Two of the most popular destinations in south-east Asia are Siem Reap and Bangkok. Siem Reap is the nearest city to Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world, and Bangkok is famous for cheap flights, booze and finger-licking good food. Their geographical proximity make the route Bangkok – Siem Reap well-trodden by travellers from around the world on their way around SE Asia.
There are several ways to get from one city to another, on the way crossing the Thai – Cambodian border. The prices, length and comfort of those methods of transport also vary, sometimes significantly. Let’s have a look at the most popular.
Certainly, the most comfortable and quickest way to transfer yourself across the border is to fly. A few carriers cover this route and prices range from $100 to $400 one way. Not the cheapest option, but convenient for sure, it takes only 55 minutes to arrive on the other side. For this reason, many tourists (not many travellers, especially budget travellers) choose this.
The only more expensive way to travel this way is by a chopper or private plane and people who can afford it probably would never read this article (someone will take care of their itinerary).
To travel in a private cab all the way (around 253 miles) will cost you $75, (the price can be shared). It is possible to bargain the price down, but not significantly and the cheapest quote I have ever heard was $50. The good thing is that you can share it with others, depending on the car’s capacity with 2-11 people. It is around a 7 hour journey, which hugely depends on the driver’s speed and border crossing’s queues.
The journey is divided into two parts: to the border by train and from the border by taxi or bus. Train leaves from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station and arrives in Aranyaprathet daily. The journey is scenic, but not so comfortable. The price one way is 48 Baht (~ $1.6) and it take between 6 to 7 hours. Only take this route if you are fascinated by Thai scenery and want to get really close to local people. Avoid the train if you don’t want to put up with wooden seats in a rather overcrowded environment – with people speaking a language you don’t understand (often pointing at you and laughing).
For details of the second part of this journey continue reading. Alternatively, go back to section about taxi and change the price to around $30.
It takes between 8 to 15 hours to get from one city to another. Eight hours is what an agency or bus driver will tell you, twelve is more realistic. It costs between $8 to $11 for a trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok, and around 250 Baht (less than $8) the other way. The prices are based on what agencies around the two cities quote. Bus drivers tend to offer more expensive fares, thus are not recommended. If you start your journey at the border, very similar prices apply, so it may be worth going all the way with an agency.
A Few Words of Caution
Buses most likely will pick you up late, a minimum of 20 minutes
At the border, you’ll get sorted in 30 minutes max, but you’ll spend longer time there
After crossing the border from Bangkok to Siem Reap you may be driven to a “bus station” 30 miles away in the middle of nowhere. While there, you will be offered a nice 2 hour wait and “an exclusive” opportunity to go along in a van for additional $5 a person. Arguing speeds up the process by 1 hour without additional payment. A phone call to agency helps significantly, but they will not enable you to use their phones.
When arriving in Siem Reap you will be dropped off 5 km from the city, once again in the middle of nowhere, where overpriced tuk tuks and hotels will be available.
Still, it is the cheapest option, as long as you are prepared for these situations (unless you want to cycle your way from Bangkok to Siem Reap, recommended).
All in all, it seems that whatever method of transport you choose you will have to sacrifice something (money, comfort, time, or all of the above). Nevertheless, it’s worth going; nothing should stop you from exploring this beautiful planet.
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