So far, I’ve only taken flights between countries, including Siem Reap to Luang Prabang. I was a bit nervous from stories I’ve heard about border scams. But so far, I haven’t had any problems and the best way to avoid them is research, make friends with other travelers going to the same place and share any tips you have with the travel community.
I know you can take an express bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, but the reason I chose to take a local bus to the border then take a taxi is because my friend said it’s a bit cheaper and you don’t have to wait for everyone on the bus to get a visa to cross.
Here is how you get from Bangkok to Siem Reap without getting scammed:
1. Get to the Mo Chit northern bus terminal. Don’t confuse this with the Mo Chit BTS train station. From the Mo Chit BTS station, you can ask people to catch a local bus for 8-10 baht (depending on the bus) and it will be about a 15-minute ride to the bus terminal.
2. Choose a bus that takes you to Aranyaprathet, the town right next to the border. It costs about 170 baht for second class, or 237 baht for first class. When I went on a Monday, they didn’t have an option for second class, so I took first class. Apparently there isn’t much difference between first and second class except for the illusion of exclusiveness.
3. The bus ride took about 5 hours. Make sure you have a good breakfast and bring extra snacks because they didn’t make any food stops and give you a small snack that isn’t enough for a meal unless you have a tummy the size of a walnut.
4. This bus dropped us off within walking distance of the border. If you don’t get dropped off at the border, you can take a tuk tuk with other travelers preferably for 80 baht tops since it is very close to the border.
5. Scam watch: Do not walk to what looks like a legitimate sign that says “Visa office” before the border. People have ended up paying $60 instead of what should be a $20 visa fee on arrival. Simply go straight to the border or tell your driver to take you to the border even though he insists on going to the visa office. Look for the sign below and walk there. You can make your bathroom stop here too for the low low price of 3 baht. On a side note, I don’t think people should be charged for needing to take a piss anywhere in the world.
6. Fill out your departure card and you will get an exit stamp. Continue walking straight for about 200 metres and until you reach the office to get your Visa. Remember to have your passport photos ready.
7. Scam watch: do not pay the 100 baht they will try and charge you on top of your $20 US visa fee. The immigration officer tried to do this to a visitor and the visitor simply said, “No, the sign just says $20” and the officer said, “Oh ok.”
8. Scam watch: do not take the “free shuttle bus service” or any other offer from someone that sounds too good to be true. When you’ve got your visa processed and get your entry stamp, you can get other people to share a taxi with you by the roundabout where you get your stamp or a bit further up the road. Just make a deal with the taxi driver for $10 US per person, even if you can’t buy a full taxi as they usually pick up people along the way. There was only three of us and we got to Siem Reap for $10 per person. Important: The cars do not have a “taxi” sign, they are Toyota Camrys.
Considering the lack of honesty of many people in this part of town, I don’t think I really need to tell you to avoid going to the casino by the office.
9. The ride to Siem Reap is about 2.5 hours and straight all the way down the National 6 road. One problem with some of the buses that go to Siem Reap is they may drop you a few kilometers out of town and you may get overcharged to get a tuk tuk into town. When you have your own taxi, they can take you straight to your guesthouse or hotel.
Enjoy your time in Cambodia!