Thailand is a country of diversity, a Southeast Asian nation that takes place to be the center of the backpacking universe and the stepping ground of one’s journey which I also, well, made the same apparently. Taking off the cover, it has a lot of mesmerizing scenery that’ll surely worth visiting for though even the Bangkok itself, the charming capital, have plenty of choices to put in consideration from the Grand Palace to those famous Wats (temples) and gigantic golden Buddha spotted everywhere.
I had a great time during my stay in Bangkok and heading to my next destination is what I should be preparing to. I have the wide options to select either Phuket in the coastal south or Chiang Mai in the mountainous north but neither of the two win the draw beside I picked to head right and have my way going to Cambodia in which speaking of it, an another country on my bucket list.
Thailand to Cambodia is partly one of the hassle free crossed-country travels. I used to wake up and checked out on my guesthouse as early as 4am to get to the train station of Hua Lamphong. Train was my best choice of transportation since I found it to be inexpensive and literally a very convenient one. You can buy your ticket ahead but in my case I bought mine as I arrived in the station. The ticket is so damn cheap to be honest and it’ll cost me for a less than 50 Baht, that’s a 7 hours one way ride to Aranyaprathet – the Thailand border to Cambodia. There are only two schedules a day going to the border – the 5:55am and the 1pm. Afternoon schedule is basically not advisable because of the travel duration where in most cases it will end you up getting to the border at evening time which to think very unsafe.
Don’t be surprised if along the way beautiful scenery will just appeared right in front of you. Rice fields, rivers, mountains, towns in every stop to name a few, those are the highlights of one of a kind train adventure I’ve encountered in the country side of Thailand and I never got bored on the road. Just a sleepy head. You can have the whole bench if you want like I did.
I arrived at the town of Aranyaprathet about 1pm. Be cautious about the tuktuk drivers at the arrival area. Yes, they can take you to the exact border but some are asking more beyond the actual fare. What I did was I moved and walked a few meters from the station to get rid of the long queue of waiting pricy tuktuks, there I had my way to the border for just 50 baht. Not that heavy. Don’t be afraid to haggle, approach politely, smile and don’t get the rate down too much. The travel duration from the train station to the border is 10 minutes. Upon arriving at the border, the entrance to the passport control section is located at the left side of the gate. Signages at the immigration are clearly readable in English. I just followed the signs until it led me to the right place where foreign passport holders can have the Thai exit visa stamp. Note that the lines for local passport (Thai) and for foreign passport are different. Don’t get stuck in the wrong way. When entering, keep yourself on the right side where there’s a stairway to the second floor. That’s the right place. You’re in the immigration for foreign passports.
After I got my Thai exit visa stamp, it’s time to get my Cambodian entry visa. To get to the Immigration of Poipet – The Cambodian border to Thailand, you need to transfer on the right side of the road upon seeing the Arch. I transferred at the right lane and head directly to the arrival section just a few meters from the arch. As usual, like Thailand, Cambodia is also a free visa for me. They give the visa stamp quickly the time they’ve seen my Philippine passport and I was amazed what just happened. No questions. Stamp. Done.
Take some precautions with you. Beware of scams and some pickpockets. As much as you can, don’t talk to strangers if you have negative vibes. There are shuttle buses offering free transportation from the border to the official bus terminal of Poipet. It’s a 10-15 minutes ride and have an English speaking tour guide. No worries at all, the services are legitimate. At the bus terminal, you can have your transportation to Siem Reap. In my case, we shared a mini bus together with my Austrian friends (father & daughter), two British, an Indonesian couple, an American lovers and an independent German solo traveler. $10 for each of us never bothered. For the last show, I need to take another 3 hours ride to get to Siem Reap.
I welcome myself to Cambodia!