Since February 2013, Transport Co in Thailand offers a direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, here’s how to catch it.
Take the red bus number 3 from Khaosan road to Mo Chit bus terminal. The fare is about 7baht per person and it takes between 45mins to 1hour 30mins, depending on traffic. You can catch the yellow bus for three times the fare to get AC. Red is just fine. Wooden floors, open windows and no suspension. It is a bumpy ride, keep a loose jaw and you’ll arrive in tact.
The last stop is Mo Chit and as you get off, walk through the market until there is a left turn. Take it and walk past the 7/11. Keep going and cross the road, then follow around and walk into the ground floor of the big orange terminal building. Walk straight past the information booth and up to counter 22 to purchase your ticket. Take a passport with you as they might not let you buy a ticket otherwise. We didn’t have ours, but Emma persuaded the lady. I also recommend getting the ticket the day before as the bus leaves at 9am. Reconfirm you are getting the direct bus to Siem Reap, which takes about 7 hours and costs 750baht per person.
To get back into the city, exit the terminal building and go to the left of the market building, there’s a ton of red buses there, take number 3 back to Khaosan Road.
On the day, make sure you allow at least 2 hours for the red bus. We left at 7am and arrived at 8:34am. Get some water and snacks, then board the bus at bay 106.
Soon after departure, you’ll be served some breakfast and a bottle of water. How nice of these trustworthy, lovely people. Don’t be fooled.
At 11am we stop to pee.
At about 12pm we stop at an armed checkpoint and a soldier gets on. He just wants to see everyone has a passport.
Around 12:40pm we make a stop and we all get badges with Transport Co written on them. A new dude gets on here. Then they serve us lunch. Aren’t these the nicest people?!
We continued for about 10 minutes, just enough time to finish eating. I see a sign pointing to “Aranyaprathet” behind us and “Border” in our direction. I thought that we’d passed the scam point. Before I can finish that thought, we pull into a parking lot with an office at the back. “Welcome to Cambodia”.
Visa scam alert
The bus boy tells everyone that doesn’t have a visa to get one here. A few people move. We chat to the couple in front and they had also heard about this scam, so we stay put. Then a few different guys in different uniforms come on the bus and get a bit more aggressive, prompting us to get visas. One dude in a bus uniform, wanted to see our passports, but we didn’t even show him. He got a bit upset and asked a few times, presumably to then tell us we are missing our visa and need to go get one. Soon after, they give up and we leave.
Less than a minute later we see the actual Thai border. Here we all have to get off and wear the badges around our necks. We join the foreign passport line and wait as a few “busy ” locals push in front. A few fellow tourists get turned back to fill out the departure card. If you have this ready, you’ll get right through.
Outside, just keep walking through the exit and continue until you see a sign pointing people with no visas in a different direction. Cross the road and enter the “The Office of the International Border Check Point of Poipet” building.
A guy in uniform will give you a form to fill out. Then get your passport, US$20, the form and a passport photo and go up to the desk. Another official checks your form before handing it through the window. He asked me under his breath “100baht, sir.” I just pointed at the massive sign above that states US$20 for tourist visa, “It says 20.”
“I don’t have any baht.”
“3 US dollar.”
“I only have 20.” Finally and reluctantly he points me to sit down and wait.
About 5 minutes later we get our passports back and are told to walk to get stamped in. We walk past the casinos. At the arrival building we have to fill out another form and wait in line to get stamped in. Once that’s done we get back on the bus and leave for Siem Reap.
About 2.5 hours later we arrive in Siem Reap, not at Pub street as we are supposed to, but at a travel company’s office. Touts will be on you like flies, so it is best to know where you are going beforehand and walk in that direction right away.
This time for real, “Welcome to Cambodia.”