How To Go To Cambodia From Bangkok Via Aranyaprathet
By Overland Travel and Thru the Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border Gates
Information in this page provides details and insights on overland travel by the highways connecting Thailand and Cambodia, crossing the border, immigration matters and directions where to go. Go to the Table of Contents of this page. Click here
Table of Contents
Possible surprises in this journey. Click here
Three Ways To Travel By Land From Bangkok To Phnom Penh or Siem Reap Thru the Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border.
OPTION 1: The so-called "straight-thru bus ticket" to Phnom Penh. Click here
OPTION 2: Bus from "Mo Chit Bus Station" to Aranyaprathet. Click here
SPECIAL OPTION: The “classic” train to Aranyaprathet. Click here
What To Remember and Not To Forget When You Reach the Border. Click here
Information and Insights on Crossing the Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border Gates. Click here
Your first important stop upon reaching the border gates. Click here
How you enter the Cambodian territory. Click here
Where to get Cambodian tourist visa on arrival. Click here
The Cambodian Passport Checkpoint at Poipet. Click here
Poipet Bus Station: For buses to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Click here
Toilet-stop along the way to Phnom Penh. Click here
Possible Surprises In The Journey Riding the Van
A story that could be one of those likely to be pulled up from fondly kept memories of travel adventures and misadventures in exotic lands, when friends gather over cups of coffee or mugs of beer, could be about a trip, in a van, from Bangkok to Phnom Penh via the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border between Thailand and Cambodia.
One traveler who had kept coming back to the same route several times, particularly by the so-called "straight-thru" bus ticket from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, was overheard saying, "It is never the same every time. Never the same".
Obviously, after several journeys on this route, he found that he would always encounter new "twists" and "turns" in every trip that would give the latest a particular characteristic distinct from the one before it. Click here to continue reading on possible surprises in the journey.
This web page gives information about things that may surprise a traveler making a journey from Bangkok to Phnom Penh for the first time, and about matters that can provide proper guidance so that frustrating delays, unnecessary expenses and insecurities can be avoided, and even turned around to become materials of great tales that can add color to the rainbow of stories of adventures that can be told later.
OPTION ONE of Travel By Land
Bangkok To Cambodia
Using the so-called "straight-thru" bus ticket from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (or Siem Reap):
This ticket costs about US$25.00 or more. It is offered in many travel agencies in Bangkok, particularly those found around popular tourist-areas of the city, like the areas around Khao San Road.
Be aware: It has been reported that there are scams in the sale of the so-called "straight-thru" bus ticket between Bangkok and Phnom Penh (or Siem Reap) when you buy these tickets from street dealers.
Make sure that you are buying from a dependable ticket-agent a ticket that will really get you through up to Phnom Penh (or Siem Reap). Ask advice from the front desk of your hotel about this.
Be aware: The so-called "straight-thru bus ticket" does not neessarily mean one bus ride from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.
The journey is actually done in two segments. Cick here
The first segment of the trip may be done in a passenger van, usually referred to as "minivan", which you may board in the street where you bought your ticket, or in a bus which you board in a bus station in Bangkok. Click here if you prefer taking a bus
The van, as well as the bus, will bring you only up to the border of Thailand and Cambodia, specifically in Thailand's border-town of Aranyaprathet (sometimes also called by its short name: "Aran").
Minivans (like this one shown in photo above) carry passengers, who have purchased "straight-thru" tickets, from Bangkok up to Thailand's border town of Aranyaprathet. After walking across the border into the town of Poipet of Cambodia, the passengers go to a bus station and board a bus bound for Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Aranyaprathet is a border-town in Thailand's province of Sa Kaeo which is along the border of Cambodia. Beside Sa Kaeo, on the Cambodian side of the border, is the province of Banteay Meanchey. The border-town in Banteay Meanchey is the town of Poipet.
Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo, Thailand, is adjacent to Poipet in Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia. You exit from Thailand in Aranyaprathet. You enter the territory of Cambodia by walking into Poipet.
The second segment of the trip is a bus ride from Poipet to Phnom Penh or to Siem Reap.
When buying your "straight-thru ticket" in Bangkok, your ticket agent may tell you that your minivan (which you will ride in the first segment of your trip from Bangkok to Phnom Penh) will pick you up in front of your hotel, or in a designated place, at a particular time, and that all you need to do is just to wait there.
Be aware: This "pick up service" may not always be as faithful to its meaning and as convenient as it may sound.
Something like this can happen:
You are told that your minivan will depart for the Thailand-Cambodia border at 8 a.m. and you need to be ready for pick up at 7 a.m., sharp (emphasis on "sharp"), the next day.
