Crossing the Thailand-Cambodia Border by Bus: A Step by Step Tutorial

(The Great Birthday Trip Part 3)

OBJECTIVE

This tutorial aims to teach you how to cross the Aranyaprathet, Thailand–Poipet, Cambodia border by land using Bus 99  which departs from Lumphini Park in Bangkok. Why this route?  Because it will take you straight to the border unlike other buses that stop at the Aranyaprathet Terminal. The terminal is 6 kilometers away from the border and is reportedly full of touts who will harass you to no end.

If you are a budget traveller ready for an adventure, proceed to the checklist.  But if you have low tolerance for heat, dirty public toilets, communal eating utensils or dust in general, leave this page NOW and go book one of those packaged holidays in Phuket or Chiang Mai.

Note:  1.) Do not skip steps, unless otherwise indicated.  2.) Do not get too paranoid.  3.) It’s not as complicated as you may think.

CHECKLIST

Make sure you have the following with you at all times:

  1. Passport
  2. A pen
  3. A small notebook where you have written down your hotel and flight details
  4. Enough Baht for bus fare from Bangkok to the border and back, and enough US Dollars for spending in Cambodia
  5. Another pen, in case you lose the first one
  6. Hand sanitizer, in case you want to use the public restrooms
  7. Snacks (to get you through the 5-6 hour trip)

PROCEDURE

1.  Find the bus.  There is only ONE bus that plies the Aranyaprathet–Poipet route and it waits for passengers from 5am -6am in Lumphini Park. If you miss this window, you can take another bus that departs from the Mo Chit Bus Terminal.  But that’s another tutorial.

To find the bus, take the BTS Silom Line and go down the Sala Daeng station. Walk towards the Si Lom station (MRT subway) then turn right at RAMA IV Road (towards Thai Dusit Hotel) which is approximately 1 kilometer away. When you reach the HSBC building, take the pedestrian overpass to cross the road towards Lumphini Park. Bus 99 is usually parked at the foot of the overpass.

2. Pay the  fare.  Bus fare is  200 Baht or a little over US$6.   Your seat comes with a free bottle of water. Travel time is between 5 ½ to 6 hours. Enjoy the view or sleep.

The bus is pretty comfortable

3. Go down in Aranyaprathet.  You don’t have a choice, really. That’s the end of the line for you.  If you’re hungry and not in a hurry,  go to #4.  If not, go straight to #5.

The market at Aranyaprathet, just a few meters from the border

4. Eat before you cross.  Restaurants are few and far between so it’s advisable to have lunch at one of the restaurants in this Divisoria-like market place.  You will be surprised at how good the food tastes here.

5. Cross the border. This is it! This is what you came here for.  All you really have to do is get inside one of those smallish buildings, fill up an immigration card, and together with your passport, present it to the immigration officer. Foreigners are usually charged US$20 for a Visa but Filipinos do not need one to get into Cambodia. We are lucky like that.

*You will find that there’s a long queue just outside the immigration building but that’s mainly for Vietnamese, Thais and Cambodians. Ignore.

6.  Cross the bridge when you get there. Once your passport has been stamped and signed by the Thai immigration officer, you can now cross the Friendship Bridge.

The Friendship Bridge

An elaborate arch greets visitors as they enter Poipet. It says “Kingdom of Cambodia!” (exclamation point mine). The irony of this proclamation only becomes apparent as you walk through the short distance between the two countries. Amidst several high-end casinos, vendors are everywhere and poverty certainly makes its presence felt.

7.  Go straight to the Cambodian immigration building.  Have your passport stamped.

Once you’re done with the immigration procedures, you can board one of the free government shuttles just outside the immigration building. This will take you to the Transport Terminal where you can take a bus or a cab to go to your final destination in Cambodia.

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7 Comments

  1. HI! I want to make this trip, do you recomend this way to get to cambodia for 2 western woman? ,
    and do you think, is to crowded? we have to be there very early to have a place?
    thank you very much I will appreciate your coments.

    thank you for your post!
    viviana

    • Hi Viviana,

      We’ve seen many foreigners take this route, so yes, I can recommend this. You have to be early to make sure you have a seat. Remember that this particular bus makes the trip just once a day, so if you miss it bus, you will have to take it the next day. Be sure to follow all the instructions.:)

      Good luck!

  2. Hello! I just want to ask few things. If the bus only leaves at around 5-6AM, and the way to get there is through the train that will lead you to the Sala Daeng station, is the BTS train already open by this time? I visited their website and it says that their trains open at around 7 AM. Thank you!

    • Hi Cookie. Yup it was open at 5:30am when we were there. But that was a while back so I’m not really updated on the sched.:(

  3. HI, I HAVE A QUESTION WHAT UR FROM MANILA TO BANGKOK THEN BANGKOK TO CAMBODIA BY BUS THEN CAMBOADIA TO MANILA?IS IT POSSIBLE NA CAMBODIA TO MANILA YUNG EXIT?
    THANK U!

  4. Hi! What about from Cambodia to Bangkok? There’s a lot of online blogs about crossing the border from cambodia to Bangkok but none from Cambodia to Bangkok and the expensive visa fees. Thank you!

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