If you’re worried about handling border crossings, transport, and scams on your way to 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 the bus to Cambodia from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.
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For more Cambodia adventure advice, use the links to the right.
In our years of travel in Southeast Asia, we have entered and exited Cambodia on all sides, coming in from Vietnam and Thailand and departing Cambodia into Thailand and Laos.
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 the Bus to Cambodia from Bangkok, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos
What’s in our Guide to Getting the Bus to Cambodia?
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.
(Don’t miss: Here’s what our first border crossing into Cambodia was like) →
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 fee for a Cambodian tourist visa is $30.
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.
Travel from Vietnam to Cambodia
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, if you do that, you fly over all the fun parts — so we recommend going from Vietnam to Cambodia by bus or boat!!
Vietnam to Cambodia by bus or boat
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 City to Phnom Penh by bus.
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 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.
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.
Here are our picks for the perfect Cambodia travel gear!
Also, don’t miss our complete minimalist packing gear guide →
Travel 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.
(Don’t miss: See our Cambodia Adventure Itinerary for more details on this route) →
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.
Travel from Thailand to 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:
Bangkok 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.
Bangkok 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 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 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 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.
We hope this guide to getting the bus to Cambodia from other countries in South East Asia will be helpful while you’re planning your Cambodia adventure. If you have any questions, post them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you asap!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Jane & Stephen
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