Travelling From Bangkok To Phnom Penh

Travelling From Bangkok To Phnom Penh
Siew Yeng
Siew Yeng 

Bangkok, the vibrant capital of the land of smiles and Phnom Penh, the beautiful capital of the fascinating Cambodia, are both must-visit places in Southeast Asia. As one of the world’s top tourist destinations, Bangkok is a heaven for shoppers and also the place to enjoy the impossibly tasty Thai street food. Phnom Penh contains both rich cultural and historical sites and these two magnificent cities are certainly not to be missed! The relatively short distance between them opens up many affordable travel options from flight to bus. With the plethora of choices available, this quick guide provides the essential information like the distance and things to expect from the travel for the reader to know about before making the commute!

Comparison of travel options

Travelling between the capitals of the two neighbouring countries can be very convenient, with the option of taking the plane, train or even the bus. The different modes of travelling are definitely suited for different travelers and there are things to consider before selecting and embarking on your journey! The different commuting methods have their respective pros and cons that make them suitable for different travelers. For instance, the train may be the most troublesome (as there is no direct route) but is the cheapest option, the plane is likely to make the most significant impact on your wallet but saves time and the bus may be the most moderate option for price and travel time among the three.

Flying from Bangkok to Phnom Penh

Thai Smile, Airbus A320-232(WL), HS-TXS
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alec Wilson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fortunately for tourists, as the capitals of their respective countries, Phnom Penh and Bangkok each have their own international airport! Taking just over an hour, air travel is without a doubt to fastest way to travel between these two cities. Numerous airlines like AirAsia and Thai Smile offer direct flights, with airfare for Bangkok to Phnom Penh ranging from 37 USD to around 78 USD depending on the time and date. In order to make full use of the time you have in the area, choosing to fly may be the best option!

Bangkok to Phnom Penh by bus

In general, there are two types of buses that take people from Bangkok to Phnom Penh: the regular bus and the direct bus.

One of the ways people can take the regular bus is by hopping onto a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap - at the border of Cambodia - (20 - 25 USD) and subsequently another bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (8 - 12 USD). Conveniently, the Cambodian visa can also be obtained for 20 USD when the bus passes through the Thai-Cambodian border. The total time spent on the bus could be around 12 hours but the total time it takes to reach the destination depends on the bus schedule.

The other simpler travel method is the direct bus which, as its name suggests, travels directly from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. The bus ticket which costs just 24 USD can be obtained at the Ekkamai eastern bus terminal or the Thai Tickets major outlets. However, there is only one timing for this bus - it leaves Mo Chit bus terminal at 11.50 pm. The total journey takes around 16 hours for this direct bus as there are many short stops along the way. This bus leaves from platform 106 of the bus terminal and it is recommended for passengers, especially those travelling in groups, to book the ticket a few days beforehand to secure better seats. The direct bus may even have its own toilet on board and offer passengers a blanket, a bottle of water and a small snack so that they can travel comfortably.

Long as it is, taking over 10 hours, the bus is still an extremely popular option for this route. For those not in a rush, the low price from 750 THB (or 24 USD), makes this choice extremely attractive, especially for budget travelers.

For bus schedules and online bookings, check out BookMeBus.

Taking the train from Bangkok to Phnom Penh

Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Bangkok
Source: Photo by user Clay Gilliland used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Unfortunately for travelers, there is no direct train from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (though there is one for the return journey) but there are still ways to take the train by making a transfer. Commuters will instead have to take two separate trains: one from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet near the Cambodia border (around four hours) for around 1.5 USD; and then the other from Poipet Railway Station, just across the Thai-Cambodia border, to Phnom Penh (around 12 hours) for free. The two stations near to the border are not, however, of walking distance from each other. Located 7 km (4.3 mi) away, the best way of traveling between them (as of May 2019) would be by tuk tuk or bus, though the Bangkok-to-Cambodia link is expected to launch soon.

There are two trains that leave daily from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet at 5.05 am and 1.05 pm and the train from Poipet only operates once a week on Tuesdays, leaving Poipet at 6.30 am as the track is undergoing some repair works. Thus, if you plan to take the train all the way, an extensive amount of planning is probably needed. Otherwise, booking a mini van in advance for the journey from Poipet to Phnom Penh is also a possibility.

Crossing the border

travelling from bangkok to phnom penh | crossing the border
Source: Pixabay

The Thailand-Cambodian border is renowned for being a trap to many tourists with its scams and other than travelling by plane, there is no way of avoiding that physical stretch of land in between the two countries that has gained such a bad reputation. As such, it is best to do plenty of research before making that crossing.

First of all, travelers should expect the basic - plenty of touts targeted towards tourists - which you would probably have gotten used to after some traveling. The next thing to expect are scams. Tons of tourists get scammed in the region despite knowing of the reputation the area has obtained probably because of the sheer number of people around border who are in on so many different scams.

Scam 1: Cambodia has no/very few ATMs, so change your money at the border. Cities in Cambodia like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have ATMs everywhere and knowing this may help prevent hastily changing your money at a sub-optimal rate.

Scam 2: The price of the Cambodian visa. Many people around the border may charge a high price to help tourists purchase the visa and may charge 50% more than the actual price! Some people may find it worth it if they are able to avoid the hassle of having to buy it themselves, but knowing the price of the visa (36 USD) may help you determine if the prices are reasonable.

Scam 3: Go for the VIP line and save an hour of your time. The price of becoming a VIP is around 200 THB (6.3 USD) and although the VIP line to get the Cambodia visa stamp does exist, in most instances, the people offering this probably grossly exaggerate the duration needed to go through the regular line. In addition to those right at the border, many scams also exist to and from the border. The transport, often times, provides less than they promise - from things like having multiple unnecessary stops for the van to “refuel”, to packing way to many people in the vehicle, it may be easy to find yourself with a less than optimal mode of transport.

To avoid being scammed as much as possible there are certain tips to keep in mind: do not take up the offers made by those people at the border as there is a high chance it turns out to be scam, take note of any emergency contact numbers of the tour company if you choose to book a bus with them and really try to do the relevant research as it doesn’t hurt to be as well informed as possible.

To a smooth travel

There are many ways to travel between the two cities and many choices to be made about it like whether to take the bus, or whether to take up the dubious offer. With the sheer number of possible scams presented to a tourist on their way, it may be very difficult to go through the journey without being taken advantage of but hopefully this guide helps with that. Although having information is power, even knowledge may not be enough to avoid being scammed in a foreign place but it is also important to try not to let the experience ruin your time in this fascinating region.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Siew Yeng likes music, animals, traveling and watching animated series. She has been to some country and wants to go to so many more. In her spare time, she stays at home to avoid human contact....Read more

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