If you’re coming from Bangkok to Siem Reap it’s worth doing your homework. There are several ways to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap in 2022, and most fall into one of two categories: “fast and expensive” or “cheap and annoying.” Flying is fast and expensive and going overland is cheap and time-consuming (but offers considerable fodder for amusement). In this post, I’ll cover the best ways to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap as well as what you need to know about visas and the border.
Traveling by bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to take a taxi, the easiest way to get from Bangkok to Siem reap is by direct bus. Direct means that you don’t have to change buses at the border or haul your luggage over the border — it stays in the locked compartment under the bus compartment while you get your visa. While many buses advertise themselves as direct buses, Giant Ibis is the only truly direct bus currently running.
Giant Ibis, a company with great reputation in Cambodia, run buses between Bangkok and Siem Reap. The full-sizes buses are only a few years old, the drivers are good, and the attendants are friendly and help you through the visa process at the border. Although the tickets are expensive, it seems worth the price. The Giant Ibis Siem Reap Bangkok direct bus leaves from 7:45 a.m. Tickets cost $49 and can be purchased online. With an online booking, you can choose and reserve your seat in advance.
There are also indirect buses from Bangkok to Siem Reap. You’ll buy one ticket, take a bus or van to the border, remove your luggage and cross the border, then take another bus or van from the same company (usually) to Siem Reap. The better companies will shepherd you through the visa process and make sure you get on the correct bus, but others have been known to leave laggards behind. Go Ho Travel are running vans that require a change at the border for $30. I haven’t taken this bus so I can’t comment. → Book now
Flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap
Pre-pandemic there were four airlines that fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap: AirAsia, Thai Smile, Cambodia Angkor Air, and Bangkok Airways, but in 2022, only Bangkok Airways and Air Asia are running, and flights are cancelled more often than you’d like.
Bangkok Airways flights start at around $100. They fly from the main Bangkok airport to Siem Reap in smaller propeller planes. They offer a 20 kg baggage allowance, but if you sign up with their frequent flyer club they will automatically give you an extra 10kg. All Bangkok Airways passengers get access to their private lounge with free WiFi, snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks.
AirAsia usually has the cheapest tickets from Bangkok to Siem Reap, starting at $89 one-way. However, baggage is not included and they fly from Don Muang Airport rather than the main Bangkok Airport.
Traveling by taxi
There are two ways to take a taxi from Siem Reap to Bangkok. There is the expensive way, which is easier, or the less expensive way, which can be stress-inducing.
The least expensive way is to take two taxis — one from Bangkok to the Cambodia border, then another from the border to Siem Reap. A taxi from Bangkok to the border will cost between 2,700 and 3,300 Thai baht ($75-90 USD) and takes around 3.5 hours. You’ll need to cross the border on foot, and then catch another taxi to Siem Reap, which is another 2-3 hours. The cost of a taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap is around $40-50.
On the Cambodia side walk as far from the border as you can stand to, and don’t deal with middlemen if you want a lower price. Negotiate the fare before you get in the taxi, and do not pay the fare until you arrive at your final destination, no matter what the driver says.
On our last few taxi trips we’ve had drivers stop at the border and refuse to go any further trying to negotiate a higher price. The last time, it meant a 90-minute stand-off. For this reason, taxis booked at a travel agent or hotel, even if paid for in advance, can be an extra hassle. If this happens to you, just stand your ground or offer a few dollars extra to allow the driver to save face. Taxis booked online are more reliable, although more expensive.
Taxis booked online are the most reliable but also the most expensive, at around $200. If you book online you can choose between an SUV taxi or minivan that can take 4 or 7 passengers, respectively. → Book now
Getting your Cambodia visa
If you are flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap, you can get a visa on arrival at the airport if you qualify. Find out more details about getting a Cambodia visas in 2022.
If you are traveling overland, once you get to the Aranyaprathat side of the border, you will need to get stamped out of Thailand. This is a quick and painless process. You’ll also go through Thai customs, which is a formality as they never seem to check anything.
After you get stamped out of Thailand, you’ll need to enter Cambodia. If you already have an ordinary/business Cambodia 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 a “processing fee” in baht. 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 will eventually let you through.
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 processed in their promised three-day turnaround time. The cost is $36 for a tourist visa on the official government site. It saves you hassle but not money. If you’re particularly nervous about the border crossing, this might help make things easier.
Crossing the border
The Aranyaprathat/Poipet border is known for scams, delays, and confusion. I’ve got a whole blog post about scams to look at for the Poipet border, and another one with what you need to know about crossing the border, but here are a few things to remember:
You do not need to change money into Cambodian riel. This is a scam. You will need US dollars for your visa (although they accept Thai Baht at a rip-off rate) and they accept US dollars everywhere in Cambodia.
You do not need to pay any border crossing fees. Do not accept help from anyone who says they can help you get a visa or cross a border.
Do not get a visa before you enter the official Thai visa office. Anyone who says they will get your visa in advance is trying to scam you (with the exception of some bus companies — check in advance if yours requires “VIP” visa processing).
And that’s it — welcome to Siem Reap!
Going the other direction? Read our post on how to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok.
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