Braving the Bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

After a debate on whether to take the Mekong Express or the Giant Ibis, I finally plumped for the big white bird and made my online reservation to Phnom Penh. Giant Ibis have a very professionally impressive website, that this helped persuade me. They are slightly more expensive, but I think it’s still good value for money.

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Photo: The More I Travel

I had an early start and my bus was scheduled to leave at 8.45am (more like 9.10am). The ticket cost me $15 to Phnom Penh, although unlike many other bus companies in Cambodia, the ticket price is the same for people of all nationalities (i.e. no big discounts for Khmers). The journey is scheduled to take around 7 hours, although we made it in slightly less time than that, and were at the Phnom Penh hotel checking in at around 16.15 in the afternoon. There are later buses with Giant Ibis (the full schedule is: 7.45, 8.45 and 12.30 for the day buses, as well as two night buses at 22.30 and 23.00hrs). I don’t think it takes any less time overnight to make it to Phnom Penh, but you would save on a night’s accommodation, so that’s something to think about.

Unlike other bus companies plying the route, Giant Ibis offer free wifi and power sockets in every seat. Now, I didn’t find the wifi to be very good, although it did kind of work. Please remember that you are on a bus in Cambodia, not in a 5 star hotel in Hong Kong, so expect the speed of this [FREE] wifi to represent that!

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As a precaution, I would NEVER LEAVE ANY VALUABLES IN THE LUGGAGE HOLD OF THE BUS. This is because some people (though there’s no evidence this happens with Giant Ibis, as they are the most trustworthy bus company in Cambodia, for what it’s worth) will steal goods from the luggage hold, either before the bus departs Siem Reap, or during the rest stop half way through the journey. You do not want to get to Phnom Penh and find that your laptop and camera has been stolen from your backpack. So any valuables need to be taken out of your backpack/suitcase and transferred to your hand luggage which will be right with you on the bus.

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The roads between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are very bumpy and I am told they have deteriorated over the past few years. This was my first experience of the roads and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, although the state of the Giant Ibis bus went some way to alleviating some of the ‘pain’ some travellers would feel in smaller buses and taxis as they negotiate the numerous potholes of the Cambodian highways.

If you don’t fancy travelling by road to Phnom Penh, there is always the option of the slow boat down the Mekong. I am told this is not quite as nice as it sounds, as the boats are usually small and some do not even have windows! You would also likely not have any access to air conditioning or wifi, which at least you are supposed to get on the Giant Ibis bus.

Here is a review of the Giant Ibis bus service between two cities to give you an idea of what you will be booking! Also, check out these guides to compare methods of travel between the two cities, firstly from Two Nomadic Boys, and secondly from Revealing World.

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20 thoughts on “Braving the Bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

  1. I have found that splurging for the $15 ticket results in a more comfortable ride- I don’t remember which company I booked with though! Also… a bus- in Cambodia- that arrived ahead of schedule? Whaaaaat? That’s a luxury ^-^

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  2. We took buses all over Cambodia, I can’t remember which company we used but generally they were rather longer than the scheduled route time! The worst roads were from Cambodia into Laos. It was the end of rainy season and the road had all but disappeared into enormous car swallowing pot holes. I have no idea how the drivers managed to navigate them, but it was maybe the most uncomfortable ride of my life! Getting onto the Tarmac in Laos was a huge relief!

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    1. I don’t envy you with that journey into Laos! I haven’t done any road border crossings before. But I have heard about some potholes on the Cambodian roads being the size of craters! 😀

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  3. We did the same route in reverse in December 2010. I actually quite enjoyed it, despite going with the cheapest option and having to endure the bumpy ride. The highlight was most definitely the Khmer karaoke video which was played loudly over and over again. And I learnt that when a Khmer boy is going on a date he will often take his water buffalo along. Memorable stuff.

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    1. Hi Claire. Between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, generally the buses are professional enough. I have never heard of any issues with drunk drivers, although there are sometimes issues with theft so keep your prized possessions in your hand luggage that you bring on the bus, rather than in the checked luggage that goes in the hold.

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