You wake up early, forego bath and breakfast, and you are there with your luggage at 6:30 a.m., in the place designated for pick up, all ready to go. A few minutes later two or three more people, all heavily laden with backpacks and breathing heavily, join you there.
At 7 a.m. you all begin to look around and up and down the street and see no sign of any minivan. By 8 a.m., still no minivan or anyone.
At 8:30 a.m., a guy comes up and asks to look at your tickets. He looks at them and tells all of you to follow him. You all follow him around many city blocks for the next 10 minutes, loaded with your bags and backpacks (and he walks fast). Eventually, he stops at a van parked on the side of a street. This is the van that was supposed to have picked you up two hours ago. You can see that it is beginning to fill up with other passengers.
You climb up the van and thank your good fortune that, with the indulgence of fellow passengers who oblige to move aside a little bit more, you are still able to find a space to settle yourself down comfortably enough to sustain your body and spirit for the next 3 hours or so of highway travel. You look around, to other passengers, and you all exchange light smiles and raised eyebrows to signify your corporate willingness to go through the next unexpected events together, all in the spirit of adventure.
Finally, the driver climbs up, closes the door, starts the engine and begins to take on the city roads in earnest. Now you are all really on your way. You look at your watch. It is almost 10a.m.
This is not standard occurence, of course. But something like this really does happen from time to time, maybe even more often than not.
This year (2016), with the entry of an online bus ticket agency, things could have improved in the system that involves the boarding and off-loading of bus passengers from Bangkok to Phnom Penh through the Thailand-Cambodia border at the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border-gates. We encouraged you to check out the Cambo Ticket online and see how the system works better this time. Click on their link below.
There is about 254 kilometers (158 miles) between Bangkok and the Thailand-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet. The van will creep in several traffic jams that it will meet in the city of Bangkok. As soon as it is outside the city proper and in the highway the van will travel at the speed of at least 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) on long stretches.
There is at least one refuelling-stop midway. This usually takes at least 20 minutes. There is enough time to go to the rest-room and even buy something to eat in the convenience store (usually a 7-11) in the gas station. All passengers are required to get out of the van during refuelling for safety purposes. For peace of mind, you can bring out with you your hand-carry bag or small backpack where your valuables may be kept.
You will most likely reach Aranyaprathet a little over 3 hours after leaving Bangkok.
Be aware: The minivan, when nearing Aranyaprathet, may suddenly just make a turn into a place along the highway where it will stop.
Why? Click here
The van may make a stop...
It is not yet the place where you are supposed to get off. It is just somewhere, which to you can appear to be in the middle of nowhere.
The driver gets out and disappears from view. He didn't say anything to give some hint (even in Thai) for the need to stop. You all just sit there (the driver leaves the engine and the airconditioning going), for the next 15 minutes or more, wondering what's up. ("He has to pee? That long?", "His digestive system has a violent disagreement with his breakfast?", "Are we in danger?", etc.). He reappears, after what seems to be along time. His face passive, even serious. He climbs up the driver's seat and resumes the travel. No word.
Again, questions in the eyes of everyone ("Is he all right?", "Is our vehicle all right?", "Did he just got out to smoke?"). Maybe, a little more wild imagination may come to mind ("Did he try to sell us to a slave trader who finds a van full of tourists who have not had bath since the morning bad for business and refused the sale?"). Anyway, the van is back on the highway and everyone feels at ease again. Everyone looks at everyone. Light smiles, raised eyebrows, shoulders shrugged. What was the stop all about? No one knows.
Again, this is not usual occurence, but something that happens from time to time.
(By the way, on a more serious note, highway abduction of tourists travelling between Thailand and Cambodia is a crime that is still unheard of up to the present year, 2016.)
Be aware: When the minivan reaches the Cambodian border at Aranyaprathet, it will not stop and end its journey at the spot where the Thailand Immigration Passport Checkpoint is located, as you may expect.
So, where do passengers really get off? Click here
Van stops at a restaurant...
The minivan will stop at a restaurant that serves as a "van-terminal". This restaurant is still about 750 meters from the point in the border where the Thailand Immigration Passport Checkpoint is located.
Be aware: Contact-persons in Aranyaprathet, of the ticket agency where you bought your "straight-thru" ticket, will meet you there at the "restaurant-van-terminal".
