Crossing the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border overland

If you’re going from Siem Reap to Bangkok (or vice versa) overland, you may be nervous about the infamous Poipet border crossing. Before I crossed for the first time, I was extremely anxious after hearing so many horror stories about the border. Now that I do the trip regularly I know that if you go prepared you won’t have any problems.

If you’re going from Cambodia to Thailand (here are all the ways to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok) you’ll be crossing from Poipet to Aranyaprathet. Here are some tips for crossing in this direction, and at the end I’ve given specific tips if you’re going the other way, from Aranyaprathet to Poipet.

Poipet-Aranyaprathet border overland

Get the skinny on crossing the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border overland.

It’s going to take all day

It will pretty much take you all day to go Siem Reap to Bangkok overland, but leaving early will shave a few hours off the trip (filed under ‘had to learn the hard way’). Siem Reap to Poipet is about a two-hour trip, and then an hour or four at the border, then another four to six hours from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok. The land border is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It gets very busy and lines get very long after about noon, so the earlier you start your journey, the better.

You’re crossing on foot

Whether you take a direct bus, mini-bus or taxi, you’ll still have to walk across the border from Poipet to Aranyaprathet on the Thailand side. Coming from Siem Reap, you’ll get dropped off at a roundabout near the border in Poipet. Walk straight ahead and you’ll see Cambodia immigration on your right side. Get in line there and get stamped out of Cambodia.

If you’re hungry or want to use the toilet, stop in at one of the casinos in the no-man’s land between Poipet and Aranyaprathet. I like Grand Diamond Casino’s Chillax Restaurant because they have free WiFi and a great name.

Poipet Aranyaprathet border

After you leave Cambodia but before you enter Thailand, you’ll be treated to this.

Once you’re refreshed, keep walking straight until you get to Thai immigration and go upstairs. If you’re from most countries, you’ll get a visa on arrival (and if you’re not, you should have one already). We’ve got a full blog post on getting a Thai visa in Cambodia if you need to do this in advance.

Once you are at the border just remember that you need to be stamped out of the country you came from and get a visa for the country you are entering (so two stops).

Once you’re through, go straight if you’re heading to get a mini-bus or taxi or make your first right towards Rong Kleu Market if you’re catching a casino bus. This road is not paved and you’ll think you’re in some sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, but in a moment you’ll see a 7-11 and realize that you’re actually in Thailand. From 7-11, you can turn right to head to the casino buses in the car park area.

7-11 near Rong Kleu market Aranyaprathet border

7-11 near Rong Kleu Market Aranyaprathet border.

Don’t get scammed

Do not change money at the border. If you want Thai baht ahead of time, you can change money at Siem Reap’s Old Market before heading out, or hit the ATM at the 7-11 immediately after crossing the border. Don’t believe anything anyone says about facilitation fees. All transport prices quoted here are current, so negotiate until you get pretty close. Don’t get on any buses to the “bus terminal” it’s just a place where they force you to buy overpriced food and overpriced bus tickets. You can get cheap food and cheap bus tickets at Rong Kleu Market and don’t need to bother with the scammy bus terminal.

Carrying baggage across the border

If you’ve got considerable baggage coming through, you can hire a porter for $2 to $10. They will take your bags through and wait for you to get through immigration. Unlike everyone else in Poipet, the porters will not rip you off. Get your porter’s phone number before you head to immigration if you are nervous, but chances are he won’t speak English anyway. It’s polite to tip your porter.

Relax

The border crossing can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Budget a full day to get through and take your time. Accept that no one will speak English, but that’s not going to matter. Buy a Thai SIM card in 7-11 for a couple of bucks if you want. You’ll be in Bangkok soon and the Poipet/Aranyaprathet land border crossing will be a distant memory.

If you’re coming from Thailand to Cambodia

If you’re heading from Thailand to Cambodia, this is the particularly scammy direction of the trip. Bring US dollars with you for your visa; do not change money at the border because you will get ripped off. Do not believe anyone that tells you that you need Cambodian riel, you do not, and they will rip you off. You can’t even pay for a Cambodia visa with Cambodian riel!

poipet border checkpoint

This is the official building that you get your Cambodia visa in.

