The border crossing in Aranyaprathet is the most famous border when crossing from Thailand to Cambodia, so it is relatively safe and easy. One caution though, avoid the VISA Scam.
Back in 2009, when I rode a motorcycle from Aranyaprathet to Poipet, I was brought by my lady driver to a fake Visa Office where they took my passport, browsed it and I was asked to pay 300 Baht. I grabbed back my passport and refused to pay the fee since there should be no fee for Philippine Passport Holders to get to Cambodia (tourist visa) since we are part of ASEAN. Too bad for my driver because she did not get any commission for bringing me there, but I did saw the two young British kids who were unaware of the Visa scam and ended up paying the scammers.
This time, I will talk about crossing the border to Poipet, Cambodia from Bangkok by train, thanks to my friend Doi . I tried this route last November 2012. But I used the bus from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Terminal (North Terminal) back in December 2009. I find the train way cheaper than the bus if you’re staying in/near Khao San Road.
Here’s the step by step guide in border crossing by train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet and finally getting in Poipet, Cambodia:
Bangkok -Aranyaprathet –Poipet (Cambodia)
1. Ride a taxi from your hotel to Hua Lamphong Train Station.
I was staying in Khao San Road that time at the Royal Avenue. I did not attempt to ride the taxi parked in Khao San because oftentimes, they don’t use the meter and charge tourists a hefty fee. I walked a few meters towards the main road – the Royal Avenue and hailed a cab. Luckily, I got an honest taxi driver who used the meter and I was only charged 70 Baht (Php97 / USD 2.37) from Royal Avenue to Hua Lamphong Train Station, it was 4:00 AM that time. I gave the driver a tip because I was delighted by his honesty and for using the meter. Lol
*You may opt to ride a tuktuk, BTS train or public bus to reach Hua Lamphong Train Station area however since it is early in the morning (4:00 AM) and there’s no bus in sight, I took a taxi for convenience.
2. Buy a ticket at Hua Lamphong Train Station
Once you get off the cab, immediately get inside and buy a ticket at the office. There are two train trips to Aranyaprathet from Bangkok everyday, one at 5:55 AM and the last one is at 1:05 PM. Travel time is 6 hours, and third class train fare costs 48 Baht ( Php 66 / USD 2.5).
*It is best to take the early morning trip at 5:55 AM to avoid getting stranded and stay overnight at Aranyaprathet. Both the Thailand and Cambodian Immigration Office starts at 7:AM and closes at 8:00 PM.
* Thai Police inspects the passengers inside the train from time to time to check if there are Cambodians who have illegally entered Thailand or Thais who are crossing to Cambodia without valid papers) . And since Filipinos are normally brown-skinned and Asian looking (as they say, same same but different; Filipinos look like Thais and Cambodians), expect them to speak to you in Thai. Don’t be scared, just tell them you don’t understand. They will ask for your passport and check the stamp, there should be no problem as long as you have a valid passport and stamp.
3. Charter a motorbike (if you are alone) or a tuktuk (if you are in groups) once you get off at Aranyaprathet Train Station.
Motorcycle and tuktuks are waiting for passengers at the Aranyaprathet Train Station. They charge 60Baht (Php83 / USD 2.03) to take passengers to the border.
*Songthaew ( a truck converted into a passenger vehicle) charges 15Baht to take passengers the border. But this is usually full (it’s like standing on a loaded buses), and I wont advice you to take this since this is for the locals, most of them use this because they cannot afford to pay the hefty tuktuk fare or motorbike fare. Please be considerate and just leave the songthaew to the locals if you have the money to pay for tuktuk/motorcycle.
4. Follow the signpost at the border crossing or the crowd that are crossing, enter the left building of the Thailand Immigration Office.
The motorbike dropped me off near the covered walkway, some will drop passengers near the 7 Eleven store at eth Ronghlua Market. Make sure you head to the left side of the Thailand Immigration, I once made the stupid mistake back in 2009 where I entered the right side/right office of the Thailand Immigration Office (since in the Philippines, we are used to walking at the right lane/street of wherever we are heading to).
