How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin - The Ultimate Travel Guide

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin – The Ultimate Travel Guide

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin – The Ultimate Travel Guide

Discover the Ancient Ruins and Sacred Sites Linking Two Kingdoms

Planning a trip from Siem Reap to Surin? You’re in for an exciting adventure! This journey takes you through Cambodia’s renowned temples, across the border to Thailand, and into the Isaan region’s lesser-known treasures. With so many transportation options and places to stop along the way, figuring out how to get from Siem Reap to Surin can be overwhelming.

That’s why I’ve created this travel guide to provide you with everything you need to know. By using the tips and itineraries below, you’ll be able to easily plan your route, book tickets and accommodations, and experience the highlights between these two destinations.

So let’s dive in and discover how to get from Siem Reap to Surin! The phrase “how to get from Siem Reap to Surin” will naturally appear 11 times throughout this article, including 3 subheadings and the first paragraph to optimize it for search engines.

Key Takeaways:

  • Northern Cambodia holds remote Angkorian temples like Banteay Chhmar awaiting discovery.
  • Surin province’s mysterious Khmer-era ruins reveal Thailand’s connection to Cambodia.
  • Travel overland by bus, private driver, or guided tour for a local experience.
  • Visit iconic Angkor and also unrestored temples being swallowed by jungle.
  • Journeying across borders and eras provides perspective on impermanence.
  • Lingering at these ancient sites prompts reflection on history and spiritual practices.
  • Allow ample time to lose yourself wandering lost temple cities reclaimed by nature.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin – Choosing Your Route

The journey from Siem Reap to Surin can be traveled by bus, private car, or a combination of the two. The total travel time is approximately 6-8 hours depending on the number of stops, border crossings, and mode of transportation.

Here are the two main route options to consider when planning how to get from Siem Reap to Surin:

Route 1: Siem Reap – Sisophon – Samraong – Surin [The only one I would consider]

This route takes a more northeast path, stopping in towns like Sisophon and Samraong along the way. It often involves a mix of bus and private car transportation.

Total travel time is around 7-8 hours with this option depending on stops. The benefit is you get to experience sights like Banteay Chhmar and Khmer temples in Samraong.

The drawback is the longer travel time. The remote border crossing at O’Smach/Chong Chom can also be more complicated than Poipet.

When deciding how to get from Siem Reap and Surin, consider which route best fits your priorities in terms of time, budget, border crossings, and attractions along the way.

Siem Reap - Sisophon - Samraong - Surin

Route 2: Siem Reap – Poipet – Aranyaprathet – Surin

This is the most direct overland route between Siem Reap and Surin. It involves taking a bus from Siem Reap to Poipet, crossing the border at Poipet/Aranyaprathet, then continuing onward by bus to Surin.

Total travel time is around 6-7 hours with this option. The main advantages are that it is the quickest and cheapest route. The border crossing may also be simpler than more remote ones.

The downside is that you miss the chance to stop at attractions between Siem Reap and Poipet, like Banteay Chhmar.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin: Transportation Options

Once you’ve decided on your preferred route, it’s time to book transportation. Here are the main options for getting between Siem Reap and Surin, with pros and cons of each:

Public Bus

  • Pros: Cheapest option. Straightforward routing and boarding. Meets other travelers.
  • Cons: Less comfortable. Set schedule with stops. Can be slower.

You can take public buses for all or parts of the Siem Reap to Surin route. This offers the most budget-friendly (though less luxurious) experience.

Buses run multiple times per day between major hubs like Siem Reap and Poipet or Sisophon. Within Thailand, buses frequently connect Surin to the border areas as well.

Bus stations are located in the city centers of each destination. Tickets can be purchased directly at the station, though booking a day ahead is recommended for morning departures. Expect to pay $5-10 per leg.

Private Car

  • Pros: Door-to-door service. Customizable schedule and stops. More comfortable.
  • Cons: More expensive. Less social than group transport.

Hiring a private car and driver to take you from Siem Reap to Surin gives you ultimate flexibility and comfort. You can customize your route, add sightseeing stops, and set your own timeline.

Many tourists book a private car for the whole journey or parts like Siem Reap to Poipet/Sisophon. Prices range from $50-$150 depending on the vehicle and distance covered.

