Monday, September 5, 2016

Getting from Bangkok to Siem Reap

How to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap (Ankor Wat)

We're going to talk about the two options that will get you from Bangkok to Siem Reap, where the Ankor Wat temples and ruins are located.  While it might be possible to leave Bangkok and tour Ankor Wat in one-day and return on the same day it's not preferred and may run you into trouble with the airlines and Thailand as they generally don't allow this.  The optimal choice would be to spend one day getting to Siem Reap and enjoying the evening around town.  One the second and any subsequent days you would get a driver to take you around Ankor Wat and any further ruins around the jungle you want to visit.  If you are a history buff then a tour guide would be recommended.  Your last day in Siem Reap would give you time for a good meal, checking out of the hotel, and flying back to Bangkok.

  1. Getting to Siem Reap by Air - This is by far the preferred method I have found.  This will take less time and the cost isn't that much more than going by road.  Both the main BKK airport and DMK offer flights to Siem Reap for roughly $150 round-trip.  If you are lucky and get your tickets well in advance the cost can drop as low as $100.  The flight itself takes only 1-hour.  Once you arrive in Siem Reap you will go through immigration and pay a fee under $30 for processing.  Once you get your luggage a taxi into town should cost around $10 to your hotel.

  2. Getting to Siem Reap by Land - There are multiple options for getting to Siem Reap by land which are covered below.  In all cases you will need to get through the Poipet crossing to enter Cambodia.  A map is provided below to assist you in getting through the border crossing as it can be tricky and a few individuals will attempt to 'help' you even though they have no authority except to try and take your cash.

    • Train - If you take the train from Bangkok it will stop in Aranyaprathet, Thailand.  It will cost less than 50 baht and take 6 hours to get there.  At the border you'll exit Thailand and enter Poipet, Cambodia.  From there you'll need to negotiate a ride into Siem Reap.

    • Bus - The bus should cost less than 1,000 baht to take.  The ride will last over 12-hours usually due to the many stops it will take along the way.  One of the advantages of the bus over the train is that it will take you all the way into Siem Reap.  They will make all of the passengers disembark in Poipet and go through the Cambodian immigration but you will be able to get back on the same bus once you are cleared.

    • Taxi - A private ride will cost around 3,000-3,500 baht for a taxi to take you from Bangkok to the Poipet crossing in 4 hours.  Once you get through immigration control there will be taxis on the Cambodian side which can take you to Siem Reap for $40 in a 2-hour ride.
This section will cover the actual border crossing from Aranyaprathet, Thailand into Poipet, Cambodia. Avoid anyone who comes up to you as they are only trying to take you out of the official immigration system and into their way to scam you.  They will try to pass themselves off as officials or able to help you get your visa stamps.  Just follow the steps below and you'll save time and money.

The map below shows the Thailand Immigration office in the top-left corner.  This is where you will start.  Whether you arrive by train, bus or taxi you will need to talk to this office in order to get stamped out of Thailand. 

Once you have exited Thailand you are technically in no-man's land.  You will be in Cambodia, but you have not entered the country.  This is why, as you go down the road, you will notice all of the casinos.  Gambling is illegal in both countries but since you have left Thailand and not entered Cambodia you are now in a loophole.  Just pass down the road.  There will also be money changers along the way but you really won't need the Cambodian riels as US dollars are accepted everywhere.

As you go under the gate welcoming you into Cambodia there will be a small office to your left.  This is the Cambodia visa office.  You will need to stop in here and get an official visa stamp for entry into Cambodia. 

After you get your stamp you will need to continue down the road past all of the casinos.  Up ahead you will see a gatehouse.  On the right hand side is another Cambodian office where you'll need to fill out some forms and then officially enter Cambodia. 

After you leave the Cambodian office there will be a large round-about outside.  This is where you can get back onto your bus, or find a taxi to take you the rest of the way into Siem Reap.  It is very unlikely that you will find anything of interest in the actual town of Poipet and should be avoided.  The town can get very dangerous at night.  Just remember, Poipet rhymes with 'toilet'.