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.

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

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    Valentyna says:

    Hi.
    We traveled from Siem Reap to Bangkok with Nattakan Bus company in February 2020.
    You can buy ticket on the website, there are 2 buses, at 8am and 9am.
    But the girl at the station (Siem Reap) said that there is only one bus at 8am. I’m curious what about those people who bought tickets on the website for 9:00am? So, we bought tickets from girl at station, it cost $28 per one, although hotels offer other companies (minivans) for $15-19. We arrived to the station near 8am. They say that the bus will be at 9:30am and will arrive ito Bangkok at 18:00 instead of 15:00, that they have changed the company, because it was not reliable. What? This is your company, the only one who travels directly to Bangkok!? They gave us bottle of water and a donut after half an hour. All people were waiting very very long! But bus didn’t come at 9:30 nor at 10, 10:30 and even 11. The bus arrived only at 11:30 !!! 3.5 hours after proper departure! The bus departed at 11:45. At the border all people managed quickly it took only 40 minutes (but all passengers had to take all their luggage from bus with them).
    We arrived to Bangkok at 20:30 instead of planned 15:00 (as girl at station told us). It’s good that we didn’t have an air flight that day. But of course we had other plans for this day and finally we were very exhausted (we waked up at 6am for this bus) and hungry (they gave us water and a small lunch after border but it’s not enough for all day!)
    And we had traveled before maybe with this company too from Bangkok (Mo Chit) to Siem Reap, it departed on time but arrived 1 hour later. On that trip they gave us only small lunch from 7-11, no water at all, and they didn’t help us on Cambodian border, where is nothing to understandable and a lot of scam and fraud but they at least warned us to be careful ob border and our luggage were in the bus all time.
    I don’t recommend this company.

    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.

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