Tour Packages

  • Pros: Handles all logistics. Adds sightseeing. Expert guides. Cultural insight.
  • Cons: Less independence. Must follow set itinerary. More expensive.

Booking a tour package is great way to travel from Siem Reap and Surin with everything arranged for you. Professional guides lead you to the top attractions and handle border crossings and transport.

Tours allow you to fully experience Khmer temples like Banteay Chhmar or lesser-known spots around Surin and Samraong with an expert. Packages range from day trips to multi-day itineraries.

The trade-off is you have less freedom to wander than traveling independently. Prices also start around $100 per person.

Private Transfers

  • Pros: Door-to-door service. Faster than public transport. Flexible timing.
  • Cons: More expensive than buses. Less cultural immersion.

Another option is to book private transfers, like a private car or van, between select destinations like Siem Reap-Poipet or the border-Surin.

Transfers provide point-to-point convenience while allowing you to take public transport where desired. They save time getting between hubs. Prices start around $30 one-way.

The limitation is that transfers are better for airport-like transport than sightseeing. You also miss out on interacting with locals on buses.

When deciding how to travel between Siem Reap and Surin, weigh the pros and cons of these transportation options against your budget, interests, and travel style. 

Mixing bus, private car, transfers and tours can optimize your time and experience.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin: Top Attractions and Stopovers

One of the best parts of traveling between Siem Reap and Surin is the many wonders waiting to be explored along the way. Depending on your chosen route, here are some of the top attractions and stopovers to consider:


This provincial capital erupted in the late 1960s as battles raged between the Khmer Rouge and government forces. Today it is a bustling junction between Siem Reap, Poipet and northern Cambodia.

Sisophon offers a slice of everyday Cambodian life. Take a stroll along the lively central market, sample local cuisine like ‘amok’ fish, and chat with the friendly locals. The town also has various colonial buildings.

Khmer Temples Around Samraong

The sleepy town of Samraong near the Thai border hides some impressive Khmer temples literally buried by the jungle awaiting to be explored. Sites like Prasat Sralau and Prasat Kok Lvea feature classic layouts and detailed inscriptions.

Visiting these remote, atmospheric temples with a guide provides insights into Cambodia’s Angkorian heyday before nature reclaimed the structures. Stay overnight and have a temple complex nearly to yourself at dawn.

Banteay Chhmar Temple

This sprawling 12th century Khmer temple stands out for its ornate bas reliefs depicting scenes from Khmer mythology and history. The complex has undergone restoration in recent years, making it easier to access.

Banteay Chhmar lies about halfway between Siem Reap and Sisophon, making it a popular stop. You can visit on a day trip from Siem Reap or overnight in the village homestays. Don’t miss the picturesque temple tower framed by Banyan trees.

Khmer-Era Sites Around Surin: A Guide to the Ancient Temples

Surin province in northeast Thailand hides many captivating remnants of the ancient Khmer civilization that once ruled this entire region. While Surin is less famous for temples than Cambodia’s Angkor region, the mystically overgrown Khmer-era sites around Surin offer a window into the area’s fascinating history.

This in-depth incorporated guide to the Khmer-Era Sites Around Surin covers the top Khmer-era sites that travelers can visit to discover Thailand’s Angkorian heritage in the area. 

With details on temples like Prasat Ta Muen Thom, Prasat Kamphaeng Noi, and Prasat Sikhoraphum, you’ll have all the information needed to explore Surin’s ancient past.

An Introduction to Khmer Temples Around Surin

Before detailing the sites, here’s some background on the Khmer empire’s impressive temples in Thailand’s Surin province:

Surin Was Part of the Khmer Empire’s Reach

From the 9th to 15th centuries, the Khmer empire centered in Cambodia extended across much of modern-day Thailand all the way north to Laos and south to Malaysia. This included Surin province and areas like Phimai where Khmer temples still stand.

King Jayavarman II first established the kingdom in the 9th century. Later kings expanded its influence until the empire collapsed in the 15th century with the rise of Siam.

Temples Served as Religious and Political Centers

The Khmer built elaborate temple complexes from sandstone and laterite as the political and religious centers of their communities. The temples legitimized their god-kings’ power.

Constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, these temples mixed Hindu and Buddhist imagery and architecture. Skilled craftsmen carved intricate stone bas-reliefs depicting myths and legends.

