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Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia > Siem Reap

Siem Reap Getting in & out

  
 
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By plane

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is the second largest airport in Cambodia.

The following airlines operate service to/from Angkor International Airport:

  • AirAsia
  • Asiana Airlines 
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Cambodia Angkor Air 
  • China Eastern Airlines 
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Jetstar Asia
  • Korean Air 
  • Lao Airlines 
  • Malaysia Airlines 
  • Silk Air 
  • Vietnam Airlines

The airport is less than 15 minutes from the town centre by taxi ($7) or motodop ($4). If you have an advance booking in a hotel, ask the hotel for a free airport pickup (in one of their tuk-tuks).

There are separate terminals for international and domestic flights. International departure tax is a steep $25, or $13 for children, payable after check-in and before clearing immigration.

Note that usually this must be paid in cash because the credit card facility is unreliable, so have cash with you. Domestic departure tax to Phnom Penh is $6.

By land

Many companies, including Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Capitol Tours, and GST Express operate bus services to/from Siem Reap. Direct buses go to Phnom Penh ($10), Pakse ($30), Don Det in the 4000 Islands region of Laos ($27), Kampong Cham, Soung, Battambang, and Koh Kong.

Advance bookings are advisable, and can also be sorted out by most travel agents and guesthouses for a $1-$2 fee. Buses generally leave between 7:00AM and 3:00PM but there is a night bus as well if you want to not spend the daytime travelling which leaves at midnight.

From Thailand

The nearest border crossings are at Aranyaprathet and Poipet, 3 hours to the north, and Hat Lek and Koh Kong on the coast. As a result of recent road pavings, the roads from these border crossings to Siem Reap are in excellent condition.

From Poipet, you can take a taxi (US$25 minimum, 2-3 hours, max 4 passengers) or an overcrowded bus (US$10, 3 hours, leaves when full, not as comfortable).

The best budget option is to catch a Thai government bus to the border at Poipet (don't buy from Khao San Road), buy the Cambodian visa directly for $20, then after being stamped into the country find yourself a group of four to catch a reasonably comfortable taxi to Siem Reap ($25-30).

Price and timing

Alternatively, you could join the backpacking masses and pay 200-600 baht for an uncomfortable bus ride directly from Khao San Road. Buses leave Khao San Road around 8AM and arrive in Siem Reap any time between 5:00PM and 3:00AM. The trip length does not really depend on road conditions but on the mood of the driver. Because he gets a commission if you stay at the guesthouse at which he drops you off, he will try to arrive there as late as possible because if you are tired and afraid of walking around in Siem Reap late at night, you are more likely to stay at that guesthouse. Note that there is no obligation to stay at such guesthouse, regardless of what the guesthouse owners tell you.

Even if you start in Bangkok on a big aircon bus, you will almost certainly have to switch to the back of a pickup or stuffed minibus at the Cambodian border. The bus operators and others will assure you that you're better off paying 1,000 baht ($30) or even more for the visa - which should cost $20. Stand your ground and join the line at the border - the bus won't leave without you, because the driver wants the guesthouse commission you represent. As an alternative, you can always walk from the bus stop to the Thai border exit - just keep aware of your surroundings to avoid being pickpocketed or inadvertently walking into a fake border crossing.

By boat

A more expensive and more time consuming option from Phnom Penh ($35, 6 hours) or Battambang ($20-$25, 5 hours) is to take a Soviet style Hydrofoil across the Tonle Sap lake. These can be fantastic trips giving you the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, working fishermen, and to get a sun-tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat.

However, the trip can be ruined due to bad weather. Remember to use sunscreen and take a waterproof jacket. You will not be always able to access your luggage during the journey (sometimes the baggage is available, sometimes it is not). If you have the time, it is better to visit the floating villages as day trips from Siem Reap than to see them from the boat.

Out

Scams

The story about scam busses from Bangkok to Siem Reap is well known, however the same thing happens in the opposite direction. A pickup from your hotel (between 7am and 7.30 am) brings you to a busstop in Siem Reap.

A bigger bus (8 am, not very comfortable) will bring you to Poipet on the cambodian side of the border. It will stop for 15 minutes at a small shop and restroom. Just 5km before the border it will stop again, for a full hour at a restaurant (at 11am this is quite early for lunch).

You will get a new guy on the bus that says he will take you across the border into a new bus. He takes your ticket (make sure you keep it) and replaces it with a sticker (red, white, yellow). The guy actually takes the group across the border and there tries to pursuade some people to take other busses that will take them faster to their destination (pay extra of course).

Then suddenly the guy takes off and the group will wait for about 1 hour before noticing that he is not coming back. Another guy will then bring you to a pickup truck (or something similar) and drop you at a restaurant in Aranyapratet on the Thai side of the border. They will tell you the bus is an hour late due to cleaning (pickup should be 2.30 am). Whether this bus will ever arrive is unknown.

Alternatives to avoid scams

Best way to do this travel is with a private van, minibus or local bus to Poipet (2.5 hrs). Then walk across the border with your luggage. On the Thai side there are taxis that charge around 1900 baht to bring you straight to Bangkok. Sharing a taxi might be a good idea to bring down the costs.

Another possibility is to take a tuktuk to the bus station in Aranyapratet (about 10 minutes from the border) and find a local bus from there. Be sure to ask if there are different busses (VIP, express, etc), some might be faster than others. Buses should leave regularly.

There are at less buses departing to Moh Chit Northern Bus station in Bangkok at 1pm and 2.30pm. Due to traffic near Bangkok this trip takes between 4-6 hrs. From Moh Chit you can walk the 2.5 km to the skytrain station Moh Chit, which is south west of the bus station.

Alternatively you can take a taxi into town. The trip to Sukhumvit Road takes about 40 minutes if you are willing to pay the 45 baht highway fee (up to two hours otherwise).

 





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