We woke up early at 5:30am. Today, we were to do an overland crossing from Cambodia to Thailand through the Poipet-Aranyaprathet land border. Rated as one of the most scammed border in South East Asia, many tourists get scammed here, be it for getting your immigration stamp, visa or something else. The buses that get to the border drops you off a bit far from the border making it easier for all kinds of scams. Our challenge was to cross the border without being scammed by anyone! Having researched a lot about this border crossing, we were ready for this challenge. Since we wanted to avoid long queues at the border when the buses arrive, we decided to take a taxi. What would cost around 9$ in an aircon bus would now be 30$ for the taxi but we still preferred it as it avoid most hassles we heard about on the internet.
At 7am, the taxi came in and we got in. Annoying, but still what we couldn’t help much was the fact that the driver was now fueling gas into the taxi after we started. So effectively, we were delayed by 30min. Making it more difficult for us was the fact that he could not understand english. But we just hoped that we would still reach the border before the buses do and we moved on. The road from Siem Reap to Poipet was a good four lane highway and was in excellent condition. So traveling through this route was comfortable. On both side were flat lands, nothing scenic and sparsely populated areas. So basically, it was a monotonous drive to Poipet.
By 9:30am, we reached the Poipet border. We could see the emigration office with “Departure” prominently displayed. So we got down and queued up for our departure stamp. Once we got the departure stamp, we walked towards the border. Here, you would find big casinos on both the sides. As we heard, Thai nationals, walk across the border for gambling in these casinos as gambling is banned in Thailand. As we walked a little further, we could see the the Cambodian border arch and this was my 3rd international land border crossing. Just outside the border is the office for Thai immigration and we queued up again. What surprised us in this office was a counter for visa on arrival as we heard that it was not available at this border because of which we had to go through a lot of hassle in getting a visa prior to our trip from India itself. Probably surprised at seeing an Indian passport at this border, we could hear the officials talk to eachother in Thai and all we could make out from their conversation was them saying ‘indian passport’ repeatedly. Whatever they told eachother, my passport was verified of all the pages, visa stamps and immigration stamps and finally got the arrival stamp. [UPDATE: Harsha Jadhav, a traveler from India, who recently tried to cross by the same route informed that Visa on Arrival at this border is available only for visa exempted passports and is not the regular Thai visa on arrival that can be obtained at most of the other border crossings into Thailand. So all travelers who require a visa to enter Thailand may apply for one at an embassy before reaching this border.]
Though there were touts offering bus tickets to Bangkok, etc on both sides of the border, we managed to avoided them easily. Now that we were in Thailand, our first priority was to buy the Thai currency, Baht by selling US dollars. Taking a right turn as we came out of the immigration office, we found a bank nearby where we bought Thai bahts. Just outside the bank, there were a lot of Tuk-Tuks (like motor rickshaws in India), and for 80 Baht (without any bargaining), they offered to take us to Aranyaprathet bus terminal. We passed through a police checkpoint where our passports were checked and then proceeded to the bus terminal. By around 11am, we reached the bus terminal and we bought tickets to the airport. From here, there are regular buses to Bangkok (Morchit & Ekkamai terminals) and the airport. For 182 Baht, we got one to the Airport in a minibus. Thus we successfully completed the challenge of crossing the border without being scammed anywhere.
The minibus started at around 11:45am and as I expected, the roads were excellent. Six lane highway and speed limit of 120kmph would mean a fast ride and it was truly so. It took us just 3.5hrs to reach the Suvarnabhumi Airport bus terminal in Bangkok. As I got down, standing at the bus terminal was a bus to Pattaya where I was to meet my friends from TAPMI. I quickly bought a ticket for 124 Baht and got into it to reach Pattaya by 5:30pm. Another Tuk-Tuk from the bus terminal to the beach got me to my hotel room.
After getting fresh, I met my friends and together we set out to roam around Pattaya. As usual, I wanted to try out some street food and found one on the beach road itself. I had a banana pancake with chocolate and sugar sprinkled over it and it was the yummiest I have had in a very long time. Now that I had my fill, I wanted to try out some whacky ones. A little further, we saw a small vendor selling out unusual food stuff. I could see some grasshoppers, scorpions, wasps, frog and some other insect which looked like cockroach. They were actually salted and sun dried and the vendor would deep fry it and sell it as a delicacy. Needless to say, I wanted to try them. I bought a few of them all for 100 Baht and started trying one by one. This is the second day in a row that I am trying such unusual food items, yesterday in Cambodia and today in Thailand! But unlike in Cambodia, here, i was joined in tasting this strange food item by my friend, Appachoo, who studied with me in TAPMI, Manipal. Again, to the question on how does it taste? Grasshopper was a little bitter, frog was a bit distasteful, scorpion was crunchy but good, wasp and cockroach were just crunchy and tasteless. Since we wanted to get our taste buds back to normal, we quickly went to a fruit vendor and had some fruits, again, some of which we were trying for the first time. But altogether, I was very happy that I could try out different food and to see amazing places in different countries in the last two days.
