Getting There in Siem reapEdit This
Siem Reap is served by an International Airport, with flights from many countries in South East Asia. New budget airlines like Air Asia have opened up the skies to more competition and cheaper flights. To cope with the ever-increasing passenger load; a new arrivals hall opened in April 2006. Most people fly through Bangkok and increasingly Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Air Asia www.airasia.com and Jet Star Asia are now operating from Kuala Lumpur. Singapore and Bangkok at discount prices. It can be well worth flying vie Phnom Penh; either on the outward leg or on return. Prices start at around $70 each way. There is a hefty $25 departure tax from Cambodian Airports for international flights. and $18 for some internal flights This applies to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. So don't forget to keep some money spare before you leave.
Ferries: Fast ferries do the Phnom Penh Siem Reap run in around 5 hours the cost is $25 each way. In the Dry Season esp. March to August , the water levels on the Tonle Sap Lake make boat travel slower and less reliable. There are sometimes 2 -3 changes of boat and at worst it can take 9 or more hours. There is no food or drink provided on these boats. If you include getting to and from the boat; it is now much slower and more expensive for 2 persons than a taxi
Taxi: Departure flexible; 4-4 ½ hrs journey time $45-$50 Up to 4 passengers (price variable & negotiable)
Buses: Mekong Express and Hong Rong Kheang at the best on this route. Both are air conditioned with on board clean WCs and are well driven: cost $6 Hong Rong Kheang $9 Mekong Exp (with light meal and drink) Buses depart from near Phnom Penh Port 7:30 a t 12pm They take 5 ½ hours to the Siem Reap Bus station 3 kms east of town.
Overland from Thailand: The overland routes into Cambodia are generally improving; however even the main routes to Siem Reap a in a very poor state of repair in places. Take the air con public bus from Bangkok (Morchit) Northern terminal. If you catch a bus at 7am or 7:30 you can get to Aranyaprathet at 12 pm. A short Tuk Tuk ride (5Km) takes you too the Cambodia border.
The train from Bangkok is a good and enjoyable option. Trains leave at 5:55 and arrive at Aryanapathet around 12pm. There are many willing tuk tuk drivers to take you the 6kms to the border. Don't be persuaded to buy onward tickets on the Thai side as you are likely to have long delays waiting for a bus and you will be likely to suffer the same fate as those buying a ticket from Bangkok, Poipet Border Crossing border crossing situation changed in July 2005 . The price of a visa has risen to 1000THB ($25). On exit from Cambodian immigration, tourists are sometimes directed to a 'free' Tourist bus which is now taking tourists to an a new Bus station near the Market in Poipet; where minivans and buses transport tourists to Siem Reap. It is not compulsory to use this. The fixed taxi fare has risen to $45 for tourist cars to Siem Reap. This has been enforced by the authorities by putting up the fee that drivers have to pay per journey .
The cost on the bus service to Siem Reap is $11 per person. The bus is ending its journey at the new Bus Station east of town. There can be delays waiting for the bus to fill up; but the bus drives direct to Siem Reap Bus Station; with a short stop and is taking 4 to 5 hours The new bus station is a chaotic entry to Siem Reap. Please be patient if you have pre arranged a pick up.
WARNING ABOUT BUS PACKAGES FROM BANGKOK Almost everyone who uses Bangkok Tour Agency Buses has had problems; from overpriced visas, to horrendous journeys up to 18-20 hours in cramped minivans or pickups arriving in the early hours. Arriving at the guest houses late at night you will be pressurized into staying at their guest house.
To be fair, this is fairly normal Asian marketing, and the guest houses have most certainly paid the driver to deliver "guests" to their door. If you were a cash strapped guest house operator it would be pretty dispiriting watching a busload of tourists head elsehwere "on principle." Give the guest house the benefit of the doubt - it isn't them who's been ripping anyone off: it is the bus operator. But do explain to the guest house manager if you really do have a booking elsewhere. If they refuse to even allow phone calls to your chosen hotel or guest house, then sure: get your bags and show you're ready to walk.
Most TAT agencies in Bangkok say the bus journey takes 8-10 hours via Poipet. Don't believe them! At best It will take 12 or more hours. Some operators are now sending people to remote border crossings; taking 18-20 hours on arriving at 2am. The Bus that takes you from Bangkok to the border is usually a good air con vehicle . Some agencies take people to a remote border at Pallin (Daung ) It is here that most problems occur. You are likely to be asked to pay $40 or more for a visa. You will certainly be delayed by 3 hours waiting for the transport (usually overcrowded minivans or pickup trucks ). You will have an uncomfortable journey on dirt roads via Battembang; with numerous long stops and at least one well rehearsed breakdown. it can take 18 hours in total. The Bangkok/Poipet/Siem Reap experience is one of the best reasons one can think of to do your homewoprk before you travel!