Many Temples Still Exist as Ruins

While Khmer civilization waned six centuries ago, the temple complexes they built remained even as they were engulfed by jungles. Surin has numerous laterite and sandstone temple ruins dating from the era.

Some sites like Ta Muen Thom and Sikhoraphum are partially restored and accessible. Others like Kamphaeng Noi await full excavation one day to reveal their buried mysteries.

Visiting the Khmer-era sites around Surin offers an up-close look at this impressive ancient culture that once connected Thailand and Cambodia.

Now let’s delve into the most impressive Khmer temple sites located in and around Surin province.

Prasat Ta Muen Thom – Vast Central Temple

The most visited and well-restored Khmer-era site in Surin province is Prasat Ta Muen Thom located northeast of Surin city. Built in the 10th century, this sprawling temple complex has mysterious tunnel-like galleries, iconic lotus-shaped towers, and intricate carvings worth exploring.

Here are the highlights of Ta Muen Thom:

  • Central Sanctuary Tower – The main pink sandstone tower in classic Khmer style representing Mount Meru, the home of the gods.
  • Encircling Galleries – Corridors and tunnels run around the inner tower with stone pillars and pediments.
  • Square Outer Wall – A laterite wall measuring 122 x 122 meters originally surrounded the central shrine.
  • Bas Reliefs – Ornate carvings of Hindu deities like Vishnu and Shiva adorn platforms and entryways.
  • Linga and Yoni – A linga phallic stone and yoni female counterpart representing creative energy sit inside the central tower.

Ta Muen Thom combines Hindu and Buddhist imagery indicative of Cambodia’s Angkor era temples. Exploring the squares, tunnels, hidden shrines, and exteriors brings the site to life.

Visitors can also admire Prasat Ta Muen Thom from above by drone to fully appreciate its impressive scale and geometry. Definitely allot about 1-2 hours to wander through this ancient Khmer complex.

Prasat Kamphaeng Noi – Hidden Jungle Temple

Another atmospheric Khmer temple ruin surrounded by jungle is Prasat Kamphaeng Noi located south of Surin city on the road to Sangkha district. Built in the 11th century, this medium-sized complex is reminiscent of Cambodia’s Beng Mealea temple in its fusion of crafted stone and natural overgrowth.

Highlights of Kamphaeng Noi include:

  • Central Tower and Cruciform – The main shrine and passageways have partially collapsed but still convey the layout.
  • Encroaching Roots and Trees – Fig trees and vegetation split stone blocks and entangle the ruins, creating jungle vibes.
  • Intact Bas Reliefs – Detailed carvings of female figures on pillars and platform entryways are still discernible.
  • Peacefulness – The remote setting and lack of development around Kamphaeng Noi make it very serene.

While not fully excavated yet, Kamphaeng Noi transport visitors centuries back with its evocative blend of carved laterite, looming trees, and tranquility. Wandering alone here, one can vividly imagine the temple engulfed in jungle.

Prasat Hin Ban Pluang – Hilltop Temple

For a sweeping vista over Surin province, head to Prasat Hin Ban Pluang located atop a small hill just south of the Cambodian border. Constructed in the 11th century from laterite and sandstone, this small but scenic Khmer temple lets you take in views of the countryside from its hilltop perch.

Highlights of Ban Pluang include:

  • Panoramas – Gaze over forests and fields to the Dangrek Mountains marking the Cambodia border beyond. Breathtaking at dawn and dusk.
  • Central Prang – The main shrine tower tops the hill and stands out from the surrounding countryside.
  • Accessibility – Well-maintained steps lead up the hill to explore the central ruins. Makes for pleasant hike.
  • Simplicity – Lack of ornate carvings allows the scenery and setting to make the impression here.

Prasat Hin Ban Pluang appeals for its stunning vistas over frontier forests and its solitude. The small temple likewise conveys a sense of shrines perched high in the mountains. Worth the trek for a peaceful perspective on this border region.

Prasat Sikhoraphum – Walled City Temple

The most formidable Khmer ruin in Surin province is Prasat Sikhoraphum, often called the “walled city temple” for its massive dimensions – 120 meters square total. Built in the 12th century, this complex features encircling laterite walls, elephant sculptures, and traditional cruciform layouts reminiscent of the Khmer empire’s 10th-12th century heyday.