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11 responses to “Day 2: Crossing the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border over land from Cambodia to Thailand”
Thank you for sharing your travel experience….. Very interesting to read….:)
Can you tell us, how all the insects taste? especially the scorpion. 🙂
Hahaa… 😀 Good question!! 😉
See, the scorpions we had in Thailand were not raw. It was actually salted and sun-dried and then deep fried. There was hardly any fat in the front claws, and it was just crunchy. But the body part was good. Because of the salt added to it, we can’t get the actual taste of it, but we can taste the meat. 🙂
I guess it will be very difficult to answer your question in a more clear way. Maybe you should try one… 😉 lol
Dear Berty…very nice article to read on…what all other borders did you cross via land other than combodia- thailand?
Apart from the Cambodia-Thai border, I have walked across the India-Nepal border in 1994 and the India-Bhutan border in 2010. The above two crossings are possible without any difficulty if you are holding an Indian passport. 🙂
Can you let me know which hotel you booked in Pattaya? Can you also let me know the approx location of the banana pancake cart on Beach Road?
I had booked in the Sabaidee Guesthouse on Soi 3 for 600B for a 2bedroom. You can book it or other cheap hostels/guesthouses through travellerspoint.com
Banana pancakes will be available along the beach road. Guess it should be easy to find one as at any time, u will find atleast two along the beach road to the walking street. enjoy!! 🙂
that they will do it on their own at the border. Then these men saetrtd to be rude on forcing them, shouted at them and forcing them to do what he wants. My husband and I again discuss about it and advice the other foreigners that its a scam because they can do visa for only 20$ at the border exit. My husband got out of his patience coz we were all stucked up for longer and longer so he confronted this guy and ask him if we can all go and proceed to the border because we dont need to do these crazy scam stuffs and were running out of time to catch the bus in Siem reap. They argued and my husband almost hit this guy for being so rude on him. After crazy things, happened,the other foreigners discussed with each other and decided to go with each other and do it on the border. So this scammer failed, and told everyone that they cant ride on the van to the border and asked them to walked with their heavy backpacks and luggages. We are tremendously affected even we took the van and seen them all walking on the street under the heat of the sun. We then all arrived at the border exit. After several minutes of waiting then we all proved these crazy scammers that foreigners can obtain visa on the border for only 20$.Hope you’ll find this helpful.So beware of these scammers and have a safe trip to everyone..
Thank you for this post, Berty! I know it’s been a while since you wrote this but I hope you could help me on another point. My friends and I are traveling from Siem Reap to Bangkok next week. We’re thinking of getting a taxi to Poipet at around 3 PM so we’ll reach the border before it closes at 8 PM. If we do make it there by 6 PM, would there always be buses at the Aranyaprathet station waiting to take people to Bangkok? We were also thinking of getting the 2:30 AM bus from Siem Reap but we’ll lose a lot of time waiting for the borders to open if we do that so.. nah.
Hi. Yes, it is been long since I have been there, but still let me try to help you here. If you take a taxi from Siem Reap at 3pm, you can even reach border by around 5pm I guess(depending on vehicle condition, etc). The roads were quite good! We did not take much time to get the exit stamps from the Cambodian side of the border, but I remember waiting for quite some time on the Thai arrival side of the border. I had taken a bus sometime in the afternoon, but I guess you should get buses to Bangkok till night (I am assuming here!). Even if you don’t, you will be able to find some place to stay in Aranyaprathet (It’s a town). But in anyways, my suggestion would be not to take the bus. Reasons: 1. it may take longer to reach. 2. there will be a longer queue at the border posts!
So I would suggest that you check out the timings of buses and start by taxi in such a way that you would reach the border before the buses do. Hope this helps! Have a great time!! 🙂
Thank you so much Berty! Yes I do still have to confirm if there will be buses on the other end but your advice does make us more confident about crossing that border on our own, and on our own pace. (Especially since most of the stuff I’ve been reading about are BKK-Siem Reap stories, and not the other way around) Thank you again! Looking forward to reading more of your tales here. =)