Difference between revisions of "Aranyaprathet"
Revision as of 15:23, 27 March 2012
Aranyaprathet (อรัญประเทศ, also Aran Yaprathet, Aranya Prathet, or just Aran) is a border town in Sa Kaew Province, Eastern Thailand. It is the busiest land crossing into Cambodia, and the most convenient for onward travel to Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Immediately after crossing into Thailand, touts offer taxis (1900฿/taxi) to Bangkok, and slightly more for other Thai cities. Sharing a taxi might be a good idea.
A few meters beyond this, in Rongkleu Market, there are air-con minibuses to Bangkok (250-300฿/person). Depending on destination in Bangkok, one's drop-off point may range from exactly where one wishes to in front of a skytrain station.
From the bus staion in town, 6 km from the border, there are reliable and inexpensive government bus services from and to many destinations, including Bangkok (frequent), Buriram (frequent), Chachoengsao (frequent), Chanthaburi (frequent), Mukdahan, Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) (frequent), Pattaya, Rayong, Surin, and Udon Thani. For Trat, go via Chanthaburi.
You can take a bus to Aranyaprathet from Bangkok's Northern Bus Station (Mo Chit). First class and second class buses leave from the ground floor of the terminal approximately every half hour with ticket costing 207 Baht and 160 Baht respectively. If travelling in the other direction, the last bus to Bangkok leaves Aranyaprathet at around 6:00 pm. The trip takes four to five and a half hours but be mindful that the border crossing closes at 8:00 pm and if you arrive too close to closing time there is a chance you will be requested to provide extra US dollars before they will process your visa. Also be mindful that the shuttle bus to the transport depot ceases to run before the border crossing shuts; if you find that you have arrived too late you will need to find a taxi to drive you the 2 hours to Siem Reap.
All roads to Aranyaprathet have checkpoints and most buses will be boarded at least once by uniformed military/immigration personnel looking primarily for illegal immigrants from Cambodia. Westerners are rarely bothered, but keep your passport handy — and don't go this way if you've overstayed!
Buses run between Aran and Bangkokg's Suvarnabhumi Airport bus terminal (about 10 minutes drive, free of charge) regularly throughout the day but not 24hrs.
The Suvarnabhumi Airport bus terminal can also be a good way to connect with other destinations, including Ekamai and many other points in Bangkok served by Suvarnabhumi's extensive and frequent local bus services.
Don Muang Airport
To connect with Don Muang, use the Moh Chit bus services. When going to Aranyaprathet, it may be possible to save time by boarding the bus at Rangsit; the catch with this strategy is that 1st class buses won't stop there if all seats are already taken. When going to Don Muang, request to disembark directly in front of the airport.
Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal
First class buses from/to Moh Chit run every 30-60 minutes from and take 4-5 hours; the fare varies depending on the exact route, but is around 200 baht. This may include a small snack, a soft drink, and a bottle of water, depending on which company is operating the bus. Second class buses cost less but may take longer and don't have on-board toilets.
Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal
From Ekamai, buses leave every hour or two and go straight to Aranyaprathet, the trip takes about 5 and a half hours. The Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) can be reached by the BTS skytrain to Ekamai station. An alternative strategy for connecting with Ekamai is to go via the Suvarnabhumi Airport bus terminal - see times, above.
Khao San Road
Khao San Road tourist buses are more expensive and less comfortable than government services; those to destinations in Cambodia always involve a change of vehicle at the border, and are usually full of irritating people. It is also wise to keep in mind that such private operators may have poor coverage in case of break downs, emergencies, or accidents, and passengers are less likely to receive any government assistance, retribution, or legal backing in such cases. Some expats in the region are against taking private buses that can be booked around Khao San Road.
Two trains a day in each direction connect Aranyaprathet with Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station. To Aranyaprathet (i.e. to Cambodia), trains depart at 05:55 and 13:05, arriving at 11:20 and 18:05 respectively. To Hualamphong direction (i.e. to Bangkok), trains leave at 06:40 and 13:55, arriving at 12:05 and 19:55, respectively. The fare is 48 baht; the surcharge for a bicycle is 80 baht.
WARNING: The official Thai railroad site (railway.co.th) had been a virus host for months as of Feb 2010.
