If you’re worried about handling border crossings in and out of Cambodia, don’t be! It’s not nearly as bad as people say it is — especially if you know what you’re doing. Here’s your guide to getting to Cambodia from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.
What’s in our Guide to Getting to Cambodia?
2. Cambodia border scams
3. Traveling from Vietnam to Cambodia
4. Traveling from Laos to Cambodia
5. How to Get to Cambodia from Thailand
6. Want to Know Our Cambodia Secrets?
It can be a little tricky getting to and from Cambodia’s borders but don’t worry, you can totally handle it! And yes, there are scams when you cross the border into Cambodia, but they are no big deal if you know what to do.
Of course, there are plenty of cheap flights to Cambodia, especially if you’re coming from other regions in Asia.
From Europe and North America, you might find that it’s worth it to fly into Bangkok in Thailand or Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and then make your way overland to Cambodia from there. It all depends on how much money you have versus how much time.
So, if you choose to get to Cambodia overland, read on to find out…
How to Get to Cambodia from Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos
Check out our 3 amazing Cambodia itineraries, grab our complete travel guide to Cambodia, plus learn everything you need to know about backpacking Cambodia.
Where to buy bus tickets to Cambodia
If you’re planning ahead and want to make sure you can get the connections you want, 12go.asia is the place to go.
They have the most complete information on bus, ferry, train, and even cheap flights in much of Asia. This includes most overland routes between Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and bus routes in Cambodia. You can book everything on their site, which means less hassle when you get to the bus station!
Cambodia Border Scams
The Cambodian border is notorious for the number of scams and extra fees you will be asked to pay. Before our first time going into Cambodia, we were expecting a scene straight out of Blade Runner. But don’t worry, if you know what to keep your eyes open for, crossing the border into Cambodia is no big deal.
Extra border fees
It is well known that when crossing into Cambodia by land, the border guards will ask for $2–3 extra for things like “stamping fees” and “temperature check”. I think of these extras as small tips for getting you through the border efficiently. Some travellers are proud of their ability to avoid these fees by staunchly refusing to pay… but I say, don’t be a dick. (And by that I mean, don’t apply your cultural standards to a different culture.)
It’s just a couple of dollars and all part of the Cambodian experience.
The current cost for a Cambodian tourist visa at the border is $30.
(Don’t miss: If you’re trying to decide between travel in Vietnam and Cambodia, read our guide to choosing!) →
Border crossing “helpers”
If it’s a busy day at the Cambodian border crossing, you may be approached on your way into the official building by “helpers”. These guys might pose as Cambodian officials, saying you need to give them your passport or get their help filling out the border-crossing forms.
Just say “no thank you” and continue towards the official building. Don’t hand your passport over to anyone until you get to the little official window inside the building!
Mini-bus border scam
When leaving Cambodia by mini-bus or bus, there’s another border scam to avoid. You may be dropped off at the Cambodian side of the border, usually at a cafe, and met by a “border official”. He will ask for your passport and give you border forms to fill out. He’ll then “assist” you in your border crossing.
For the pleasure, you’ll have to pay $10–40 extra. To avoid this, just tell the assistant you will cross the border yourself, and then walk to the border crossing, carrying your luggage.
On my recent crossing from Cambodia to Laos, we had 6 people in the mini-bus, and two opted to pay the extra fee to the assistant. The rest of us crossed on our own with no trouble.
(Check out these 10 Awesome Places to go in Cambodia by our friends at Two Can Travel) →
Travelling from Vietnam to Cambodia
Combining a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia is a great way to visit two distinct countries in a small geographical area. It’s easy to get from Vietnam’s southern and central regions into Cambodia.
Probably the most popular route is from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh.
Flights from Vietnam to Cambodia
Thanks to the rise of AirAsia and other low cost airlines, Vietnam to Cambodia flights can be cheap. You can fly from most major cities in Vietnam to either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
However, flying is not the best way to travel from Vietnam to Cambodia. If you fly, you skip over all the fun parts of the journey — so we recommend going from Vietnam to Cambodia by bus or boat!!
Bus Vietnam to Cambodia
Taking the bus from Vietnam to Cambodia is fairly straightforward. There are three routes that are most popular with tourists:
Route 1: Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia by bus
From Ho Chi Minh City, the best route to Cambodia takes you to Phnom Penh. You can take a direct bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, which takes about 6.5 hours. If you’re going to do this route, we recommend Giant Ibis bus company, which offers a superior service to most bus companies in Cambodia.
Route 2: Vietnam to Cambodia by bus and boat
For a more scenic alternative to the bus-only route, take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Chau Doc or My Tho and then board a speedboat (the next morning) to Phnom Penh.
Alternatively, you can arrange a boat tour from Saigon to Phnom Penh. The tour company will drive you to a launch point and then transfer you to a boat for the rest of the journey.
There is also a 3-day Mekong tour available that will take you between the two cities.
Route 3: Ho Chi Minh City to Kampot by bus and moto-taxi
Last time I went to Cambodia, I went from HCMC to Kampot. It’s a bit of a complicated route, but it has the advantage of depositing you in our favourite town in Cambodia — Kampot.
To do this route:
- Get a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Chau Doc. Because of the bus timings, you’ll probably need to stay there overnight.
- In the morning, get a minibus from Chau Doc to Ha Tien.
- From Ha Tien bus station, get a xe om (motorcycle taxi) to Oasis Bar in Ha Tien.
