Siem Reap Gateway To Angkor Wat The World Heritage Temple

The Siem Reap, which literally means the “Defeat of Siam or Thai military lost the war”, is the most prosperous region of contemporary Cambodia. Its close proximity to the Angkor Wat temple complex has turned the city into one of the world’s the best tourist destinations. Over three million travelers visit Siem Reap every year to discover over a thousand years of Khmer heritage built near Tonle Sap Great Lake, the foundation of the economic power of the ancient Cambodian empire.

The down town of Siem Reap’s tourist district is known as Old Market (Phsa Chas). This part of town is home to a large concentration of restaurants and shops geared towards an ever-increasing number of Asian people, American, British and European tourists. The inflow of tourism has transformed a really small city into a bustling downtown area with an eclectic array of restaurants, bars and night-clubs that rivals any college town along with a night market that keep going well past overnight.

Angkor Wat And The Temple Region

The main attraction for visitors to Siem Reap is the Angkor Wat and and other temple in Angkor complex, which covers more than 300km2 of northwestern Cambodia. The Angkor Temple Complex has been designated a UN Heritage Site and comprise of hundreds of buildings from the 9th to the 14th century that tell the story of the rise and fall of the Khmer-empire. This huge collection of historical structures buildings are adorned with intricately carved, priceless Khmer artwork and that provide an archaeological and a pictorial history of an empire that control much of southeast Asia for five centuries. Structure range from partially renovated temples, pagoda and imperial residences to recently discovered ruins which are virtual untouched for the last 500 years.

There is no photo can do justice to the Khmer temples of the Angkor complex. Lists of adjectives can’t either: Stunning, humbling, awe inspiring, spiritual or magical, all of these words are not enough to describe the succession of memorable experiences awaiting you, so plan to take up residence for at least a week in one of the best holiday destinations cities in Asia.

A global wave of tourism focused on the pursuit of the Angkor Temples has been the driving force behind Siem Reap’s current growth. The Cambodian people have answered to this inflow in tourism by creating an academic program and licensed tour guides to show travelers about the Angkor temples history, architecture and culture.

You now can spend a week reading a guidebook for recommended places to visit and study the maps to get around with local driver, but the best way to capture the essence of the temple region is to hire an expert. Even if you don’t hire an approved guide for touring the temples, a local guide will make your temple journey more informative and authentic.

Travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap

The most convenient and easiest way to travel from Bangkok in Thailand to Siem Reap Angkor in Cambodia is flying, it takes 1. 5 hours but it is by far the most high-priced way. Bangkok Airways offers one way tickets for 5500 baht (including tax). So many travelers decide to travel to Siem Reap over land and cross the border at the Aranyaprathet / Poipet Cambodia border crossing.

Until recently there was no direct bus connection between Bangkok and Siem Reap, but on February 21, 2013 a new bus line opened that offers a direct connection between the two cities and costs 750 baht per person. It takes about 5, 5 hours to arrive at the border at Poipet and another 2, 5 hours from the poipet border to Siem Reap, the total time depends on how fast the passengers can cross at the border.

If you are on a budget, or don’t want to travel to the Mo Chit bus station to pick up the direct bus, there are other ways to journey to Siem Reap. You can take the train for example to Aranyaprathet, or take buses from the Ekkamai (Eastern) bus terminal, from the Airport Bus Terminal or a Casino Bus from Lumpini Park. It is also possible to take a minivan from the Victory Monument, minivans are more faster than the big buses, but might be less comfortable if you have long Western legs.

If you journey with more people and you want to travel faster it might also be an idea to take a taxi from Bangkok to the border which can be arranged for 2100 baht for (3 persons) or 2600 baht for (4-5 persons). Once you cross the border you can arrange a shared taxi for 12 USD per person. The taxi to the border takes 3 hours and from the border to Siem Reap about 1, 5 hours more.

We have good contacts with a few reliable taxi drivers that travel between Bangkok and the border every day. We employed them ourselves in past trips and for that we can recommend them, they offer the trip for the costs we mentioned above. If you are interested we can arrange a taxi, just contact us about 2 days before you want to travel, you can pay the driver once he dropped you at the border. For more information or questions you can contact us at info@sabaytours.com.

Direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap

There is a direct bus available from Bangkok to Siem Reap. The service started on 21.02.2013. The price for the ticket is 750 baht and the trip takes about 8 to 9 hours depending the border crossing. The bus leaves the Mo Chit (Northern) bus terminal in Bangkok at 09:00.

The bus actually crosses the border. You require to get out of the bus to clear customs, so you still have to cross the border on your own, but on the other side the same bus that brought you to Aranyaprathet will be waiting to bring you from Poipet to Siem Reap.

Warning! We heard that the new direct bus actually stops at one of the scam visa offices. They will tell you to get your visa before the border to get everybody faster through customs. The problem is that this visa costs 40 USD instead of the normal 20 USD. Just refuse to take the visa here and just get one at the border, as mentioned before you do not have to do anything before you get your exit stamp in your passport from the Thai customs.

