From Bangkok to Siem Reap

Before this trip, I had done an intensive search for information on the Internet. Quite a lot of information traveling across the Thai-Cambodian border are available but were not updated. Our destination city in Cambodia is Siem Reap where the renowned Angkor Wat is located. In general, backpackers will enter Siem Reap through Vietnam, or Phnom Penh. Tick pocket tourists (lots of money in their pockets), would favor flying in through Siem Reap international airport. 

At last, I have managed to find the information from A member of the forum who calls himself SteveJD999 has shared his experience riding the airconditioned bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. I followed all the instructions given and found that his information is very helpful. Bangkok Post online also includes articles on the bus between these countries. This service is actually new. The first bus launched on 22nd February 2013 from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. The plan was originally started December 29, 2012, but stopped because the Cambodian side is not ready, according to Bangkok Post.

Actually there are many ways to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap, part of the one which I will write next. If you like to merge into the ‘local', have enough energy, have a lot of free time, and a true adventurer, then I don’t see why not choosing the train. Plenty of information is available on the Internet—posted by other backpackers in the travel forums about this. The train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet takes five and a half hours, much slower but ‘scenic’. There also buses from Mo Chit bus station and Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Aranyaprathet.

But from Aranyaprathet to the border, the distance is still 7 km away and you will need to hire a tuk-tuk to Rongklua market.  Furthermore, you have to walk through Thai immigration. Sound complicated. Consider a direct bus to Siem Reap is available, I see no reason not to take it. So here my friend and my experiences. 

Purchase ticket at booth number 22 (inside) the Mo Chit bus station. We arrived at the bus station at 8.00 AM and the tickets for the bus that departs at 09.00 AM was almost sold out. Four seats left, two were in front with less room to stretch our legs. And the other two seats were too closed to the lavatory.  It's suggestible to come to the bus station earlier. The second bus is departing Mochit at 11.00 AM.  Oh, almost forget to inform you, the ticket costs 750 Baht. 
The waiting room at Mo Chit bus station is comfort. 
Inside Mo Chit bus station. Clean, airconditioned and comfortable.  You can find mini-market such as 7 Eleven, ATMs, money exchanges, bakery, public phone, toilet but taking pictures is not allowed. I didn't know about this policy, so I have walked around innocently with my camera when two security guards approached me. "No photo!" They said in demanding.  I gestured politely and apologized. The good thing was, they did not ask me to delete these pictures so I now able to share them here.  What is the reason not to allow people to take pictures, while this place is so awesome? 
A door that lead to the platforms. 
Boarding the bus. We put our luggage in the luggage compartment.  Our bus left at 9.10 AM. The driver and his assistant were looked smart although didn't speak any English. But sign language worked well tough.  Refreshment; snack and coffee were served as soon as we left the bus station. 
If you ever saw Thai fruit at your local market or supermarket, I also saw the never endless fruit trees and well-tended farms on the roadside as soon as we left Bangkok city. As you can see here, a young coconut vendor and at the background are mangos and other fruit trees. 

We arrived at Aranyaprathet at 13.05 PM.  The total hour's drive was four hours including 10 minutes stop at somewhere in Sukumvit. The drive was comfortable and my friend and I were able to rest and refreshed when arrived at the border town.  The assistant driver gave every passenger a tag that we didn't have any idea what's printed on. 
Once our bus arrived in front of the border immigration office, two men climbed into the bus and offering visa services. Although I have read about the various forms of scams, touts, and unauthorized visa brokers, I still do not know whether they are actors or not (later on revealed that they're the bus company staff). No wonder, our driver seemed to know them well. Each passenger that most Europeans were drawn 1000 Bath and they came down and followed that guy. My friend and I do not need a visa, so we sat on the bus and having our lunch box provided by the bus company.

After waiting about an hour our bus moved to another stop where we all got out and walked to the Thai immigration,  at the same time our bus also cross the border with all our luggage and other stuff. The Thai Immigration officers served us quickly and orderly. Got out from the Thai's border we found ourselves walking on the dusty and busy Poipet. The heat and humidity were unbearable, fortunately, I have brought an umbrella. 

There was no sign to followed except what our driver has told us, that Cambodia's immigration office was next door to 'Diamond Casino.' So we headed that direction and got into a narrow alley. The queue was long and there was dusty and hot.  After 30 minutes standing on the line, was obvious the line almost didn't progress.  

At that time, our driver and one of the guys who earlier 'helped' other passengers for their Cambodia's visa approached us. They talked to a Thai woman passenger who in turn told us in good English that, we can pay a hundred Baht each person and he will get the chop on our behalf. No need to queue any longer. My friend and I jumped to it, but the French passenger in front of us had a different opinion. "No way, it's breaking the rule!" That what her expression. 

But we couldn't cease the temptation to end the queue and get back into the airconditioning bus. Besides, I have accidentally left my camera on the bus, and a little bit anxious about it. So, in spite of feeling uneasy ethically, I have agreed to rent his service. 

Freed from lining the Thai's lady, my friend and I went to Diamond Casino. Wait! N
o, not to gambling, but to piss! We pissed of the casino and didn't give them a chance to piss us off.  There was a wise advise, leave Poipet as soon as you are there. Don't stop and test your luck in one of the casinos. Poipet is no man land, and only Thai's or Cambodian would gamble there.  

Poipet hosts Cambodia's main border crossing with Thailand, which links North-Western Cambodia to Aranyaprathet. The cross-border activity has made the town grow to be larger than its provincial capital, Sisophon. 
Seller at the market place going home, mixed with tourists, government officers in their uniform, casino's guest, and employees who dress up smartly.   
My friend in front of one of the many casinos. Our bus was parked crossroad. 

The rest of the journey was convenient. The road from Poipet to Siem Reap has paved and smooth. In Thailand vehicles running on the left side and therefore our bus has it steering wheel on the right. However, our driver who on duty since Poipet can handle the bus very well. He has to horned the careless or slow tuk-tuk, pick up and overloaded motorbike, yet he took us to Siem Reap sound and safe. 

The bus company staff (the guy that I have suspected as a tout, welcome us to Siem Reap. He also offered us tuk-tuk for one US Dollar. But the French Lady instantly and stand on guard she said, No! The tuk-tuk from my hotel will come to pick me up. I just want to know the address of the bus last stop." Well, can't blame her reaction after the event at Poipet immigration.

But we trust the guy and turned out we like the tuk-tuk driver, Sophea, which he recommended. Our eyes empathized with our stomachs, they were darting at the foods displayed and purposefully to caught foods lover like us. 


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