I’ve read countless horror stories about the international journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap. The border crossing at Poi Pet is infamous for its touts and scam artists, but I can’t help but feel it’s been painted in an extremely bad light and that if you have your wits about you and do your research, then you will have no issues whatsoever. There are several ways to travel across the Cambodian border: plane, taxi, minibus or coach. Coaches and minibuses can be slightly dubious, often dropping passengers at homes before the border to purchase their visas for an inflated fee. All you have to do is politely refuse, and you’ll be taken to the border to purchase your visa at the official office.
Travelling by minibus is probably the best way to travel this route for backpackers because its extremely cheap. There are two options when travelling by minibus: either you can organise a private transfer through one of the street vendors or your accommodation that will collect you and drop you at the bus station in Siem Reap, costing around 500 THB (£10) or you can travel from the Mo Chit 2 bus station where minibuses depart all day, every 30 minutes, at a cost of 200 THB. The latter requires you to then purchase a new bus ticket at the border in order to travel to Siem Reap, so in my opinion the easiest option is to book a private transfer for ease. The journey by minibus to the border takes around 3 hours, and from Poi Pet the drive is around another 4 to Siem Reap.
There are several direct flights per day between Bangkok and Siem Reap with airlines like China Southern Airlines and AirAsia, taking just under an hour. Flights can cost anywhere upwards of £40, but be sure to check the airline’s terms and conditions regarding checked baggage allowances as this is often not included in ticket prices.
There are two reliable coach companies that depart from Bangkok, these being Transport Co./Nattakan ($32 one way) and Giant Ibis ($28 one way). These companies will take you directly to the border crossing, issue you with a sticker and collect you at the bus terminal on the other side. Although these coaches are larger and more luxurious than the minibuses, they are significantly more expensive.
If you’re not on a tight budget then taxis can also be a great way of travelling on land. Typically, two separate taxi journeys will be required: one to and from either side of the border. From Bangkok to the border it will cost around 2000 – 2500 THB, and on the opposite side between $35 and $55. Like I wrote in the beginning of this article, there are a lot of scams that go on around the border and the police are more often than not included in this, so the further away you get a taxi from the border crossing the less likely you are to get ripped off. Be sure not to get in a taxi without arranging a price beforehand, and be doubly sure not to pay for it until you finally arrive at your agreed destination.