Getting there and away, Phnom Penh
I have traveled overland from HCMC to Phnom Penh by bus 3 times, and each time I swear I’ll never do it again. But it’s cheap at only $6 dollars. You can buy a ticket from any of the tour companies on De Tham Street or Pham Ngu Lao. I recommend going with Sinh Cafe as they are the most experienced, and they are in partnership with Capital Guesthouse, which is the best tour group on the Cambodian side. I made the mistake of trying Saigon Tourist last time, only to be stuck waiting for the bus on the Cambodian side of the border for almost 4 hours.
Every tour company will tell you that it’s an 8-hour drive to Phnom Penh. While this is technically true, it’s very misleading. It is about 8 hours of driving if you were to go non-stop to Phnom Penh. However, after you include waiting time for crossing the border, waiting for your bus on the Cambodian side, lunch stops, and traffic, the drive is actually anywhere from 10-13 hours.
Expect to depart from Ho Chi Minh City around 8am. You’ll arrive at the Moc Bai border 2 ½-3 hours later. The border crossing is a bit of a mob scene. There is no queue so you’ll need to push your way to the front and shove your passport through the window. Depending on the crowd, it may take 15 or 20 minutes to get your passport back. Once it’s been stamped, you’ll need to walk down the hall to have a few more guards examine it before proceeding to the Cambodian side. It’s about a 100 yard walk to the other side. You’ll see the Cambodian immigration booths on your left. If you haven’t arranged a visa already, go to the visa service booth. I believe the visa is $20 dollars on arrival. Once you’re stamped in, you’ll need to walk a little further up the road to a small restaurant on your left. You’ll see some buses parked out front. If you’re lucky, yours will be waiting for you. Apparently something went wrong with mine, and I ended up waiting hours. You’ll probably arrive in Phnom Penh about 8pm.
There are several ways getting from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville (or the other way around).
A taxi is most convenient as you get directly to your destination without changing vehicles or taking your luggage of a bus and then find and store it all into another bus, taxi or tuk tuk.
A taxi trip takes about 3,5 hours. It should cost from USD30-35. We paid USD35 from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh.
Hotels also offer taxi service, but all they do is to rent from the travel agent, so why not go directly to the source? Hotel cabs are usually at least USD10 more expensive than the travel agent even though it's the same service as if you buy/order directly from the agent.
The roads are mostly fine.
There are a bunch of travel agents in Phnom Penh. If you don't see any, ask on the street, but don't necessarily go for the friend of the person you ask for advice...
Like everywhere else: Do agree on the price before you go.
( last date took the bus - Dec. 30, 2004)
Phnom Pehn to Bangkok, Thailand
Bus fare : 14 US $
Scheduled departure time - 6:30 a.m.
Actual departure time - 7:00 a.m.
Stop-over - for Lunch (10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.)
Stop-over - Battambang (11:45 - 12:00 noon)
Poipet Border (Cambodia)
Arrived in Poipet Border - 3:00 p.m.
Immigration - 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Arayanprathet Border (waiting time - 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
Arrived at 10:00 p.m. (Khaosan Road, Bangkok)
A taxi ride to/from the airport to/from central Phnom Penh takes about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. Fixed rate at 7USD from the airport. Some told us you can get a taxi from the town center to the airport for around USD5, but we didn't find anyone charging less than USD7. The airport is som 14 km outside Phnom Penh.
Like everywhere else: Do agree on the price before you go.
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.
After the "developing" nature of Phnom Penh, and the arrival process, by boat from Siem Reap, we were quite surprised by the clean, modern, if not somewhat deserted nature of the airport when we arrived for our early afternoon flight!
The check-in desks are completely abaondoned, and the shops also reflect the general disuse of the airport in March 2006. I guess they believe "if you build it.....they will come"!
