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.
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 (Morchit). 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!
Bangkok's 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.
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.
Bangkok's 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's Northern Bus Terminal - Moh Chit
First class buses from/to Moh Chit run every 30-60 minutes and take 4-5 hours; the fare varies depending on the exact route, but is around 200 baht, which typically includes a small snack, a soft drink, and a bottle of water. Second class buses cost less but may take longer and don't have on-board toilets.
Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal - Ekamai
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 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 want to browse there, Google Chrome is smart enough to tell you if it is still infected.
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 A/C (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. 188.8.131.52 00:15, 10 February 2010 (EST)
From Poipet, Cambodia
To reach Poipet from elsewhere in Cambodia, see the Poipet article. The border crossing opens at 07:00 and closes at 20:00. (There's no time difference between Cambodia and Thailand.)
Entering Thailand from Poipet is straightforward for travellers entitled to enter without a visa and for those who have obtained a visa in advance.
Nationalities entitled to visa-on-arrival facilities should note that visas are not available on arrival when entering Thailand overland from Cambodia, and should either obtain a visa in advance or else enter by air (there are visa-on-arrival facilities at all Thai international airports).
If you cross from Thailand to Cambodia in the morning, you're likely to see a long line of Thais waiting for an one-day exit stamp to gamble at the casinos in Poipet. However there's a separate line for non-Thais and in a welcome change from usual order of preference, it's quite a bit faster than the one the natives have to use - at least until mid-day, when the Khao San tourist buses arrive.
The bus terminal and the train station are very close to each other, and about 6km from the border crossing.
There are regular songthaew to the border - the ones labelled "Tesco-Lotus" - and it costs 15 Baht to get to the border. They don't take you to the consulate, or the fake border post selling the express visas. It stopped for us on the main road out of town, but you may be able to take them from near the Cement Reservoir as well.
Tuk-tuks to the border cost 50-60 baht. Don't let them stop at travel agencies along the way to get your visa, tell them you want to go to the immigration office at the border. These travel agencies are a scam and will charge you an extra "service fee" above the US$20 cost of the visa and will delay your trip by hours. The tuk-tuk driver gets a commission for leaving you at the travel agency rather than taking you all the way to the border.
Motorcycle-taxis are also readily available, and charge less than tuk-tuks.
- Border market
- Cement reservoir - located in the center of town, people gather here in the evening to drink and eat from the omnipresent food stalls
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
Aran's solitary Western-run nightspot, Farang Bar, is now closed.
If you're on your way to Siem Reap in the morning, get a good night's sleep, because you have a bumpy ride ahead of you.
- 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 will 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 front desk 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 travellers 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.
There are more than 6 internet cafés in the center of (0.5 kilometer radius) Aranyaprathet. They have broadband and are reliably fast. 20baht/hour, or 40baht /3 hours.
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