Our first 30 days in Thailand were about to expire so we planned to take a trip across the border into what many now refer to as the “Wild Wild West of Southeast Asia”, Cambodia. I can’t even begin to express how much I loved our time there (i’ll save for another post), but I do strongly encourage anyone who is in this part of the world to be sure and pay a visit to this beautiful kingdom.
Getting from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap is a fairly cheap and inexpensive trip. Although there aren’t currently any buses running directly to Cambodia from Chiang Mai, there is a new government-ran bus serving connecting Bangkok to Siem Reap. I found a lot of good information on various posts/forums sprinkled throughout the interwebs, but I wanted to compile a quick run-down of how we got from Chiang Mai > Bangkok > Siem Reap all in one post.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok
In Chiang Mai we purchased an overnight VIP bus ticket to Bangkok from the Arcade Bus Station, located 3 or 4 kilometers east of the old city. There are several travel offices located around the old city, but don’t fall for their dirty tricks. Most charge double the rate you would get as opposed to going to the bus station in person and booking yourself. Chiang Mai is such a small town, getting to the bus station is well worth the extra time and effort. When you arrive to the station, you’ll immediately be blown away by all the Thai women yelling at you from their little ticket booth windows. Have no fear, they’re shouting because ticket prices are not a flat price and will vary slightly from agency to agency — so be sure to shop around to work the best deal. We ended up booking a super comfortable double-decker VIP for 550 baht each. And when I say “VIP” I mean VIP! Each seat had its own LCD monitor with a great selection of movies to choose from, they all reclined waaaay back and had an electronic massage function built in! Needless to say we both fell asleep very easily and woke up 9-10 hours later in Bangkok.
Get your ticket before leaving Mo Chit! You’ll arrive to the Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok, and this is also where you can purchase your ticket for a direct bus ticket from Bangkok to Siem Reap through Transport Co Ltd Bus at booth 22. As of September 10, 2013, the agent at the ticket counter confirmed that there is only one bus each day, and it leaves at 9:00 am. So plan on staying at least one night in Bangkok after reserving your ticket for the following day. The tickets can be purchased from booth 22 on the ground floor, for 750 baht ($25 USD) each.
Bangkok to Siem Reap
We only stayed one night in Bangkok. I booked a dorm room at the WE Bangkok Hostel because it was the most affordable option that was located within walking distance of the BTS (Bangkok’s Skytrain) line. Staying near the BTS made it super easy to get to the Mo Chit station the next morning without having to fight rush hour traffic jams. From BTS Mo Chit station catch the 11 bus to take you to the terminal.
This direct Bangkok to Siem Reap line opened in February 2013, so a fairly new luxury. In the past, you would need to change to another bus service (Cambodian run company) at the border. With this direct route, however, you will be traveling on the same bus and with the same driver and staff the whole route. From Bangkok you’ll drive to the border where the bus stops for about 20 minutes for passengers to arrange their Cambodian visa. They also provide a small boxed lunch to snack on throughout this stop. From here, the bus will drive you a little further to the Thai immigration office. The bus will drop you off here and you’ll walk through Thai immigration to get your departure stamp. You’ll then walk to the Cambodian side to get your arrival stamp and the bus will be waiting for you on the Cambodian side. Welcome to Cambodia! It was another 2-3 hour ride from the border to Siem Reap. Enjoy the bumpy ride along the beautiful countryside. Can’t wait to make this trek again. 🙂