They will look at your ticket and stick a small colored paper on your shirt. By doing this they are color-coding you. This enables them to recognize the passengers that have been assigned to each of them and the particular final destination of each. The color code on your shirt will enable them to pick you out again from other travellers when you have crossed to the Cambodian territory and when you emerge from the Cambodian Immigration Passport Checkpoint in Poipet. They will guide you to the bus station in Poipet and tell you which bus to board. For meeting you and guiding you to your bus for Phnom Penh, it is said that they will earn a commission from the ticket agency in Bangkok where you bought your "straight-thru" Bangkok to Phnom Penh ticket.
Be aware: The contact-persons who will meet you will try to convince you that "you will need him" to get a Cambodian tourist visa. (See photo below of a "contact-person" in action for this purpose in the "restaurant-van-terminal". Click here)
He will try to make you understand that, if you still do not have a Cambodian tourist visa, it will be hard for you to get one. He will try to sell you the idea that you can get a visa if he is the one who will get it for you. He will charge you US$38.00, or more, for the visa and for his services.
You can refuse this offer. You can actually get a Cambodian tourist-visa, by yourself, very easily, for only US$30.00. (From the previous rate of US$20.00 for a tourist visa on arrival, the US$30.00 rate took effect October 1, 2014.)
You might even be tourist-visa exempted.
To see if you are visa-exempted, click here.
To know how to get the Cambodian Electronic Tourist Visa (e-visa) online, click here.
The "contact-person" in action, "facilitating"...
The man at the left portion of photo (above), bending over the table of a lady, is a contact-person of a ticket agency in Bangkok that sells "straight-thru" Bangkok to Phnom Penh ticket. He is one of those agency contact-persons who also moonlight as "visa facilitators" in the border. This photo was taken inside the "restaurant-van-terminal" where vans from Bangkok disgorge their passengers at Aranyaprathet (Thailand). The restaurant is about 750 meters away from the Thailand immigration authority passport checkpoint beside the Poipet (Cambodia) border-gate at the Thailand-Cambodia border.
In this photo the man appears to be helping the lady on the table fill up what is probably a visa application form. She must have agreed to let him get a visa for her. He will charge her US$38.00, or more, for the visa and for his services. When she had crossed over the border, and if she drops in the Cambodian Office of International Border Check Point of Poipet, she will discover that the visa is only US$30.00 and she could have filled up the application form there by herself without any difficulty. Tourists who find the services that the "visa-facilitators" are offering to be tricky and overvalued call them "visa touts" or even "scammers".
In a more cheerful thought, maybe the "visa facilitator" of this lady will also give her extra service, like carrying the heaviest of her bags from the "restaurant van terminal" up to the Cambodian Arrival Passport Checkpoint, which is over one kilometer away and which she has to walk. That can probably make the extra 8 dollars she gave him for her visa worth the payment she made.
(Indeed, these "visa facilitators" in this restaurant have been observed to willingly help tired travellers carry their bags for the kilometer-long walk.)
This is the road you will need to walk.
Be aware: You will need to walk the distance of about 750 meters from the "restaurant van terminal" (if you took a van from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet) up to the Thailand Exit Passport Checkpoint beside the border gate.
It is another 400 meters, or so, from the Thailand Exit Passport Checkpoint to the Cambodian Arrival Passport Checkpoint inside the Cambodian territory. That means, you will have to walk the total distance of about 1 kilometer (a little more than half a mile).
If you have taken the van for sure you have been also met, when you got off at the "restaurant-van-terminal" in Aranyaprathet, by the "contact-persons" of the ticket agency in Bangkok where you bought your "straight-thru" ticket. You, most likely, have also been offered assistance by a "contact-person" in getting a Cambodian visa and in getting you and your baggages to the border-gates. (See "Contact-Persons" In Action. Click here).
Most tourists refuse the services of the "contact-persons", who also act as "visa facilitators", at the "restaurant-van-terminal"
Without any paid assistance from the "contact-persons", they simply walk the long road (photo above), pulling their trolleys behind them, from the "restaurant van terminal" to the Thailand immigration authority passport checkpoint.
This road (of about 750 meters up to the Thai Passport Checkpoint) is still within the territory of Thailand but leads directly to the Thailand Passport Checkpoint where you exit Thailand as you go out its back door that opens directly to the road that leads to the Cambodian Welcome Arch in the Cambodian territory. The road is not served by any public transportation vehicle.
The whole distance that you will need to walk from the "restaurant van terminal" (at the Thailand side of the border) to the Cambodian Arrival Passport Checkpoint (inside the territory of Cambodia) is about 1,160 meters (or over a kilometer). The walk could be under the heat of the sun or under the rain. You will thank your good sense if you had made sure to bring wheeled bags with strong wheels and comfortable walking shoes. A hat and a light raincoat tucked somewhere in your backpack can also give a comforting thought that you have the right things readily available when their need comes.
