Aranyapathet and Poipet Border
It is no longer a mystery any more
about the land crossing into Cambodia from Thailand at
Aranyapathet-Poipet Border. From Bangkok, "Aranyapathet" is
over 200 km from Bangkok to the West. It takes around 4-5 hours drive
Travelers can easily take the
public air-conditioned bus at the Northern Bus Terminal in Bangkok to
Aranyapathet. Bus fee is at 160 Baht for air-con and half price for
non-A/C. Taking the train from Central Railway Station of Bangkok called
"Hualumpong" is not a bad idea with two departures at 05:50 a.m. and
01:00 p.m. and arrive at 12:00 and 06:00 p.m., respectively. Only 3rd
class and non-A/C trains running this route at the fare of 48 Baht. Some
travel agents on Khaosan Road that are specialized on backpackers do
offer this transport service by van at the cost of around 250-450 Baht.
From the Bus and Train Station in
Aranyapathet, the Poipet border is roughly 6 kilometers away. You
can take the rickshaw to the border (or in Thai called Tuk-Tuk) at
around 40-100 Baht depending upon your bargaining power. No fix rates!
The scenario of the Poipet border
is a bustling market where the Thais and the Cambodians of the two sides
trade with one another. From Poipet, you can either get to Siemreap or
Cambodia visa processing here is
rather easy. The foreign visitors just fill in the visa application form
with 1 Passport-size photo. Show your Passport and pay USD 20 or
1,000 Baht for visa fee to the Cambodian Immigration officials.
That's all the process needed to be done.
The Poipet border is open from
07:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m., and foreign tourists can obtain the visa here.
A slight warning is that you might be asked for some sorts of
International Vaccination Certificate by the local immigration
officials. It is only their attempt to make some extra money as there is
no such requirement. Some travelers had reported that the fine imposed
ranges from USD5-50. This is not legitimate, of course. If you insisted
not to pay, generally the officials do not make any hassle further. In
case you are quite afraid, pass the immigration with the other tourists
so that you won't be alone, or if you want to compromise, some small
dollar notes should be more than adequate, though not recommended.
After passing through the
Immigration station, you can easily spot two casinos that host
the Thai gamblers who travel to Poipet for legal gambling in Cambodia
(illegal in Thailand). The good hotels actually the guesthouses in
Poipet are mostly full in advance as they are pre-booked for these
gambling group tours from Thailand. It is not a good idea to cross the
border in the late afternoon to find yourself stuck there. Overnight at
a decent hotel in Aranyapathet at the Thai side is much better off and
cross the border next morning or around noon.
In Poipet, the vehicles are
rare to be seen. Taxi is run by private two-wheeled motorcyclist. There
is a bus station near the crossing point, but it is vacant. Many wagons,
full of goods and products, are pulled or pushed by several dusty
Cambodians. Food and drink stalls can be seen on the two sides of the
Travel to Siemreap from
Poipet is more or less a rough and adventurous trails, not suitable for
those who seek comfort. On the Cambodian side, there are share taxi or
pickup trucks that will ride you to Siem Reap where the impressive
and other Khmer temples are housed. The road condition is very poor,
dusty, unpaved, and even worst in rainy season when the road becomes
muddy with a lot of potholes. In some instances, local military guards
may block the road to ask for illegitimate passing fees from travelers.
If you are lucky, it takes around 10-12 hours for 150 km journey with an
opportunity to cross some of the most exciting (dangerous) bridges that
you never experience before. The transport fee one-way to Siemreap from
Poipet starts from 100 Baht up.
The road condition between Poipet
and Phnompenh is better than the one to Siemreap. General
traveling time on this route takes around 8 hours in summer and nearly
double in rainy season.
General Tips and Advice:
1) Try to be selective on the
type of vehicles - recommend pickups, since the unpaved road is
rough. If your vehicle breaks down along the way, it is likely that you
will have to pay a much higher price for another vehicle that passes by
to drop you off in Siemreap, generally at 2-digits US Dollar figure. No
free ride on this route!
2) Aranyapathet-Poipet Border is
not the place where you can renew your Thai Visa for another 30 days.
There is no Thai Consulate here, but rather a small Immigration post. If
you wish to enter Cambodia through Poipet to travel around Cambodia and
then leave at the same crossing point, be sure that your Thai visa has
not been expired... otherwise you will have to make a double painful
trip, either back to Siemreap for taking a direct flight out or even
further to Phnompenh to get a new re-entry Thai visa. Its counterpart at
Koh Kong border
gives 30-days Thai Visa
3) Safety? - Though there
are many instances of travelers being rip-off by the locals in the area,
it may be unavoidable. Anyhow, most of them are at a bearable cost.
Practice your bargaining skill is the only advice! Recently there is no
report on travelers being physically harm or endangered, so it is likely
to be at individual risk.
By Aphisit W. - Royal
Information Update: 15 February 2001