped by very grumpy Thai officers. I have to say the woman Thai immigration officer is the rudest one I have encountered in the dozens of cities I have been (except for an Aussie man who asked me the most offensive questions like, "so Diana what will you do if you meet a nice Australian man?" way back in 1990 when I was still a teenager travelling to Australia for a holiday with a friend.)

The Thai woman official would not speak to me and would not lend me a pen to fill in the back part of the departure card. Her disdain conveyed that Thais don't care much for foreigners or for the English language.

Once you cross the border comes the tricky part. Forget about finding bus companies nearby. What you will find is a little village of small shops selling drinks, food, clothes etc. The first thing to do if you have not already changed baht is to get some. I could not find a money changer so I took cash from a machine from a bank which is on your right.

Mom sat down at one coffee shop while I went to look for the bus that will take us from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok. I turned left and down a slope and came to a large bus depot. There were many people waiting for buses, but one thing about Thailand--very, very few people speak English. It comes as a surprise coming from Cambodia, especially Siem Reap, where many locals speak English.

Anyway, I approached what looked liked the bus "office" (on the right). You will see staff in uniforms, but no one could speak English. The staff approached a Thai woman who spoke English, who then told me to go back up the slope to a bus company and asked that I buy tickets from there. She said the buses at the depot are for locals; tourists take the bus from that company.

Then she motioned for me to get on a little tram-like vehicle which provides free transport around the area. We hopped on and went back up the slope to where the company was (I forget the name but there is only one there--and it is really a travel agent that is set up to look like a ticket booth). There are 2 buses you can take. One takes you to Khao San Road while the other takes you to a bus station in Bangkok. The tickets cost 250 baht for the Khao San bus and 300 baht (USD9) to the bus station. The Khao San bus would leave at 1.30pm so I took the other, which was leaving at 11am. I was told that a staff member would take me to the bus.

He did--he brought me and mom back to the same bus depot where we boarded a double-storey bus. Unlike Cambodia, you do not get tags for leaving your luggage in the compartment under the carriage, but that turned out not to be a problem. The bottom storey of the bus does not have 2-seater seats, only a lounge-like room, which had a U-shaped seat around a small table and a couple of double seats. We were told to sit with a bunch of strangers on the U-shaped chair. I wasn't very pleased for the lack of privacy but it turned out ok and the Thai people (we were the only foreigners on the bus) were friendly.

Just before we took off, a woman came over collecting money. She asked me for 200 baht. I asked why? It turns out you can buy tickets on board the bus. And they are only 200 baht each; not 300.

The bus has a toilet and stopped once during the 5 hour trip. Thailand is obviously a rich country: roads are huge and paved and along the way you will see huge car showrooms. The bus stopped at a petrol station that had many hawkers selling fruit, fried bananas and sweet potatoes and there was even a 7-eleven.

Once you get to Bangkok, don't panic. Bangkok is a large city and if it looks industrial, do not worry. Eventually the bus will take you into the heart of the tourist areas near Sukhumvit and Rama IV roads. We got down at one stop and took a taxi to Sukhumvit cos that is the only place I could remember (where the 4-faced Buddha is located). We ended up at the Central shopping mall which was lucky, because there was a large outdoor exhibition on the environment worth seeing.

We then decided to go to Khao San for cheap accomodation. It was already after 5pm so traffic was a killer and taxis would only take us there for USD10. Many taxis in Bangkok refuse to use the meter, but be patient and you will eventually be able to find one that does. We were tired so when a tuk tuk offered to take us for 150 baht (about USD5), I said ok. Later on we took a metered taxi to the same place and it cost us only 80 baht, if that.

That's it. I'll write about the trip home and the (other) hucksters I encountered.


Raúl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Hey, im travelling from Siem Reap to Bangkok this Dec by land. And ur article is extremely helpful. Thanks alot. I will definitely share with my friends, since they are also looking for such detailed guide.

El Draco said...

Thanks heaps for this info Diana,

We are going to follow in your footsteps :-)

Diana Saw said...

Hi Yang and Daflash,

I'm glad you found the post useful. Good luck on the trip! Hope you have a good time in Bangkok. If you have the chance, ask a taxi driver to take you to Chinatown for seafood. There are roadside stalls that sell the freshest seafood at reasonable prices. Really yummy.


Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this. :D all I've been reading about is Bangkok to Siem Reap and I'm planning to do both... or at least Siem Reap to Bangkok then fly back to Ho Chi Minh.

Unknown said...

Diana: this is very helpful for me as I'll fly to indochina this apri. I'll start my journey in ho chi minh going to phnon penh to siem reap and from there to bangkok. Thanks a lot!

Gina said...

Hi Diana: Thank you for the info. I plan to go from SR to Bangkok by bus tomorrow morning and worried about the details as I am traveling alone. The travel agent in SR assured me it is safe and that changing buses will be no problem. I only worry about the transfer from Cambodia to Thailand bus but hope to find everything ok.I already have booked a hotel in Bangkok since I know I will arrive after 6pm.Will try to add my two cents for future travellers who plan same trip. G

Diana Saw said...

Hi Angela, Bob, Gina- Hope you had/will have a good time in Thailand. Thanks for commenting and yes please do share with other readers your travel experiences!

Unknown said...

Those were the old days. Just came back from Siem Reap to Poipet. Highway is almost constructed, in any case it shouldn't take more than 3.5 hrs including a stopover. No more dirt roads, its 95% paved with asphalt. Cost is around 11 USD per person to get you from Sieam Reap to Bangkok (Kaosan Road) as they expect all tourist to go there. You can get tickets along one of the main streets in Sieam Reap that goes towards Pub Street.

Diana Saw said...

Hey Billblog,

Thanks for the update! Good to know the roads are now better. Was the trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok ok for you? Do let us know,


MJ Chan said...

Hi! I am traveling to Bangkok from Siem Reap this August and your post is really helpful. :D

Diana Saw said...

Hey MJ, no worries. I'll write a quick update as the roads are now almost all paved so the journey is shorter. Good luck with the trip! Cheers Diana.

-- LeeNhi said...


I'm Nhung from Vietnam. Thank you so much for your entry. It's really great. It made me less worry about the trip from HCMC to Reap to Bangkok I will make next week ^^

Just one more question to ask you: do you know any travel agency in siem reap that sells the ticket to Bangkok and the time the bus starts to leave sieam reap? it must be great that you can give me some information. Next week, on Thursday 14th.09, I will come to Siem Reap in order to go to Bangkok but the arrive time is in evening and i'm not sure if I can find any travel agency at that time or not +__+

Once again, thank you so much for your great entry. Hope to see you and your shop in Siem Reap next week ;)

Diana Saw said...

Hi Lee Nhi, you can try CMT travel which is next to the Bloom shop. It is also next to Steung Hotel in the Old Market Area. Have a good trip, Diana

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for all this information Diana, I have been looking for the easiest way to do the trip in this direction when I go in March and you have answered all my questions, you are a champion!


Unknown said...

Tks for yor guide Diana. I'm supposed to get alone to Bangkok from Siemriep next week but a little bit worried if some bad guys at the border play tricks...

Unknown said...

Hi Diana - I am going to thailand in Dec. We are planning the bus trip to/from Siem Reap. I was a little confused about the pruchasing of the bus tickets - do you do it "on the bus" or at the "ticketing booth/travel center"?

Diana Saw said...

you can buy the tickets on the bus as well as from the booth. it's cheaper on the bus.


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