After you get stamped out of Thailand, you’ll need to enter Cambodia. If you already have an ordinary/business visa, they will stamp you and you will be on your way. Tourists will need to get a visa in advance or on arrival check out our page about Cambodia visas if you want to know more). A tourist visa costs $30. They will ask you for 1100 or 1200 baht (~$35) or if you insist on paying in dollars, which you should, they will ask for $30 and a 200 baht processing fee. There is no processing fee, it’s just a bribe. Arrive early and refuse to pay and eventually they will stamp you through. They’ll make you wait around for a while, but it’s just a game of chicken. Since you’ve budgeted all day to do this, might as well not pay their lame shake-down and catch up on your Kindle.

The other option is to get a Cambodia e-visa in advance, but to be on the safe side you need to order it online a week in advance, because they often don’t get it back to you in their promised three-day turnaround time. The cost is $40. It saves you hassle but not money. If you’re particularly nervous about the border crossing, this might help make things easier.

Once you walk get your Cambodia visa, you can walk through and catch a mini-bus or taxi from near the roundabout. Be aware that on the Cambodia side the police shake down all of the taxi drivers for at least $10 of each trip. The fare should be around $35, but often is as much as $55. Walk as far as you can stand and don’t deal with middlemen if you want a lower price.

101 Responses to Crossing the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border overland

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  1. Tonpol says:

    Thank you very much for your blogs lina.. My friend and I were able to travel from HCMC to Bangkok smoothly, though with a little horror as they tried to scam me at Poipet immigration where they asked me for a 100baht for the stamp. By the way, i am a Philippine passport holder and entitled for a 21-day visa free entry. Yet, i was able to fool them also by “really acting like a fool” and repeatedly asked the officer “huh? What?” and “i dont understand”… And he was irritated as he was really also trying to repeat “100baht for the stamp!!!”, after like 10 times of asking, he waved his hand signaling me to go ahead and go out.
    It left me in sweat though i smiled after… Thumbs up for the info i got here.

    • Tonpol says:

      By the way, we crossed the border just last friday February 17…

      Maraming salamat po!!!
      (Thank you very much- in Filipino)

  2. Mike Thornbery says:

    A most useful series of blogs. Thank you very much. Please can you confirm how many passport photos are required when entering Cambodia from Thailand at the Poipet border crossing.

  3. song says:

    I am going to take an afternoon train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet arriving 17:35, if the border now open until 22:00 as a traveler reports. Can anybody clarify opening hour at the border?

  4. Eva says:

    Hello. Can I walk from Thailand to Cambodia at Poipet without anybody bothering me when I have an e-visa? How long is the walk?

    Kind regards,
    Eva

  5. Rod says:

    Ok great info. I caught the afternoon train, then a tuk tuk to the border with $30.00. There was a long delay so I paid another 100b. I wish my country did this t Cambodian visitors.
    The scamming starts with the police, what a lesson. It’s scam every day by everyone. After getting through immigration a friend and I negotiated a $40.00 car to Siem Reap. When we got there the price went up. I refused to pay 100b. Everyone in Siem Reap sees a white guy with a wallet and thinks it’s an ATM.
    The first day my friend negotiated a 1.00 ride to her hotel, when she got there it was 3.00. A massage in the nightmarket was 3.00 at the start and 6.00 when finished.
    In the end I quit taking tuktuks, I only eat at reputable restaurants like La Boulangerie and 25c beers mean you pay more for food, not very good food either.
    If you can find a hotel with breakfast included but even then expect them to bill you for breakfast.
    Goods in the market are cheap and poor quality.ma thirst costs no more than 1.00 unless it’s genuine. Expect the sales person to put a lower quality item in your bag as you pay for your goods so check it.
    The biggest laugh is the scam artist who speaks perfect English until you get scammed and then he can’t understand you.
    Cambodians are masters of scam.

    • Shame that you got scammed like that. :( We had the best time in Siem Reap and weren’t ripped off once (apart from the immigration that still charged us 100 baht extra but as it was written down…it’s ‘official’). You have to bargain to get a good deal, but once you embark or agree on a price you pay for the agreed price. Don’t let them take advantage of you. Hope you have enjoyed the rest of your trip!
      Cheers :)

  6. Ci says:

    Hey,

    thank you so much for this article, but I am not sure if I get this right: “Once you walk get your Cambodia visa, you can walk through and catch a mini-bus or taxi from near the roundabout.”

    What does mean? Do I have to do this if I take the direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap?

  7. warren agassi says:

    Thoughtful commentary , I learned a lot from the info , Does anyone know where my assistant might be able to find a blank VA C-File Request Form copy to edit ?

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