Crossing the Aranya Prathet – Poipet Border in route to the Khao Yai National Park

Leaving Cambodia, I had a few days to kill before I needed to be in Bangkok to work out my Burmese Visa and catch my flight. I didn’t want to spend the entire time in Bangkok so I began looking for alternative options. I thought about some of the islands in the southeast of Thailand, but decided I wasn’t in the mood to party or sit on a beach and just chill. So I kept searching and came across the Khao Yai National Park. I’m really not sure how I’d never come across the park before as its Thailand’s original National Park and its most visited. And with good reason as I’d come to find. It held the region’s largest remaining monsoon forest and an absurd amount of animal species. It was set then. I was going to pay the park a visit. Now to work out the details.

The main entrance to Khao Yai is on the north side of the park and nearby the city of Pak Chong. Coming from Battambang, Cambodia, I realized this wasn’t a highly trafficked route by most travelers, but I trusted Thailand’s bus system as its quite robust in comparison to Cambodia or Laos. I thought I had booked a bus from my Battambang hotel, but it turned out to be a taxi. For $6 I wasn’t complaining. After a 2 hour journey, filled with many a close calls in the passing department, I arrived at the Aranya Prathet – Poipet border crossing. At 9 in the morning, this place was pretty full. Mostly people traveling between Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and Bangkok I assumed and also a large amount of Cambodians crossing into Thailand. After an hour and a half, I was finally in Thailand. Since just about everyone was headed to Bangkok from there, I had to turn down many transport offers and catch a motorbike taxi to the bus station which happened to be about a km away.

From there I caught a bus to Khorat (5 hrs – 190 Baht, leaves every 3 hours), and from Khorat to Pak Chong (1.5 hrs – 56 Baht, every hour). Between the actual ride time and waiting at bus stations, I didn’t arrive in Pak Chong until 7:00. I hadn’t seen any affordable accommodation that I could book ahead of time, so arrived without much of a plan, besides a guidebook guesthouse recommendation. Accidentally, I stumbled upon the actual bus station (they dropped me off up the street) and from there the lady working, understanding that I needed a place to stay, called Johnny’s Apartment, a place I’d never heard of but that doesn’t ever stop me. I talked with the German owner on the phone and he agreed to come pick me up. Rooms were 200 Baht a night. By 7:30 I was finally finished traveling for the night and ready for my first real meal back in Thailand. I ordered green curry of course.

Travel Costs:
Taxi from Battambang to Poipet Border – $6
Motorbike taxi from border to Arany Prathet bus station – 50 Baht
Bus from Aranya Prathet to Khorat – 190 Baht (1/2014 Update: 165 Baht)
Bus from Khorat to Pak Chong – 56 Baht (1/2014 Update: 63 Baht)
Pickup from Pak Chong to my guesthouse – free
Total: 476 Baht

Stay aware on the Khorat – Pak Chong bus. It’s not long and your stop is not the last. Fall asleep and you’ll find yourself in Bangkok.
I exchanged US dollars for Baht on the Cambodian side of the border with a very good exchange rate.

10 thoughts on “Crossing the Aranya Prathet – Poipet Border in route to the Khao Yai National Park

  1. hey phil . i came upon your blog through the usual circuitous route

    i am a south central la native and travelled the world from the early eighties
    till ninety . in ninety seven i visited cambodia via aranya prathet to siem reap

    ten hours by datsun share taxi with a dozen locals . heaps of bomb craters and
    wild eyed boys carrying kalashnikovs extracting ” transit fees ” from all vehicles

    if you are experiencing one ten thousandth of the adventure i had you are having
    one devil of a time . happy trails . scotty

    • Wow, sounds like you had one crazy adventure. You could say Cambodia has stabilized since then. We had to pay the usual bribes, but they were now to border officials who somehow found themselves in a lucrative position of power.

  2. HI Phil,
    Just came across your blob by chance when searching Battambanh to Khorat.
    Information exactly what we wanted.
    We are planning a trip to Cambodia via Thailand and thought that we should take a different way back rather than thru Trat!
    Many thanks

  3. Hi Phil,

    Could you please tell me where the Pak chong bus terminal is located? I will go to Pak chong by train then take bus back. Or if Bobbys apartment jungle tour would take guests to bus terminal?

    • The Pak Chong bus station is very inconspicuous. It’s one building in a line of shops. I got dropped off by the owner of Johnny’s who doesn’t mind giving his patrons a ride

  4. Hi Phil. I followed your advice coming from Siem Reap today (Jan 13. 2014)
    I paid $8 for a minibus from my Guesthouse to Poipet border. There the tuktzk drivers all asked for 80B to drive me to Aranya Prathet Bus station but I found a motorcycle taking me there for 50B. The Bus to Korat/Nakhon Rachasima cost me 165B and left at 9:45 opposed to 9:00 as scheduled which was great for me as I arrived at the bus station at 9:40 🙂 After 4 hours (not 5) I arrived at the Korat Bus Terminal and after I found an english speaking Thai I eventually was able to buy a ticket to Pak Chog for 63B. It very crowded and I was glad that I had a smartfone with GPS as the Pak Chong station is just on the side of a road. Luckily a 7eleven was near to recharge my Thai SIM card and call my guesthouse (greenleaf – lonely planet backpacker recommendation 200B /night) who picked me up for free. Thanks you for the advice.

    • Hey Johannes, thanks for the updated info. Sounds like nothing too significant has changed, but I’ve added some of your prices to the post. Enjoy the park and hopefully you’re lucky and catch a glimpse of the elephants!

  5. Hello
    I am planning to travel by bus from Korat to Aranyaprathet ( Cambodia border). What will be the fare and the bus schedule & time I can arrive at the Cambodia border. Every information is deeply appreciated.

    • Cliff, unfortunately I don’t have specifics on getting to the border going in the opposite direction. Good luck finding the info.

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