Crossing the Thai Cambodia Border Overland by Bus

This is a detailed review of how to book & travel by bus from Bangkok Thailand to Siem Reap Cambodia, including the immigration process of crossing the Thai Cambodia border.

I’ve just crossed the border overland into Cambodia. After leaving Bangkok in the early hours of the morning, we’ve now arrived in to Siem Reap. We took the Thai government bus operated by ‘The Transport Co’ (creative name) that runs direct from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s the only mode of ground transport where you don’t have to change buses or vans and can leave your bags on the bus when crossing from Thailand to Cambodia. I was worried when I booked our bus tickets because I read so many horror stories and blogs detailing stories of scams, bribes and chaos at the border. These tales of border-induced rage made me so anxious that I almost didn’t book it at all and considered just going somewhere else. Luckily, I swallowed my traveller’s fear and booked two tickets easily online and then enjoyed a very smooth, easy and comfortable trip that I would happily do again!

The day before we left, I went in to one of the many local Thai travel agents with their sun-faded, old and worn posters of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand and I asked how much it would be to book the bus ticket through them.  They quoted 2500 Baht for 2 people. This included a pickup from the hotel to the bus departure point at Mo Chit bus terminal.

I politely declined this offer and managed to book online for 870 Baht per person and saved myself ~1000 baht. Booking online means you don’t have to go all the way out to Mo Chit twice! Here’s how to do it…

Booking Tickets

Book online through 12goAsia below. It’s safe, secure and 12go are Asia’s largest online booking system.

  1. Use the booking form below to select your departure date.
  2. The following screen will allow you to select how many seats you need & departure time.
  3. ‘The Transport Co’ is the Thai Government bus that I took so select this option. There are other companies as well a mini-vans but the Thai Government Bus is the only bus allowed to wait at the border and the only way where you don’t have to take your bags off the bus at the border and carry them across with you. It’s the same bus all the way to Siem Reap.

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Payment

  • Pay securely online with credit/debit card or with PayPal.
  • You need to pickup your ticket at the Transport Company Counter counter 1 hour before the bus departure. The counter opens from 7am, which gives you 2 hours before the usual 9am departure
The Transport Co. counter is right in the middle of all the counter windows. You can't miss it. Collect you tickets booked online from here.
The Transport Co. counter is right in the middle of all the counter windows. You can’t miss it. Collect you tickets booked online from here.

The Journey

We got up at 6am and checked out of our hotel, before trying to get a taxi to Mo Chit. First, we passed the ‘taxi mafia’ who were always lingering around our hotel like a pack of hyenas picking up on the scent of tourists on the move. They offered to take us to Cambodia by taxi (God knows how much that would have cost!), then offered the usual inflated 300 Baht. We ignored them and walked 100 metres to the road and flagged down a cab. The smiling old cab driver got out and told us 200 baht per person… Taxis are never per person and this is just another tactic to get more money. Thai taxi drivers don’t seem to understand that per person rates are for transport where they make money per seat, not for a cab! We said no ‘on the metre’ and went to walk away until he said 200 Baht total. We took him up on this offer. If you can get a cab to go via the meter it should be about 140 Baht from Khoasan Road to Mo Chit, however getting a cab to turn on the meter in Thailand is becoming more and more difficult for tourists.

We arrived at Mo Chit just before 7am after a 25 minute journey. Mo Chit bus terminal is large with a giant 7/11, a local food court (all signs in Thai), a KFC that isn’t open during the morning and a very small drug store.

We waited, watching Thai soap operas which screen on the TVs there before boarding our bus… Very dramatic and lots of crying… Not sure what it was all about!

Out the front of Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok
My wife Jen out the front of Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok

The bus isn’t too bad at all. The seats are fairly comfortable and recline back (probably too much), it also has a toilet on-board, however the sign on the door clearly indicates this is for ‘pee only’.  There isn’t much room for carry-on luggage, so if you want to take a lot on with you, board early.

The bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. They'll put your luggage underneath. There's VERY little room for luggage on board the bus!
The bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. They’ll put your luggage underneath. There’s VERY little room for luggage on board the bus!
On board the bus.
On board the bus.

