Despite the short distance between Thailand and Cambodia, the overland journey can be a tricky one to organize if you want to stay out of the organizes scam mafia at the Poipet border. I wanted to enter Cambodia from the south coast, avoiding the dodgy main border, where pretty much everyday, the same scams take place since years. if you have more time than money and you don’t wanna feel like a trapped animal in a bus that never gets to destination, this is the way to do, even though one may have to stay in Ko Kong overnight.
The best to thing to do is to get a Cambodian visa beforehand: it can be done in 2 working days by a more reliable travel agent in Soi Ranbuttri, near Khao San, Bangkok, for 900TBH. Avoid the ones in Khao San road. The whole thing should’nt cost you more than 20/22$. Having the visa with you is advisable as border officers tend to overcharge you big time.
Your independent trip to Cambodia should start by saving around 300 TBH, wich you can easily do, waking up early enough to catch a local bus n2, wich will take you to Ekkamai bus Station (the eastern city’s bus terminal) for only 7 TBH. of course at that time of the morning you will not be the only one: between 630am and 930am, the city traffic is at its peak, but that’s a great opportunity to see an average busy morning jam, and the bangkok’ s people going to work and buying breakfasts on the food stalls all along Sukhumvit.
One should be at the Ekkamai station at around 8AM, as the two only buses to Trat, will leave at 830AM and 930AM. An early wake is good as you will travel in a relatively fresh morning weather and you will have the whole day ahead of you, just in case some trouble should happen. A crowded local bus can be a scary experience if you’ve never done it before, but no worries, do as the locals do: gently push an d be pushed, tell your destination to the ticket guy and get ready for some proper sweating. You will be so close to the people that you will smell their breakfasts and hear their phone conversations. Once you get to Ekkamai station, get some food for the trip (even though bottled water will be provided with the ticket) and get your ticket to some of the counters. The company with the best service is apparently the one with white and blue buses. hey will charge you 265TBH and your bus will leave at the scheduled time at gate 15.
The bus will stop for food and toilets once during the 5 hours journey. i always try not too drink too much water, as the vibrations make me go to the loo more often than usual..! Try some fried bananas on the way..!!
Once in Trat, a mini van bound to the border will be waiting for you. The border closes at 5pm, so this is the quickest option to get there in time. 120TBH will take you through the 1and an half hours journey. Once you will get to the border, get your passport and visa ready, smile and be patient. it might take a bit to get your papers checked, especially if it’s your first time in Cambodia. the process is quite painless and by the time you’ll be there, the beautiful sunset light will entertain you while your passport gets processed.
Once your papers are fine, just grab a moto or a taxi and you’ll be taken to Koh Kong Town. The last bus to Sihanoukville should leave at 4PM, so unless you’re very lucky since your 830AM bus departure in Bangkok..
You will have to spend one night in Ko Kong Town. It’s a rundown but charming border town and it’s not a bad idea to spend one night there, and leave fresh the next morning. Koh Kong guesthouse its a great basic place to spend a night: 6$ will get you a big room and with 1$ a beer, the party is there to be had !
These guys are able to get you a bus ticket to Sihanoukville for 13$ including the tuk tuk pick up an 745AM next morning. Once you get your bum on that bus, wait and by the afternoon you’ll be sipping a cold Angkor in front of the sea !!!