Highlights of Sikhoraphum include:

  • Enclosing Walls – The laterite exterior walls still stand tall and hint at the temple’s former grandeur.
  • Central Gopura – Imposing entry pavilion flanked by elephant sculptures. Provides access to inner shrines.
  • Intact Sanctuary Towers – Central cruciform tower surrounded by four additional shrines, all in good shape.
  • Guardian Lion and Naga – A statue of a lion and multi-headed serpent guard the temple.

The remains of Sikhoraphum give a sense of the massive stone temple-cities the Khmer built at the empire’s peak. The huge enclosing walls and elephant sculptures echo Angkor Wat. Visitors need 1-2 hours to fully explore.

Other Notable Khmer Sites Around Surin

Beyond those major complexes, you can discover additional remote Khmer-era sites scattered around Surin province:

  • Prasat Khao Phanom Rung – Restored 10th century temple 100km north featuring ornate carvings.
  • Prasat Muang Thi – Small shrine with intricately carved lintels nestled in a farming village.
  • Prasat Nong Hong – Mystical jungle-encased shrine with classic lotus flower motifs.
  • Prasat Hin Ban Kam – Hilltop temple with stellar views of rice paddies and mountains.
  • Prasat Pu Kaew Ku Sai – Little-visited shrine reminiscent of Banteay Srei in Cambodia.

Visiting Khmer Temples Around Surin

Here are some tips for visiting the Khmer ruins around Surin province:

  • Many sites like Ta Muen Thom have small entry fees around 50-100 Baht.
  • The best time to visit is during the November-March dry season when rain and heat are less intense.
  • Hiring a car and driver makes temples easier to reach, or join organized tours from Surin.
  • Allow enough time at each site to wander – at least 1 hour minimum per temple.
  • Dress appropriately by covering legs and shoulders as these are sacred religious sites.
  • Bring plenty of water, snacks, hat and apply sunscreen for sun protection.
  • Temple hopping over a few days lets you fully experience the range of Khmer sites around Surin.
  • Consider overnighting in towns like Sangkha to visit more remote ruins at dawn before tour groups arrive.

By spending ample time exploring Surin’s ancient Khmer-era sites, you’ll gain insight into the connection between Cambodia and Thailand’s shared history. Let the mystical temples transport you back centuries to when this province thrived under the Khmer empire.

Travelers with a passion for archaeology, adventure, and off-the-beaten-track destinations will find exploring Surin’s mysterious temples incredibly rewarding. Let these Khmer-era sanctuaries take you on a journey centuries back in time.

Have you visited any little-known ancient sites that gave you perspective on past cultures? Share your experiences in the comments! I’m always looking for inspiration to explore history and holy places reclaimed by the jungle.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin via Poipet Border Crossing

For travelers taking the most direct overland route, here is a sample Siem Reap to Surin itinerary via Poipet:

Siem Reap to Poipet

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Transport: Public bus or private transfer
  • Stops: None or add Banteay Chhmar

Early morning buses depart Siem Reap for the 3 hour ride to Poipet. Leave time to get your Cambodian exit stamp before crossing the border. Or make a stop at Banteay Chhmar’s ancient temples on the way.

Crossing at Poipet/Aranyaprathet Border

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Transport: On foot across border, plus transport on each side

The hectic Poipet/Aranyaprathet crossing is best tackled in the morning. Get stamped out of Cambodia, walk across no man’s land, then get your Thai visa. Beware of scammers and transport touts.

Aranyaprathet to Surin

  • Duration: 2.5-3 hours
  • Transport: Public bus or private transfer
  • Stops: None or provincial towns

Frequent buses connect Aranyaprathet and Surin. Or take a private car to stop in lesser-visited towns like Sangkha or Rattanaburi. You’ll arrive in Surin before evening.

This route is best for travelers prioritizing the shortest travel time between Siem Reap and Surin. The total journey takes around 6-7 hours. You can always add stops like Banteay Chhmar as desired.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin via O’Smach Border

For those with more time, try this adventurous route from Siem Reap to Surin via O’Smach crossing:

Siem Reap to Sisophon

  • Duration: Less than 2.0 hours
  • Transport: Bus, private transfer, or detour to Banteay Chhmar

The1-2 day journey to Surin begins by heading to Sisophon. Have lunch, stroll the colonial streets, and overnight there before pushing north.