OPTION TWO of Travel By Land
You Take A Bus From the "Mo Chit Bus Station" To Aranyaprathet:
The bus ticket from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet is about 330 Thai Baht (about US$11.00), purchased at the "Mo Chit Bus Station". The real, official, name of this bus terminal is Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak).
Don't confuse bus terminal with train station...
Be aware: There are two transportation terminals in Bangkok that are referred to as "Mo Chit".
This may confuse you into going to a transportation terminal that is not the bus station you need to go to.
Firstly, it should be noted that Mo Chit is sometimes also written as "Mochit". Sometimes it is spelled "Mor Chit" and also written as "Morchit".
Secondly, there are two transportation terminals in Bangkok that people would refer to using the name "Mo Chit". One is the bus terminal in the District of Chatuchak, which has been known as the Mo Chit Bus Station. The other is the skytrain terminal, also in the District of Chatuchak, which is most of the time simply referred to as "Mo Chit BTS Station".
The so-called "Mo Chit BTS Station" is actually Mo Chit Skytrain Station. As its proper name makes clear, it is a skytrain terminal. "BTS" means "Bangkok (Mass) Transport System". This is the elevated passenger rail system that serves different parts of the city of Bangkok. It connects to Bangkok's Metro Rail Transport (MRT), and also with the Airport Rail Link that serves Suvarnabhumi International Airport of Bangkok. The means of transportation run on railroad tracts, meaning trains.
Mo Chit BTS Skytrain Station is a skytrain terminal not a bus station. The bus station is still about two and a half kilometers away from the skytrain station.
The transportation terminal you would want to go if you are going to Aranyaprathet, by bus, is the one many people usually call "Mo Chit Bus Station".
The name you wil actually see written in the facade of this bus station is "Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak)".
Why they still call it "Mo Chit Bus Station"...
The reason why many people still call it "Mo Chit Bus Station" is because this bus terminal was originally located near the Mo Chit BTS Skytrain Station in the District of Chatuchak, and it was then called Mo Chit Bus Station. Its present location now is still in the District of Chatuchak, but it is now located about 2.5 kilometers away from the skytrain station. With reference to its new location some still call it "Mo Chit 2 Bus Station".
Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak) is also referred to as the "Northern Bus Terminal". This is with reference to the destinations of the buses that originate from this station. The buses go to the northern and northeastern provinces of Thailand. Aranyaprathet is a town in the province of Sa Kaeo that is located in the northeasten part of Thailand, alongside the Thailand-Cambodia border.
The specific ticket window for Aran...
The ticket for Aranyaprathet, at the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak), can be bought at the Ticket Window No. 22.
Be aware: There are two ticket windows in the station that are marked "No. 22", which may confuse you.
The Ticket Window No. 22 that sells tickets for Aranyaprathet is located inside the station. The window number "22" in the outside hallway of the station does not sell tickets for Aranyaprathet.
Three other bus stations in Bangkok...
Be aware: There are three more central bus stations in Bangkok, other than the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak).
One of these three stations also has buses going to Aranyaprathet, but they are not as many compared to the number of Aranyaprathet-bound buses from Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak). These stations are as follows:
1. The Eastern Bus Terminal: It is also known as the Ekkamai Station, because it is almost beside a BTS Skytrain Station in this area that is also called Ekkamai. It is located on the eastern part of the city of Bangkok. The buses there go to the provinces on the eastern part of Thailand. A few also go to Aranyaprathet. It is better to check first about schedules and types of buses if you would like to try getting a bus from the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) to Aranyaprathet.
2. The old Southern Bus Terminal: It is located on the western side of the city of Bangkok. The buses there go to the provinces that are on the western and southern part of Thailand. There is no bus there that go to Aranyaprathet.
3. The new Southern Bus Terminal: It is located also on the western side of the city of Bangkok. It is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the old Southern Bus Terminal. The buses there also go only to the western and southern part of Thailand.
Arrival at Aranyaprathet and Cambodia border...
There are about 248 kilometers (154 miles) between Bangkok and the bus station in Aranyaprathet where the bus will stop. Travel time will be a little over 3 hours.
Be aware: The bus station where you will get off in Aranyaprathet is still about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the Thailand-Cambodia border. This is different from the "restaurant-van-terminal" where vans from Bangkok stop at Aranyaprathet. This one is really a bus station.