Once seated, the staff came down the isle and gave us a bottle of water, a can of ice coffee and a soft sponge cake. We settled in and waited for the border. I had read so many bad stories about the border that I was dreading the experience and couldn’t relax until we got there.

The start of the long overland journey from Bangkok to Cambodia by bus! #cambodia #thailand #bangkok #travel #buses

A photo posted by Ben Farrell (@roadlesstravelled.me) on

The complimentary morning snack for all passengers.
The complimentary morning snack for all passengers.

We stopped once on the way to the border because the bus got a flat tire! However it was swiftly changed (rather comically) by 3 of the staff and a giant long pole. It only took about 15 minutes and allowed us an opportunity to get off the bus and stretch our legs.

How many Thais does it take to change a tire?
How many Thais does it take to change a tire?

The Border Crossing

An hour out from the border, one of the bus attendants offered everyone a ‘quick visa processing service’ because he ‘works for the government’. The offer is 1300 baht and the reason he gave for using his service was that the ‘police only let the bus stay at the border for one hour’. I had read about this and declined the offer. The bus cannot leave without you and at the border it waited 1.5 hours which was more than enough time. Everyone was ready to leave after about 45 minutes. Having said this, I was charged 1200 Baht at the border, so if you want to spend an extra 100 Baht for the convenience of having the attendant organise your visa, then you can do that. He was very happy, helpful and informative.

We arrived at the border at 2pm. Maybe it was just the day we went on, however crossing the border was one of the easiest and quickest immigration/border experiences I’ve had. Before we got to the drop off point, the bus stopped just before the border to pickup our lunch. We were served a Thai style shrimp with chilli, basil and rice from 7/11 which wasn’t bad, If you’re vegetarian you’ll need to bring your own lunch!

The complimentary 7/11 lunch of shrimp, basil, chill and rice.
The complimentary 7/11 lunch of shrimp, basil, chilli and rice.

We ate as the bus made its way through traffic to the border. When we arrived, the bus staff were actually very helpful. They explained, in English, where to go and encouraged us to ask them if we have any questions because ‘I am here to help you’. We got off the bus and went through the border as follows:

  1. The first stop is Thai immigration to be stamped out of Thailand. This is down the street from where the bus drops you and on the left right next to the large white building with the gold temple spires (below). Just follow everyone else getting off the bus and look for the blue ‘departures’ sign (pictured below). Here you will, go up the stairs in to Thai immigration. When we arrived it was empty and took about 5 minutes to get through.
What the border looks like once you step off the bus. Walk straight towards the building with the temple spires and stay on the left
What the border looks like once you step off the bus. Walk straight towards the building with the temple spires and stay on the left
The way to Thai immigration. Look for the blue passport control sign.
The way to Thai immigration. Look for the blue passport control sign.
The building on the Thai side of the border, just before Thai immigration.
The building on the Thai side of the border, just before Thai immigration.
If you're hungry during the crossing, you can snack on bugs, insects and roaches!
If you’re hungry during the crossing, you can snack on bugs, insects and roaches!
The entrance to Thai immigration. Walk up the stairs to have your passport stamped
The entrance to Thai immigration. Walk up the stairs to have your passport stamped

2. After clearing Thai immigration, follow the ‘Go to Cambodia’ signs that will lead you back out to the main street. Head towards the elaborate stone gateway that says ‘Kingdom of Cambodia’ then enter the visa building on your right, just next to the gateway. Here the staff will give you a visa form to fill in. You’re meant to take one passport photo with you however, I forget to get a photo and no one seemed to care at all. Once your form is filled in you then proceed to the visa window. On the day we went through I paid 1200 baht or $35USD for my visa. I’ve read reports of the visa being $30, however all the signs now say $35 for a tourist visa. I handed the staff my passport, form and money and was told to wait to the side. After 2 minutes someone emerged calling my name and gave me back my passport with the visa inside. Easy.

After Thai immigration follow the 'Go to Cambodia' signs which will lead you back out to the main street.
After Thai immigration follow the ‘Go to Cambodia’ signs which will lead you back out to the main street.

Cambodia Border Crossing-2012

Walking towards the 'Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia' stone gateway where the visa building is.
Walking towards the ‘Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia’ stone gateway where the visa building is.
The Cambodian visa building. Enter here to get your visa.
The Cambodian visa building. Enter here to get your visa.

