Review: Direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap

Before you start reading, are you looking for our full review of how to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap? If not, carry on.

If you’re heading from Thailand to Cambodia, the Bangkok to Siem Reap direct bus is the easiest way to do the trip overland. Why might you want to go overland, one might ask? For one, it’s a lot less expensive, with the direct bus costing between $28 and $35. For another, if you’re looking to transport large or bulky household goods or have large pieces of luggage, the direct bus is an easier option, particularly because they don’t make you change buses at the border.

Nattakan Transport Co bus Bangkok to Siem Reap

The Nattakan direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap (and vice versa)

Bus options

There are now two companies running direct buses between Bangkok and Siem Reap, Nattakan and Giant Ibis.

We have more in-depth reviews of both Nattakan (see below) and Giant Ibis (click here) on this route if you want to get into the nitty-gritty details, but in summary, I have taken both several times and think that Giant Ibis offers a better trip. They leave from a more convenient location near Khao San Road, the buses are brand new and the entire journey, including the border crossing, is smooth.  Although the ticket is more expensive at $35, it’s well worth the price.

Buying tickets

If you’re going with Giant Ibis, tickets can be bought online and a seat reserved in advance for $35 with no additional service fees. You can print your ticket out or just show it to them on your phone or device and you’ll get straight onto the bus. Buying online allows you to choose your own seat, and advance purchase is recommended because the bus can get busy in high season.

You can also buy Nattakan tickets between Bangkok and Siem Reap (plus Bangkok and Phnom Penh) on BookMeBus. Tickets cost $28 in either direction, plus a 5% booking fee ($1.40 per ticket). The procedure is simple and you’ll receive an e-ticket that you can either print out or present on your phone when you arrive at the bus station. In high season the buses are often full, so it’s more than worth the booking fee to be able to reserve a seat in advance.

Transport Co Ltd Bangkok

The Transport Co. Ltd station inside the Northern/Mo Chit 2 bus terminal, Bangkok

Tickets for Nattakan can also be purchased at the Northern bus terminal in Bangkok, sometimes called Mo Chit 2 bus terminal, sometimes called Chatuchak bus terminal. On the ground floor a booth labeled The Transport Co, Ltd. sells the Bangkok to Siem Reap tickets. Taxi fare to the bus station is around 150 baht (about $4.25) from Sukhumvit, making the trip a more expensive way to get a ticket than the online option unless you’re already in the area.

The Nattakan buses run at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. in either direction and the Giant Ibis leaves at 7:45 a.m.

The bus journey on Nattakan

The direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap takes between 8 and 11 hours, depending on how crowded it is at the border. Passengers are allowed two bags each with a maximum weight of 20 kg, although the weight limit was not enforced when I hauled two suitcases of Ikea merchandise to Cambodia. There is limited storage space above the seats in the bus, so if you want to stow something inside, board early. The Nattakan Bangkok-Siem Reap direct buses are Korean, and seats are comfortable and lean back more than they probably should–watch out for the knees of the person behind you!

Nattakan Transport Co bus Bangkok to Siem Reap

Nattakan buses: not not the worst place to spend eight hours…

On my recent trip, the 9:00 a.m. bus from Bangkok left on time. We were given a bottle of water and a snack, which was a limp-looking Asian pastry. There was a toilet break at 11:00 a.m. at a rest stop with a giant 7-11 and some fast food and local food options. At 1:10 p.m. we stopped at the Transport Co., Ltd. office in Aranyaprathet and were each given a ready-made hot lunch from 7-11, in my case it was shrimp and basil stir-fry. I’m ashamed to admit, but I thought it was pretty good if a bit on the small side. Vegetarians be warned, you’ll need to bring your own lunch. Later, we were given the choice of an orange juice or an iced coffee. You won’t starve if you don’t, but it’s definitely worth bringing some food of your own on the trip.

By 1:40 p.m. we were at the border, and everyone had finished their visa process and we were on the road at 3:15 p.m. We arrived in Siem Reap at 5:30 p.m., for a total of 8.5 hours.

The border

When you approach the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border, the bus will stop and let off all passengers. You can leave your bags on the bus (that’s why they call it a direct bus, there are no bus changes). You’ll then be expected to walk yourself through the various border checkpoints. There’s not a lot of instruction from the crew and the process can be confusing for those who have not done it before, but it’s actually quite simple. 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).

If you are heading from Bangkok to Siem Reap, after you go through both offices, turn back around and the bus will be waiting for you in front of the Grand Diamond Casino. They wait there for every passenger to complete their visa process, which takes an hour or two in total, so don’t be afraid to go into the casino and have a drink or a meal in the Chillax Cafe. It sounds awful, but the food isn’t too bad.

