Visas in Thailand are tricky things. My work visa expired March 31, if I wanted to keep traveling beyond that date I had to leave the country and renter with a 30 day tourist visa. I arrived in Bangkok on March 30; I knew I had to leave the country the next day and I wanted to go to Cambodia but I just didn’t know how. I had heard rumors of a bus that went directly from Bangkok to Angkor Wat, which sounded like exactly what I needed. Upon further research, I was very confused and realized I did not know the first thing about getting to Cambodia and that I was grossly underprepared.
I woke up bright and early March 31 to get to the northern bus station. They rumored bus did exist, but my online research said tickets sell out fast and there are only two busses (one at 8am and one at 9am). The bus is more expensive than catching a bus to the border then another bus in Cambodia. However, the price is worth it. If you are going to Angkor Wat from Bangkok take the direct bus. I arrived at the bus station, and had the choice between the 8am bus or the 9am bus. It was ten minutes until 8 so I chose that bus rather than waiting.
The bus was an air conditioned coach, and they gave us snacks. We got breakfast (a cookie, a pastry/bread thing, orange juice, coffee, and water) shortly after leaving Bangkok. We got egg fried rice lunch before crossing the border. For a fee, the bus attendants would get your Cambodian visa for you; they claimed it would be cheaper for them to get it for you than if you got it yourself. I read about this in my research, some said it was a scan and others said it was worth it. I opted to go through the process myself for the experience.
First, we had to exit Thailand. The immigration official took so long to stamp me out. He was making me nervous the way he kept scrutinizing my visa and the extensions and every page of my passport (no joke, he examined every page). But I left the country successfully. Then you had to cross the street to get your Cambodian visa. This was the art that made me excessively nervous. For the Cambodian visa you needed a passport photo and 30USD. I did not have either of those things (highly underprepared). For being underprepared the process went smoothly. For a small fee of 100 baht they took the photo from my passport and they accepted the visa expense in baht. Cambodian currency is so worthless that they prefer to deal in USD, if you have any Cambodian currency you can’t exchange it outside Cambodia because it is so worthless. They use their currency instead of US coins; 1$ was about 4,000 Cambodian riel.
After getting your visa, you had to stand in line to enter Cambodia. The whole process was long and hot but there wasn’t much hassle. I read a lot of horror stories in my research so I was worried. Upon arrival in Siem Reap (the town where Angkor Wat is located) the bus company provides free tuk tuks to take us to our hostels. There is no local transportation besides the tuk tuks or renting a bicycle, and the tuk tuk drivers are known to over charge. The driver that took me to my hostel kept pressuring me to hire him for the time I was in Cambodia, I declined.
I had booked my hostel on the bus using data from my Thai phone (underprepared, remember) and it was a great hostel. It was a very sociable atmosphere and the booked tours and daily activities (they had their own tuk tuk drivers with fixed prices so you weren’t getting overcharged). The hostel even had a pool but apparently that’s common for hostels in Cambodia. They held yoga twice a day, had a movie room, and restaurant with 50 cent beer. There is one downside to the social atmosphere, drunk people coming back to the dorms during the wee hours of the morning and drunk people are not known for being quiet or subtle (they did have private rooms which came with breakfast but it was a bit outside my price range). Outside of that I would highly recommend the Siem Reap Hostel.