The Bus from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

There are busses departing from the Northern bus terminal to Aranyaprathet. There are first and second class tickets and buses are leaving around every half hour. The last bus leaves at around 18:00.

You can also take a bus from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai, the price is 200 baht. There are 5 buses daily. They leave at 06:15, 08:30, 10:30, 12:30 and 16:30 (May 2013). When there are not enough people for a big bus there will be a minivan.

At Lumphini Park on Rama IV road there are so called Casino Buses that bring people to the casinos at the border. There are three daily buses at: 06:00, 06:30 and 09:00. The price for the bus is 200 baht.

Minivan from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

You can take a minivan from Victory monument in Bangkok. These vans bring you direct to the border. The minivan is a bit faster than the bus and train and still has the same price range. The minivans leave every 30 to 45 minutes from 05:30 until 18:30 from Victory Monument. You can buy the ticket directly at the station. In case you have big luggage you have to pay a little extra. (January 2015)

Train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

There are trains departing for Aranyaprathet from Hua Lampong train station in Bangkok. One at 05:55 and you will be at Aranyaprathet at 11:35, the second train leaves at 13:05 and you will be at Aranyaprathet at 17:35. From there you still need to arrange transport to the border. There are always taxies waiting for the train to arrive. Trains in Thailand often have delays, and if you take the train at 13:05 you run the risk that you don’t reach the border before closing time (20:00)

Taxi from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

If you have people to share the trip with it might be a good idea to take a taxi. A regular taxi to Aranyaprathet will charge you anywhere between 2600 and 3000 baht.

We have the contact details of a few reliable taxi drivers that drive to the border regularly, they can do the trip for 2100 baht including gasoline, but exuding highway fees. The taxi of 2100 baht can only hold 3 people with luggage. If you are looking for a bigger taxi that can take 4 or 5 people we can also arrange that for 2600 baht. These cost include gasoline, but not any highway fees. Taxi from Bangkok to Siem Reap!

Feel free to contact us at info@sabaytours.com and we can book the taxi for you. You can pay the driver when he picks you up. Please contact us about 2 days before you travel and let us know where the taxi has to pick you up at what time. (January 2015)

The Thai-Cambodian border crossing

The border crossing at Aranyaprathet can be a bit tricky. There are a lot of places where people try to take advantage of you. First of all it is not important to arrange a visa before you cross the Thai part of the border. People will try to tell you that you need to get papers before you cross, but this is simply not true. There is even a fake border building where people try to trick you.

When you enter the Cambodian police station at the border you will get all the papers you need to fill in. Here you have to pay for your visa. The official price is 20 dollars. The police will ask you either 800 baht or 20 dollars plus 100 baht. There is a new building where you can get your visa. It is directly right to the Angkor style gate on the Cambodian side.

The last police stop you will get your stamp and enter Poipet in Cambodia. Remember that the border closes at 20:00. Next to the exit two police man stand guard, you can approach them ask for an express stamp, the price is 5 USD and you will get your stamp directly without standing in line.

From Poipet to Siem Reap in Cambodia

Once you enter Cambodia buses will be waiting to bring you to a transfer station. Here you can choose between moving on by taxi or bus.

Taking a Taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap

The taxi drive to Siem Reap is quick and comfortable. The new road has been ready since a few years and brings you straight to Angkor. Mostly the taxi driver will drop you just outside the town where Tuk Tuks are waiting to bring you to your hotel. They tell you the ride is for free. It is their way to offer you hotels and try and arrange transport for you during your stay in Siem Reap. There is no way you can get around this. You can decide if you want to use their services.

We found a few honest taxi drivers that can offer a direct pick up from the border for 55 USD per taxi. These taxi drivers will bring you straight to your hotel or guesthouse in Siem Reap. Andy in Cambodia can arrange these taxis, feel free to contact him at contact@avyra-ecovoyage.com

Bus from Poipet to Siem Reap

The bus is obviously a little bit slower and you have to wait for the bus to leave at a certain time. You will not have this problem with the taxi.

Do not do anything with anybody regarding a visa before you enter the Thai customs office at the border!!!

If anybody claims that they can arrange a visa for you at the bus station or wherever you are, this person tries to trick you. They will let you wait for a long time and ask to much money for a thing that can be arranged quicker and for free at the border.

2. We hear a lot from people that are told at the border that they should change money from baht into Reil because there are supposedly no cash machines in Siem Reap. This is a straight up lie. There are plenty of cash machines in Siem Reap and they will give you dollars, so there is no need to exchange for Reil. There is no way to exchange Reils back to any other currency, so it is better to use dollars.

3. Don’t forget to bring a pass photo for your visa. If you forget it you can still get a visa, but you have to pay for that.