I knew that crossing from Thailand to Cambodia by land could be a painful experience. I was so ready for it though. I’m not very good at planning everything. Usually, when I book a flight to a new country, I don’t make plans. I like to travel without travel guides. That’s all. And here, I was, in Bangkok, asking myself when I should go to Cambodia. Should I go tomorrow? The day after tomorrow? I had many options; take a VIP bus, take a bus or try the early train. I knew a few things; the visa on arrival might require a bribe, the earlier the better, patience would be my best friend out there…
So, if you are planning to travel from Thailand to Cambodia by land, here’s my quick and simple guide so you can do it too.
How to get from Thailand to Cambodia – The easy way from Bangkok, Thailand
Wake up early (very early)
Depending on the location of your hostel, you might have to wake up sooner rather than later! Good news; in the morning, there is no traffic jam and you’ll be able to reach the train station quicker. You’ll head to Hua Lamphong Railway Station to buy your train ticket.
Take the train to Aranyaprathet
The train leaves at 5:55 AM. If you arrive early enough, you might manage to avoid the long queue. The ticket cost only 48 baht.
Take the tuktuk to the border
Once you arrive at the destination, it will be around 11:35AM. You’ll find a herd of tuktuk drivers ready to try and rip you off. So, put your smiley face and negotiation skills on. *You might have to drink a coffee at some point to be able to manage the situation. If you travel with people, you’ll be able to get a good price. The distance isn’t long at all. We paid 20 baht each. Then, tell them you already have your visa (even if it isn’t true) as they will bring you the visa counter where you’ll be ripped off. They should bring you to the departure Thai border. They tried with us and we didn’t leave the tuktuk saying we already had our visas.
Cross the Thai border
Fill up your departure card (which should be in your passport) and say bye to Thailand!
Get your Cambodia visa on arrival
Once you walked through the border, you might find this bit confusing. On your right, there is a little “office” where you can get your visa on arrival. If you already have it, then, keep going; 300 metres further, you’ll find the entry border.
Be prepared. I repeat. Be prepared.
What you’ll need
- Your passport;
- A picture (I didn’t have one, see below to find out more if you don’t have a picture);
- The visa cost: USD 30 (pristine money though and this is really important);
- The address where you intend to stay (your hostel will do).
What’s going to happen?
Scenario A: You’ll fill up a short form. If you have your picture, they will ask for a bribe (which should be around 100-200 baht). Put your USD 30 in your passport with the form and then go to the counter. They will ask you to for the bribe. If you refuse to pay, they will make you wait. Then, you can try again… And try again. If you’re patient, you might manage to avoid the bribe. If you start a scene, you might avoid the bribe too. Good luck!
Scenario B: You’ll fill up a short form, but you don’t have the picture (which should be only USD 2 more). Put your USD 32 in your passport with the form and then go to the counter. They will ask you for USD 35. You can tell them it’s supposed to be USD 2 and you don’t have any more money. They might make you wait a bit longer. If you are with other people, they might accept quicker.
Note: I already mentioned you really need to have pristine dollars and I’m serious about it. There was a girl at the border with thorn money and they refused to take it. In the end, I don’t know if she managed to get through or not.
Get your stamp at the Cambodia border
300 metres further, you’ll find the entry point where you have to fill out another short form (they basically ask for the same information as the previous form) and you’ll get your stamp there.
Take the free shuttle to the bus station
Keep going; you’ll find the sign: free shuttle to the bus station. People will try to help you there; so don’t worry, they will take you there. They might ask you for a tip later though. Then, it’s up to you.
Enjoy the ride
Once you arrive at the bus station, you have different options. To get to Siem Reap, you have three options:
- Shared taxi: USD 48 for the whole taxi (this is the shorter option as you won’t have to wait to get in the taxi and it takes roughly two hours)
- Bus: USD 9
- Minivan: USD 10 (you’ll have to wait until they get 10 people to share the van)
Heading to Cambodia?
Start preparing your trip now!
Any great stories at the border, you’d like to share with us?
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