Asia,  Cambodia,  Destinations,  Thailand,  Trains, Planes & Rideshares

From Siem Reap to Bangkok by bus | Overland travel from Cambodia to Thailand

There are a couple ways to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok by overland travel.

There’s a big bus, like with Giant Ibis; a minibus (aka big passenger van), run by several travel agencies; or even a taxi, though that’s the most expensive option.

My hostel in Siem Reap had a few choices for crossing the border. Here’s the list they had to give you some idea:

You could technically take the local train from Poipet and save like $3 but it didn’t seem worth the time/comfort cost– the train is 5 hours to Bangkok to the border and the bus is only 3-4 hours.

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Here’s my experience crossing the border between Cambodia and Thailand by minibus in December 2023.

The cost for the minibus was $20 USD and included a tuk tuk pickup from my hostel. The hostel booked my ticket for me, but the actual trip was run by Phy Phy Travel on the Cambodian side (and a different Thai company on the other side). All the passengers are backpackers, and the drivers are locals (who mostly don’t speak English).

Never booked a bus in Asia before and feeling nervous? Here’s how to do it.

Taking the minibus to Bangkok

The “minibus” is really a large passenger van, with 9-12 seats. We had 7 backpackers in our van, plus the driver, so it wasn’t a full trip. I snagged a window seat in the front and sat next to two French travelers for this first part of the journey.

We were scheduled to leave at 8:30 am but didn’t leave until closer to almost 9:00 am. Not too bad of a delay, honestly– I’ve heard some big buses are delayed 4+ hours.

I ordered a takeaway breakfast from my hostel, which I was glad to have as finding things to eat on the road can be a little iffy. We had one stop between Siem Reap and the border town, Poipet, and while there was some soup and snacks available to buy, I was happy to have my own food.

Other things I recommend taking: a small pack of toilet paper or tissues, hand sanitizer, and some kind of entertainment like a book or downloaded podcasts.

It takes roughly 3 hours to reach the border, on well-paved roads. The minibus had comfortable seats and was new-ish in that it didn’t look run down inside and the air con worked well.

Exiting Cambodia/Entering Thailand

Once we got to Poipet, everyone got off the bus WITH our luggage, and we went through customs/immigration on our own. This was unfamiliar to me, as on other bus border crossings the whole vehicle went through the border and we were processed as a group, with the driver/staff member helping.

Before we went in, the minibus staff gave us color-coded lanyards with contact info (if we got lost) and took a group photo to send to the Thailand side staff so they knew who to look for.

Getting through immigration was easy, though very slow. It took about an hour total to exit Cambodia and enter Thailand. I wasn’t asked for an onward ticket– nor any questions at all– and the hardest part was figuring out where to go next. I just followed the crowd of locals and made it through eventually.

Continuing to Bangkok

Once through Thailand immigration, a staff member was waiting for us and directed us to the new minibus. The border has money changers, SIM card sellers, food stalls, etc.– but we didn’t have time to stop and get anything. If having a cell connection is important to you, I recommend getting an eSIM set up before you cross into Thailand.

From Poipet to Bangkok is another 3-ish hours (usually longer due to traffic). We had one long break (20 minutes) for lunch, where I found a 7-Eleven and bought some of my favorite cheap convenience store foods. Yay!

The 7-Eleven also had an ATM! Next door was a food market and HUGE bathrooms (with toilet paper). However, I recommend getting your food/using the toilet quickly and sticking close to the minibus. The driver nearly left two backpackers behind because they wandered off getting kebabs and didn’t pay attention to the time.

We eventually made it into Bangkok around 5:45 pm. The minibus dropped us off at Thai DD House, which is within walking distance to a BTS station which’ll connect you to the rest of the city.

Should you do it?

Overall, this was a very smooth and easy way to cross the border between Cambodia and Thailand. If you want to try it yourself, I recommend booking a smaller bus if possible, so you have more of a local experience.

Total travel time: 9 hours (including 1 hour crossing through immigration)

Total cost: $20 USD

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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