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Aranyaprathet

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Inner Eastern Thailand : Aranyaprathet
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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.

Understand

Get in

By bus

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!

Suvarnabhumi Airport

There are direct first class buses from/to Suvarnabhumi - departures from Suvarnabhumi are at 08:00 & 14:30, departures from Aranyaprathet are at 09:00 & 14:30. The fare is 187 baht. - Information of July 2011: There are many direct busses Suvarnabhumi- Aranyaprathet! From Suvarnabhumi airport take an airport bus to Suvarnabhumi bus terminal (about 10 minutes drive, free of charge). At the Suvarnabhumi bus terminal there are frequent busses directely to Aranyaprathet for the whole day, we took one at 17.10 (5.10pm), arrival about 20.30 (8.30pm). I think there would have been later busses, too. Unfortunately, there does not exist a published time table. However, the airport information has the bus times, you can ask there.

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, as well as the western seaboard of Eastern Thailand.

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.

By train

Two trains a day each direction connect Aranyaprathet with Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station. In the the Hualamphong-to-Aranyaprathet direction (i.e. to Cambodia), trains depart at 05:55 and 13:05, arriving at 11:20 and 18:05 respectively. In the Aranyaprathet-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.

If you are starting at the border and heading to Bangkok, once you clear the border mess look for a tuk-tuk or taxi to take you to the train station, as it is several miles. Tuk-tuk should cost about 80 baht (there is an ATM near the taxi/shuttle area), but they will gladly take a few US dollars.

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. Choose the shady side of the train. The train is a great opportunity to watch people, countryside and wildlife. During the dry season, do not be alarmed when smoke and ash blows through the windows; they burn the rice fields.

There are many food and drink vendors that work the cars, so there is no need to bring food, as that offered by the vendors is both delicious and cheap. If you see a vendor selling thick bamboo tubes, that is "bamboo rice", a mildly sweet and savory sticky rice, most easily eaten with chopsticks. Many things wrapped in banana leaf are fishy/chili substances that are peculiar to Western palettes but also very tasty. Eat raw salads at your own risk. The vendors speak no English at all.

For those with a little time to kill, the train can be an enjoyable way to connect with both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports. For Suvarnabhumi, go via Hua Takhe station and BMTA shuttle bus (15 baht); for Don Muang, simply switch trains at Hualamphong. 203.170.189.138 00:15, 10 February 2010 (EST) From 2010, the "Airport Rail Link" provides a fast, cheap and comfortable connection to Suvarnabhumi airport. Changing from the train to/from Aranyaprathet is possible at various stations e.g. Makkasan, but not at Bangkok's main station Hua Lamphong. Rbakels 01:51, 29 January 2011 (EST)

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.

Get around

The bus terminal and the train station are close to each other, and 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 should cost 50-60 baht; a motorbike taxi, about 40 baht.

Visa Scam

This is common. Any driver (other than on a songthaew) will take you to the Cambodian Consulate first. 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.

See

  • Rongkleu market, a market a located next to the immigration office at the border. Traders are mainly Khmer from neighbouring Poipet.
  • Cement reservoir, a central focal point where people gather to drink and eat at food stalls.
  • Train Station, never a dull moment trainspotting. Each of the station's two daily departures have different rolling stock: a diesel railcar in the morning and an engine hauled train in the afternoon.
  • Bus Station, watch the departures to far and wide. There is also a market.

Do

Buy

Eat

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.

  • Night market - located two blocks straight ahead from the Aran Garden 2 Hotel, by the cement reservoir, and offering the usual range of Thai eats

Drink

Aran's solitary Western-run nightspot, Farang Bar, is now closed.

Sleep

  • Aran Garden 1 Hotel. Rooms start at 150 baht for a single bed with fan.
  • Aran Garden 2 Hotel. Not bad considering the price. Tuk-tuk drivers know it by name, but agree on a price in writing or in Thai before you go - they know who stays here, so they're enthusiastic purveyors of the "you misheard me" scam. The reception can provide maps of the town; food is generally unavailable. 230 baht for fan rooms, 370 baht for air-con. Some rooms only have squat toilets.
  • Aran Mermaid Hotel, 33 Tanavitee Rd. A new "luxury" hotel catering to tourists on a higher budget - prices vary by how and when you make a reservation, but you can expect to pay about 900 baht for a single, 1550 for a double and 1950 for a triple, which may or may not include breakfast.
  • Sintawee Hotel. Easy walk from the bus depot and easy to find. Motel-style, clean. Fan rooms 300 baht, air-con rooms 400 baht. Air-con rooms are spartan but roomy and clean; they appear newly built or newly renovated. Two free bottles of water, western-style bathroom with hot shower, and cable TV (don't expect any Western language channels, though). From bus depot, turn left onto the main road (348) toward Ban Mai Nong Sai - if you pass the Aran Mermaid Hotel on the left, you are on the right track. After about 10-15 minutes, follow the big pink sign on the right side of the street (even at night, the sign is hard to miss, as it's lit up brightly) into the alley about 50 metres. Free, fast wifi but no food on-site - don't expect free breakfasts here.

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.

Contact

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.

Get out

Routes through Aranyaprathet
BangkokPrachinburi  W noframe E  END




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