Did you ever think about entering Cambodia on the road from Thailand? It could be the cheapest option for your travel: flights to Bangkok are often less expensive than those to Phnom Penh. For sure it is the most adventurous choice!
How to do that
From Bangkok there are several bus companies operating from Thailand to Cambodia. Book your ticket a few days in advance, otherwise you will end up without a coach as it happened to me.
But don’t worry: everything ended up just fine. If you are three or more people forget about the coach and take a taxi: it’s going to be the same fare but with some added advantages.
I left Bangkok at 5 am and at 8.30 am I was already at Poipet border. Since the first coaches usually arrive at 10 am, I was able to avoid the mess and swift through the custom with no delay.
First thing to do is to get a visa: the cost for it is 20 US dollars, but you will have to add a 100-bath tip. No room for bargain here, without the tip the custom officials won’t even look in your eyes. There also is a written billboard signalizing this added cost. So it is: 20 US dollars plus 100 baths. And do not forget the document type photo.
Once you have the visa on your passport you will be directed towards a little tin box: it’s the immigration office. Here they will get you fingerprints from all of your ten fingers, and after this step you can finally enter the Kingdom of Cambodia (just to let you have a rough idea, it took me about 45 minutes).
After the frank zone – with its hotels and casino resorts, which give it a distinctive Las Vegas feeling it it wasn’t for the salespeople moving around with their cart – you will find a small square with a free shuttle bus waiting to fetch you to a nearby park place. Here you will find a transfer to Siem Reap.
It’s the same if you arrive by bus: you have to walk through the border.
Once in the parking lot you’ll have to choose how to continue: by cab, by bus or sharing a car. If you have the chance to share the expenses with someone else, I suggest you go for the car. In any case, the fare should be around 10 US dollars.
Remember: if you go by private means, state it clearly they have to drive you to your hotel, otherwise they will just dump you in some corner and you will have to look for a tuk tuk or something else.
I went by car and we entered Siem Reap before midday, while the buses were expected to arrive late in the afternoon.
I had a room at Golden Banana B&B and I didn’t regret my choice: after a seven-hour journey it’s nice to enjoy a pool and a frozen beer before hitting Angkor’s temples.
Welcome in Cambodia!