For our next destination after Bangkok, we were pretty set on going to Siem Reap to see Angkor, which was a good choice – but the question was how to get there. While we had been flying up to this point, the prices on flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap weren’t great so we decided to look into other options- like a bus.
We had been hesitant to do a bus ride across borders, or really anywhere in Asia – we’d read a few accounts that did not sell us on them. However, the price was quite cheap at ThaiTicketMajor and the time it would take would be just a little bit longer than the entire ordeal of an international flight so we decided to just go ahead and give it a shot and hope that everything went fine.
You must get your tickets before hand, as the bus is almost always sold out the day of. You can purchase your tickets online at ThaiTicketMajor, but you will still need to pick up the actual tickets from a vendor. We went to a ticket office in the Siam Paragon Mall in Bangkok on Sukhumwit street – it was in the movie theater. We showed them the reservation we made online (which we had to print out) and they handed us the ticket. It is a good idea to bring your passport with you though, as they will ask for it – I forgot to bring mine, but luckily they waived it with other proof of identification.
We reserved our bus ride for 9am and made our way out from our AirBNB. We didn’t reserve a taxi prior, because of the nature of Bangkok, and decided to wing getting one. Luckily, it was no problem. We walked to the edge of the street and flagged down a taxi within 30 seconds. We explained our destination to Mo Chit BTS Station and he took us there. This time, as compared to our arrival, we elected to use the tollway to save time.
Arrival to the bus station was quite simple. While we thought we might be late, we actually arrived just in time to catch the 8am bus ride, if we had gotten that time, but we had bought the 9am so we had some time to wait. No matter, this gave us time to leisurely find our terminal, from which a help desk provided us the answer, and to go grab a few snacks in the form of donuts.
There are a few food vendors as well as bathrooms for you to use. So navigating the bus terminal is of no issue. About fifteen minutes before our time to go, we were directed onto the bus where we got into our seats, which were quite comfortable surprisingly. The bus was a Korean made bus, and quite roomy. We were also given a little goody bag of food and drink.
We then got on our way and the bus was off. The ride itself was relatively uneventful for the beginning of the trip. We made one stop about two hours in for a restroom and snack break at a nice truck stop. We then made another stop while we were at Poi Pet where we were given our lunch. The lunch was simply a gas station ready-made meal, but it was not bad actually – it will differ by the day, but we were given shrimp fried rice, so Briana didn’t eat it.
Once we finished our lunch, the bus took us to the border between Bangkok and Cambodia. Here people may try to get you pay for getting your visa done, or other scam-like offers. The bus driver or assistant may even attempt to ask for money to take care of the visa. Our advice, is to ignore them and just go to the immigration office and get your Visa done from the proper office. There are signs, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Our bus driver told us to walk forward across the border and just follow the directions – they were pretty obvious.
Getting the Visa was straight forward, albeit a little sketchy. We filled out our information and tried to talk to the immigration office. The cost was supposed to be $35 for each visa, there was however an armed official standing in front of the Visa office, demanding a 100 baht (~$3) “service fee” aka a bribe. His “service” was him handing the passport to the people behind the counter.
While Briana had her’s, I was missing my passport photos. While everyone else was trying to fight about the payment/bribe (we had done our research so already knew about this issue) and I was trying to figure out what to do, Briana filled out her paperwork, turned in the amount they asked for, and went to use the bathroom. Another woman who was missing her extras passport photos was told to go somewhere else to have a couple done. I decided to give it a go anyway and walked up to the guy and handed him the money, and immediately said “no photos.” He looked at me for a second, looked at the money, then took my things and told the Visa officials to process it. A few minutes later, our Visas were handed to us and we went to get stamped in.
Stamping in through immigration was a very simple process, same as pretty much everywhere else. On a side note, we witnessed a guy who ran into a few issues as he somehow got into Thailand without a stamp on his passport – not entirely sure what happened, but he did manage to get across in the end.
Once we got across, the bus was waiting for us and we got back on and proceeded on to Siem Reap. I spent the majority of my time reading “The Jungle Book” on the Kindle, while Briana read a book she had downloaded onto her laptop. We both also spent time looking out at Cambodian countryside.
It was Songkran / Cambodian New Year when we crossed, so there were numerous citizens playing with water and spraying people and the bus as we passed.
Finally, 8 hours after leaving Bangkok, we arrived to the bus station in Siem Reap. It really was just a hotel though. We were told that we would have complimentary tuk-tuks waiting for us to take us where we needed to go. But upon arrival, they said that because of the holiday, there was no one to take us, so we’d have to figure it out.
We tried to grab a tuk-tuk after we got off the bus, but we weren’t having much luck. There were barely any available, and a whole bus of people had just unloaded. Finally we managed to get one, who didn’t seem very thrilled. We gave him a phone number to call our host for directions, and then he took us about a kilometer into town and swapped us off to someone else. He told us he didn’t want to work anymore, but still charged us a huge amount (~$3.00 which is actually a lot for the area). We went through the same thing with the second guy, though he did manage to get us to our place. Again he charged us a huge amount for a short distance (~$5.00), to which our host said to him and us at the same time, that he was a bad man who was charging way too much.
So the entire journey wasn’t too bad. The bus ride was easy and comfortable aside from it being very hot with no air conditioning. The border crossing was not too bad either, better than many land crossings we’ve read about. Our only issue was the tuk-tuks upon arrival. So if you’re making the journey, we would recommend the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, or if you are going the other way, you can use the same company to travel from Siem Reap to Bangkok. We had originally thought about returning to Bangkok, but our plans changed to a totally different itinerary.
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