Cambodia Border Crossing-2023

3. Once you have your visa, proceed to Cambodia immigration. Walk about 100 metres further down the road and enter the Cambodia immigration building on the right hand side of the road. Here you will be given a short arrival card to fill in. It asks for vessel, plane of vehicle number… I didn’t know this so I just wrote ‘bus’ and this seemed fine. After you’ve filled the form in, queue up at the windows where you will have your photo taken, fingerprints scanned and passport stamped. This part took us about 5 minutes. Once your passport is stamped that’s it!

The whole crossing took us about 20minutes. The bus will wait for you outside the Casino on the right hand side of the road. You will actually walk past the bus when you go from the visa building to immigration. It’s very easy as there is only 2 main casinos opposite each other, and only the Thai government bus stops there. Once done we returned to the bus where our smiling attendant told us we had until 3.30pm until we left (the ‘police’ must have been generous on this day), so we headed to the casino next to the bus and in to ‘Chillax Café’ which actually has nice food, cheap drinks and air conditioning.

Chillaxing in the 'Chillax Cafe'.
Chillaxing in the ‘Chillax Cafe’.

Arriving in Siem Reap


It took us 3 hours from the border to Siem Reap where we were dropped at the city market. Here the bus company offers free Tuk Tuks to any hotel. This is a free service, however beware that it is a sales pitch for the Tuk Tuk driver to pick you up the next day and take you to Angkor. DO NOT hire one of the ‘free’ Tuk Tuk from the bus company to take you to Angkor. Our driver quoted us $15 USD per person for the ‘short’ day tour of Angkor. The price is not per person. The price for a Tuk Tuk to Angkor is $15 for the day. The driver also took us to the wrong hotel; ‘Angkor Pal’ instead of ‘Angkor Pearl’ and then asked for some money as a deposit so he could ‘get petrol’. Stupidly we gave him some Thai Baht before we realised he had dropped us at the wrong hotel and he had left. He had no phone number so there’s nothing we could do…

After realising we were at the wrong hotel, the friendly staff at the Angkor Pal, called the ‘Angkor Pearl’ and the resident Tuk Tuk driver ‘Ti’ came and picked us up. Ti ended taking us to Angkor from 8.30am to sunset for a total of $15. Again – don’t take the first offer from the ‘free’ Tuk Tuks from the bus!

Overall the staff on the bus were polite, friendly, spoke English well and were very helpful. I would definitely travel with them again!Cambodia Border Crossing-124917

Siem Reap is an amazing place and the Angkor temples are breathtaking. Stay tuned for my next blog on our visit to Angkor with Ti the Tuk Tuk driver.


39 thoughts on “Crossing the Thai Cambodia Border Overland by Bus

  1. Great read. I’m planning on travelling overland from Thailand, Cambodia, to Vietnam. Will be dragging along some snowboards bags as we’re heading to Japan for a season.

    Do you think it’s feasible?

    1. Hey there! Thanks for reading! I think it’s absolutely feasible… The only problem of going by bus is they don’t have a lot of room for luggage… I’d get there early and make sure you can get all your gear on before everyone else does! Goos luck and safe travels!

  2. I notice you could book the bus ticket in advance online, does this mean it could be printed out and used as evidence of ongoing travel so as to allow us to get a visa exemption??

    1. Hi Mandi. You can indeed print it out and it would be evidence that you have onward travel booked to cross out of Thailand. However I’m not entirely sure. I’m Australian so I didn’t need a Visa for Thailand. I would doubdle check with the Thai embassy in your country to be sure!