Visas

Most nationalities do not need to get visas in advance (check out our page about Cambodia visas if you want to know more). On the Cambodia side, a tourist visa costs $30. The bus company will request an additional $5 to have your visa batch processed with everyone else on the bus, and it is much quicker. Some days the bus company will require you to do this, other times you can secure your visa on your own.

If you choose to do it on your own, the visa officials 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. Telling other passengers the real price loudly will usually get you serviced more quickly, as they will be eager to get you out of there.  The other option is to secure an e-visa in advance. The price these days is $40, so you won’t save any money doing it that way, although it may help minimize border-induced rage that is not uncommon in Poipet. For more about crossing the Poipet border, check out our post on Crossing the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border overland.

poipet border checkpoint

This is the official building that you get your Cambodia visa in. If you stop somewhere before the border, don’t bother wasting your money.

We’ve gotten reports that the bus will stop before you get to the border and try and get you to use an agent to process your visa for 900 baht by calling it a VIP service. They did not do this on my recent trip, so hopefully this is no longer an issue. However, if they do stop and try and get you to let them process your visa you have a choice of whether or not you pay. However, this so-called VIP service can be worth it, and it’s often faster and less stressful to just pay the extra money, so it’s up to you whether or not you think it’s a battle worth fighting.

On the Thai side, you will get stamped through and do not need to pay anything.

Overall, this is a much easier way to travel overland than the other methods I have tried, which always involve haggling at the border for taxis and buses. The Bangkok-Siem Reap direct bus is not as cheap as the mini-bus/casino bus combination (which is usually around $11 or $12) but the peace of mind is worth it. If you’re looking for more info on going the other way, check out our post on getting from Siem Reap to Bangkok.

Transport Co., Ltd.

Mo Chit 2 Bus Terminal (หมอชิต 2 (อาคารผู้โดยสาร), Bangkok [map]
+66 2 936 0657; +66 89 281 1396
Buy tickets

Nattakan Transport

22 Sivatha Blvd, Svay Dangkom District, Siem Reap [map]
T: 063 96 48 96; 078 975 333
Buy tickets

Bus tickets purchased through links in this post generate affiliate sales for us. This does not affect our reviews for specific bus companies or routes! For more about how we deal with advertising, affiliate sales, and stuff like that, you can read more here.

188 Responses to Review: Direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap

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  1. Tony says:

    Update: I took a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap on Sunday, 2019 September 22. This was my experience:

    The cheapest tickets I found were on bookmebus’s website. I also looked at 12go.asia but Bookmebus had cheaper tickets. In case people don’t know, Bookmebus and 12go.asia are both booking agencies that will book tickets for you directly from various transport companies. Bookmebuse’s fees were about $1.90, which is very reasonable.

    Most tickets from Bangkok to Siem Reap were about $28-$32. However, there was one listing for $18 from a bus company called “Virak Buntham”. I booked that ticket. And yes, this was a direct bus. Once the booking was completed online, Bookmebus showed exactly where to go on Google maps to catch the bus. It said to arrive one hour early, and I did.

    Once there I showed my e-ticket from Bookmebus to a Virak employee and he handed me an actual paper ticket. This was at the Travel Mart office in downtown Bangkok, not far from the river. I was then taken onto a shuttle van to a nearby double decker bus. I got on and was the first person there. After a few minutes, more people arrived. We left Bangkok, stopping once to pick up a few more people. By the time we were out of Bangkok, I’d say the bus was maybe 1/3rd full. We left around 10:00 AM.

    Right before we left Bangkok, the owner of the company, a Cambodian man about 30 years old, told us all that when we got to the border, we would have two options:

    1. Allow them to handle the Visa process for us, for $5 extra. It would be faster and simpler, etc. etc. etc.

    2. Do it ourselves, deal with everything alone, etc.

    He also told us something I was not (really) expecting: He said when we got to Siem Reap, we would not be able to stop at the original drop off location at the Siem Reap Travel Mart office, because Siem Reap roads were poor and the city didn’t want large buses driving on them. He said there would be $3 tuk tuks waiting for us to take us to our hotel. He said they were not affiliated with his company at all. He told us not to worry, and that this was not a scam.

    I didn’t believe him/was skeptical. But more on that later.

    We stopped once on the way to the border at a gas station/bus stop for 20 minutes to stretch our feet basically. No food was ever given except for a very small snack and a bottle of water. But this was fine with me.

