Angkor Wat is closest to the city of Siem Reap, and there are a few ways to get to Siem Reap from Bangkok. The easiest is to fly, and even thought I’ve never done that, I highly suggest just doing that if you can afford it. With 5 of us though, it was too expensive, so we opted to travel by the government bus. “Luxury” government bus, which would take about 8 hours from Mo Chit 2 Bus Station, including the actual walk across the border.
We purchased our tickets online from Thai Ticket Major – it wasn’t much of a hassle – and picked them up at their office in the bus station. It was really easy (getting to the station was another story though; our taxi driver got LOST, I mean, L-O-S-T, the boys were puking from his driving and it took over 50 minutes for what should have been a 10 minute ride…).
We also picked up some snacks and drinks for the bus ride, brought along all of the kindle fires (the sim card was loaded with PBS kids shows) and long sleeved shirts (for the bus air conditioning)(some of us get cold easily…). The bus wasn’t totally packed, but it was packed enough that we were glad we had pre-purchased our tickets. It only leaves twice a day (at 8am and 9am), so if you can’t get your seats after a 50 minute taxi ride with puking kids, you might be bummed.
Back to the story!
Cambodia from Bangkok – Border Crossing by Bus
It was all very easy. Just LONG, and I mean, LOOOOOOOOOOOONG.
Right before we arrived at the Cambodian border, they handed out a small boxed lunch. We ate, then put on the necklace-tag thing that they passed out (to identify us as a part of that particular bus group) and then we all headed out to cross the border on foot.
There were no scams on the bus we took.
Everyone purchased their Cambodian visas right at the border (- sometimes the bus might stop at a travel agency before the border, or a restaurant, and suggest you buy the visas there – don’t! Just buy them at the border!). If I had to do something differently though, I would have purchased the Cambodian visas online. With 3 droopy hangry kids, the hordes of people and the stifling heat, we were struggling, especially in the Cambodian visa side.
We boarded the same bus (which still had our baggage, sans electronics on it), waited for everyone else to get through with their visas, and then the bus headed off again. We arrived in Siem Reap at 5pm.
Here’s the part I most want to tell:
If you have kids, explore taking a direct taxi to Cambodia from Bangkok
Yes. We took a direct taxi from Siem Reap to Koh Chang and it cost us US $120. That’s a 5+ hour ride, with the border crossing (you don’t cross in the same car though – you get out of the car, hire a porter for your luggage, then you cross and get into another car on the other side). Compare that with the $117 we spent on the bus tickets and even though the destinations are different, they are totally comparable.
So – if you have kids – seriously, look into the taxi option. Ask your hotel, google around – it’s waaaaaaaaay easier, so much better.
Last note! We had asked the hotel that we had reserved a room with to come and pick us up at the bus station at 5pm. We sent the bus company itinerary to them. It sure was wonderful when we stepped off the bus and saw that sign for us!
In a nutshell, my recommendations for getting to Siem Reap from Bangkok:
- Fly if you can
- Take a direct taxi if you can’t fly – and it might very well be the same price as the bus if you have a lot of people!
- Get your Cambodian visas online
- Take the government bus if you take a bus – it’s direct and comfortable enough
- Reserve at least one night at a hotel in Siem Reap (to get your bearings) and ask that hotel to meet you when you arrive
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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.