A lot of Southeast Asia backpackers are looking to get to somewhere in Cambodia from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. There are different things to consider making this trip, such as your preferred mode of transport, your budget, and time constraints.
2012 Edit: I’m getting a lot of visitors to this page and questions in my inbox, all asking about finding a cheap flight to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap from Bangkok. I recommend trying out the pre-filled SkyScanner search box to the right, as it enables you to search for flights from Bangkok to everywhere in Cambodia at the same time.
Skyscanner allows you to view ticket prices for the whole month, or even the whole year if you’re flexible, all the main airlines that fly the route such as AirAsia, Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways are included in the search, I’ve even filled it out for you, so all you need to do is click search!
The two main starting points for backpacking around Cambodia are Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, I personally recommend arriving in Siem Reap. Not only is Siem Reap geographically closer to Bangkok, but also because of how the local bus systems work.
Almost all long distance bus routes within Cambodia pass through Phnom Penh, and if you arrive there in the first place, you can be looking at some wasted time and money on bus fares. If you’re in Phnom Penh, visit Sihanoukville to the south, Siem Reap to the north, then onto Vietnam to the east, you are passing through Phnom Penh an unnecessary amount of times. From my experience it’s better to arrive in Siem Reap in the first place.
The Bangkok to Cambodia route can be done by almost all different modes of transport, looking at Siem Reap as your target destination, you have many options in your hands.
Listed below are the pros and cons, of the different modes of transport from Bangkok to Siem Reap. From the fastest to the slowest.
Catching a Flight
Flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap is the most obvious option, tickets are easily booked, but for backpackers on a budget the expense comes into play. The more adventurous types going after unique experiences, along with the environmentally conscious can easily avoid flying this route.
- Speed – Flying is the fastest.
- Convenience – Flights are easy to book online or at travel agents.
- Expensive – Getting a cheap flight from bangkok to Siem Reap can be quite difficult.
- Boring – No adventures, no meeting people or interesting experiences.
- Environmental Issues – Flying is the worst form of transport for pollution.
- Seeing Less – You see less, and miss out on a lot by flying everywhere.
Getting a Taxi
It’s possible for a cab driver to take you to Cambodia, a cab driver at Bangkok train station quoted me 2000 Baht. The driver will most likely drop you off at the Poipet border, and there will be a 9 USD bus to Siem Reap for there.
- Speed – This is the quickest method to get from Bangkok to Cambodia by land.
- Convenience – No waiting around to set off.
- Comfort – You could potentially have the whole back seat to yourself.
- Cost – You can get to the Poipet border for a lot cheaper than 2000 Baht.
- Boredom – Like flying, you are unlikely to meet interesting new people.
- Trust Issues – I’ve had bangkok cab drivers give my the runaround more than once.
Taking the Bus
You can purchase a bus ticket all the way from Khao San Road in Bangkok, through the Poipet border and on to Siem Reap. Tickets are readily available everywhere, but do your homework and look for a reputable tour operator or bus company, as this route is notorious for scams.
- Meeting People – There’s a chance you may meet some great backpacker friends on the bus.
- Convenience – No need to worry about buying a bus ticket in Poipet, it’s a straight shot.
- Ride Sharing – better for the environment.
- Scams – There’s many reports of the famous ‘Bangkok to Siem Reap scam bus’.
- Delays – Buses often break down, or make two hour long impromptu stops.
- Comfort Issues – Buses in Thailand can often be quite a squeeze.
Taking the Train
In my opinion this is absolutely the best way to get from Bangkok to Cambodia, I have made this trip a number of times and you really do get to see the great scenery in comfort. The price is only 48 Thai Baht, by far the cheapest option. The train stops near the Poipet border and you can catch a bus to Siem Reap from there for 9 USD.
- Price – At only 48 THB it’s supremely good value.
- It’s Greener – The train is more environmentally friendly than the flight, bus and taxi.
- Seeing the Country – Sit back, relax and stare out of the window at the Thai countryside.
- Experience – Making this trip by train with the locals is a really great experience.
- Meeting People – You may get chatting to some really cool people on the train.
- Safety – This is the safest way to get to Cambodia from Thailand.
- Time Constraints – This is the slowest way to get to Cambodia, taking 6-8 hours.
So there you have it, four different ways to get from Bangkok in Thailand to Siem Reap in Cambodia. There’s obviously more ways, you could buy a motorbike, the more energetic can cycle to Siem Reap, or even trek it!
If somebody asked me the best way, I’d say take the train to Cambodia every single time, it requires a little more work but is well worth the effort.