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Cambodia Overland

Travelers' Reports:
Overland, Bangkok - Siem Reap

Page 10 of 22 (Jan 2006 - Jun 2006)

Pick-up trucks (June 2006):

All seems the same on the Bangkok side, I came by train and the tickets are still crazy cheap at 48 baht. On the Poipet side, things seem to have changed just a little; pickup trucks do not seem to be leaving from the bus station, where the free transport takes you. Possibly arranged to be moved elsewhere by the bus companies, although that's just a guess. I managed to find one on the main street, the driver spoke enough Thai to ensure we were going to the same place and off we went. Price to Sisophon was 40baht on the back, I didn't try to negotiate as I thought that was the 50 baht leg... prices from Sisophon to Siem Reap were 70 on the back, rather than 50. I was told that they'd increased lately and this appeared to be confirmed in that the first vehicle I jumped on said 70, I jumped off and went elsewhere (hadn't tried to bargain, but they tried anyway). I was charged 70 at the end on the next one anyway; I saw one local get off at the same time, but he paid in reil and I didn't know the currency well enough then to tell what he paid. It could be that they're trying to charge tourists more or that I look particularly chargeable, I don't know.

Straight to the point (June 2006):

Did the solo route - bus to Aran from BKK, 210B. Tuk-tuk to border, 80B. Border crossing - 1hour - they tried the 1000B trick - no need, just point to the $20 US sign and keep sticking to it - they will relent. Free bus to Transport terminal. Share cab, $45 US for car to guesthouse of choice in Siem Reap. Nine hours. Done.

Siem Reap to the border and beyond (May 2006):

I initially expected Sokimex station in Siem Reap to be a bus/train station so was a bit suprised when it turned out to be a gas station. Hahaha...anyway managed to work out a deal for $5 to the border in a Camry after seeing the amount of people loaded up in the back of a pickup truck. Anyway he made me wait for almost half an hour in a restaurant (wasn't too bad cos I was having breakfast) while he and his fellow "colleagues" looked for more passengers. My mistake then was not sitting in the front seat because he ended up filling the car with six people (2 in front and 4 in the back). so I was stuck with three other women cramped in the back seat (thank God they were small sized). The ride was crazy due to the dirt roads being really bad and the driver flying in an average of 80kmph. We however did stop in Sisophon where a few people got off and the driver tried looking for more passengers for another 10 minutes. I didnt really complain cos he didnt take long to realise that there weren't any and it was time to leave. After another roller coaster journey, I realised how wise it was for me not to take the pick up truck in these read conditions! I can imagine picture popping off the back of the truck when it hits a pothole! Upon reaching the border the driver tried to pull a fast scam by saying we agreed on $6. I said no and walked off without even trying to explain. the whole area was wet, muddy and dirty and I just kept walking past the check points doing the necessary stops and observing the many weird looking people in the area. After passing the Thai border I got one of the tuk-tuks to get me to the bus station and took one of the first class buses for 200baht. It did make a few quick stops which wasn't really a problem. Once in the Bangkok station I was really annoyed because the tourist information guy really seemed extremely helpful until I realised he was trying to sell me a tour package and make his commisison just like every guy in the streets of Thailand.

Well, the Scam Bus works for some (April 2006):

I was travelling in March/April for only two weeks for Cambodia and booked a ticket for Siem Reap at the guesthouse New Siam in the Khao San area in Bangkok. Paid 350 Baht instead of 250 Baht (6 dollar), but I was picked up from my Guesthouse. Was expected to get ripped off a little, but an easy and quick trip was more important for me, than some money. The bus to the border was good and we stopped at a restaurant. For the Visa Service I was charged 5 Dollar extra, but alltogether the trip costed me only 12 Dollar. I changed 50 Euro at the exchange booth there and got Riel to the usual exchange rate as it was in Siem Reap. No hassle at the border. The less comfortable Cambodian bus made a stop at an restaurant, that was a little pricey for Cambodia, some eat or drink something, some not, no one was hassled to order something. We were brought to a guest house in Siem Reap, who charged 5 Dollar per room. The guesthouse was absolute worth the price also compared to other guesthouses in Cambodia. Staff was friendly and helpful. Not big hassle, when you wanted to go elsewhere (possibly because the most stayed there). The only disadvantage, it was about one mile from the city center, but a moto for 1000 or 2000 Riel (0,25 - 0,50 cent) for the trip to town was always available. Obviously the bus was organized for filling the guesthouse in Siem Reap, but in total the trip and guesthouse was cheap and I think you can't do it better for less money.