From the Aranyaprathet bus station, you will need to ride a motorcycle-drawn carriage, called "tuktuk" (fare is US$3.00), to go to the location of the Thailand immigration authority passport checkpoint at the Thailand-Cambodia border where you will exit Thailand and enter Cambodia. Tell the tuktuk driver to bring you to the Thai Immigration Passport Checkpoint. It is only about 100 meters away from the market called Rongkleu Market, where buses, vans and tuktuks also park to wait for passengers.
Road from bus station to border: see map.
SPECIAL OPTION On Travel By Land
You Ride The Train From Hua Lamphong Railway Station In Bangkok Up To Aranyaprathet
The train ticket for Aranyaprathet is about 48 Thai Bath (about US$1.50).
The Hua Lamphong (also sometimes written "Hualamphong") Railway Station is located in the central part of the city of Bangkok. It is only about 4 kilometers southeast of the area of Khao San Road.
It is operated by the State Railway of Thailand. It's real name is Krungthep Station.
The Krungthep Station, popularly known as Hua Lamphong Railway Station, in Bangkok is the terminal of modern trains that deliver passengers, in first class sleeper accomodation, to different parts of Asia and to other parts of the world through international railroad links. It is also the home of "classic" trains that bring travellers to Aranyaprathet.
Be aware: To be understood by the taxi driver, you will have to tell him to go to Krungthep Station, instead of saying "Hua Lamphong".
Better still, write down the name of the train station on a piece of paper and show this to the taxi driver.
Be aware: It is wise to go to the train station early in the morning, ideally before 5 a.m.
The train for Aranyaprathet leaves at around 6 a.m. It is good to buy your ticket before most of the passengers arrive, so you can choose your seat. Ticket is only 48 Thai Baht (about US$1.50). There are places to buy food and water there in the station area.
Be aware: Passenger accomodation on the train to Aranyaprathet is 3rd class only.
The seats are padded and they are clean. The train-cars are also kept very clean. There is no airconditioning. Ceiling fans keep the air circulating. You can also open the window on your side and let fresh breeze come in. To add to sitting comfort you can use your inflatable pillows and neck supports.
Be aware: Travel time from "Hua Lamphong" Train Station to Aranyaprathet is about 6 hours, and sometimes a little more.
This is the classic "slow train of the old days". The train actually "clakity-clacks" on its way as it faithfully follows its railroad tracks to its promised station of destination. Tourists always has a good word about the relaxed pace of the journey. The train that leaves Bangkok at 6 a.m. should be in Aranyaprathet around 12:00 noontime.
The train station in Aranyaprathet is about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the border. There are motorcycle-pulled carriages (called "tuktuk") that wait for passengers going to the border.
Be aware: You should have crossed the border and have cleared the Thai and Cambodian immigrations, and already in Poipet bus station by 2 p.m.
It is ideal to catch a bus bound for Phnom Penh or Siem Reap that will leave before 3 p.m. Buses in Poipet bus station wait until its passenger-capacity is full before leaving. If your bus for Phnom Penh leaves after 5 p.m, you will arrive in the city at past midnight. It would be wise to already book a hotel in Phnom Penh prior to your trip to Cambodia from Thailand. Travel time from Poipet to Siem Reap is about three hours.
2. Remember These When You Reach The Border.
When you have reached the Thailand-Cambodia border, but still in the Thailand side of the border in Aran...
Bear in mind the four reminders below:
1. While you are still there on the Thailand side of the border, your first priority should not be the getting of a Cambodian visa but the stamping of the date of your exit from the territory of Thailand at the Thai Immigration Passport Checkpoint at the border.
The matter of Cambodian visa, if you still do not have it, should be attended to only when you are already actually entering the territory of Cambodia. Do not let anyone talk you into paying for a Cambodian visa while you are still in the Thailand side of the border.
2. The Cambodian tourist visa is very easy to get. After you have been cleared from the Thai Immigration Passport Exit Checkpoint you simply walk over to the Cambodian territory and go to the "Visa-On-Arrival" office at the building of the Cambodian Office of International Border Check Point of Poipet. The visa application form is very easy to fill up.
3. Cambodian tourist visa costs only US$30.00, effective October 1, 2014. Prior to that date, it was US$20.00.
4. If you are a passport holder of a country that is tourist-visa exempted, you need not apply for a tourist visa. You don't need to drop by the Office of International Border Check Point of Poipet. You just continue walking straight up to the Cambodian Arrival Passport Checkpoint to get your passport stamped with your entry date.
To see if you are visa-exempted, click here.
To know how to get the Cambodian Electronic Tourist Visa (e-visa) online, click here.
