There are many ways to travel and most probably the easiest and safest is flying. But what if you decide to go from Bangkok to Angkor Wat by car. Is it possible? Can you actually drive from Thailand to Cambodia and back without problems. Is it safe to drive in these two countries? What about the famous roads in Cambodia?

These were all question marks that we had before starting our trip.

The benefits of driving a car?

There are few benefits you get from driving a car. First and foremost it is the freedom to move and stop whenever and wherever you want. Another important factor of the own transportation is that you are not on the touristy trail. Yes you may visit few sites that are very popular with tourists but you arrive and leave at your own pace and most important you do not feel as a tourist moved from A to B by bus with a follow-me local that takes you to the awkward restaurants, where he/she agreed a cut, or to the local shops, of the cousin :)

By car you can stop at any market you see on the road, and sure you will be the only traveller there, a real local experience. You can discover unusual food and use your hands as a form of communication. Yes most of the people believe English is widely spoken in Thailand, and it is, in the touristy places, but in the country side? Hard to find anybody, which is understandable, the contacts with foreigners are limited.

By car you can experience the local life and, best of all, you can take heavier photographic gear

The drawbacks of driving a car?

Yes, there are few of them. Driving overseas is always challenging. You may not understand the signs. You need to adapt to the local way of driving. You must have 4 eyes always open to check around you. There is definitely more stress involved. You can take an insurance however it may not cover everything. Again, it is more stressful. No question about

And you are in Thailand, where people drive on the left side. Are you familiar with that?

Car or no car?

Great question. If being stressed is a problem I would not suggest it. If you don't usually feel stressed, than go for it.

The trip : Bangkok to Angkor Wat by car

Over one thousand years ago there was an highway that connected Phimai to Angkor Wat. It was called the Khmer Highway. Don't think a big road with 2 lanes. It was an itinerary the took the Khmer population through the major Khmer temples as:


Phanom Rung

Muang Tam – The sanctuary

Ta Moan – on the present border dispute

Angkor Wat

We decided to visit all these Historical Parks and add few more stops to make the trip even more interesting:

Bangkok - the starting point, how can we miss one one the most interesting cities on the planet

Ayutthaya - the formal capital of Siam

Lopburi - the city of the apes

Khao Yai National Park - the most popular National Park where you can meet an elephant around the corner

This is return trip of around 2000 Km.

Can we do it in 2 weeks time? Are the roads conditions good enough? The last time we were in Cambodia, over 10 years ago, we were not impressed with the average speed, closer to a cycling ride than to a car trip LOL

Can we do it in 2 weeks time? Are the roads conditions good enough? The last time we were in Cambodia, over 10 years ago, we were not impressed with the average speed, closer to a cycling ride than to a car trip LOL

Bangkok - The start

Bangkok is one of my favourite city to visit and stop-by whenever I fly from Australia to Europe, or vice versa.

During the last 10 years I have been collecting some photos of the crazy traffic, one of the subjects that anybody talk about when mentioning the Thai capital.

Probably renting a car in the city is not a fantastic idea. The best is just to enjoy the city for few days and look for a car renter closer to the airport. You can drive from there through the external ring and take direction north to Ayutthaya.

How to enjoy the city? There are many ways of course. Walking, taking a tuk tuk (the local motorbikes/taxi with two seats on the back), take a taxi or jump on the metro. Going into the bus system requires a minimum of Thai language. We did it last time and we were impressed by speed and coverage.

There is however another way to enjoy Bangkok, the canals and the rivers. There is a wide network of water transportation that will take you back to the old time, without the amount of smog typical of the city roads. You can easily navigate on the main river and from there into the city through the canals.

Read more in the Bangkok article........

Ayutthaya - the formal capital of Siam

The historic city of Ayutthaya is an Unesco World Heritage Site and it covers a vast part of the new modern city. It is such a vast area that you would expect to spend there the entire day. In fact I would suggest to take it easy and make two days :D

It was one of the biggest city in the world with over 1 Million people in the 1700, also called the Venice of the east.  As it happens sometime in history, it all collapsed with a nearby army invasion, this time the Burmese. The ruins of the city are still so well preserved though that it makes a must visit for anybody interested in historical sites.

Easy to travel to Ayutthaya? Yes, very much so. In fact you have even options to go by train from Bangkok and back by boat, very romantic.