    Anyway, we got to the Cambodian border around 13:00. It was hectic and disorganized and even despite preparing myself on this website, I was a bit lost and confused at times. The bus company officials were actually really nice and helpful. Even when I told them I was going to do the Visa myself, I was not treated poorly and I actually continued to talk about various things, asked them questions, etc. Nothing bad to say about any of them, except that if I had not been informed earlier, I would have unwittingly paid $5 extra for a service I didn’t need. But otherwise, they genuinely were really nice and kind. Especially the owner. All of them were Cambodian (Khmer). Note: I did take my stuff with me, since I didn’t trust it being left alone on the bus.

    First I got stamped out of Thailand. Up the escalator, to the counter, back out the other side. Then, I had to walk outside. It is chaotic and really confusing at first, with people and cars everywhere. But there were some people who were able to point me in the right direction when I asked “Visa on arrival?”.

    I crossed the street, under a large bridge, to the Cambodian immigration building. Inside were several Cambodian immigration officials, all men in their 50s or so, and all seemingly shady as hell. There was no one else inside.

    I filled out the little form on the table, which they apparently didn’t care about, because I got half way through and they just asked me what I wanted and to sign at the bottom. I told them I wasn’t finished and they just said “It’s fine! Just sign”. They were impatient and would have been intimidating to most unprepared people. I told them I wanted an E Visa (“Ordinary Visa”, not to be confused with “e-visa”), not a tourist Visa, and signed the incompleted form and handed it to them (I did make sure I checked the “E visa” box though, before).

    Surprisingly, they said it was $35, which is the actual cost. I paid exactly $35 in cash, which I had already prepared earlier, and gave it to them. I sat down for a minute or two, then they waved me back. I grabbed my passport with the Visa, and left. No fees were asked for, and as I later verified from the bus company owner, they really did stamp me with an E Visa ($35) not a T visa ($30) (Note: E visas say “E” on the left side).

    I walked forward to get my final stamp at the next office. I told them I was there on business, to look at possibly becoming a teacher; they said OK, and that was that. I was not charged anything. I was not asked for a photo or anything. etc. I did need to fill out the same form I filled out earlier, this time completely filled out, which was weird, because I never got the first one back. Perhaps the previous guys forgot? Who knows. Whatever.

    NOTE: One important thing I discovered, is that there are forms in this office on the wall, that ask if any immigration official did anything improper. It said if so, to write their name and badge/ID number to report them, and give details on what they did. I don’t know if this is new or actually results in discipline, but that, combined with no border officials trying to scam me, made me feel a little better; like maybe the Cambodian government is trying to crack down on immigration official fraud. Who knows.

    I got back on the bus after the owner found me; I actually had to walk backwards because they parked kind of in between the two last offices I went to. Very pleasant and helpful guy.

    The rest of the journey went smoothly, no problems, except for the driver talking on the phone the whole time and some questionable vehicle passes… But whatever.

    However, when we got there, as I stated earlier, we were told the roads in Siem Reap were poor, and the city didn’t want big buses driving on them. Therefore, we were told there would be $3 tuk tuks waiting for us at a bus station way outside of town. He assured us they were not affiliated with the bus company.

    Sure enough, almost exactly 10 kilometers away from the city, we stopped at some middle-of-nowhere bus station. This was around 17:00. We were told to go outside and sign our names on a sheet of paper, then take a tuk tuk to our destination. Why we would need to sign anything was illogical and irritating to me. I refused. When tuk tuk drivers asked me if I needed a ride, I said no. I walked to Siem Reap myself, on foot. As far as I know, I was the only person to walk all 10 kilometers. I refused to take part in what seemed like could have been a scam. Perhaps the sign up sheet was to ensure each tuk tuk driver gave his cut to the bus company. Maybe it was something else. Who knows. I refused to take any chances on being taken advantage of and rewarding a scam.

    On the positive side: There is a local phone store right near the bus station, also in the middle of nowhere, and I was able to get a phone and internet sim card for $5 for an entire month through Metfone, although internet speed is awful (but this is common for all Cambodian carriers apparently, and is also dependent on your location, accordong to a Khmer girl I know). The woman in the phone shop was super kind and sweet as she tried to help me in her broken English. There was a family there as well. Just super beautiful and sweet.

    After getting my sim card, I walked to Siem Reap. I could have used an app like Grab or something, but I chose to walk.

    Overall: Experience not bad and mostly I was satisfied. I would use the bus service again. And, I would go through the border again. But people should be aware of these kinds of things when booking an $18 ticket to a super poor country.