3. Information and Insights On Crossing the Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border Gates
Your First Important Stop Upon Reaching The Border
The first important stop you need to make, upon reaching the Thailand-Cambodia border at the Aranyaprathet-Poipet crossing-point, will be at the Thailand Immigration Passport Exit Checkpoint for the stamping on your passport the date of your exit from Thailand, while you are still at the Thailand side of the border.
If you were brought to Aranyaprathet by a van...
...you will get off at the "restaurant van terminal" at Aranyaprathet. From the restaurant, you will need to walk the distance of about 750 meters to reach the Thai Immigration Passport Exit Checkpoint. For details of this click here.
If you were brought to Aranyaptrathet by a bus...
...you will get off at the Aranyaprathet Bus Station. You will ride a tuktuk for 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and you get off in front of, or just a few meters away from, the Thai Immigration Passport Exit Checkpoint. Learn more about this. Click here
If you were brougth to Aranyaprathet by the train...
...you will get off the train at Aranyaprathet Train Station. This is near the Aranyaprathet Bus Station. You will ride a tuktuk for 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and you get off in front of, or just a few meters away, from the Thai Immigration Passport Exit Checkpoint. Learn more about this. Click here.
Location of bus and train stations in Aranyaprathet:
Map below shows the location of the bus and train stations in Aranyaprathet where you get off in order to go to the Thailand and Cambodia border, which is about 6 kilometers away. Also marked are the way to the border, the market where "tuktuks" park, the Thai passport checkpoint, the bridge that connects to the territory of Cambodia, and the border to be crossed. This map traces (with blue line) the way from the Aranyaprathet bus or train station up to the Thailand-Cambodia border gates only.
Be aware: The driver of the tuktuk you took from Arayaprathet bus or train station may drop you off in front of the Cambodian Consulate in Aranyaprathet (Thailand) near the border, to get a visa.
Do not go into the Cambodian Consulate in Aranyaprathet to get a visa, even if you still do not have one. You need not get your visa there. You should get your tourist visa from the "Visa-On-Arrival" Office at the Cambodian Office of International Border Check Point of Poipet, which building you can immediately see as soon as you walk into the territory of Cambodia.
Tourists that are taken to the Cambodian Consulate in Aranyaprathet complain that around the area they are bothered by people who pretend that they are connected with the Cambodian immigration authority and that they can procure a tourist visa. They charge about 1,200 Thai Baht (about US$35.00) or more for the visa and for their services. A Cambodian tourist-visa, obtained from the "Visa-On-Arrival Office" just across the border, costs only US$30.00.
Ignore all offers of "visa facilitators" (usually called by irate tourists as "visa touts") around that area, no matter how official looking they appear.
Tell your "tuktuk" driver to go to the Thai Immigration Passport Departure Checkpoint, or at least at the area of the Rongkleu Market nearest to it.
When you have located the Thai Immigration Passport Departure Checkpoint, it is wise to immediately join the queue of people that are already there for the immigration passport check and for stamping of the date of exit from Thailand.
Be aware: The queue at the Thailand Immigration passport checking counters may be long.
If the line is long enough for tourists to be spilling out to the canopied walk outside the building when you arrive, expect to stay there for at least 30 minutes. There are no seats to rest on. This is the time when it is nice to have a bottled water or some small snacks to nibble while waiting.
When your line reaches the inside of the Thailand Immigration Departure Checkpoint, be sure to get a blank departure card (they are placed on top of tables) and to fill it out. You need to present that, together with your passport, to the immigration officer who will stamp the date of your "exit" from Thailand.
How You Enter The Cambodian Territory
From the Thai Immigration Passport Departure Checkpoint you will need to walk up to the begining of the Cambodian territory, which is marked by a tall welcome arch. The distance to walk is about about 160 meters.
You will be crossing a 100-meter bridge which spans a creek. This creek provides a natural boundary between Thailand and Cambodia. By walking across this bridge you are in effect physically crossing the border between the two countries. A few meters at the end of this bridge is the welcome arch of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Where To Get Cambodian Tourist Visa On Arrival
Passing under the welcome arch is, at the same time, entering the territory of Cambodia. If you still do not have a tourist visa you can get it from the "Visa-On-Arrival" office inside the building of the Office of the International Border Check Point of Poipet. The building is right there beside the welcome arch.
A Cambodian tourist visa, purchased on arrival, costs US$30.00 (effective October 1, 2014). Previously, it was US$20.00.
Be aware: There were reports before that some Cambodian immigration officers ask for extra US$8.00, as "service fee".
