Quieter, more laid-back, and extremely welcoming, the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh is quite a contrast to the stark busyness of Bangkok. Known as one of the friendliest capitals in Asia, this attractive city still retains a more traditional Asian feel with less of the bright lights and glitz that parts of Bangkok are famous for, giving tourists a more authentic look at the real South East Asia through its beautiful architecture of palaces and wats.
There are ten flights a day between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, but you could also consider making the journey by train, bus, and boat. Read on to find out more about each of these different options.
Flying from Bangkok to Phnom Penh
Flights between Bangkok and Phnom Penh are always the quickest way to travel between these two cities but also the most expensive. Direct flights take just over an hour so you cannot beat flying for the speed and convenience though airline tickets are usually way out of budget for many of the money-conscious travelers who are touring Thailand and Cambodia!
If a flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh is within your budget, there are six different airlines offering direct routes from the Thai capital. Bangkok Airways, Thai Smile, Vietjet, Cambodia Airways, and Lanmei Airline flights depart from Suvarnabhumi Airport while Thai AirAsia flies from the Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok. You’ll arrive at the Phnom Penh International Airport, Cambodia’s largest, and it’s located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) outside of the city.
Once at the airport you can get into Phnom Penh by public city buses, taxis and tuk-tuks, with the public buses being the cheapest and some might argue most comfortable option, as they are air conditioned!
Bangkok to Phnom Penh by Bus
There are several different options available to you if you decide to travel from Bangkok to Phnom Penh by bus. With a good number of buses operating between Bangkok and Siem Reap – the gateway to Angkor Wat – this is one option, but if you are planning to head directly to Cambodia’s capital city, then the direct bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh would be the best and most convenient option.
Run by Virak Buntham Express the direct bus to Phnom Penh is more affordable than catching a flight to Phnom Penh, but as you would expect, it takes a lot longer. Buses depart from the Virak Buntham office in Phaya Thai. Once at the border with Cambodia you will need to leave the bus and go through immigration – this process can be sped up if you’ve applied for your tourist visa online in advance, rather than having to fill out the paperwork and pay the fee at the border. However, this is a possibility and bus employees will assist you if you need help. Once you’ve gone through immigration, the same bus that you came on will be waiting for you, so get back on and continue your journey. The direct bus takes around 12 hours though the exact timing could be shorter or longer depending on how much time is taken at the border. There are 4 direct buses and minibuses every day with departure times: at 02.00, 06.00, 07.00 and 09.00 every night/morning.
Private bus companies, such as Travel Mart, also have buses from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. Their buses take more time (21h) and depart from Khao San Road and you do not travel on the same bus throughout the journey. These buses travel via Siem Reap where you will get on a different bus for the remainder of your drive to Phnom Penh.
The advantage with indirect buses is that you may actually prefer to spend a night in Siem Reap and have a break from sitting on the bus for so long!
The Train and Bus to Phnom Penh
Another option to get from Bangkok to Phnom Penh is the train. Unfortunately, there are no trains that operate all the way from city to city so if you do opt for the train you will then need to take an alternate form of transport for the remainder of the journey. The train takes you almost to the border with Cambodia, stopping at Aranyaprathet train station and from here you will need to make your way to Poipet and the border crossing by tuk-tuk. Once through the border catch a bus, taxi or minivan to the city of Phnom Penh which will take between 7 to 10 hours.
Every day there are two direct trains from Hua Lamphong (eastern line still operates from Hua Lamphong Railway Station in 2023) in Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, but bear in mind that it is 3rd Class seats without air-conditioning. The first departs at 05:55am and is expected to arrive at 11:35am, while the second leaves Bangkok at 1:05pm and is planned to reach Aranyaprathet at 5:35pm.
However, if you choose the train, you will still need to get from Aranyaprathet to Phnom Penh on your own after crossing the border. 7 daily buses travel from Poipet, the Cambodian border town, to Phnom Penh. Taking 7 to 10 hours and starting at $14. The buses vary from cramped minibusses to fancy sleeper buses and can be booked online, but the train can not.
So consider the advantages and disadvantages before deciding which option works best for you, taking into account your schedule and budget.
Is there a train from Bangkok to Phnom Penh?
You can travel over half way from the old Hua Lamphong Railway station in Bangkok to Phnom Penh by train, but unfortunately not the full distance. Trains depart Bangkok and take you to the border crossing with Cambodia at Ban Klong Luk, and from here it’s a few minutes walk to Poipet, where you’ll catch a bus to Phnom Penh.
Is there a night bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh?
It takes between 11.5 and 13 hours to travel by direct bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, depending on traffic conditions and any delays crossing the border into Cambodia. There are night buses and morning buses departing from Bangkok with Virak Buntham Express, leaving at 02.00, 06.00, 07.00 and 09.00 daily. A couple of daytime minibuses are also available with Travel Mart, but they take longer.
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