La forma mas practica de desplazarse en Phnom Penh es en Tuk Tuk y en moto , es facil negociar con ellos pero trata de buscar uno con el que te puedas comunicar en ingles
En cuanto te paras en una esquina se pueden ver formas de transporte de lo mas interesante
The most practical way to movein Phnom Penh is in Tuk Tuk and in moto. It is easy negotiate with them , but try to find one with whom you may comunicate in English
As soon as you stop in a corner you may see different ways of transport that are very interesting
You can book it at any travel office. I paid USD 15 from Phnom Penh to HCMC with a change at the border, although the official price from HCMC to PP was published at USD 5 only (well, they all have to live). The picture shows the Cambodian bus at the border. But careful, inisist to carry your own luggage from the Cambodian coach to the Vietnamese side. Our driver said that it will be transfered to the other bus, but we had to release it against one or two bucks from "middlemen" before crossing into Vietnam. Lucky it was not stolen.
Most people these days go to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap by air-conditioned bus, seeing it’s so much cheaper which is only USD $4!
I opted to go by boat anyway as earlier on I’d experienced too much traveling by land. I bought my ticket at a guesthouse the day before my trip in Siem Reap town for USD $22. Note: Most guesthouses in Siem Reap sell this boat ticket. Just ask around.
On your day of departure, go to the ‘port’. It is the floating village of Chong Kneas near Phnom Krom, 11km south of Siem Reap. The journey will take about 5.5 hours, from 7.30 am to 1 pm.
It is a pleasant ride on the Tonle Sap lake, with fantastic landscape views under the sun. You can sit outside or inside the boat, your choice. You can also sit on the roof if you like the sun ;)
Although pricey, this experience was worth it for me. Check out my travelogue for more journey pics.
From Singapore, there are two regional airlines that fly into Phnom Penh's Pochentong International Airport. They are Silk Air and Jetstar Asia departing from Changi International Airport.
From Malaysia, you can take Air Asia departing from Kuala Lumpur Low-Cost Carriers Terminal which is near the F1 Sepang Racing Circuit. So travellers must factor in the time for transit from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
The bussystem in Cambodia has improved a lot, there are busses going in every direction from Phnom Penh. Rides are between $2 and $6. Busses go to Battambang, Sihanoukville (Kompong Som), Kompong Cham, Kompong Chhnang, Kratie, Siem Reap and a lot more smaller destinations.
The main busstation is at the Central Market, but there are many other companies scattered all over Phnom Penh.
Most busses stop at their favorite places for food, at these places the busdriver gets a free meal. Good opportunities to use the bathroom, but sometimes these stops just take too long.
This leg of trip was fantastic, couldnt have been better. Small boat, held 15 people inluding captain and his mate, up the Mekong river, nice and breezy when underway, boat enclosed but lots of windows, left at 8:30 arrived before 12:30. Seats MUCH more comfortable than wooden benches on the slow boats. Border crosssing reminescent of going to Bocas, rugged but nice. Cost was $10 extra over Sinh Cafe's standard $22, two day/one night package but well worth the extra cost. much better than the slow boat which would have taken another 3-4 hours to get here.
My 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Lowry, taught Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness partially by showing in class the movie in inspired: Apocalypse Now. That film, my personal favorite, documents the journey of Captain Willard and his PT boat crew up the river into Cambodia. My teacher, a 75-year-old woman at the time, would always quote Willard's line: "Don't get off the boat... unless you're going all the way." She would point at one of us in her class and in her old school Virginia accent, remark, "I remember a boy who used to sit just where you're sitting, Mr. Hatcher. He's dead now. Wrapped around a tree. Yessir. Dead and gone. So don't get off the boat, Mr. Hatcher, unless you're going ALL the WAY."
I mention this because now, you too can replicate Willard's boat trip. SaigonTourist offers a boat trip up the Mekong River from the Vietnamese Delta to Phnom Penh. The Vietnamese portion is by standard riverboat, with shaded awnings and comfortable chairs for reading and watching the scenery go by. Once you reach the border, you disembark and walk into Cambodia.
After clearing customs, you step on a speedboat and go blasting up the river toward the capital. The ride is insane, bumpy and exhilrating. Your heart flies into your throat as you try desperately to keep your belongings in the boat. Fortunately, the Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge won't launch rockets at you and you will likely arrive on dry land safe and sound.
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.
There is a world of difference between the domestic arrival terminal and the international departure terminal. This is a picture from the latter. In this terminal there is a small cafe and a nice shop selling Cambodian crafts.