Another scam bus. Make sure you know the scams first (April 2006):

Banged all of the various versions of the trip through my head before deciding (against the judgement!!) to take the Cattle bus from Khao San.

The evening before I left, I checked with the travel agency offering the trip the price (250 baht), whether this was for the whole journey or just to the border (it was for the whole journey). I also asked is it would leave at the advertised time of 7am (the owner said not to turn up until 7.30am!! And whether it would be realistic to arrive in Siem Reap at the advertised time of 6pm (and, she answered in fairness that it would likely be about 9pm.

I did not take a note of the name of the agency offering this trip, but it doubled as a guest house immediately opposite the branch of Boots on Thanon Chakra Bongse, which runs to the west of Khao San, possibly called BTS Siam (I remember seeing that on the ticket - no, it wasn't mixed with the skystation train either!).

Anyway, Saturday 1st April, 7.30 I turn up, straight onto the bus that had just turned up, actually set off just after 8am, but had a 20 minute "round the block" exercise to try and get more people (there were only about 12 people on the coach - proper coach, not minibus, which i was pleased about).

Journey to the border was almost without incident, apart from just outside Aranyaprathet at approx 12.30pm, when suddenly, the bus developed gear box trouble about 20km out of town. We limped into town at about 20kmp, and pulled into the edge of the road about 600 metres past the train station...conveniently outside a restaurant!! On jumps a Thai man who informs the passengers that the coach cannot cointinue, so to get off, complete the Visa forms for immigration that he so conveniently managed to have to hand and he said he could process them here at the restaurant!!, then he would transport us to the border in one hour. We all got off the coach with our bags (the coach then sped off in a speed not reached for the previous hour!!).

The restaurant (called New Siam) was offering to process Visas for 1200 baht, considerable more than the approx $20 that it would cost at the border, but a few of the passengers went along with this, despite me having a quiet word with them.

I declined the offer for him to process the Visa (despite his insistance that the border would be busy because it was Saturday), and also the offer to exchange Thai Baht because "you won't be able to change it in Cambodia"....Laughable. I bought a 10 baht can of Sprite as my only concession!

At 2pm, we rolled into a pick up truck for the run to the border. No sign of the kids on this side of the border other than a handful who came over and tried to hold unbrellas to shield us from the sun./ I mentioned to a couple of fellow passengers that the cildren would require payment for this, so they said no to the girls.

Thai side of the crossing was fine, all through in about 5 minutes (given that it was 2.25pm, there weren't many people around to be honest.

Walk through to the Cambodian side was a little more eventful, I headed to the Visa Service office on the other side of the road and was approached by an official (proper, not bogus) who attached my passport picture to a form, which I then completed. He then asked me for 1000 baht. I said to him I only had $20 as I had no baht left (not strictly true, but I wanted to put the advice offered on your site to the test). He told me that paying in Baht would make the application get processed quicker. I looked around at the seats given over to people waiting for Visas to be processed and had to stifle a laugh when I saw that no-one was waiting!! I insisted on paying the $20 politely but firmly, in the end, the official grunted, passed the money and the application form through the window and told me to wait. 5 minutes later, my application was completed and my Passport passed back to me!!

I caught up with the other passengers after stepping off the courtesy bus linking the two sides of the border control. Other than a few Cambodian officials wearing face masks associated with the SARS epidemic a few years ago, there appeared to be no sign of any SARS cards mentioned elsewhere in your site or indeed any other illegal type payment, in fact Ii got so carried away, I even refused an official border worker from giving the official Arrival Card into the country which you must complete!! Anyway, after a short wait for the other 11 passengers to get through, got a transfer bus to the Bus Terminal, got onto a bus with more cracks in the windscreen that I've ever seen in my life and headed off at 3.45pm to Siem Reap.