- The friendly owner at Oasis will arrange a motorcycle to drive you across the border to Kep or Kampot.
Note: Alternatively, you can get a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Tien, if you don’t mind a long bus ride.
OK, it might be complicated, but it’s a great little adventure!
(Don’t miss: Our review of Sabay Beach Resort in Kampot. Spoiler alert: we loved it) →
Trains from Vietnam to Cambodia
If you’re looking for a Vietnam to Cambodia train, you’re out of luck. There is no train from Vietnam to Cambodia, so you’ll have to take the bus or fly!
Of course, you can reverse any of these suggestions above to travel from Cambodia to Vietnam.
Traveling from Laos to Cambodia
Since Cambodia has better connections from around the world, most people go from Cambodia to Laos rather than Laos to Cambodia.
The most popular Cambodia-Laos border is between Stung Treng in the north of Cambodia to the 4,000 Islands in Laos. Crossing the border is easy but watch out for the mini-bus border scam detailed above.
Though you can fly from Phnom Penh direct to Vientiane, that would mean missing a whole lot of adventure in between. It’s much more exciting to go from Cambodia to Laos by bus.
Cambodia to Laos by bus
If you’re going from Siem Reap to Laos, you can take a minivan that will get you to the border in about 9 hours — or so the official timetables say! Bus travel in Cambodia is often much slower than advertised, so it’s much better to stop off in Stung Treng, Cambodia for the night and make the Cambodia–Laos border crossing the next day.
Get more details about crossing from Cambodia into Laos in our Cambodia Adventure Itinerary.
You can do the return trip by leaving Don Det in the 4,000 Islands and taking the bus to Stung Treng. Same rules apply: it’s a hell of a long journey all the way to Kratie or Siem Reap from Laos, so you’ll probably want to hang out in Stung Treng overnight.
How to Get to Cambodia from Thailand
You can enter Cambodia from Thailand in a couple of places but by far the most popular route is to go from Bangkok. This route puts you in a good position to go explore Angkor Wat. But make sure you plan to stay for longer and explore the rest of Cambodia!
Getting from Bangkok to Cambodia
A popular route if you fly into Thailand is to go straight from Bangkok to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. There are multiple ways to do this:
Thailand to Cambodia train
Though people love train travel, it’s really not the best way to get from Bangkok to Cambodia. The train in Thailand is slow and not as comfortable as Western trains, plus it takes six hours to get from Bangkok to the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet.
From there, you’ll need to secure your own transport to the border. After crossing the border into Cambodia, you’ll have get into a minivan or taxi to get you to Siem Reap which takes about 3 hours.
See? The train is way too much hassle for this route.
(Don’t miss: While in Bangkok, why not join an authentic Thai cooking class?)
Thailand to Cambodia bus
The cheapest and most convenient way to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap is by bus. There are a couple of direct busses that leave from Bangkok every morning.
They take you right to the border crossing at Aranyaprathet where you disembark, cross the border on foot, and then get back on the same bus on the other side. No struggling with your luggage across the dusty no-man’s land, no messing around with taxis and minivans on the Cambodia side. The entire trip will take up to 11 hours, or as little as 8, depending on how busy the border is.
If you’re going in this direction or the other direction, from Siem Reap to Bangkok, we highly recommend Giant Ibis bus company, who charge a little more but have extra frills like being on time and paying attention to road safety!
Bangkok to Siem Reap by Bicycle
Yup, you read that right. If you really want to take the slow road and immerse yourself in the culture and landscape of Thailand and Cambodia, this trip is for you. Grasshopper Adventures’ Slow Road to Angkor tour starts in Bangkok and finishes in Siem Reap 5 days later. With a support vehicle and transfers included, you’ll get to cycle the best bits of this route and skip the worst ones!
Bangkok to Phnom Penh bus
To get from Bangkok to Phnom Penh by bus, you’ll need to do the route to Siem Reap first, so it makes sense to stop and see Angkor Wat before continuing your journey.
There is a direct bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh but it takes a gruelling 13 hours. If you really need to get directly to Phnom Penh, it might be better to fly.
Thailand to Cambodia flights
Relatively cheap flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh can be found. If you’re on a strict timeline, this is probably the best way to go. The best deals are usually on AirAsia, but check SkyScanner for current flight deals.
Bangkok to Cambodia scam
You might be offered a mini bus ride from Bangkok to Siem Reap for an unbelievably cheap price. It’s unbelievable because it’s not real! This is a scam — OK, they might get you there but it will be 20 hours of pure hell. So, you know, don’t fall for the scam OK?
Southern Thailand to Cambodia by bus
You can also cross the border by bus from Thailand to Cambodia from Thailand’s southeast corner, leaving from Trat in Thailand and arriving in Koh Kong, Cambodia. Since this is our favourite part of Cambodia, we highly recommend this route!
Grab a mini-bus in Trat, which takes about 45 minutes to get to the border. After you cross the border, the ride to Koh Kong is about 15 minutes and can be done via taxi or motorcycle taxi.
After stopping off in Koh Kong, make sure you go trekking in Chi Phat for a few nights.
Of course, you can also reverse these routes to get from Cambodia to Thailand by bus, train, or plane as well.
Want to Know Our Cambodia Secrets?
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We hope this guide to getting to Cambodia from other countries in South East Asia will be helpful while you’re planning your adventure. If you have any questions email or message on Instagram!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Jane & Stephen
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