  3. Thanks so much for this detailed explanation. I am Australian too so am glad to read from an Aussie perspective.
    I get anxiety as well and stress over a lot of things so I am glad that this process wasn’t as stressful as you thought it was going to be.
    I am going to follow the same process and book the bus! Cheers

    1. Hi Angeli, thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to say hello! Glad to meet another Aussie adventurer. It’s hard travelling sometimes, I get stressed over small things sometimes and always assume the worst… Luckily that wasn’t true in this case! Safe travels to you and your husband and keep in touch with you adventures! 🙂

  4. I’m visiting Cambodia in February. You’re very thorough with instructions on how to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap via bus. Just a few questions. Is THE TRANSPORT CO. the only direct bus from bangkok to siem reap? Can you buy the tickets at mo chit bus station? Is the 1200 baht border fee mandatory for all bus passengers? Does the visa office only accept baht? How about USD? I read it was $20 on another blog not $35. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting! As far as I know, the Transport Co is the only direct bus where you don’t have to remove your luggage and carry it with you over the border to be scanned. It is a Thai government bus and is the only one allowed to cross the border with all luggage onboard and is permitted to park and wait at the border (right outside the casino near the immigration point). There are several other mini-bus operators but you will have to change vans (sometimes more than once) and I’ve heard horrible stories about these minivans taking twice as long!

      You can buy the tickets at Mo Chit however that means you would have to go out there twice. Once in advance to buy your tickets and then go back again on departure day. I wouldn’t leave it to the day you want to leave to try and buy as it will likely be booked out. There were no spare seats when I went!

      The visa office accepts Thai Baht and US dollars.

      The 1200 baht/ $35 USD is the same visa fee for anyone wanting a visa. You can pay 1300 on the bus to the conductor to organise it all for you. I also read that it was $20 fee, however the (permanent looking) sign said $35 when I crossed so perhaps it’s gone up since then!

      Hope this helps and safe travels!

      Ben

  5. hi! wow what a great information. it also takes away my fears a little 🙂
    do i really need to print everything? or can i just take a picture with my phone as well?

    1. Thanks Alex! Glad you found it helpful! I’m not sure about printing. I printed mine because when you go to a 7/11 to pay they scan the barcode. However, they could probably scan your phone, or enter the number in manually. However, they then stapled my receipt to the printout which I handed over in Mo Chit for my ticket so I’m not sure. I know that, generally, business in SE Asia are not as smart phone savvy as other regions and they love their paperwork! Let me know how you go and safe travels!

  6. I’m so impressed with your thorough explanation especially since I will be doing a RT Phnom Penh to Bangkok in March (in 3 weeks) – is that same bus service to Phnom Penh? Is it pretty much flatland crossing? Thank you.

  7. Hi Irene, Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found it useful! I’m pretty certain that the Thai Government Bus only does Bangkok to Siem Reap and back. We took a different bus company called ‘Giant Ibis’ from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. They have fairly new buses with WIFI. The roads are terrible though so it will take you just over 6 hours. I would recommend them though, it’s an easy straight forward trip, it’s only the condition of the roads that slow you down! Safe travels and take care, Ben.

  8. Hi!pls am a Ghanaian and I wants to travel to Cambodia and I also want to visit Thailand will it be easy to pass through the Thai border through Cambodia?

  9. Hi there, very useful information. I would like to know does they provide for re-entry for those who are temporary residents in Thailand.

    1. Hi Vivian, thanks for reading. I’m sorry, I’m not sure about re-entry requirements for Thai residents. Best to check with the Thai/Cambodia embassy. Safe Travels!

  10. Hi Ben,

    This is very good info. I saw the camboticket banner and booked from that website. I would highly recomemend them for bus and also ferry bookings.

    Thanks
    Jeff

  11. This is perfect! I am currently travelling and all of the sites I have read about crossing the border just gave me a migraine. I do have two questions if you don’t mind. Can you use thai baht to pay for the visa on arrival? If not then can you use a debit card? I made the stupid mistake of not bringing any USD. I am so confused about how exactly to pay for this visa.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi There. Thanks for reading and I’m so glad you found the info here useful! You can pay in either Thai Baht or USD. I don’t remember seeing any credit card options. However, there are ATMs in the Casinos at the border so you could go in there and withdraw USD (all ATMs in Cambodia vend USD). Hope that helps and safe travels! Ben

  12. Hi. Im travelling to cambodia from Thailand and this post is very helpful. Id like to clarify though that if the 1,200 baht you paid to cross the border is also separate from the visa you paid when you got to the immigration? Or it’s just 1200 all in all? Thanks.

    1. Hi There! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found this post helpful! When I crossed, I paid 1200 Baht all in all. You only have to pay for your Visa, nothing else. I have heard that the price does vary sometimes so it may not be exactly 1200 when you cross however, it shouldn’t be too different from that. Enjoy Cambodia and safe travels!