Road is as described by fellow passengers, Mad Max being particularly apt, it did rain for about 10 minutes at one stage, although this did not spoil the journey. We did make 2 stops, one for a "scheduled meal break" for 30 minutes, when the guy accompanying us from the Cambodian side came round with the card avertising the Guest House that we would be dropped off at, and the second stop was for a "five minute" toilet stop, which developed into a 30 minute major bus wash and overhaul job!! It so happened that it was also one of the places that the bus company (Neak Krorhorm) operates from! Eventually, at 9.30pm arrived at Siem Reap, and in all fairness to the "tout", there was absolutely no pressure to stay at the guest house, in fact, it was really nice. They have a website too www.geocities.com/ads_gh2003.index.html  although located 1km east of the River and perhaps a bit too far off the fray, rooms were very cheap $5 for a huge fan room, decent grub and drinks prices too.

I think if you're prepared for a long slog of a day and manage your expectations accordingly and use all of the advice offered, the journey can be done!

Bangkok to Siem Reap, 10:50 hours (March 2006):

Traveled the journey in the middle of March 2006. The first class bus ticket from Morchit cost 212 baht and I was immediately rewarded with a strawberry twinkie like treat and 200 ml of warm water. The trip to Aran took a little over 4 hours. The tuk tuk driver tried to divert me to a travel agent but got back on route to the border after a polite intervention. He also charged 80 baht, not 70, even after a tried to bargain hard. The Cambodian border guy who dishes out the visa form still DEMANDS 1000 Thai Baht for completion of the form. I kept stating I would pay $20 USD and after my fourth protest he consented. He childishly made me fill out the form again as a parting shot, but it was easily worth it monetarily and on principle. The taxi to Siem Reap was easy to get and the touts were friendly. We ended up with a flat tire, but the taxi driver took us to where we wanted in Siem Reap. Total journey from Khao San Rd hotel to downtown Siem Reap: 10 hours, 50 minutes.

Siem Reap to Bangkok, 12 hours (February 2006):

Taxi was booked from guesthouse for 7am, cost of $35USD. We left fairly promptly (only me and the driver). Road conditions were more or less what I expected, although why the driver seemed to aim for the biggest potholes, drive consistently on the wrong side of the road etc etc is beyond me. I'm sure you know what I mean. About halfway through the dirt section before Sisophon, we had a blow out. The driver looked at the tyre, with a look that said "and now what?". Being the good samaritan I am, and because I wanted to get moving, I changed it for him. He could've done it himself, but it took me less than 10 mins. So now we are driving on the worst road I've ever seen, on one of those space-saver spares, and now no other spare tyre. Mercifully, we made it to Sisophon, where the tyre was repaired. Leaving Sisophon, we arrived at the taxi station (NOT the border roundabout) at 11:40am. There, I sat, told that a bus would take me to the border for free. Smelling a rat, I was tempted to walk...but no idea where to go.
Luckily, the bus did eventually leave, and did take me to the border, for nothing, and I was not ripped off in any way. It's probably got to do with this new governement regulation of taxis, to avoid them picking up a pirate fare or something along those lines. Exit Cambodia with no hassles...walk to the Thai crossing...and played the waiting game. Arrived at Thai border around midday...got stamped in to Thailand 40 mins later. Walked through the customs check unimpeded or even looked at twice. Somehow, I made it to the tuk-tuks and to the bus station in time for the 1300 1st class govt bus. Cost was 207Baht, but I got a little water and a snack thing. Made it to Bangkok by 1725.
An exhausting day.

No hassles (February 2006):

I guess I have some good news for travellers through the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border. After having read the stories on this website, we were prepared for the worst, but it eventually turned out to be as smooth as it can get.

