I'm thinking of visiting Cambodia in March when I'm in SEA... how much time do I need if I take the land way from Bangkok to Seam Reap, check out Angkor Wat, then get myself to Phnom Penh and see the esentials there and then catch a plane back to Bangkok? I don't want to rush but when should I leave if I want to be back in Bankok on April 8 (or a few days before)?
You can get from BKK to SR in one very long day, figure about 12-14 hours, but I would leave BKK later in the day and stay overnight in Aranyprathet. Cross the border in the AM and battle your way to SR. Go to the website, 'Tales of Asia' for complete guide to this route. Get the 3 day pass when visiting Angkor. 1 day in not enough, 7 is just overkill. One day by bus/boat to PP, again read 'Tales'. I vote bus. Couple days in PP for sightseeing and a few days at Sihanoukville if you need beach time. S'ville is only 4 hours via bus and worth a few days to relax if you have time. Hope this helps.
You could even go BKK to Chantapuri by bus (200bt) then driver to the Palen border (by negotiations) from the border a moto to Palen(50 baht) then a driver to battenbang( share car 5US) then a riverboat (10 us) from battenbang to Siem Reap...Quite an experience in every sense of the word. The riverboat takes you through some floating villages etc. Can take a little longer than the 4 hours they mention depending on water levels.
Just took the overland route from BKK to SR 2 weeks ago. In total, including waiting for travellers for taxi and crossing border control, it took about 9.5 hours to reach my guesthouse in SR...which was already quite good.
Paid USD45 for a private taxi from poipet to SR (expensive but managed to get 2 other persons to share with us) and reached SR after 3 hours (though the road was recently patched up, it was still bumpy).
Managed to haggle for a private taxi from SR to the border for USD30 which was a really good deal.
Thanks for the replies. I'll probably leave for Cambodia a bit earlier than I had planned so I don't have to hurry back.
Does anyone know anything about the Hidden Cambodia Adventure Tours (http://www.hiddencambodia.com/). Seeing Cambodia from a dirt bike seems like fun but the price seems a tad bit high, maybe it's worth it though...
If you leave Bangkok nice and early, like 6:00 or so, make it to Aran by 11:00, you should be able to make it without too much trouble. Seeing as how April isn't exactly monsoon, the only things that would make the trip longer from Poipet to Siem Reap would be if a bridge is out or if there is an extremely long line going through immigration at the border. The horror stories usually come from rained out roads. Otherwise, we did the Poipet-SR trip in three hours and split the $30 for the taxi between three of us. That got us there with plenty of time to catch the sunset at Angkor, which is free. We got three day passes--plenty ample time. Really, you could see the main sites with a week, if it's just the two places you're interested in. If you leave March 30/April 1st, you should be fine. BTW, if you get your Cambodian visa in BKK, make sure you get it several days in advance; otherwise, you end up paying more to expedite it, which makes it not worth the time and trouble.
As for the tour group, I'm wary of anything with "tour" and "Cambodia" in the same sentence. A good book and meeting up with a few other travelers goes much further, gives you more flexibility, and keeps more money in your pocket. We met up with a fellow in line leaving Thailand and buddied up with him. Worked out great, because he spoke a bit of Thai and was able to charm his way into a few deals for us.
Best way, in my opinion, to see Angkor is by bicycle or tuk tuk. Everything that the tour guides tell you is all stuff you can pick up in guide books.
For the best info on Cambodia, check out www.talesofasia.com . They do a fantastic job of what to expect when crossing the border by land and keep their readers up-to-date on the latest scams, etc.