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When traveling from Bangkok to Siem Reap, the direct route is via the Aranya Pratet/Poipet border crossing. This border crossing can be a financial pain for inexperienced travellers, having witnessed many tourists falling to the scams that occur at the Thai side of the border. What should I know before taking this crossing?

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Getting to Aranya Pratet via train or bus from Bangkok

There are 2 trains that leave from Bangkok daily for this town; The first train is at 5:55am from Hualamphong and the second is at 13:05pm. The tickets cost 48 baht and are available only on the day of travel. The trains do tend to get delayed along the way, so unless you have plans to break up your journey along the way by staying at a stop along the route, you will need to get the 5:55am train to make sure you get through the border.

There are frequent buses (every 30 min) or so from Morchit Bus Terminal. Buy a ticket from a booth on the first floor, it should be 200 baht or so. Take a taxi to the bus station (80-150 baht depending on the origin), as it is not the same place as Morchit BTS Skytrain station. The bus takes 3.5-4h, faster, more frequent and more reliable than a train.

Scams at this point

Not necessarily a scam but something worth noting: We took a tuktuk to Hualamphong station asking for the ticket office. This should drop you off at the pickups part on the left side of the station, however, our tuktuk driver took it upon himself to drop us at a travel agent on a side road to the right of the station where the people working there tried to scare us (tell us horror stories) about the train journey and try selling us a +600 baht (private) bus ticket.

Do NOT take private buses or vans organized by agencies on Khao San and elsewhere (they're almost always scams), just the regular ones used by Thais from the Morchit station.

Aranya Pratet to the Border

Once you get to the station at Aranya Pratet, you'll find a small army of tuktuk drivers waiting to take you to the border. They'll ask for 100 baat, it's up to you if you can negotiate it down.

Scams at this point

There is one giant scam working here, which caused me to write this post. This may not happen to you, but it is a frequent occurrence. On the way to the border your tuktuk driver may take it upon themselves to take you to the Cambodian visa application centre... THIS IS NOT THE CAMBODIAN VISA APPLICATION CENTRE. Stay in the tuktuk, do not get out, either ignore or just keep saying "no, I have a visa". This may feel very official. Men with clipboards, laminated ID cards on lanyards and smart clothing. If you did not get an e-visa, you will not be able to get a Cambodian visa from within Thailand, you are still within Thailand at this point. Sit in the tuktuk till the driver takes you to the official border.

Border

You're now leaving Thailand and entering the dead-zone. Pass through Thai border control and proceed out. The Thai border is on the left, the Cambodian Visa Centre is on the right after passing through, if you need a Visa, go there. They'll take either baht or U.S. dollars for a visa. Continue down the right passing various casinos and you'll find a hut which is the Cambodian Passport control.

While not required, it might be a good idea to get a Cambodian e-visa before going for $25. It can save you a wasted passport page plus some time and hassle of waiting at the border, although it's perfectly easy to obtain a visa on arrival as well.

Scams at this point

N/A

Poipet

You'll now be in Cambodia.

Scams at this point

It's very likely, on your walk between the Thai border control to the Cambodian visa centre/Passport control, you'll have met a very friendly person offering you advice and telling you which official buildings to go in... If you didn't, you're probably about to now. First of, once you are in Cambodia, there are no restrictions on your freedom of travel, however, once passing through the passport control you will be greeted by people telling you to take the free shuttle bus to the international tourist bus station.

From this bus station (about 10/15mins outside of Poipet) you can get Taxis or buses to wherever you wish to go. This isn't the worst scam in the world but you should know that you do not need to do anything you are told by these people offering the bus. It costs $48 to get to Siem Reap from this bus station and the taxi driver took us to another taxi station in Siem Reap where taxi drivers were asking us to hire them for the next day. We found that once in Siem Reap it was $20 dollar cheaper to get a private taxi back to Poipet.

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Nice answer. Why did you make it a community wiki? It's totally okay to answer your own question. –  Ankur Banerjee Dec 10 '12 at 3:03
    
I thought that people might be able to contribute about other scams they may have encountered and perhaps information about bus travel to the border, or any other form of transport they may have taken. –  Jarede Dec 10 '12 at 9:26
    
They can add it as additional answers. –  Ankur Banerjee Dec 10 '12 at 15:33

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