In the past years, there were many tourists who complained that there are immigration officers in Poipet who ask for a "service fee" of US$8.00, in addition to the (previous) cost of US$20.00 for a tourist visa. However, it was also reported that when a visa applicant asks what the "service fee" is for, the immigration officer will no longer insist on collecting it. There is actually no need to pay for any "service fee".
For the past three years at least, this particular issue of irregularity in the Poipet border seems to be no longer heard much. It is likely that the effort of the Cambodian government to improve the image of its immigration offices at the border-gates, particularly at Poipet where as many as 1,600 tourists from different countries enter Cambodia daily, has succeeded in shaping up professional conduct and services. However, this website has recently (August 2016) received a letter from a lady-tourist who entered Cambodia in Poipet coming from Thailand. She reported that an immigration officer made her pay US$30.00 for the visa of her 3-year old baby. The Cambodian immigration rule on this clearly states that children of incoming foreign nationals below 12 years of age may be required an entry visa which shall be provided free of charge.
If you are holder of a passport issued by a country that is tourist visa-exempted in Cambodia or you already have a visa (bought online from the web site of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), you need not go to the Office of the International Border Check Point of Poipet. Just proceed to the Cambodian Passport Checkpoint for arrival and entry.
The Cambodian Passport Checkpoint At Poipet
The Cambodian Passport Checkpoint for arrival and entry (where you need to have your passport stamped for the date of your entry into Cambodia) is about 240 meters from the Office of the International Border Check Point of Poipet (at the welcome arch). You need only to continue walking down the road, until your reach the hut on the sidewalk that is covered by a green canopy with a blue sign that says "ARRIVAL".
After the clearing of your passport, you walk to a waiting shed just outside the passport arrival checkpoint. This waiting shed is on one side of a traffic roundabout. Usually a bus, that offers a free ride to the Poipet central bus station, parks there waiting for passengers. Government bus parked just behind the Cambodian Passport Arrival Checkpoint, gives free ride to tourists up to the new Poipet central bus station, about 500 meters away.
The Poipet Bus Station For Buses To Phnom Penh Or Siem Reap
The bus station is actually very near. It is only about 500 meters away from the waiting shed behind the passport arrival checkpoint building. The bus station is called the Poipet Tourists Passenger International Terminal.
If yours was a "straight-thru" ticket from Bangkok, the contact-person of the agency in Bangkok where you bought your ticket, (the one who stuck a colored paper on your shirt earlier when you got off at the "restaurant van terminal") will also ride the bus with you until you reach the bus station. The bus ride takes only about 5 minutes.
If you have taken a bus from Mo Chit Bus Station (Bangkok Bus Terminal -Chatuchak), or the train from Hua Lamphong, Bangkok, you also ride this "free" bus to the bus station.
Be aware: Bag snatching and pickpocketing sometimes do still happen in Poipet.
A pocket, bag or backpack carelessly left open or left unattended can bring up a strong temptation to snatch or to pick anything valuable, even from those small kids that would come around to beg for alms or to offer some services. Try to keep cameras, cellphones, money, etc., not too conspicous or carelessly loose.
The central bus station in Poipet is new. Most probably it was put into operation only in January 2012. It is only about 500 meters from the traffic roundabout where the Cambodian Passport Checkpoint for arrival is situated.
Before January 2012, the free-ride tourist-bus brings tourists to a place that is about 6 kilometers away from the border. That place was also called the "Tourists Passenger International Terminal". Buses do not necessarily park in that old terminal to wait for passengers. There, you will need to wait until a bus that came from the border-area arrives, and you are not sure if a seat is still available when you get on.
In the current Poipet central bus station, different bus companies have ticket-windows where you can buy your ticket with a seat reserved for you. Their buses, bound for different destinations in Cambodia, are parked at the parking lot at the back of the station waiting for passengers.
If you have purchased a "straight-thru" ticket in Bangkok, your ticket agency contact-person will purchase, for you, your bus ticket (for Phnom Penh) from a ticket window in the Poipet bus station. He will give the bus ticket to you and tell you which bus to board that will take you to Phnom Penh.
Be aware: You need not pay for the Poipet-Phnom Penh ticket that the ticket-agency's contact-person gave you.
You have paid for this ticket already when you bought your "straight-thru" ticket in Bangkok. This has all been arranged and the agency contact-person with you knows this. He earns about US$8.00 from the ticket agency for each tourist he meets in Aranyaprathet and guides to Poipet into the bus station. If he has done you some extra service like carrying the heaviest of your bag, or anything kind that has made life in Poipet easier for you, you may reward him with a dollar or two.
