Nattakan Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA- The Nattakan bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok costs $30, which is considerably more than the other available options (the lowest alternative I saw was $13). Since it was such a long ride however, I figured I would book the coach bus since you have much more legroom than in one of the mini-vans. Nattakan is billed as a direct bus, meaning that you don’t have to transfer to a different company or coach at the border crossing. However, you still have to disembark at the border and will need to clear Thai customs carrying all your luggage.
Told to be ready for a hostel pick-up at 7am, I was dutifully ready at the appointed hour. A mini-van came by at 7:30 to take us to the bus station, which was a nice gesture…however the bus didn’t leave the station until 8:30. It wasn’t a huge deal, it just made a long day longer by needing to be ready for 7am when we left at 8:30. But hey, that’s traveling, right?
The coach itself was what you’d expect. It wasn’t in terrible condition, but it was by no means clean, and the seats were tattered and worn. Not much leg room, either. They serve meals on board, which is a plus…the breakfast consisted of Oreos, blueberry juice, and a coffee drink. Lunch was 7-11 shrimp fried rice and a water. “Free food” is a plus anywhere, but it sure wasn’t anything to write home about. There was a toilet on the bus, but it wasn’t working so we had to make frequent stops to use the restroom. The driver was good about this, so the lack of facilities wasn’t an issue.
Nattakan bills this coach as getting to Bangkok at 3:30, and I really don’t know where they get that time from. We didn’t hit any traffic that shouldn’t be plugged into the trip time, and we crossed the border in 1-2 hours, which appeared to be a normal time frame for doing so. The border was fairly busy, but nothing that you wouldn’t expect from such a well-traversed crossing. It’s a bit confusing as to where to go and what you have to do, but pretty simple when you just remember your responsibilities are to:
Obtain an exit stamp from Cambodia
Obtain an entry stamp to Thailand (you need to have your baggage with you for this)
The coach will let you off on the Cambodian side, and you need to walk to the customs booth to obtain your exit stamp. Once processed, keep walking through the border crossing…the coach will have passed through already, and you collect your bags and proceed to Thai customs. Once you clear Thai customs, the coach will be waiting for you on the other side, in the parking lot. I didn’t really see a restroom that could have been easily used…I’m sure there was one around, but when you have all of your luggage and are trying to keep in a relative group with the people on your bus, it’s something you might not get around to doing.
Timing and Arrival in Bangkok
We didn't hit any major traffic or have any real delays at customs, and we didn't get to Bangkok until 6:30. I would not count on getting there at 3:30…sure, you might get lucky, but it’s pretty unreasonable to expect to do so. Just don’t plan to be in Bangkok by afternoon. Once you get to the Bangkok bus station, immediately get on the taxi line. It can be quite long, and since the bus station is further out of the city center, taxis don’t come too often…you don’t want to be last in line! And don’t follow anyone telling you they are a taxi…they will charge exorbitant rates; stick with the metered taxis. They are super cheap!
There’s nothing really wrong with this company, it’s just that there is really no reason to pay twice the price to travel with them over another company. There’s not much additional value they provide for your ticket, aside from food perhaps, which could easily be obtained on your own with either less money or greater quality. If you’re on a budget, avoid Nattakan…it’s money well saved.