We came from Bangkok with one of the 1st class regular busses (193 Baht). To the border we took a tuk-tuk who asked the 70 Baht mentioned here. When we got off it (still in Thailand), we were approached by a guy in a light-brown shirt sort-of-uniform saying AAFT Cambodia. We didn't pay much attention to him, thinking he's just a tout and continued our way through the border. He turned out to be one of Camodian govt. employees whose job is to assist tourists crossing the border smoothly. We didn't actually need his help much, but he was a nice presence the whole way through and we crossed the border in about 10 minutes with absolutely no hassle from anybody. There were no beggars, there were very few touts, it clearly looked like the government got into it and there has been a major clean-up on the border. It was Sunday around noon, there was a huge line of Thais but virtually no people in the foreigner's line. The AAFT guy accompanied us all the way to the taxis to Siem Reap which really seem to be fixed at 40USD now with a window selling official tickets at this price.

At the end the guide asked for a small tip which you may or may not give (we gladly did).

Quick take (February 2006):

Took 10.30am bus from Morchit bus station to Aranyaprathet. Arrived just before 3pm. Tuk tuk to border 70 baht. At the border, notice for visa says $20 but immigration guy asked for 1000 baht. Couldnt be bothered to argue so just paid the 1000 baht. Had arrived same time as the Khao San Road bus so spent 45 mins waiting in the immigration queue.

Couldnt find the pick-up truck place. Nobody I asked seemed to understand me. Saw two people in a taxi bound for Siem Reap. They let me join them and I paid my one third share of the cost of 2000 baht. Thought this was very expensive but they'd aleady negotiated this with the driver and paid him before I got in.

Journey took just under 3 hours with one toilet stop. Very bumpy but still managed to fall asleep for half an hour. Driver seemed to want to drop us off at hotel of his choice but we made him stop at the roundabout in Siem Reap and looked for our own hotel.

Taxi in, bus out (February 2006):

I did the trip from Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap with my boyfriend the 10th of January this year. Thanks to a bit of research and lots of good tales about how people got cheated when they didn't follow the "system" we didn't have any troubles.

We arrived in Aranyaprathet late in the evening the 9th of January where we paid 70 baht for a tuk-tuk to Aran Garden 2 where we spent the night. Next morning we took a tuk-tuk to the border for 80 baht. When we had crossed the Thai part of the border we got to the Cambodian visa office where we filled out the papers. There were no touts and practically no waiting time. Outside the office there was a guy in a white shirt, but no official uniform, which gave out the forms and pencils and told us to fill in the forms. Afterwards he collected the passports, copies of the passports, forms, photos and the money and checked that everything was ok before he gave it to the officials inside. We told him we had no baht so we paid for the visa in dollar. First we tried to pay for two visa with a 50$ bill, but he would not take it but kept saying "change" and point at an office next to the visa office. It showed out that it is important that you have even money in bills but you can change larger bills at the office next to the visa office.

5 minutes later he came back with our passports with a visa in and we took the free shuttle bus to the immigration office where we filled in some more papers and got some more stamps. There we met two Germans who said there would be no bus leaving before 2 pm (it was around 8.30 am) but we could share a taxi. From the immigration office we took the free "tourist shuttle" to the "tourist bus/taxi station". There we were told to pay 40$ up front which we did because we had read how many troubles you get if you don't. We got a nice ticket for a taxi for four persons to Siem Reap and the guys at the desk called a cab which arrived in 5 minutes.

Before leaving Poipet, the taxi driver had to go to check-in his cab for the ride to Siem Reap at another office and then go to a third office to get a ticket he could use at the road check-point. The taxi was a Toyota Camry from Thailand meaning that the driver sat in the wrong side of the car, but he managed to avoid most of the holes by good "rally skills" and to avoid everything else on the road by using the horn 90% of the time... In Siem Reap he dropped us at a hotel of our choice, checked our ticket and went back to Poipet. After this successful travel in to Cambodia we thought us fit to take the bus back to Poipet four days later. Our hotel arranged some bus tickets for 5$ per person with pick-up at the hotel. The bus was very old and the ride back to Poipet took twice as long. But then we had plenty of time to enjoy the landscape… Going back into Thailand took more time than going into Cambodia ­ probably because of the time of the day (just around 2.30 pm). Instead of buying a bus ticket at the border we took a tuk-tuk to the bus station in Aranyaprathet and from there a governmental bus to Bangkok.

