Getting from Koh Chang to Siem Reap in Cambodia or its reverse has been become much more organised over the last few years, with travel possible by car, minibus and taxi to and from the border at Aranya Prathet (Thai side) and Poipet (Cambodian side).
It can, however, seem a little daunting with apocryphal tales of scams and rip-offs, so this week, we round up all the details to guide you through that fog of exhaust fumes. Hopefully, it will make the journey seem a whole lot more manageable.
From Koh Chang to Siem Reap – Through-Tickets
As there is no public transport, you must make the journey either by private transfers, share taxis or most commonly, by using shared minibuses/buses (through-tickets).
Through-tickets are all together too tempting with prices that seem fabulously cheap and agency sales pitches that present the trip as a Sunday drive along orchid-lined Asian boulevards. Well, these tickets are cheap for a reason and that reason does not have you at its centre.
First up, everyone must change vehicles at the border. Second to that, everyone also needs a visa to get across that border. With those two elements, the bar of opportunity for some serious nonsense to be inflicted on unsuspecting, hot, tired and impatient tourists has just been raised more than few notches.
It’s not that the through tickets don’t work; they do if you absolutely refuse to be beaten but built into them, are some hugely ingenious, frustrating delays. These delays benefit no one other than locals trying to make a fast buck.
On the positive side, their very cheapness does mean you can have less qualms about ditching part of them when they have outgrown their usefulness and taking another form of transport.
From Koh Chang to Siem Reap, that cheap through ticket costs around 600bt, maybe less, it simply depends on the agent.
You are collected from your resort around 07.00 (Lonely Beach) to 07.45 (White Sand Beach) and whisked down to Centrepoint ferry pier for the 08.30 boat.
The minibus drives on and off the boat. Next stop is an LPG station. All the minibuses fill up at the same stations so it takes time, maybe 30 minutes or more. Afterwards, though, you do then head straight to the border, arriving around 12.30.
Crossing into Cambodia – Visas and Scams
The easiest option now is to have pre-bought an e-visa for $40 including the processing fees from https://www.evisa.gov.kh.
If you haven’t, then you now need to purchase one at the border and the border only. You reach Cambodian Immigration office by stamping out of Thailand, crossing over the road and passing under the fake Khmer arch.
Any other request, exhortation, threat about visas from anyone before the border, near the border, in restaurants within spitting distance of the border can be politely ignored or brushed away with “already have one” replies.
The tourist visa is $35 or 1,200bt with a passport photo needed. Add 100bt if you don’t have one. When at the counter, you need to pay an extra 100bt for admin fees – don’t ask. You can also pay for a VIP service (200bt) which may speed things up.
And while we’re here, do not exchange any money any where near the border
From The Border (Poipet) to Siem Reap – Share Taxi Alternatives
Once though the visa process, you will now need to wait for the bus, both at the border in a holding pen and then later at the bus station (Passenger Terminal).
This wait by the border serves to grind you down so you become more amenable to the touts’ suggestion of a share taxi instead – effectively giving up on the Camodian leg of your through-ticket. The longer the wait, the more tempting the share taxis become. In truth, they do make some sense, with prices around $50 between 3 and 4 of you. Remember that final part of the through-ticket is only worth 250bt.
You can outwit the touts if you decide to do this by striking out from the pen up to the roundabout, where you’ll get much better prices.
Incidentally, you can ditch the through-ticket even earlier if you stop at the “visa” restaurant before the border. Rent a tuk-tuk from here for 100bt up to Rongleua Market (the border), get your visa, head up away from the masses and haggle your price for the share taxi through to Siem Reap ($40).
From the Border (Poipet) to Siem Reap – Bus Station to Siem Reap
If you do resolutely stick with your through-ticket, ultimately you’ll find yourself at the bus station ready for the 15.00 departure to Siem Reap. Except there is no 15.00 departure, never has been and never will be and here starts your next wait., Those share taxis hover just outside the windows to tempt you once more. Expect the bus to finally leave around 17.00, with a journey time of 2.5 hours.
Arrival at Siem Reap
With the late departure of the bus, arrival at Siem Reap of course will now be at night. Except the bus does not stop in town but in a tuk-tuk park a few kilometres outside.
You then have no other choice but to rent from one of the flotilla of loud, energetic, over-familiar drivers at a price of $8 to $10. Your driver will also then try to deliver you to the door of his choice of hotel. Failing that, having gone to your hotel, he will harangue you to hire him as a tour guide the following morning.
Make no bones about it, it’s a long day.
From Siem Reap to Koh Chang – Through-Ticket
Coming back the other way from Siem Reap to Koh Chang is much more straightforward and refreshingly, scam free. You can pick up a ticket for around $15 which will put you on a big bus (7.00) to the border with arrival time there around 12.00 to 13.00.
After you stamp out of Cambodia and into Thailand, you then follow the directions down the wide road to find your minibus. You will have a coloured sticker as well, so people will guide you in the right direction).
Bear in mind the transport tends to arrive all at once on the border in Poipet, so it may well be a long long wait to stamp out of the country.
This minibus travels all the way to a ticket agency at Laem Ngop pier near to Koh Chang, Here, you are delivery to your resort door on the same minibus after the crossing, prices in the region of 100bt to 150bt extra. This is more expensive than the songthaews which wait on the other side, so the choice is yours. Decisions made, additional monies collected, the minibus subsequently whips up to the Centrepoint Ferry Pier for Koh Chang. The ferry price is included in the through-ticket price.
You will likely be on the last ferry of the day at 19.30.
Alternatively, you can pick up a share taxi from Siem Reap, price similar to going the other way, say $35 to $50. This has the advantage of putting you on the border before the buses, so beating those Immigration queues.
Visa business done, walk through to the Thai side and jump in a private taxi down to the ferry pier at Centrepoint, price in the region of 2,500bt. They are parked up near the Kasikorn Bank.
Leaving Siem Reap aroudn 08.00l and depending on the Thai Immigration queues, you may well be at the pier around 16.00. The ferry is 80bt, jump on a songthaew on the Koh Chang side (prices here).
With all the taxis, pay when you reach your destination not up-front.
A private transport is the least stressful and most comfortable way to make this journey to and from Siem Reap.
We offer a car or minibus depending on your group size. Prices are around 6,000bt (car) to 9,000bt (minibus), door to door, with VIP fast track through Cambodian Immigration on the way into that country . There is no equivalent VIP service for Thai Immigration when coming out.
You do change vehicle at the border. Going into Cambodia, the VIP helper deals with this for you. Arriving in Thailand, we provide a specific meeting point with full instructions, car details and a photo.
Do please ask for more information here if you are interested. We can put everything in place for you. Y
You can also use a private transfer from your Koh Chang resort just to the border, prices around 3,500bt (car) to 4,500bt (minibus) including the ferry tickets .
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