If you have taken the "Mo Chit" bus or the "Hua Lamphong" train from Bangkok, you can just purchase your own ticket from the window that sells tickets for the bus to Phnom Penh. A ticket will cost you about US$7.00.
Be aware: The bus for Phnom Penh or Siem Reap will wait until its full passenger-capacity is filled before leaving.
This can take several hours. If you were able to arrive at the Poipet bus station at around 1pm, your bus to Phnom Penh will probably not leave until 3pm or 5pm. The distance between Poipet to Phnom Penh is about 400 kilometers (248 miles). Travel time, including stops, is about 8 hours. You will most likely reach Phnom Penh past midnight. As you arrive there in the dead of the night, you will surely thank your good sense if you have already pre-booked your hotel at Phnom Penh. Travel time from Poipet to Siem Reap is about 3 hours.
Toilet-Stop Along The Way To Phnom Penh
Be aware: It is wise to relieve your bladder while there at the bus station, at Poipet, before the bus leaves.
Some buses have toilets. Some have none. Along the way the bus stops for a toilet-stop at a place where the toilets are such that the state of sanitation and smell can be very discouraging. You may not want to step inside, especially when it is already dark in the evening. Hopefully, bus-stop facility owners will notice this matter soon, or the government will take measures of improvement for tne sake of tne tourism industry in Cambodia.
It is at least 8 hours to Phnom Penh from Poipet and at night the aircon in the bus can become very cold, and can make you feel like emptying your bladder in the middle of the trip. In extreme "bladder emergency" situation, the bus steward can be requested to tell the driver to stop, and the bus will actually stop at the side of the road.
Many other passengers in the same "emergency" situation would gratefully join the one who called for the stop in rushing down the bus. In the dark of the night, the side of the road in the middle of nowhere can actually become a very comforting place to relieve a full bladder that has long been demanding for attention.
Possible surprises in the journey... continued
Obviously, after several journeys on this route, he found that he would always encounter new "twists" and "turns" in every trip that would give the latest a particular characteristic distinct from the one before it. These probably always challenge the logical sequencing of things he would form in his mind on how things will proceed, and give him the ingredients of adventure that kept him coming back. If he had expressed that in a voice of exasperation in the hearing of some new travelers of this route, it was, doubtless, said not without some tone of pride on it either.
The statement could have been a bit of a lighthearted exaggeration really. We know that, like hunters, fishermen and sailors, travelers may also increase the gravity of things to spice the flavor of tales. But, that could also be a picturesque description of the propensity of things to come up with something unexpected in those "straight-thru" trip tickets from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.
On the level, the unexpected is really not the rule in these trips nor do they really come to the proportion of catastrophic when they happen. They are those that at most just carry enough dramatic potency to tickle our sensibilities and give some justification to the spice that we sprinkle our tales later. After all, tourists originating from Bangkok who wants to go to Phnom Penh do get to Phnom Penh 99.9% of the time happy and in good state of health when they travel the highways that connect Thailand and Cambodia. Perhaps, at the worst, wiser in the many ways of travel on these parts of the world than before. (Statistics: about 600,000 tourists cross the Thailand-Cambodia border through the border-towns of Aranyaprathet and Poipet every year.)
The key is to have some prior idea of the unexpected and the illogical.
The understanding of "unexpected and illogical" is particularly important to those who come from countries where things that are expected to happen logically, do happen as they are expected to happen and have become mundane and taken for granted. (Such as buses arrive at the time written on the bus stop sign, and they go and stop where they are said to go and stop; and even just the fact that there are bus stop signs where there are supposed to be bus stop signs. In Cambodia, they are still just learning to try to have these concepts of form and regularity in things.)
Coming from more developed countries, it would be wise to understand that things mundane there can become a bit more attention-getting when travelling the highways between Thailand and Cambodia. The unexpected and illogical are likely to happen here more than they can happen back home. A passenger van, for example, running on its way toward Cambodia, and logically is expected to simply keep on going until it reaches the border, will suddenly make a short turn and stop in the middle of nowhere. Its driver would wordlessly get off and disappear, for maybe about quarter of an hour. (Questions in the minds of everyone in the van: "Why did we stopped?", "What are we doing here?", "Engine trouble?", "Are we going to be kidnapped or robbed?", "He went to pee? For half an hour?", "He got off to smoke?", etc.). The driver reappears. He climbs back into the driver's seat, takes off and gets back into the highway again. Sighs of relief all around in the passenger compartment. From the driver? Not a word about anything.
This is not, of course, usual occurrence, but something like this does happen from time to time.
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