    I will post links of photos I took as well. Feel free to use them. No copyright needed.

  2. Tony says:

    I can’t find this information anywhere: Are the Ordinary E Business Visas able to be obtained at land border crossings like Tourist Visas? Or, are they only issued at airports? I have looked and looked and looked but can not find the answer to this. If you know the answer, could you please tell me? Also, I suggest putting this information in your article about Cambodian Visas. Thank you very much. Hope to hear back.

    • Lina says:

      They are also issued at land borders, but be sure to check that you’ve received an E-class visa rather than a T-class visa, because they are known for sometimes charging you the higher price for the E-class visa and then sticking a Tourist visa in your passport.

      • Tony says:

        Thank you Lina for responding. I did eventually see you mentioned the E Visa thing in another one of your articles. Consider adding that to the Visa article too. Also, I never would have thought of that little scam you just mentioned. Excellent advice. This website is a treasure trove of information. Thank you

  3. Omri says:

    Hi Lina! I want to also share my experience riding giant Ibis from Bangkok to Siem reap on September 2019

    The trip went smooth, and I feel comfortable recommending Giant Ibis to others.

    I was quite worried about this trip because of all of the stories you hear about the Cambodian border so I decided to write a detailed review that might help others like me.

    I started the journey by booking a Grab ride to ’12Go Makkasan Station’ (Just typed it like that into the app) and it took me exactly to the place where the ‘Giant Ignis’ to Siem reap bus was already waiting. I arrived there around 08:10 and as I opened the door to exit the grab car, a representative of 12Go already approached me, asking where am I going. I showed her the E-ticket on my phone, she scanned it, told me the bus is already here and asked me to wait until the bus is ready for boarding.

    Waited until 08:25 and then she told me I now go on board. On the bus, there were 3 staff members who took care of my suitcase and showed me where to seat.

    To my surprise, I was the only person on the bus. Only one other guy joined the trip a few minutes later and we departed ahead of schedule at 08:35. Yup. We were just 2 passengers on a whole bus. (And I didn’t take the flight to keep it eco-friendly…)

    Later we were given some forms to fill for the visa, paid the $40 (*When you’ll read the company’s regulations before booking, they say there is no other choice and everybody needs to pay as part of the VIP services, so I decided to just go with it*) and gave the staff member our passports.

    The seats were clean and comfortable, and the wifi and USB phone charge was working great.
    They gave us cold Nescafe coffee in a can and a sweet pastry as breakfast.

    There was a 10 minutes bathroom stop, after around 2 hours of driving, in a gas station with many options for food, drinks, coffee and so on.

    Once we approached the border (around 12:30) the bus stopped near the Cambodian embassy, the staff member went down for around 10 minutes and came back with our visas ready and gave us our passports back.

    After 20 minutes after that, the bus got as close as he could to the border, we went down with our passports and Thai departure cards (the small card you get when entering Thailand) and went through Thai immigration. That took around 20 minutes. (The staff member was with us the all-time)

    Once we crossed the border to Cambodia we went by foot for around 5 minutes (Just followed the staff member) to the Cambodian immigration to get our stamp. The line there took another 10 minutes and our bus was already waiting nearby. After the stamp, you can go to the toilet inside a nearby casino if you need, ask the staff.

    The entire immigration part took around 40 minutes in total.

    Finally, we went back on the bus for another 2.5 hours drive, The final section to arrive Siem reap. At that point, 2 other travelers joined our trip. Apparently, they took the train to the border (For 40 THB!) and from the border to Siem Reap it they paid another $10.

    We were all given a vegetarian lunch, fried rice, and some cucumber, in a plastic container. Similar to what they have in 7/11.

    We got to Siem reap earlier than expected around 16:00.

    There were some Tuk-tuk drivers there waiting, we paid 3 USD for the ride to our hostel in the city.
    (I found out later, Cambodia has Grab Tuk-tuk! and it’s cheaper)

    I hope I was helpful, have a nice trip everybody

  4. Peter G. says:

    Lina is correct. You need a Visa. You can do it on-line . I have been to Cambodia / Angkor Wat numerous times. I always travelled by bus from Bangkok ( Northern Bus Depot at Morchit). The link for the e-visa is https://www.evisa.gov.kh You will need a jpeg photo of your head so that the Visa service will enclose that into the Visa. They will process the e-visa, and send it back via e-mail. You print out a few copies of the Visa, as one will go into your passport, and, they will take another copy off you as well. So, do 3 copies of the e-visa.One as a spare. Oh yes, two daya at Angkor is too short. 5 Days is OK.

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