What is the cheapest and fastest local way from Laos to Angkor Wat in Cambodia?
Laos, Thailand, Cambodia
Are you traveling across SE Asia, are you in central Laos at the moment and planning on visiting Angkor Wat? However, you have no clue how to transfer from Laos to Cambodia efficiently? I have a travel tip on how to save up to 40 USD per person! (which is still big money in Asia)
Let's suppose you are in Vientiane in Laos. You can choose from two options to travel from Vientiane to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The first route runs through Thailand, the second across southern Laos.
If you choose to travel through Laos, your route will lead from Vientiane to Pakse in the south of Laos and from there through Cambodian Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The condition of the roads predominantly on the Laotian side is horrible. This appalling and exhausting journey takes about two full days.
1. Local Route:
Vientiane - Pakse (170K LAK, 20 USD)
Pakse - Phnom Penh (230K LAK, 27 USD)
Phnom Penh - Siem Reap (7 - 12 USD)
The total cost of this route Vientiane - Siem Reap is about 54-59 USD. There is also a "direct" Vientiane - Phnom Penh bus for 50 USD and Vientiane - Siem Reap for 58 USD available.
Paying over 50 bucks for transport to Siem Reap seemed a bit too high in our opinion. Therefore we chose the following alternative route through Thailand. And it came out beautifully cheap!
2. Local Route:
Vientiane - Nong Khai, 15K LAK (1.8 USD)
There are many ways of getting from Vientiane to the Thai side. If you are a purely local traveler, I have an option for you. Near Talat Sao Bus Station (head southeast on Khouvieng Rd, turn to the right) at a small bus stand take the public bus No. 14 (6K). The bus takes you to the First Thai - Lao Friendship Bridge. From the Thanaleng train station, 2 km away, take the shuttle train to cross the border over to Nong Khai (from Thanaleng only departs at 9:50 AM and 5 PM). If you don't want to wait for the train, take a tuk-tuk to cross the bridge. Once you crossed the border, catch another tuk-tuk or go the remaining distance to Nong Khai train station on foot (1.5 km).
Clearly, the most convenient and cheapest alternative is to use the Thai - Lao International bus (15K). This direct bus on the Vientiane-Nong Khai route departs several times a day from Talat Sao Bus Station, or Khua Din (7:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 12:40 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:30 PM and 6 PM). Buy a ticket in the company's office (west corner of the station, at the Khouvieng Road and Nongbone Road junction) on the day of departure.
Rickshaw in Nong Khai, 25 THB (0.70 USD)
Thai - Lao International Bus will take you to the bus station in the center of Nong Khai. Wave down a rickshaw to get to the train station (25 Baht per person).
Nong Khai - Bangkok, 253 THB (7 USD)
Every day, 3 night-trains are departing from Nong Khai to Bangkok - at 6:15 PM (No. 78), 6:30 PM (No. 134) and 7:10 PM (No. 70). The individual trains vary in quality of the cars and the fare.
The cheapest 3rd class without AC (with fan) on train No. 78 costs 253 THB per person. The train arrives in Bangkok around 6 AM (11h). Information about train classes and fare here: http://www.railway.co.th/
Bangkok Hua Lamphong central train station - Khao San Road, 6.5 THB (0.20 USD)
To get closer to Khao San Road, take the bus no. 53 with a stop near the train station.
Bangkok - Siem Reap, THB 300 (8.30 USD)
The most comfortable and most convenient way how to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap (10h) is to buy a bus ticket in one of the many travel agencies scattered around Khao San Road, the world's famous backpacker street. You will spare yourself a lot of problems, trust me!
The agency will assure you that the first "minibus" takes you to the Cambodian border, where you get on another bus (classic) which takes you straight to Siem Reap. It sounds tempting, but the reality is different.
I recommend obtaining a tourist visa to Cambodia in advance (for example, in Hanoi). If you're not able to do so, you can purchase a visa directly on the Cambodian border for 35 USD. In any case, do not buy it at exorbitant prices from the scammers on the Thai side!
If we sum up all travel expenses on the Vientiane-Siem Reap route, our cheap local option costs an incredible 18 USD! I.e., savings of 40 USD per person. If we include one night in Bangkok (175 THB per person, 5 USD), we save 35 USD per person anyways! And that's decent!