We crossed from Thailand into Cambodia overland through the PoiPet border post in March of 2018. During our research, we had a very hard time finding up to date information. The following is a detailed account of our border crossing experience.
We obtained a Cambodian e-visa online before we entered the country. After reading many horror stories about waiting times and required bribes to the border guards, we felt this was the safest option. PoiPet is one of a handful of stations where an e-visa is accepted for overland entry from Thailand. A complete list of ports which allow them is available on the Official Cambodian Government Website.
Our e-visa approval was received less than 24 hours from submission, although the website lists a 72 hour turnaround time. The visa cost (for US Citizens) is $30 USD plus a $6 online processing fee, and allows 30 days in the country with a 90 day window available for entry. In addition to payment, you need to fill out the online form and include the address of your first hotel, the border by which you will be entering, and upload a copy of your passport and passport photo. File sizes are both limited to 2MB. When approval is received, two copies need to be printed (black and white is fine). One will be handed to the border guard at entry, and the second will be used upon exit.
We started in Trat, Thailand and were bound for Siem Reap. All transport options to the border would have taken several hours and required a bus transfer in Sa Kaeo, which would have put our arrival around 12:00. Upon investigation, all group transfers from Trat or from Bangkok arrive around 12:00-1:00, so we opted for a 3,000 baht ($90 USD) direct private taxi to beat the rush. This also got us directly to the border, as opposed to buses which stop a couple of kilometers before the border in Aranyaprathet and require an additional tuk-tuk trip to the crossing. We left Trat at 7:00am and got to PoiPet at 10:10am when there were no lines.
The first step is to leave Thailand, which was quick and simple with no wait. Our passport was stamped “exit” and we were sent on our way. There is then a several hundred meter walk to get to the Cambodia border for entry. The route is not well marked and there will be a few people who try and offer directions, which we mostly ignored after reading about con-artist issues. To find the entry point, you have to pass beneath the large Khmer style archway, and cross the road to the right hand side, where there is a temporary pedestrian walkway.
The first building you come to as you follow this path will say “visa” which is the visa on arrival office. If you have already obtained your e-visa, keep walking past this building, continuing to ignore anyone offering directions or visa assistance. At one point, we found a uniformed officer and asked directions by showing our e-visa printout. He pointed a couple of hundred meters further along to the e-visa office which is past the bathrooms. It is the last building on the right before the roundabout. Several taxi drivers will try and secure you as customers along the way, which we brushed off with “we already have a ride”. We had heard that you can negotiate better taxi rates at the roundabout after the border.
When we reached the e-visa office, we needed to fill out a wrinkled form offered by an unofficial looking man at the doorway. We then had to give this form, our passport and our e-visa printout to one of the four officers behind the glass windows. They required our picture to be taken, but did not ask for a passport photo. One out of our party of three was asked to provide fingerprints on a glass scanner. The total process took less than 10 minutes including time filling out the form. It was around 10:30am and there were only one or two people in line.
Transport vehicles are not allowed to cross from Thailand to Cambodia. No matter how you reach the border, you will be dropped off at Aranyaprathet or near PoiPet, and you will then be required to obtain another vehicle after crossing for the remainder of the trip. The options were to wait for a bus, which supposedly would not leave until late afternoon, or hire a private taxi direct to Siem Reap. We walked the last few meters to the roundabout where we found several taxi drivers waiting for customers. We were offered $48 for the remaining two hour journey to Siem Reap, but were able to negotiate it down to $36, with payment only when we reached our destination. They did attempt to drop us off with a tuk-tuk driver just outside of Siem Reap, who would then take us the last 2 kilometers to our hotel for free. This was to give the tuk-tuk a chance to sell us on using his service for temple tours during our stay. We insisted that the taxi take us the rest of the way without changing vehicles, which they accepted. We arrived at 1:15pm.
Overall, the process was simple and quick, and we encountered almost none of the hordes of touts and con-artists we had read about. We were not asked to pay any bribes for quick turnaround, stamp fees or any other reasons. The only people who approached us were taxi drivers looking to take us to Siem Reap. Our best advice is to arrive early to beat the crowds and have your e-visa approval in hand. Though more expensive, the ease and timing of private taxis significantly simplified this experience. It was also much cheaper than paying for three flights.
You can read more about our trips in Thailand and Cambodia on our Website. Also check out other posts from our adventures including our trek through Nepal, camper van-cation around Tasmania and misadventures in India. They are sure to inspire your lust for travel!
Do you need long term travel in your future? Check out our Planning Page where you can learn how to prepare for a lengthy trip, see how to never check your bags on planes, find out about travel security and make sense of travel insurance, amongst others. And as always, feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions about our trips, we would love to hear from you!