  13. Hi, really helpful description, am travelling this route next year. Just wondered how long the journey took you in total? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sidney, thanks for reading! If I remember right, it took about 4 hours to the border, 1.5 hours stop at the border and another 2 hours from the border to Siem Reap. So allow approx 8 hours in total. Besides the stop at the border, there’s also a lunch stop about 3 hours in. Safe travels!

  14. Good read! Im crossing borders this January and With the same route with yours, I’ve read a lot of horrofic exploits about crossing borders… I am glad I bumped into your blog. I definitely know what to bus to take now 🙂 thank you so much!

  15. Hi Ben, I travelled from Mo Chit to Mae Sai to cross into Myanmar using Transport Co bus. The bus was very comfortable, in fact it was much more comfortable than the Jet Airlines plane that brought us to Thailand. Getting the tickets was simple, though I found the website bit confusing so we called and booked the tickets over the phone a few days in advance and paid at a 7/11 store. They don’t speak English though so you have to get a Thai person to call. We picked up the tickets from the Transport Company’s ticket desk (Desk 999) at Mo Chit on the day we were travelling. It was an overnight bus and I actually slept quite well. The only thing about that bus was, for some reason, Thai like to keep their air conditioning so cold and I was freezing all night, I had only brought a thin t shirt and shorts, they do give you a thin blanket but it isn’t enough so on the way back from Mae Sai I was prepared and took my fleece and wore long trousers. From Mae Sai bus station to the border crossing is just 10 minutes drive. We were picked up by someone but I am sure there are taxis. You need to get your visa in advance for Myanmar, there is an on line visa process which is pretty good, the cost of Myanmar visa currently is $50. My visa application was approved within an hour. You cross the border into Myanmar in Tachielik and for me the crossing was quite painless experience, it only took me a few minutes and I was in Myanmar. They did ask me a few questions, I sort of gave some vague answers and they didn’t seem to bother about them. However, it was not that simple for the two Thai travelling companions i was travelling with. After waiting for them in Myanmar for about 20 minutes I realised they were having problems. Apparenly they have to have a guide to get into Myanmar, they didn’t ask me to have one. There are guides there waiting, i guess it happens frequently. They hired one and we were ready to go.

    I had driven to Aranyaprathet 2 years ago to have a look. There is a massive market there on the Thai side where you can buy anything from second hand underwear to brand new motorbikes and it is absolutely massive. I am planning to cross into Cambodia this time round so thanks for the information. Just what I was looking for.

    1. Hi Anna,

      I don’t think there are any night trips over the border. The Thai government bus is definitely only daytime, however, you may be able to book a minivan through a travel agent. Just beware though, I’ve heard terrible stories about some minivan operators with travellers having to switch vans regularly, breakdowns and horrendously long trips.

      Safe travels!

      Ben

  16. Ben thanks for this detailed account of personal experience in crossing thailand to cambodian border… My question is that , Is it okhie to cross the cambodian border from thailand then back to thailand again the next couple of hours ? thank you you’ve done a great job for the travellers !

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words! From what I know, I don’t think it would be a problem crossing the border twice in a few hours. Many people do this because of the casinos at the border. E.g they’ll cross from Thailand to Cambodia and gamble and then cross back.

      Hope that helps! Safe travels!

      Ben

  17. Thank you Ben! You’re such a big help … Because I was just wondering before if its possible because if you entry is Bangkok and to cross Cambodia for hours just to visit then back to Bangkok for a journey back to point of origin based on ticket bookings would just be fine ? Anyway , thanks again and continue the great job . God bless you always .

  18. Hi , Wonderful and informative article . I have doubt regarding the visa procedure like . if we want to come back to thailand from cambodia . do we need to stamp the thai visa again ?

  19. Hi Ben:
    I quoted from your article 🙂 — It’s the only mode of ground transport where you don’t have to change buses or vans and can leave your bags on the bus when crossing from Thailand to Cambodia. It attracts me very much, because I will visit Siem Reap from Bangkok by bus. I am an old handicap man but like to travel around, so your detailed mentioning the border crossing article is very much useful to me. Thank alot. Xie xie.

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