Just read and follow the signs. If in doubt, just ask fellow tourists or the locals.
5. Get a Thailand Immigration Departure Card, fill it out the form and line up.
Make sure you have a ballpen with you whenever traveling. Fill out the Thailand departure Card and line up at the Foreigners Lane and wait until it’s your turn. The Thai Immigration Officers will remove the Thailand Immigration form attached to your passport when you entered Thailand and stamp your passport for exit to Thailand.
* Take note, NO PHOTOGRAPHY allowed inside the Immigration Building.
6. Get out of the office and follow the walkway until you see the Cambodian Arch.
Take note that since this is a famous border, this is a busy border and it means a lot of scammers are eyeing on you. Guys in long sleeves will most likely ask or try to talk you off and offer assistance but you have to give them a tip after. Others are Khmer touts, and would offer their taxi to take you to Siem Reap, which is fine but make sure you agree with the price before boarding the cab (and get your passport stamped first at the Cambodia Immigration Border). Taxi fare is usually USD 48, good for 4 pax.
If you don’t need help or don’t need a cab, just refuse the Khmer touts politely and follow the paved walkway once you exit the Thailand Immigration Border and walk towards the legendary Cambodian Arch (FriendshipBridge).
6. Get inside the small building with a Cambodia sign and an English sign that reads : ARRIVAL.
After crossing the Cambodian Arch (FriendshipBridge). walk until you see towering and massive hotels and casinos in Poipet. After these luxury buildings, make sure you eye for the small building of the Cambodia Immigration Office, the building is located at the right side of the road.
7. Fill out the Immigration Arrival and Departure Card and line up.
Fill out the form and make sure your passport is still valid (3 months prior to expiration date) and has at least one unused page. Wait for your turn, and once done, check to make sure your passport gets stamped and check until when you are allowed to stay in Cambodia. If flying in Cambodia, Visa is valid for 30 days, but if crossing the border to Cambodia (same goes for Thailand), you will only be granted a 14 day Tourist Visa. No fee to be paid throughout this border crossing process if you are a Philippines Passport Holder.
* Take note, NO PHOTOGRAPHY allowed inside the Immigration Building.
8. Exit the building and wait for the government bus.
Beside the CambodiaImmigrationBuilding is a waiting shed where the government buses and taxi parks, waiting for passengers.
9. Ride the FREE Shuttle Bus Station or Take a cab.
Beside the immigration office is the Free Shuttle Bus Station where the OSP Bus are parked. These free shuttle bus is available from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Yes, the bus ride is free towards the Poipet International Bus Terminal. There are 2 bus international terminals in Poipet: one is the International Tourist Terminal, it is near the border, about 1.5 km away on the east side. The other one is Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal about 9 km east of Poipet and takes roughly 15 minutes from the border.
Fares posted for foreigners at the international terminals are said to be roughly 250% higher than what locals pay. Prepare at least $10-$11 (Php 407 / Php 447) for bus or van ride to Siem Reap.
If you are 4 people, you may get a taxi for about USD 48 (1,420 Baht/ Php 1,950) but make sure you and the driver agree on the price before you ride the cab.
10. At the Poipet Bus Terminal Buy a Ticket.
Now to get to Siem Reap from Poipet, the bus or van fare is no longer fee. Prepare at least USD 10 (Php 406.06/ 295.74 Baht) for the bus or van. Travel time is about 2 hours.
Taxi to Hua Lamphong Train Station : 70 Baht (Php 97 / USD 2.37)
Train ticket ( Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, Thailand ) : 48 Baht ( Php 62 / USD 1.62).
Motorbike from Aranyaprathet Train Station to Border: 60Baht (Php 83 / USD 2.03)
Poipet to Siem Reap bus/van: $10-$11 (Php 407 / Php 447)