How to get from Bangkok to Cambodia the easiest way
Travelling from Bangkok to the Cambodian border presents a number of options. There are six Thai border crossings, and the Aranyprathet/Poipet one is the most popular – but you have to get there first. After two and a half months on the road, C and I let a Blondie song decide our fate and ended up getting a taxi the entire way. Don’t judge us.
The boys had gone on to Vietnam without us and C and I had bused from Chiang Mai back down to my least favourite place in Thailand, Bangkok (find out why here). It was the early hours of the morning and we had already fought off a small army of over-zealous tuk tuk drivers. Unwilling to see any more of the city than we had to (worst backpackers ever), we took refuge in our now familiar McDonalds like the basic b*tches we are until crazy Yo’s travel shop opened.
Yo charged us about 50000 baht to use her computers (why were we still relying on her?) so we could look up train times to get to the Cambodian border from Bangkok city centre. We planned our journey and hopped in a taxi to the station. That’s where it all got weird.
A taxi in Bangkok is unlike a taxi ride anywhere else
Our taxi driver had a pony tail and wore rings on his fingers that looked like he’d got them from a child’s lucky bag in the 90s. He was also sporting extra long nails on his pinkie fingers, painted purple. His name was Banana.
Chatting to Banana, I saw C get a glint in her eye. I’d seen that look before. We were about to do something ridiculous.
“How much would it cost for you to drive us all the way to the border?”
Seriously. What is she doing? We were en route to a train station like normal unwashed, Chang-drinking, harem-pant-wearing backpackers. A taxi would be cheating!
C bartered Banana down to around £40, but I was still adamant we were not getting a taxi to Cambodia. Who did we think we were?
Then Blondie started singing One Way or Another on Banana’s radio. C looked at me. “We’re getting to Cambodia one way or another”, she said, matter of fact. Another mammoth train ride or an air conditioned ride with Banana?
Getting a taxi from Bangkok to the Cambodia border
Banana put our seats back, turned up the music and told us to settle in for the journey. First though, we had to get gas. We pulled into a petrol station and he told us to get out of the car. When we all got back in, a lady got in to the front seat with him.
“This is my wife. She come for the drive.”
C and I snoozed while Banana’s wife told us her life story. She had married a British man who then left her for another Thai lady, and now they lived in Koh Samui together. Banana didn’t seem bothered that his wife was fixated on her ex.
Navigating the Thailand/Cambodia border
When we arrived at the Thailand/Cambodia border, Banana’s wife came over all maternal. Twisting in her seat, she took off her sunglasses. “You don’t speak to anyone. They are all liars.”
I’d heard enough scam stories to know not to accept any chancer’s help at the border, but it was touching that she wanted to warn us. We waved goodbye and approached the crowd.
Border control wasn’t as intense as people say it is. We walked past the scammers, got our stamps, paid $20, then trotted under the big arch that said, “Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia”. One more admin thing, then an overly helpful man put us on the free shuttle bus from Poipet to a mystery pick up point.
As we bought a bus ticket to Siem Reap at this anonymous location, C’s purse was spirited out of her hand by a man we stupidly trusted. Once she realised it was missing, a disinterested policeman pretended to help us look for the culprit, but he had disappeared. These guys really are pros.
Scare stories about drivers abandoning bus loads of travellers in the middle of nowhere had made me wary of driving anywhere at night, but we had no choice. As the afternoon turned to night, I tried to ignore how dark it was getting. We were dropped in a dodgy courtyard and fought with more drivers. After lots of shouting, a polite man approached us so we got into the back of a moto with no idea where we were going. It felt good to make a decision about who we would trust for once. For most of our trips in Thailand, we had simply given in to the most forceful driver. Luckily, our driver brought us to a really lovely hostel in Siem Reap.
It was time to go on a temple run at Angkor Wat!