Travel Tips: How to Cross the Border From Thailand to Cambodia

Last week, I shared tips on how to cross the border from Cambodia to Thailand at the Poipet-Aranyaprathet crossing (check it out here!).

Today, we're doing it the other way: from Thailand to Cambodia.

Note - there are a lot of touts, tuk tuk drivers, and scammers who claim you need to buy your Cambodian visa before you exit Thailand. It's not true!!! You need to purchase this after you exit Thailand. And remember - immigration is open 7:00am - 8:00 pm every day.

Map of the border area

1. Go through Thai exit immigration to officially leave Thailand.

The van, bus, taxi, etc. that you took to the border should drop you off in Dtalat (Market) Rong Kluea. They will direct you to immigration. If you get lost, look for the 7-11 inside the market and look for this sign.

When going into Thai immigration, watch your belongings! At night time, the walkway is completely unlit, and throngs of people are crossing back into Cambodia after working in the market. This walkway is where Andrew's phone was stolen right out of his pocket (see the story here).

Inside Thai immigration

Once inside, you'll fill out the departure card that was stapled into your passport when you first entered Thailand. And as long as you haven't overstayed your visa, they'll let you through.

2. Walk across the bridge and apply for your visa at the Cambodian immigration office.

Once you cross the bridge, look for the archway. Below that and on the right side of the street is the Cambodian immigration office. Tourist visas cost US$20 (as of April 2014). Bring American dollars with you if possible to avoid getting ripped off by a bad exchange rate if you only have Thai baht. You also officially need two passport photos. I will say that we have bought tourist visas without giving photos before. Sometimes they ask for a 100 baht "fee" (i.e. bribe). To play it safe, bring your photos with you. 

Visa office under the archway

Obviously, check with your country's embassy website to see what requirements your nationality might have for a Cambodian tourist visa.

Bad photo, I know...but you're really not supposed to take photos inside!

Fill out the paperwork and wait for the officials to put the tourist visa inside your passport. Tourist visas are typically good for 30 days (as of April 2014).

3. Walk through the casinos ("no man's land") to Cambodian entry immigration.

4. Enter Cambodian entry immigration. Fill out the immigration form, using the number on the visa that was just put into your passport.

Wait in line. It's hot. It's crowded. But eventually, you will get through.

5. Celebrate arriving in Cambodia and find a way out of Poipet!

Not many tourists stay in Poipet, and I don't blame them. It's a great place to see what a classic border town is like. Otherwise, catch a ride to Battambang, Siem Reap, or anywhere else you'd like.

There is a monopoly on transportation out of Poipet. You have either two choices: take the "free shuttle bus" to the "Poipet International Passenger Terminal" about 10 km outside of town. Or you can walk down the main road and see if any taxi drivers or vans are headed out of town. We normally pay $30 for a private taxi (meaning, we don't share it with anyone else) to Siem Reap. Bus tickets normally cost around US$3.50-5.00. As a foreigner, you'll probably pay a bit more than a local. But that's just how the system works.

If you do take the shuttle bus, you are stuck once you get there. Prices are higher there than they are in town. And if you decide you want to go back into Poipet, good luck. They'll charge you 200 baht (around $6) to take you there.

Don't worry about finding transportation. You'll be swarmed by eager drivers as soon as you get through immigration.

The shuttle bus to the passenger terminal, directly outside of immigration

Be careful about the taxis you take! Car and motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of death here. There is no official taxi registration, and you are literally taking your life into your hands. Many taxi drivers will pack out a four-passenger car with six, eight, or more people. Some cars are Thai style; the drivers sits in what should be the passenger seat. And I've seen rearview mirrors turned into karaoke TV. Don't expect seat belts (do I really need to say that after everything else?).

Buses are a safer way to travel, but they still get into accidents. If you don't feel comfortable about a taxi, get out and find a different one. It's better to do that than to be stuck twenty minutes out of town in a taxi driven by a drunk guy (it's happened to me before). 

So now you know how to cross the border from Thailand to Cambodia. I hope it helps you have a less stressful entry into the kingdom of wonder - Cambodia! 

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