Getting there and away, Phnom Penh
From Happy GuestHouse, Siem Reap to the depot of the Giant Ibis Bus (national bird) was only a 10 minutes ride in a tuk-tuk. We were there at the appointed hour of 0800 hrs for our road trip to Phnom Penh.
You report your arrival at their office, they take your luggage and give you a receipt and then you wait. Soon the sleek, ultra comfort, air-conditioned, wi-fi linked, steel-grey bus slides in. It has the logo of the company on both sides and is quite masculine to look at. As a precaution, you watch your luggage being stowed into the hold and then you get on to the bus.
We had booked out tickets online almost 60 days in advance and had secured the choicest seats by paying extra. A large windscreen before us, ample leg room, the first to get off the bus and the last to get in and a large TV – all these facilities are there in Seat Nos. 1-D and 1-E, not the ones directly behind the driver. Those are 1-A and 1-B. Only you can’t put your leg up as there is the fridge inside the bus, basically for the drinking water bottles. There are only 41 seats in the bus. All seats are reclining except, perhaps, the last row. There are two seats each on either side of the aisle. You may book the return journey also online, if you so desire.
Once everybody had settled in, we started off at 0845 hrs.
Our guide then introduced himself and gave us a short introduction of their company and of the journey we were undertaking. After he stowed his microphone away, he distributed a croissant and a bottle of drinking water. Then he and the other driver kept up a constant chatter with the driver to prevent boredom of driving along an unending straight road and falling asleep at the wheel.
Our first stop was at 1000 hrs at a place called Brey. The second one was at 1200 hrs for lunch. Thereafter, the condition of the roads deteriorates. A third one was at Bantey at 1430 hrs for a quick cup of tea from where the road condition improves considerably. We arrived Phnom Penh at 16.45 hrs after a comfortable, relaxed journey of 8 hours.
The best part of the journey is not only the green fields rolling past your window, the muted music from the TV speakers once a movie is over and the convenient stop along the way but rather the wi-fi link. It was thrilling to communicate and to stay connected while on the move!
First Written: Feb. 14, 2014
If you are travelling from Phnom Penh to Vietnam or vise versa then going by boat is a nice alternative to taking the bus which is what most people do.
The boats travel from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc in Vietnam and it's a nice trip that takes four and a half hour including the time you will spend at the border for visa stamps and so on.
The trip down the river is quite scenic and the service onboard the boat is good and they will usually give you some free food and drink while you are on the boat but I think this can vary depending on where you book the ticetk and with what company you travel.
I have taken the Blue Cruiser 3 times in the past year and I have been very happy with the trip and with the services they provide.
So if you want to travel to and from Vietnam in a both interesting and fairly comfortable way then this is a really good alternative to the other modes of transport you have on that route.
The boats usually leave around 1pm and arrive in late afternoon to the town of Chau Doc in Vietnam.
Taxi fare to city centre is $9. Most of the airport taxi are OK and friendly. It happened to me once I took a taxi in the afternoon at 4pm going to Olympic area. The driver was a young guy. I was with my wife going to Salita Hotel. My wife could not walk distant since she got osteoporosis. On the way to the hotel about 500 meters, the road was full of traffic at 5 pm and the driver persuade us just to walk to the hotel. We managed to reach hotel after 15 mins. I paid $9 to him because this is what has been agreed by the airport kiosk. He asked for a dollar which I refused. He said we were stingy and since my wife cannot walk why we are coming to Phnom Penh. This is the first experience taking a taxi after I have visited 50 countries.
I caught a bus here, the company my Siem Reap hotel booked me on was
"Sokha Komar Tep Express Limousine Bus"
The trip was 6 hours, uncomftable, and tedious. A luxury coach it was not.
It got me here, yes, but I would guess that there are better standards of transport available.
I have lived in Phnom Penh for over two years now. I have been subjected to every single bus company in this country over this time.
All expatriates here agree that Mekong is by far and away the only service of an international standard, the price is roughly the same as the others.