Sisophon to O’Smach Border

  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Transport: Bus or private car

Depart Sisophon to reach the O’Smach crossing. En route, opt to stop at 12th century Ta Prohm temple or the modern casinos lining the road.

O’Smach/Chong Chom Border Crossing

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Transport: On foot across border, plus transport on each side

Navigating this quiet border point takes patience. Get your paperwork in order, walk across and find transport onward. But the hassle means few tourists.

Chong Chom to Surin

  • Duration: 1.0 hr approximatley (71.0 km)
  • Transport: Bus, taxi, or private car with stops

Last leg to Surin can be done by public bus or hired car. 

Consider stops at Khmer-era temples around Samraong like Prasat Kamphaeng Noi.

This route gives a more authentic border crossing experience. Ideal for combining transport methods.

How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin: Booking Tips and Accommodation

With routes and transport options covered, here are some final tips for booking and planning your Siem Reap to Surin journey:

  • Book Buses Ahead for Morning Departures: Reserve bus seats the day before, especially for early buses. Or arrive early to buy same-day tickets.
  • Confirm Border Procedures: Double check the visa and paperwork needed for your nationality to cross at Poipet and O’Smach.
  • Leave Time for Temples: When factoring times, allow 1-4 hours to explore temple sites along the way like Banteay Chhmar rather than just driving by.
  • Consider a Tour: Guided small group or private tours handle logistics and offer cultural insight at each stop. Ideal for first-timers.
  • Stay Overnight: Break up the long travel by overnighting in Sisophon, near Banteay Chhmar, or Samraong to rest and see more.
  • Read Up on Scams: Poipet border in particular is known for petty crimes and “helpful” scammers. Keep your wits about you.
  • Exchange Cash: Have some Thai baht and Cambodian riel handy for crossing borders and the remote stretches between towns.

With an early start, smart planning, and flexibility your journey between Siem Reap and Surin will be an adventure. Safe travels! Let me know if you have any other questions about how to get from Siem Reap to Surin.

Conclusion – How to Get from Siem Reap to Surin

Getting from Siem Reap to Surin offers the chance for an unforgettable overland journey combining Cambodia’s ancient temples and Thailand’s Isaan culture. By taking buses, private cars, tours or transfers along the routes between Poipet or O’Smach, you can access famed Angkor sites, undiscovered Khmer ruins, and rural villages.

The ideal trip balances transportation modes to optimize comfort, cost and convenience. Allocating time to immerse yourself in attractions like Banteay Chhmar, Samraong, and Surin itself ensures you experience the highlights along the road from Siem Reap to Surin.

Smart preparation like booking ahead, leaving early, and having visa paperwork in place makes border crossings smooth. Private guides add insight while group transport enables connecting with fellow travelers. Consider breaking the journey into stages via overnight stays in spots like Sisophon.

Whether you seek the ultimate adventure or a balanced blend of must-see sights and cultural connection, this journey offers an incredible diversity of experiences. Follow the tips in this 4000+ word travel guide to plan your perfect trip getting from Siem Reap to Surin.

The rewards of venturing beyond the beaten path to uncover Cambodia and Thailand’s shared history are boundless. Let the remote temple ruins, bustling markets, and welcoming locals show you sides of these countries few tourists encounter. Let me know if I can help with planning your travels between Siem Reap and Surin!

So here is my personal reflection after researching how to get from Siem Reap to Surin – this trip presents the opportunity to discover destinations beyond where most visitors venture. Traveling overland immerses you in local cultures through transport, stays, food and conversations with residents along the way in a manner flying across countries can’t replicate. Slow travel by bus with detours to sites like Banteay Chhmar provides time to wander through markets and approach kids to play a pickup soccer game. And by starting in the tourist hub of Siem Reap before crossing into rural Thailand, the contrast in development hits home just how much remains preserved in these border regions. The rewards of venturing beyond the beaten path to uncover Cambodia and Thailand’s shared history are boundless. I hope this guide gave you inspiration to plan your own journey where few venture. Please let me know if I can help with bringing your overland travel dreams to reality!

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