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Getting There By Road

Thailand - Getting There By Road

There are a number of road crossings available to enter Thailand. Several of these pass into Cambodia. The land border at Poipet in Thailand is the route that is used for those coming to and from Siem Reap. Others include the crossing at Hat Lek, which is used by those who want to go to and from Sihanoukville and the crossings at Ban Pakard, Ban Laem and Chong Jom.

When passing to Cambodia via Poipet it is possible to get transit visas as you go across the border. However, the border checkpoint is only open from 8 am to 10 pm each day. This is one of the most popular land crossings. In the past it was the case that tourists were often overcharged for visas but the system is now much more regulated and this is dying out. Those who need a different type of visa need to deal with this when they are in the country. There are various issues which need to be dealt with at the border. Both sides of the border have touts and drivers which will offer to deal with visas for you or take you on to your final destination. They may try to insist that this is the only way to get a visa but it is not. If you are passing from Thailand to Cambodia you need to wait until you are on the Cambodian side and then arrange your own visa. They will also offer to exchange money for you, but this is usually at extremely high rates.

From Bangkok to Siem Reap it is a 6-9 hour trip, depending upon the traffic and the vehicle you are travelling in. Most people will take a bus from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, which is a town on the inside of the Thai border, then travel the rest of the way by tuk-tuk to Poipet. It is worth noting that the road on the other side of the border to Siem Reap has undergone renovation and is now in excellent condition.

There are also land borders with Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. Each has official border crossings and nearly all of the highways have been recently improved, so making travel between each much easier.

Travelling between Laos and Malaysia from Thailand is usually done by bus. It should be noted that it is not normally possible to hire a car in one country and drive to another as most hire agreements do not allow for international travel. The buses stop at the immigration point and each passenger must have their passport stamped. The cost of a visa is not included in the fare and will need to be paid for at the point of entry.

If you are in a privately owned vehicle such as a car, van or on a motorcycle you can bring it in to Thailand for up to 6 months as a tourist, although if you are staying longer you need to have it re-registered in the country. You will need to have the registration papers for the vehicle and written permission from the owner if it is not yours, as well as a recognized driving permit and your passport. You should also have a bank guarantee document which can match the vehicle’s value and 20% on top.

The main crossing between Thailand and Laos is the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge which crosses the Mekong River and those who wish to cross the border can do so by bus or taxi. There are crossings between Malaysia which begin at Hat Yai. Many will cross on public transport and as with other borders there is a stop for checks by immigration officials.

There are different regulations with the land crossings between Thailand and Myanmar. There are only two crossings which will allow foreigners to spend more than a day in Myanmar and these are often closed, depending upon the unrest in the country. Those who wish to spend any time in the country need to cross tat Mai-Sai. Appropriate visas need to be arranged in advance. There are not many expats who choose to enter Thailand this way due to the restrictions. For day trips – often used by those who need to exit and re-enter Thailand quickly for a visa renewal – the Mae Sot crossing is the one to choose. Expats are allowed into Myanmar to visit a market but for a day trip only.

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