If your looking for an inexpensive option to transfer from Siem Reap to Bangkok, an overland border crossing is the best, though not the fastest, but still a great option for an adventure traveler.
This involves tuk tuk rides, transfer coaches, buses and train with some scams on the way.
It can be pretty scary for first timers but a good research and reviews will save you from any inconveniences.
There are also direct buses that will cost you around $30.
But we opted for less than $2 by train. Yes, you got it right. Just $2 for a third class train ride!
You might be wondering, why?
Well, coming from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam it took us 2 bus trips already for more than 14 hours to reach Siem Reap in Cambodia.
And it was also my first time to travel by a long haul train in my entire life. Did I regret it? Well, keep reading..
So, here’s my experience and I’ve put this step by step guide to make your journey less of a hassle and just enjoy the beautiful landscape and views of Thailand by train.
Let me give you an overview:
- Step 1: From your hotel/ accommodation in Siem Reap to Poipet Border (Cambodia side)
- Step 2: Get an exit stamp at Poipet border
- Step 3: Get an entry stamp at Aranyaprathet Border
- Step 4: Overnight stay at Aranyaprathet (optional)
- Step 5: Morning Train ride to Bangkok
- Step 6: Hua Lamphong Railway Station to your hotel in Bangkok
1. Siem Reap to Poipet Border
Getting from Siem Reap to Poipet border is pretty straightforward. It takes roughly 3 hours with some stops on the way.
There are few options for you. However, I recommend that you check with your hotel or accommodation for a transfer van service that will pick you up right from your hotel to the border. This way you don’t need to get a Tuk tuk to the bus terminal/station.
You know, those ‘you need tuk tuk? I have tuk tuk… two dollars..’
‘No, we’re okay.’
‘Okay, one dollar..
Well, this is pretty common whether you are in Cambodia or Thailand. You just have to learn the art of saying ‘No’
Anyway, here’s a picture that I took from the hotel where we stayed so you’ll get an idea about the fare.
We chose to go by Van in the morning because we didn’t want to rush ourselves to catch the train to Bangkok.
There’s only 2 train leaving from Aranyaprathet station to Bangkok.
Train #280 – Depart: 6:40; Arrives in Bangkok: 12:05
Train #276 – Depart: 13:55; Arrives in Bangkok: 19:55
So, If you’re planning to go by train, you either have to be very early and make sure you get stamped out before 1:30 PM or take your time and stay overnight at the border.
Even if you are too early, the border office opens at 7:00 AM.
We chose the latter since we don’t want to risk and hope that the queue at the border won’t be problematic as it can get very crowded. I heard from other travelers that they have to wait for hours.
Also, we wanted to experience the countryside of Thailand.
2. Get an Exit stamp at Poipet Border
We were dropped off at a round-about facing the border. Find your way to the departure office. Make sure to double check your passport if you have the exit stamp before moving forward.
You’re now on the ‘no man’s island’. It’s a bit confusing to go around as signs are not clear and orderly. So be careful.
Tips & Advice:
- Follow other tourists and backpackers. Get to know them while you’re on your way to the border so you’ll have an idea who you’ll go with.
- Do not just listen to anyone offering you some help or any kind of assistance. Getting out is very easy.
- Always bring a pen. A must!
3. Get an entry stamp at Thai Immigration
Once you exit the building, you still have to walk to the Thai side. You’ll know you’re now in Thailand when you see a 7-eleven store and you walk on the left and not on the right.
Upon entering the building, don’t forget to ask for an arrival/departure card or form from the officers at the ground floor.
Check the types of visa here to know if you need a visa before entering Thailand. As for Philippine passport holders, you’ll get a 15-day visa-free entry if entering via a land border and maximum 30-days via air entry from international airports in Thailand.
4. Where to stay in Aranyaprathet?
After that very tiring process of getting out and getting in, finally Sawatdee khrap!
Welcome to Thailand!
Well, though there’s nothing much to see in Aranyaprathet, we managed to get a taste of the quiet and peaceful place away from the busy and chaotic life of big cities.
We booked a Standard Twin room at @Border Hotel for THB780 around $25. The hotel’s location was excellent and accessible to almost anywhere in that small town. And, by the way, the hotel was just outside the border after you exit the immigration office. You won’t have a problem finding it.
Since it was already late, we just roam around the market nearby, buy some food and stuff at 7-eleven and exchange some bills in a local bank.
If you don’t fancy eating street food at Rongklue Market, they have a small shopping mall just a few walk from @Border Hotel. I had my first taste of extra spicy KFC chicken with rice here. Phet maaakkk!
I got to relax and do our usual internet stuff in the hotel. The staffs were very friendly too and I didn’t have any problems communicating with them, though I always have my Google translate ready.
5. Morning Train Ride to Bangkok
From the hotel to the train station was about 10-15minutes by Tuk tuk. The fare was THB80 or $2.
Since we wanted to arrive in Bangkok as early as possible, we took the morning train leaving the town at 6:40AM. The ticket counter opens at 6:00 AM.
Yeyy! I was so excited since that was my first time to travel by train.
First impression? Umm.. not bad. Well, considering the price of less than $2, nothing to complain about. It’s a third class train anyway.
Here’s what it looks like inside.
Don’t expect for air condition or food service as there is none. What you’ll get though is an open-air carriage and a big window where you can see the landscape of the countryside.
Not to discourage you but it was all just farmlands and mountains (pretty boring for me).*laughs*
What I appreciate from that train experience though was to get to know the locals. Thai people are genuinely very friendly and approachable.
The train will stop at stations and some Thai police will go around to check your tickets or passport.
Some local vendors will sell you food and stuff. They can get pretty annoying so just refuse nicely.
Just tell them, ‘mai ao khap/kha’ it means I don’t want.
If you want to buy something, always ask the price first.
‘Thao rai khrap?’ Or How much?
In the middle of the trip, the train started to get crowded especially nearing Bangkok. A lot of locals use this train to move from one town or city to another.
- Don’t forget your insect spray or repellents. There were a lot of mosquitos inside, especially in the early morning.
- If you want to feel comfortable, make sure to bring a neck pillow. Remember it’s about 6 hours train ride in a hard seat.
6. From Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Your Hotel
The train terminates at Hua Lamphong Station. From here you can take the MRT subway line that connects to the BTS Skytrain.
We stayed at Silom Avenue Inn since it was located in the central business district and close to everything. If you don’t know where to stay in Bangkok, here’s my Where To Stay In Bangkok? Guide for you.
To sum it up..
Traveling by train from Siem Reap to Bangkok may not be the most convenient and cheapest option but the experience was all worth it in my opinion.
Did I regret it? Of course not. It was something that I won’t forget. But I may not do it again as going by bus could be the best overland option.
Would I recommend it? Yes, if you want to experience the countryside of Thailand, if you have lots of time and you like slow traveling, or if you just want to experience a long haul train ride.
Sometimes, once in our lifetime, we have to be adventurous and try things that most tourist or travelers don’t often do. At the end of the day, it’s the experience and lessons we learned that enrich our travel journeys.
At the end of the day, it’s the experiences and lessons we learned that enrich our travel journeys.
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