Do you want to know more? Read the full travel & photography report of Ayutthaya...

Lopburi & Khao Yai NP - Animals and Nature

Why visiting Lopburi? There are many reasons of which the monkey population is most probably the highest in priority.

We read on Lopburi many things. A small town with almost no trace of tourism, a local market with real local food and products. Of course we were not the first travellers to arrive there but for sure the town is not living of tourism. It was indeed a long time that I have not visited a Thai market without the impression to be almost in China, I guess a side effect of the globalization. Real good honest street food and almost no english spoken. Back to the old hand signals ordering the food looking at the table around you.

At the temple there are so many monkeys around you that a good way to visit the area is actually to stay inside the temple itself (no access for animals).

When in Thailand you talk about national parks Khao Yai is most probably on top of the list and there are good reasons for that.

There is a big colony of elephants and we had almost an encounter with one of them, just behind the information centre. It was metres from us but a local Thai couple got so scared that they started screaming and guess what? The elephant run away, most probably even more scared :)

So many more photos & stories on Lopburi & Khao Yai, check them out...

Phimai - The gate to the Khmer highway

Why going to Prasat Phimai? Because it is the most beautiful Khmer site in Thailand. It is not comparable to Angkor Wat in size. It is much smaller and that make it somehow easier to navigate through. Angkor Wat is vast and you would need days to visit the area and appreciate it. Do you have less time but you would love to have an Angkor Wat experience? Go to Phimai, an awesome and unique historic site

It was originally built as a Mahayana Buddhist temple; the carvings also feature many Hindu deities and, as explained in the visitor centre, design elements at Prasat Phimai actually influenced Angkor Wat.

Plan your visit in the late afternoon. You will not be able to enter for the sunrise but, based on the season you visit the site, the sunset may be around the closure time, 5-6pm. We started our visit around 3pm to give us plenty of time to wonder around and check the best spots for the last photos with the best light.

Another excuses to visit Phimai? Sai Ngam, home of Thailand’s largest Banyan tree!

Read the full travel & photo report from Phimai


The temples on nobody’s land between Thailand and Cambodia

As travellers, we all look forward to have unique experiences. Being the Indiana Jones and find unexplored temples in the middle of the jungle. The reality is that it's really hard to find any of these undiscovered sites..... well maybe.

We pushed our boundaries in this trip. We were driving direction Angkor Wat and there were few Khmer sites we were really keen to visit.

The first two, Phanom Rung and Muang Tam, are remote sites, far away from the touristy paths but still popular and known places. They are both gorgeous and I personally never ever seen such a beautiful sanctuary as Muang Tam.

The third one, Ta Moan, take you to another level, to the Indiana Jones level. Yes, because this is a site on nobody's land. Although the dispute over the border is officially ended and Ta Moan is now part of Cambodia, in reality both the Thai and the Cambodian armies are still there, literally elbow to elbow with weapons in hand. How to access? Just leave the passport at the Thai Army check point but no stamps or official papers in return, just a number as at the cloakroom.

Very scary. There is more to read and photo to see, definitely a place to visit....

Angkor Wat - the destination

The hardest part of any trip is the destination, not the path that takes us there. The destination delimits our trip, it puts an end to it. We started our long trip with one question: can people travel from Bangkok to Angkor Wat by car? Can we drive our own way?

We had a plan. The border is in Chong Chom, close to where we slept. We drive there and we cross to Ou Smach in Cambodia.  From there it is a 3 hours drive to Angkor Wat. On the paper it is definitely a good plan, but what about the reality? The only answer is starting the trip, driving our car to the border and start the negotiation with the officials.

Read the full story and more photos...

From Bangkok to Angkor Wat by car - a unique trip

Yes, it did not all go as planned. The border between Cambodia and Thailand was a challenging one to pass by car.

As an experienced traveller I should have expected the problems at the border, true, but what I love are the the question marks behind a trip.

Have everything planned to the details is good but leaving few unplanned and unexpected situations give that dash of imagination, that hint of unpredictable that makes the entire trip even better. I did not expect to leave my passport in exchange of a cloakroom number in Ta Moan. I was maybe lucky that nothing happened however that will be a story I will remember for ever.

The unpredictability!

In this Travel Itinerary we talked about...

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Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o