Mekong will NOT do these things that ALL the rest will:
- Take your passport and then charge an extra $5 for "VIP service" (that is no different to working it out yourself) - Tourist visa is $20. I have seen 90% of unsuspecting tourists on an Angkor bus get scammed this way from Saigon.
- play only Cambodian karaoke for the whole trip (it is the most appalling music in the world)
- stop at every single slum around PP dropping off motos and other little delivery jobs they have picked up on the way, thereby pushing the travel time up by 1-3 hours
- Have 'express' in the title when they regularly do the slum stops
- be unable to speak English
- not serve anything unless you insist loudly and in Khmer
- drive unroadworthy buses
- force handicap people off the bus to do the visa process
GO STRAIGHT TO THEIR OFFICE. THE VIETNAMESE WILL TELL YOU THEY ARE SELLING A SEAT ON MEKONG BUT THE CHANCES ARE THEY ARE CHARGING THE MEKONG PRICE AND GIVING YOU AN INFERIOR SERVICE AND POCKETING THE 1-2$
Several bus companies provide transportation from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The Mekong Express Limousine Bus is one of the better ones. It is about a 6-hour trip including a 15-30 minute stop in Kompong Thom. Departure times are now 07:30, 08:30, 12:30 and 14:25 daily (the sign in the picture is slightly out of date). The office is at the corner of 102 Street and Sisowath Quay. The waiting room has a/c and there are bathrooms. The Fancy Guesthouse got my ticket for me for $12. The actual ticket was $11. Seat numbers are assigned. The fare includes a snack and a small bottle of water. There is a bathroom on the bus. This is a nice way to see the countryside.
This was my introduction to Cambodia. I get off the plane and enter a half bombed out terminal. I then go through the chaotic Visa process and leave the airport to the sounds of rocket fire going on from the shooting range in town. Then the moto drivers all approach you at once at which point I ran back into the airport and paid a guard to figure it out for me. The only service nearby was a little family run restaurant across the dusty street.
Times have changed. The Phnom Penh International Airport now has a brand new terminal. Itis Cambodia's largest international airport and most flights into the country pass through there. There are daily flights from all major regional airports (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore) as well as from Luang Prabang in Laos. Airlines include Bangkok Airways, Lao Aviation, Shanghai Airlines, Thai Airways, Silk Air, Dragon Air, among others. Malaysian low-cost carrier Air Asia has also started flying daily flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, making Phnom Penh a cheap gateway into Cambodia.
Visas are available on arrival, and the fee is $20 - which must be paid in USD. Bring a passport-sized photo to avoid an additional $1 charge. The airport has a post office, bank (including one of the country's few ATMs), restaurants, Duty Free shop, news stand, tourist help desk, Business Center, as well as a Dairy Queen, the only western fast food franchise in the country.
Taxis from the airport run about $7 US. For visitors on a budget without a lot of luggage, it's worth catching an official moto for $2, or walking out to the main road to save even more.
I took a bus from Ho Chi Min City to Phnom Penh City..I booked the ticket in Saigon(HCMC) and travelled with a very reputable vietnamese Company. "Mailinh Express" that is also affiliated in Cambodia..The trip was some 270 km's and the journey was reasonably comfortable..There were various stops for food etc. and also crossing the river to reach PP..The busses are reasonably fast and the roads tend to be pretty congested in many areas..The fare is a cheap one and I booked my ticket from HCMC to PP to Siem Reap and return to HCMC.. The busses were modern and clean.I beleive the HCMC return fare all up was about US$ 35.00
I took a Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Company bus from their office near the Central Market to Saigon in Vietnam. The buses depart at 06:45, 08:00, 11:45 and 13:00. The bus cost me $10 (December 2008) and took about 6 hours. Along the way you'll cross over the Mekong River by ferry and then over the border after about 3 hours where you'll stop for lunch at the border town of Bavet.