All trains are 3rd-class, which means no air-con (windows open for a substantial breeze). There are toilets and sinks. Seats are a mixture of padded bench, padded bucket, and wooden bench types. If taking the afternoon train try to sit on the shady (north) side of the train (i.e. left from BKK, right to BKK). The morning sun isn't so bad and doesn't so greatly affect the morning train. The train is a great opportunity to watch people, countryside and wildlife. During the dry season, smoke and ash can blow through the windows from the burning rice fields.
Food and drink vendors work the cars, provinding cheap sustenance and refreshment. Many of the things wrapped in banana leaf are fish/chili based and peculiar to Western palettes; Khao San pad thai it ain't. If you're faint hearted, stick to the grilled chicken that can be found close to the station at either end. The thick bamboo tubes contain the imaginatively named "bamboo rice", a mildly sweet and savory sticky rice, most easily eaten with chopsticks.
The train can provide cheap, but slow and often late, connections with both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports. For Suvarnabhumi, go to Lat Krabang station that abuts the airport and is directly under the planes' flight paths. Then either walk upstairs to the Airport Rail Link train which will take you to the terminal (15 baht) or take a taxi (50 baht). If you miss Lat Krabang, Tab Chang, Hua Mak, and Makkasan also connects with the Airport Rail Link
For Don Muang, you'll have to switch trains at Hualamphong.
From Poipet, Cambodia
The Cambodian town of Poipet is on the border (open 07:00; close 20:00). There is no time difference between Cambodia and Thailand.
Entering Thailand from Poipet is straightforward for travellers that do not need a visa or have obtained one in advance. Visa-free entry is for only 15 days, consider getting visa in advance if longer is requierd.
Visas on arrivals require proof of onward transport out of Thailand and a 1000 baht fee. The visa is likely to be valid for 14 days (not 15 as sometimes stated).
Many Thais cross the border in the morning on one-day trips to gamble at the casinos in Poipet. However there's a separate line for non-Thais and lines will move quickly - at least until mid-day, when tourist buses arrive.
The town is fairly small and easily covered on foot. 20 baht for a tuk-tuk ride within the town may be slightly generous. The bus terminal and the train station are close to each other and both within walking distance of the town centre. They are about 6km from the border crossing.
Songthaew (pick up trucks that act as buses) run between the Tesco Lotus hypermarket, which is out of town, and Rongkleu Market, which is at the border. They are labelled "Tesco-Lotus". A ride costs 15 Baht. They are easily picked up on the main road out of town but may also be boarded near the Cement Reservoir.
A tuk-tuk to the border should cost 50-60 baht; a motorbike taxi, about 40 baht.
This is common. Any driver (other than on a songthaew) will take you to the Cambodian Consulate before immigration. Visas here are overpriced (1000 - 1300 baht vs. $20 if obtained after Thai immigration). Do not waste your time here, just say "have visa" loud and clear (even if you don't) and he will not persist in trying to scam you.
Once at the border, a group of "visa officials" with fake laminated badges will have another go at scamming you for an expensive visa.
ONLY EVER GET A CAMBODIAN VISA ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN STAMPED OUT OF THAILAND AND HAVE WALKED ACROSS THE BRIDGE TO CAMBODIA. This is simple. Do not be one of the duped.
If you're looking for breakfast in the morning, you'll find most restaurants closed, but there are fruit sellers in the market, and some convenience stores. Numerous restaurants are open in the afternoon and evening.
Real coffee can be found at Coffee Break on the road heading north from the clocktower. Free WiFi.
Aran's solitary Western-run nightspot, Farang Bar, is now closed.
Another hotel that you might want to consider is the Inter-hotel It is somewhere near a 3 star western hotel, the rooms are clean and they have a pool and the food is pretty good. The hotel is a little east of the bus terminal past the Mermaid. A suite costs about 1500 baht and a standard room is between 550 - 750 baht. All have air conditioning.
A quality option to stay in Aranyaprathet is the Indochina Hotel. It is a little outside of town, too far to walk (5 minutes Tuktuk), but has clean comfortable rooms and an inviting swimming pool surrounded by palm trees.
There are more than 6 internet cafés in the centre of (0.5 kilometre radius) Aranyaprathet. They have broadband and are reliably fast. 20baht/hour, or 40baht /3 hours.