I have been reading quite a lot of reviews about this new direct bus service from travel forums and blogs and I was really curious to see if this is actually better than the usual option which is taking a cab to Poipet and then bus/train from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok. This direct bus started their operations in, I think, February 2013. My recent trip to Siem Reap has given me the opportunity to try this SR-BKK direct bus service.
Here’s my experience and few tips for my fellow travelers.
- Buy a ticket from Nattakan Cambodia Co. Ltd. You can go directly to their office to buy ticket or you can simply ask your hotel to book a bus seat for you in advance, hotels in Siem Reap call it SVIP bus. Just make sure to confirm with your hotel that it is the Nattakan direct bus that you’d like to book (there are many bus services going to Bangkok). Fare is $28. As for me, I asked my receptionist to book a ticket for me the day before my departure. I learned that when booking is done by hotels, there is a free tuktuk pick-up going to the bus. Convenient! Happy to save $2 too!
- On your departure date, be sure to be at Nattakan office before 8:00AM. I was picked up from the hotel by tuktuk at around 7:30AM. At the Nattakan office, Ly cordially asked for my passport so he can print my bus ticket with my details on it. I was also given a bag tag for my luggage and immigration card to fill out. Bus left Sivutha Rd at 8:00AM and bus is just half-full.On board, I was handed a paper bag containing a cupcake, plastic cup, instant coffee, cream and sugar. I was still confused as to how I’ll be able to drink coffee without hot water. Apparently, they have an electric kettle onboard as well. LOL!
- Look for the Cambodian departures passport control area. We arrived at Poipet after two hours and the bus conductor instructed us to get off the bus and proceed to the departures area of Cambodian immigration which is just a 2-minute walk from where we were dropped off. Bus conductor also asked us to wear name cards so he can recognize us after passing the immigration. It was a quick process as there were few foreign passport holders exiting Cambodia. When the conductor saw me, he immediately pointed where the bus is parked and we waited for everyone to get their exit stamps. Bus drove towards the Thailand immigration office (it’s a walking distance though about 200 meters).
- Get your luggage and have them X-rayed at the Thai immigration. Bus stopped in front of the Thai arrivals passport control office. Bus conductor said that we had to take our luggage in with us. Queue is not that long so it took me around 15 minutes and I was already done with the border cross. It’s interesting to see that the bus is outside the Thai immigration office; you wouldn’t worry about having a difficult time finding where it was parked and besides, bus conductor was proactively looking for everyone wearing their bus name cards. If you finished early, you can take a quick walk to nearby stores to buy lunch or take a quick toilet break.
- Enjoy your free lunch onboard. After about an hour, everyone got their Thai entry stamps and bus started to make its way to Bangkok. We had a stopover at some restaurant where our packed lunch and bottled water were picked up. I thought the food was great but it was a small serving.
- Beware the toilet incident. How do I say this? The bus toilet is something you should use ONLY if you can’t avoid nature’s call. About two hours from Aranyaprathet, the toilet decided to be a scene stealer and let everyone smell him. It was awful, the bus conductor immediately fixed it but it took about 15 more minutes for the smell to subside. We made a stopover at some gas station for some toilet break because no one wanted to use it anymore after that.
- Take a metered cab/tuktuk from Mochit to your hotel/BTS Mochit. We arrived at Mochit Bus Station at around 4:15PM. As I was going back to Siem Reap after four days, I walked my way to the departures area of the bus terminal to purchase my BKK-SR ticket before hailing a cab going to my hotel.
There you go! The $28 fare is inclusive of a “breakfast”, lunch and bottled water. Not bad! At the border, I saw some people lost and trying to find their transportation- something you won’t experience when you use the direct bus service. All in all, it was pretty convenient except for the unfortunate bus toilet incident which, for me, is not an issue as I’m not very sensitive to such stuff. Hope you find this blog helpful. Safe travels!