I took a Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Company bus from their office near the Central Market to Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast. The buses depart from Phnom Penh at 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:30, 12:45 and 13:45. The bus cost me $3.75 and took about 4 hours with a stop for lunch along the way. I then took another bus coming back to Phnom Penh where buses leave at 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 12:15, 13:15 and 14:15.
Sapaco bus schedule from Saigon to Phnom Penh : 6 am, 7am, 8am, 9am, 10am, 11:30am and 1pm.
Address of bus station in Saigon: 09 Pham Ngu Lao Street in the city’s District 1
The office opens for business at around 5:30AM.
bus fare from Saigon to Phnom Penh: $12-14
non-ASEAN passport holders need visa for entry to Cambodia. SAPACO handles visa processing for $25 compared to $20 if you choose to handle the processing yourself.
The SAPACO Bus we took from Saigon to Phnom Penh was new and spacious with toilet, ample leg room and footrest. They also provide free bottled water and pastry. We had no problem at the border -- SAPACO personnel took care of everything. All in all, the experience was quite pleasant. (However, it's a different case for SAPACO Bus trip from Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - Saigon. The buses were old and musty. And it took ages for us to cross the border to Vietnam)
I don't know if there are direct buses from Phnom Penh's International but you shouldn't have a problem catching the same day bus from PP to Siem Reap/Angkor. I also took several VIP buses, Mekong Express and Rong Hung Khiang, and they were both fine. Takes about 5 hours with departures at 8AM and 12/noon. Back then M Express charged U$13 whereas Rong Hung charged U$10 and I've read subsequently that Mekong reduced their prices, eventhough they do offer better buses and service. I also took the boat 10 years ago and while it was interesting at first after a while you're on this huge lake with the roaring drone of the boat's engine so I perfer the faster and more comfy VIP bus.
I used Mekong Express a few times traveling around Cambodia, i.e. up to Siam Reap, and down to Snooky, and found them OK. So going to Vietnam from Cambodia, I wanted to use them, but my hotel didn't book those ones, only a bus called Sapaco, but I thought, OK I'll try them.
He called but they don't do hotel pick up any more. He said he'd get me there. Next day I went in a taxi to a bus that was just stopped on the roadside, and... they got me there, but I found them to be disorganised, especially going through immigration. They took everyone's passport and it was come here, go there, go wait there for no reason, walk through immigration over there (to go there and find it closed), all of this against a background of the staff finding it funny how they could get you in such a mess and pointing out your fun and games to the Vietnamese passengers.
Each time we stopped the announcements were never in English and I never knew how long we were stopping for.
We arrived Saigon really late in the end.
I would recommend going to the Mekong Express office and using their bus to all the fine people here. NOT Sapaco.
I took a bus from Saigon to Phnom Penh with Sinf Café and from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap with Capitol Tour (ticketing office beside Capitol Guesthouse). I don’t remember the price but recall paying a fair price for both as we checked with a couple of other tour guides around before we bought our tickets. Both the bus were fully air-conditioned and quite comfortable.
The cheapest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is by bus. There are a variety of busses to choose from and they run several times a day. The rates start at $5 US for the local bus. This option is the cheapest, and the best way if you want to travel with the locals. We opted to travel on this bus and there were very few other tourists among us, but we felt completely safe the entire ride. This bus makes two pit stops along the way and as there is no bathroom on this bus, the pit stops are very important as it is the only time you are able to relieve yourself on the ride. At the pit stops you will also be able to obtain food and drink. We even saw fried scorpion and tarantula for sale at the pit stops! The other bus options rise in price up to $10 US (keep in mind these prices are one way). The $10 bus is the most luxurious bus and the one most often booked by tourists featuring bathrooms, air conditioning, and even movies on some busses. Check with a travel agent to arrange tickets and times. Even on the $5 we had reserved seating. They estimate the trip from Phnom Penh to take 5.5 to 6 hours but in reality our trip only took 5 hours including two stops. It’s cheaper and faster than taking a boat up the river, by far, and a great way to see the Cambodian countryside.