Quick advice (January 2006):

I recently did the Bangkok to Siem Reap Overland trip and was so grateful I had read your website beforehand. We also ended up saving an Aussie couple from a Cambodian tout.

Going back to Bangkok, we did try taking our guesthouse's bus, instead of using the Toyota taxi. It was a big mistake, we left at 7am, and didn't get to the border until 2pm. The bus was really old and had no aircon, so the windows were all open and red dust inundated the air. It was also completely packed and extremely uncomfortable. Plus, it kept stopping to eat lunch, or have a toilet break.

We actually bought a ticket all the way back to Bangkok for $12, but after we crossed the border back to Thailand, they started loading everyone into those minivans. That's when we decided to ditch it, and follow your advice to the bus terminal. Thank god!

Fun trip (January 2006):

This was the first time ever I traveled alone. My plan was to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap and then via Phnom Penh to Saigon, afterwards to follow the shoreline until I arrived in Danang. I expected some trouble on the way. When I arrived in Bangkok, I spent the night at a hotel nearby the Morchit bus station. Left at 7.30, paid 193 baht and arrived at 12.00 in Aranyaprathet. When I arrived there was a massive line. Thousands of people!!! Hours of waiting!!!! There was nothing I could do than just to wait in line. Suddenly, a boy appeared, he said he knows me! But I’ve never been there! He says that he can help me and that I have to follow him. The following half hour was one giant deja-vu, it was like I knew what was going to happen. He knew how to skip the line, ten minutes later I passed the border check. When I went out the boy reappeared, I thought by myself: ”Shit he’s a fucking tout!”. He said that he knew someone who could drive me to siem reap. I said that I only want to pay 1000 baht. Amazingly he says, no problem! So far so good.

He takes me to the roundabout. It was like I had entered a whole new world, the difference between Aranyaprathet is stunning. It was like I arrived in the world of “Mad Max”. He introduces me to another man, he shows me his car. He was very friendly, almost to friendly. I said goodbye to China, that’s the boys name, and left. He never asked me money. Five hours of hell!!! Believe me. My friendly driver seemed to be the kamikaze taxi driver from hell, who drives at 80km/h over the worst piece of ‘road’ I’ve ever seen with one hand. The trip was hilarious, what that man pulled of was incredible. He was a total nutcase. I had 100 near death experiences. Sick!

When I looked outside and saw the landscape, the small villages and the people, it was like coming home!! Finally we arrived in Siem Reap, my taxi driver says that his son was an Angkor guide. He called him and arranged with him that he would pick me up at my hotel the next day at 5.30 to go to Angkor. When I arrived in my hotel, I jumped in the swimming pool and looked back on one of the greatest days off my entire life. Next day I went to Angkor and stayed there for three days. If there is one thing that should be on your list of things to do before you die, this is it.

Independent and package (January 2006):

We (2ppl) took the public bus to Aranya Prathet, tuk-tuk to the border, walked across, and shared a taxi to Siem Reap with 2 others we'd met on the public bus in Thailand. The taxi was 50 dollars and didn't seem negotiable, though maybe we could have dragged the argument out longer. 3 hours later we were in Siem Reap and the driver dropped us off at various places of our choice. No unwanted stops or other hassles. Total cost $18-19 per person - most of that for the taxi. The only snag was the official looking Cambodia tourism guys on both sides of the border, who walk along with you and act as if they are immigration assistance etc. even if you completely blank them and do everything yourself. We got our taxi from the same guy in fact, as it seemed no worse than any other deal.

Just to be sure, we took a private all-in-one bus on the way back to Bangkok. This is the easier direction, and there were no scams, but of course the usual annoyances - much worse bus than on the photo, even though we asked specifically when we bought our tickets, much slower time on the Cambodia side (though actually faster on the Thai side), compulsory "lunch" (10:20am!) stop at a crap restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and waiting for enough people to fill a bus on the Thai side of the border. The whole ticket was $12, which was fine, but going independently was definitely far more reliable, flexible AND enjoyable.


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