Cambodia was on my list for this year but during my research, I came across lots of stories of scams at the border or at touristy places. These confused me and I was not sure if I can travel solo. More than that my family also opposed my solo travel due to same reasons. Then one fine (Ahem ahem) day I came across a group tour, they will be taking a group to Cambodia via Bangkok. I had done with them a food walk and it went well. So, I decided to travel with them and checked the details. They clarified my doubts in long conversations (though they didn’t maintain what they committed, about this in another post). Finally, I decided to travel with them and paid. I was ready for Thailand Cambodia border crossing.
In this post, I am giving my account of Thailand Cambodia border crossing. In coming weeks I will write a detailed post regarding the precautions to take when traveling with a smaller company because this trip of mine was worst managed trip of my life. Most of the time, I felt as I was traveling solo on my own and at that time how much I wished that I traveled on my own.
Here I am giving details of “My Thailand Cambodia Border Crossing” experience and other ways to reach Siem Reap from Bangkok more comfortably.
My tour organizers chose the cheapest way of transport, which involved traveling by train and bus. We took the train from Hua Lamphong station, Bangkok at 5.55 AM to Aranyaprathet. Ticket cost is 48 Bhat and travel time is 5.5 hours. There is no pre-booking for tickets, no seat reservation and tickets are issued in morning on first come first serve basis. Same goes for the seats on the train, so it is advisable to reach early to grab a good seat. These trains are none AC and stop at every station. Our train got delayed by 40 minutes, which I came to know is usual. There were many hawkers selling different food and drinks in the train, it reminded me of Indian IInd class coaches.
Finally, the train reached Aranyaprathet station. There were many tuk-tuks standing in queues outside the station, they charge approx 100 Bhat for Poi pet border on Thai side (negotiate if they ask more). In tuk-tuk, only 3 people can fit with luggage. Our tour organizer asked us to walk till road, which is 100 meters. From here some of us got on a vehicle (I don’t know what one should call this, the picture below for ref), they charged 15 Bhat person. It was super crowded & people standing or sitting like sardines in a can 🙁 Others, who can’t fit in it, took a tuk-tuk.
We reached Thai immigration in 15 minutes.
There were signs for Thai immigration office, so no problem in locating. The immigration office is on the first floor. I have to carry my luggage up and down, another pain after traveling for 6 hours. Fortunately, passport stamping took 15 minutes.
We came down from Thai immigration and started walking toward Cambodian border, a couple of people approached us but I didn’t listen to anyone. After walking for around 150 meters and crossing one road, I saw the Cambodian visa office across the road on right side.
We entered the building and a uniform man handed me a form, it was basic and simple. I gave my passport, form and 30 USD to uniform guy for a visa. He didn’t accept my documents and pointed toward the handwritten board at the counter. This board said “Visa fee 30 USD + 100 Bhat or 1200 Bhat + 100 Bhat”. There was another board in black and white on top of visa processing window, it says “Visa fee 30 USD”. I pointed to this board and said only 30 USD. But he claimed this extra 100 Bhat is for visa processing. The official wanted me and others to pay 100 Bhat extra but we pretended that we don’t understand what he is saying and pointed toward the 30 USD board. Initially, he resisted our move but when a couple of us came together and said no, we pay only 30 USD. Then he took our passport with form and money, we got our visa in 5 minutes.We came out of the visa office and walked another 50 meters to reach Cambodian immigration office. Here we spent 15-20 minutes to get the passport stamped due to long queue but without any further issue.
Our mini bus was standing 50 meters ahead of Visa office and finally, we started for Siem reap.
From my experience and what I gathered from other travelers or from my research. I have consolidated details for travel between Bangkok to Siem Reap –
By Train and Bus – It is what we had done. It is cheapest but tiring and takes more than 12-13 hours. Train from Hua Lamphong station to Aranyaprathet station. Then a tuk-tuk to the border, get stamped out from Thailand, get a visa for Cambodia, enter Cambodian side. We had a bus waiting for us across the border but if you are traveling alone or as a couple then you can take a minibus on the Cambodian side. There is a roundabout approx 100 meters ahead of the immigration office, these buses leave as and when they get full.We crossed throw Poi Pet land border, if you check the internet you will come across many “Scam” stories. How Cambodian visa office overcharged or how some so-called travel agent made tourist pay extra for a visa. It is very common on all land borders, if you take a little bit of extra care then it is smooth.
* Don’t stop if someone asks you to offer help in obtaining express Cambodian visa.