Taking the Train from Poipet to Bangkok
March 2011 UPDATE: I made this trip in the other direction from Bangkok to Poipet in March 2011, the price hasn’t changed, but you can only buy tickets at the train station for this route around one hour before the train leaves. Poipet isn’t a nice area, but there’s only two things you need to worry about taking this trip;
1. When you’re arriving in Aranyaprathet coming from Bangkok, more often than not you will get a Tuk Tuk driver who will take you to the “border” – and it won’t be the border, it will be an office just down the street from the entrance to the border. They will try to make you fill out some forms to get a Cambodia visa for 1,200 Baht, this is the scam. Cambodia issue visas on arrival for $20, a good tip is to make sure you do not give anyone any money or fill out any forms until you have been stamped out of Thailand. Just get out of the Tuk Tuk, and walk onto the main road, turn right, walk for a few minutes and you’re at the border.
2. The official place where you get the visa for Cambodia, is an office to the right of the road as you walk through the frontier after exiting Thailand customs. Often the man stood in front of the window will try to charge you one or two dollars, or 100 THB for “express service” – Just say you don’t have it and it’s no problem, he’s just trying to get extra cash out of gullible tourists, the wait is about only about 5 minutes anyway, there’s no need for express!
Just remember that all you need to get across the Poipet border into Cambodia is $20 USD and one passport photo for the visa. No passport photo and it will be a $1 charge.
If you’re looking to either get to Bangkok from the Poipet border, or make the trip the other way coming from Bangkok to pass through to Cambodia, there is no better, safer or cheaper way than taking the train from Aranyaprathet train station at the border, to Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station or vice-versa.
I’m saying safer, because you avoid the Khao San Road scam buses and mainly because the Poipet border is not what it used to be, many outdated reports you read (pre-2009) on the border have made it notorious for pickpockets, scams, inside-job entrapment and aggressive beggars. It’s not like this anymore, I heard about this so I had the confidence to make the trip in January 2010, crossing the border from Cambodia to Thailand without a hitch, the only thing I saw was some begging children that didn’t cause anyone any problems that i saw.
Tickets for this route are available from each respective station. Aranyaprathet station only has one platform and one ticket window which opens about an hour before the train leaves, it should cost you no more than 80THB for a Tuk-Tuk to get from the Thailand side of the frontier to the station. Bangkok station has lots of ticket windows, but people are employed there to help you find the right place to buy a ticket and to make sure you get on the correct platform. The best way to get help at Bangkok train station: stand around the ticket windows or the platforms entrance with a puzzled look on your face, usually you will be approached by a member of staff and they will help you out.
The trip is straighforward, the train route is direct along one line so you don’t need to switch trains or anything confusing like that.
The best thing about it is the price, 48THB for a six hour train ride, and compared to getting ripped off by dodgy Khao San Road tour companies or paying up to 1000THB for a legit one, it’s a total bargain, budget traveller types will love the actual ride too.
The train ride itself is a real experience, there is only one class, which is comfortable regular seats, and it’s very scenic, moving through a lot of rural Thailand, and it’s interesting when entering or leaving Bangkok, because Bangkok seems to go on forever, you really get a scope of the sheer size of the city when you’re moving toward or out of the train station on this one line.
Give yourself plenty of time , because the train rarely runs to it’s schedule, my ticket said:
DEP TIME: 13:55
ARR TIME: 19:55
But it took longer, arriving at around 10PM in Bangkok, taking around 8 hours in total.
Two trains per day leave in both directions.
Bangkok > Aranyaprathet Schedule;
DEP 05:55 > ARR 11:20
DEP 13:05 > ARR 18:05
Aranyaprathet > Bangkok Schedule;
DEP 06:40 > ARR 12:05
DEP 13:55 > ARR 19:55
The train passes by many scenic routes, including lots of rice fields, but make sure to wear something either dark or old that you don’t mind getting dirty. Many of the fields that the tracks passed through were on fire, as the farmers burn the crops to start fresh ones, this caused a lot of ash to go into the carriages and all over us.
If you miss the train coming from Cambodia, or happen to arrive in Aranyaprathet after the border has closed, it’s possible to get a hotel or guesthouse in Aranyaprathet, it’s a nice little town but there’s not much to do in the way of activities.
Overall this journey is a highly reccommended fun experience, it’s by far the cheapest way to get to Cambodia from Thailand, but I was wearing a white t shirt and by the time I got to Bangkok it was almost black, so was my face!
128 Thailand Baht in total from Poipet to Bangkok, Bargain!
On a side note, the Aranyaprathet wiki travel page is useful, but incorrect when it states that visas on arrival coming from Cambodia to Thailand are not available, they are because I’m a UK citizen and got a 15 day visa stamp on arrival in Thailand at the Poipet border.