Yes, there are flights, yes there are direct buses.
Yes there is a cheaper way 🙂
- Train to the Thai/Cambodian border
Leaving Hua Lamphong 5:55am, arriving Aranyaprathet
Price: 48 baht (About USD 1.30)
Con: Train has a 100% chance of delay…. but for this cheapness, I’ll take any delay
Pro: See the lovely Thai countryside roll by. Train has open windows so if you love nature and have a bit of claustrophobia, this is optimal. Also, don’t take a shower beforehand, because after 6 hours you’ll remain covered in dust from the windows (..did I mention it has open windows?!?)
Tip- Bring food as it is a long ride, and there is only 1 shop at the station
- Tuk-tuk from Aranyaprathet to the border: Poipet
There are several kilometers between the two, and all the tuk-tuks will be waiting on cue (as usual) once you get off the train
Price- Depends on the amount of people, perhaps 100-200 baht total
Con: This is the point of the big SCAM! You likely WILL get taken to the fake border! This is not official and more expensive… make sure you pay attention to the road signs and if the tuk-tuk driver turns right and pulls into a lot… tell him you want to go to the real border.
Pro: You can negotiate a fair price for the tuk-tuk because there are so many that if one doesn’t wish to take you, just walk to the next one.
Tip- We paid 100 baht total for 3 people… bargaining is possible!
- Passport Control!
You will walk upstairs to an office where they will check your passport, and then send you on across the street for further instruction.
Tip- Make sure you have your departure card from Thailand!
- Office: Form and fee
Fill out a simple form and then make your payment. The visa should be 30 USD for a “tourist” visa. This is what you need, not the 35 dollar special visa
Con: They will make you pay a 200 baht “processing fee” which is essentially just a bribe, no real way to avoid this
Pro: Form is straightforward, process is quick
Tip- Don’t try to argue about the processing fee, you’ll just hold up the line
- Line up to get your visa
After payment, walk outside, get another form, and wait in line
Con: Can take a long time (we waited for 40 minutes)
Pro: You now have your visa!!!!!!!!!
Tip- Someone at the entrance will give you another form, make sure this is filled out well before you get to the front of the line (we got scolded forgetting a question).
- Mini-bus to the station
Post- visa, wait for a mini bus to take you a few km to the station for Siem-Reap departures
Con: You may wait until the mini-bus is filled before it leaves
Pro: Cheaper than the options right outside the visa areas
Tip- Don’t exchange too much money at the border, rates are no good!
- Bus to Siem Reap station
After a few minutes on the mini bus, you will arrive here and buy your ticket for Siem Reap
Price- 9 USD (also accept baht)
Cons: This bus will take a long time.. especially since there is 1 restaurant. Our journey was about 3 hours.
Pro: Air-conditioned… you may see a nice sunset, back by the restaurant’s restroom
Tip- You can also take a taxi or a van to Siem Reap from the station, at a higher price.
- Tuk-tuk to your hotel
These drivers await your bus at the Siem Reap station, and will offer a free service with one catch… let them be your tour guide for Angkor Wat….
Con: Tuk-tuk is the only way to get to your hotel, make sure you are aware of what you are negotiating with the driver!
Pro: They can suggest accommodation and are waiting as soon as you get off the bus
Tip- This is where we got ripped off. The driver offered us a free ride, and brought us to a super cool hotel, but when it was time for the tour two days later… his “brother in law” that didn’t speak English, showed up 1 hour late.
We initially agreed on the price of 21 USD without knowing the norms for temple visits.
IMPORTANT: For a big temple tour (5-6 temples), the price should be 20 USD, and for a small tour (3-4 temples), the price should be 15 USD!!
We agreed on 21 dollars without knowing this… the tuk-tuk driver waited at our hostel until we came down to give him the rest of the “initial agreement” money… even though we ended up only doing a small tour.
The journey did take ALL DAY, 14 hours, from sunup to sundown, BUT it did only cost 11 USD for transportation from Bangkok to Siem Reap….
Tip- Don’t sleep the night before the 6am train and you’ll sleep on all 5 transportations 😉
And we made it to Siem Reap in time to find a place, explore the night markets, and enjoy the nightlife…. (maybe a little too much of the latter)…