Cheap ways to travel from Bangkok to Aranyaprethet/Poipet (Thai-Cambodia border)

 There are several budget travel options from Bangkok to Rong Klue Market/Poipet.

 At Bangkok

  1. Train.
    Take the Eastern Line train from Hua Lamphong Railway Station to  Aranyaprathet town which departs at 5:55am.  All seats on this train are 3rd class, come with wooden seat and have no air-conditioning. It  costs 58 baht one way and  tickets can be purchased at the station before you board. Its best to get to the station at around 5:30am to board the train as it starts to fill up quickly with Thai and Khmer workers traveling to various destinations on the way. 

    Board the train, find a seat and hold on to your seat until the train leaves. Otherwise, you might have to stand most of the way on the 6-hour journey. Try to find a window seat on the right side of the carriage to avoid the strong sun throughout the journey as well as to get a magnificent view of the rural countryside of Thailand along the way.  Smoking is not allowed in the carriages but you can take a puff in the stairwell section. Please note that if you leave your seat, you might loose it to a standing passenger.

    Carry along water and food as there is no buffet carriage on this train. However, many vendors will board the train at various stations to sell local snacks and drinks but its best to avoid these if you have a weak stomach.

    When you arrive in Aranyaprathet at around 12 to 12:30 in the afternoon,  get on a motorbike which costs from 30 to 50 baht  or on a tuk-tuk which costs from 50 to 100 baht for the short trip to the border which is called Rong Kluea (or Rong Kluea Market).

    Pros: Cheapest way to get to the border. Nice views of rural heartlands of Thailand.
    Cons: Very crowded. Longer journey.

  2. Bus
    • From Mo Chit Terminal (Northern Bus Terminal)
      Many buses companies offer trips from this terminal to Aranyaprathet and Rong Kluea Market regularly from 6am onwards. Tickets costs between 200 and 250 baht one way on comfortable air-conditioned bus.  When purchasing your ticket, make sure you specify that your intended destination is the border (also known as Rong Kluea on the Thai side of the border), otherwise you might be dropped off at the bus station at Aranyaprathet and you will have to make your way to the border on motorbikes or tuk-tuks separately. The journey takes 5 to 5.5 hours with short breaks, in a few towns, along the way.

      Pros: Many buses leave from this station at different times.
      Cons: Hard to get to this station with heavy traffice. Nearest BTS/MRT station is about 2.5km away.

    • From Ekamai Terminal (Eastern Bus Terminal)
      One bus company (AirAran) departs from this station a few times a day. As you enter the bus station, the bus provider is on the right in the middle with the next departure displayed in the bottom left of the window. Air-conditioned buses leaves at 6.30, 8:30, 10am, 1pm.
      Fares cost 200 baht one way and tickets can be bought at the counter. This bus's first stop is Survarnabhumi Airport about 35 minutes after departing from the terminal. After that, it makes a few stops on towns along the way and terminates at Rong Kluea market. The trip takes about 4.5 to 5 hours from Ekamai terminal to Rong Kluea bus station, and goes via Chantaburi province.

    • Also available are minibuses, one of which leaves at 6.15 am, although others may also leave later. The minibus was air-conditioned and very comfortable ride for 220baht, no side trips or scams. The minibus may go right up to the border and drop off at the white 'visa centre' building, discussed further below. 

    • Pros: This is the fastest way to the border. Ekamai station is just below the BTS station which make it easy to get to.
      Cons: Limited number of buses departing.

    • From Suvarnabhumi Airport
      You can also catch the bus that departs from Ekamai station at the Transportation center of Suvarnabhumi Airport. From the Airport Terminal, catch one of the free shuttle buses that will take you to this Transportation center to board the bus going to Aran/Rong Kluea. Departure times are half hour after the times posted for Ekamai Terminal. Fares costs  are the same.

  3. Vans
    Vans departs from Mo Chit Terminal and Victory Monument at various times throughout the day. It costs between 220 to 250 baht per seat. Please make sure you confirm that the van is going to Rong Kluea market before boarding, otherwise you might get dropped off in Aran town and will have to make your way to the border with additional transportation. It takes between 4 and 4.5 hours from point to point.
    Vans seat between 12 to 15 people so if you are tall, big size or have a lot of luggage, this is not a great mode of transportation.

    Pros: Quickest way  to the border. Vans sometimes leave before designated times when they fill up.
    Cons: Very tight seating arrangement. Very little luggage space.

At Rong Kluea.

The bus station at Rong Kluea is about 1km from the actual border. If you arrive with little luggage, you might want to take an interesting walk to the border, through the HUGE market, which sells a wide variety of new and used clothes, bags, shoes and other products, including food & fruits. Many of the small retail trader from Bangkok and other provinces make their way here frequently  to buy products wholesale. This is also the last place to catch Thai food before crossing into Cambodia (where the food is very different).

If you have luggage or don't want to walk to the border, simply hop on one of the motorbike taxis or on a tuk-tuk for the 5 minute trip to the actual border, costing between 20 to 50 baht (depending on your bargaining skills).

It is inevitable that most of these "taxis" will drop you off at a big white building called "Visa Center" to get a visa into Cambodia. This is one of the many scams to get money out of you.  Just alight from the motorbike or tuk-tuk and gently tell them you already have a visa. (information about scams in Poipet , Cambodia visa information )

Walk about 50 meters forward to the Thai passport control to cross the border. Foreigners (i.e. Non Thai/Cambodian) follow the right pointing arrow and go up the flight of stairs. Make sure you have your departure card ready, otherwise, pick one up from the table on the right of the room.


At the Border

Once you clear Thai passport control, if you have not already got your Cambodian visa you will cross the road and about 50 metres along on the right hand side is the visa office where you will be greeted by a man giving you a visa application form. Complete the form and you will see it also asks you for a passport photo. If you do not have a passport photo it is simply an additional charge of 100 Thai Baht. The visa will cost you $20 American dollars however it is also possible to pay in Thai Baht.

Once you are out of the visa office (or if you already have a visa, or an e-visa) walk about 200m to the Cambodian passport control section which is also on the right hand side of the road. Along the way, you will be hassled by dozens of touts trying to sell you taxi transportation to various destinations in Cambodia. Its safer to just ignore them and pretend you don't speak English. Progress to the cambodian border control. Depending on the time of day, be prepared for long queues.  Here you might be approached by Cambodian officials in uniform asking if you want "express" service". Once again, politely decline, ask for the embarkation form and join the queue.  

If you have an e-visa, walk directly to Passport Control on the right hand side of the road, fill out the arrival/departure form and hand a copy of your e-visa, the form and your passport over. There are also finger scanning facilities.  

 On the Cambodian side

Once you come out of the passport control office, you will find yourself in a "Free bus to Bus station" hall. If you decide to get on board one of these buses, it will take you to the International bus station which is 7km away, where you will be forced to use one of the more expensive buses that will take u directly to a guesthouse in either Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. 

An alternative is to just walk straight on the main road past the big roundabout,  for about 500 meters, where you will find signboards advertising buses with guys sitting in front of tables. The buses are infrequent and seem to leave in the morning or early evening though so determine if your waiting time is more important than your wallet size. There are also taxi's waiting around on the main raod near this part. Here you can negioate better prices. The average price (cost shown here in American $) per seat on a bus or taxi to Siem Reap and Battambang is between $5 to $7. You can pay for your ticket in American Dollars, Thai Baht  or Cambodian Riel. Bus seats cost between $8 to $10 to Phnom Penh and $6 to $8 to Battambang. 

Note: Please keep your bags with you all the time as Poipet is one of the unsafest towns in Cambodia.