How to get from Cambodia to Thailand on a budget
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Our last stop in Cambodia was Battambang, a little city in the west of the country.
Only 3,5 hours by car from Trat, a harbour city in Thailand.
So we thought - hey, why not go to Thailand from here, it is so near?
Who would've thought, that this is not as easy as it sounds!
All the bus companies go from Battambang to Bangkok for about 16 $ - everyone who knows a little about the map of Thailand is now wondering why - Bangkok is about 6,5 hours from Cambodia and in the middle of the country.
So why go there to drive all the way back to Trat, if it's almost around the corner?
Yeah, these were our thoughts as well, so we decided to try another way to get to our destination Koh Kood (we ended up on Koh Chang, but more on that later in this post ;)
Why should you go to Trat?
Trat is a little city with a harbour, from where all the ferries to Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kood/Koh Kut leave. If you're planning to visit one of these gems, you have to go here.
Usually you can go from each island to another, but be aware that during the low season the ferries don't go between the islands and you have to go back to Trat every time you want to change island.
During low season the ferry to Koh Kood leaves from another port than the other two does.
That's why we ended up in Koh Chang, because our taxi driver brought us to the wrong harbour and we decided not wait another day for the next ferry.
How to go to Trat on your own
1. Take a bus from Battambang to the border called "Phsar Prum"
Even though every tourist office, bus company or hotel tells you, you can not go by bus to the border, you have to take a private car - YOU CAN!
There is one ticket office for the local buses that go to the border, you can find it in the city center. The easiest is to go to the Lucky Supermarket - across the street is a gas station and behind that is the green ticket office.
Tickets are 5 $ per person and the bus leaves every day at 2pm.
You have to be at the office at 1 pm and a minivan will take you to the bus station. The bus to the border takes about 3-4 hours (it will probably be delayed as well)
2. Walk to the border, Cross the border
The border crossing is super easy, so don't worry about that. First you have to walk about 10-15 minutes from the bus to the border.
As soon as you're there, you will see a blue house on the left hand side, go to the counter that says "Departure", show your passport and you will "check out" from Cambodia. Go through the gates and show one of the officers your passport.
Then you have to "check in" to Thailand. First you need to fill in an arrival card and go with this and your passport to a counter, an officer will hopefully approve your stay and that's it - then you can cross the border and are in Thailand!
(3. Stay one night in the village behind the border)
Depending on how late you will arrive, there won't be any buses. This happened to us, as we had so much delay. We were a bit lost and didn't know where to go or what to do. A Taxi from the border to Trat would've been 72 €, so way to expensive for us.
We walked to the last control gate of the border (about 10 minutes) and a nice local guy brought us for free to a hotel (the one that is close to the supermarket, it was 400 Baht per night = about 11 €).
Of course he won't always be there to take you to the hotel, so be prepared that you might need a taxi or have to walk to the hotel, which was quite far.
4. Take a Sŏrng·tăa·ou to Chanthaburi
(Sŏrng·tăa·ou means 'two rows'; a small pick-up truck outfitted with two facing benches for passengers) Locals travel with this pick-up, so that's what we tried as well, to save money.
We didn't know at what time it will arrive and no one understood us, so we just walked across the street of the supermarket and waited there in the morning.
We were lucky, that two minutes after we went there (7.45 am) the bus arrived and took us to Chanthaburi.
Price per person: 100 baht
5. Take a bus or minivan to Trat
With the pick-up you will arrive at the bus terminal of Chanthaburi. There you can take a bus or minivan to Trat, just ask the employees which bus the next one to Trat is.
Price for minivan/bus per person: 70 baht
6. Take a Sŏrng·tăa·ou to the harbour
Arriving at the bus station of Trat, you will be greeted from taxi drivers who want to take you to the harbour for 400 Baht, say thank you and go right away to the pick-up cars.
Number 20 goes to Koh Chang, it's written on a sign as well.
You have to wait for enough passengers until the driver starts and takes you to the office at the harbour.
Price per person: 80 baht
7. Take the boat to Koh Chang
At the harbour you purchase your ticket for the ferry you want to take, a driver will bring you to the harbour.
It's just a short ferry ride about 30-45 minutes.
Price per person: 80 baht one way (150 baht with return ticket)
How much does this way of traveling save me?
Total cost for this way of traveling are about 485 Baht / 16 USD
Without accommodation, because no matter which way you travel, you would've need a room.
It is about the same price like going to Bangkok, so if you are not planning to go to one of the Islands near Trat, this doesn't make sense for you.
But if you're planning to go to the Islands, you will save about 800-1000 Baht / 26-32 USD, which you would've spent to go from Bangkok by bus and ferry to Koh Chang.
And of course you save a lot of time, because this way would take you again over 7 hours...