I thought I’d add a few photos of the Aranyaprathet / Poipet border crossing experience as a lot of people are now combining Siem Reap and Koh Chang in the same holiday. A typical 2-week itinerary consists of flying into Bangkok then heading to Siem reap for a few days of culture, before moving down to Koh Chang for a week on the beach and finally a couple of nights in Bangkok for a bit of shopping before heading home.
The actual border is a few kilometres from the town of Aranyaprathet at Rongkleua border market. The market is a huge place where all manner of goods – but mainly clothing and footwear – are brought over from Cambodia and then sold. This is where traders from Bangkok and elsewhere come to buy their stock. If you want to stock up on fake brand name items , this is the place to go. The market is so big that many people rent golf carts to get around.
But, chances are, you won’t be visiting for the shopping – just as a means to get between Thailand and Siem Reap overland. It’s the closest border crossing to Siem Reap and so the busiest of all the land borders between Thailand & Cambodia. Which means that queues at Immigration are a regular occurrence. You could be forgiven for thinking that the queues will be on the Cambodian side, which lacks the large air-conditioned offices that Thai immigration possess. But they aren’t. The queues coming into Thailand are often the stuff of nightmares. It’s not uncommon to have to stand for 3 hours or more in a queue in order to enter Thailand from Cambodia. The reason is mainly due to the fact that there aren’t enough counters. And of the four they do have, two are usually unmanned. Add to that the Immigration officers feeling the need to extensively questions half the people coming through and it slows the process down to a crawl.
Ideally get a Cambodia E-visa online, this costs a bit more but will save you time and hassle at the border.
The main things to remember if you aren’t Thai or Cambodian, is that foreign tourists go upstairs in both the Thai Immigration offices. Downstairs, Thais get to head into air-con comfort, without the need to climb a flight of stairs. Whilst outside Cambodians with border passes, coming into Thailand to work, are left to queue in the sun. And that you need to cross over the road when changing countries to get to the correct Immigration office. In and out are on opposite sides of the road, but Cambodia drives on the right, whereas Thailand is on the left.