The quality of buses and level of service differs enormously between the various bus companies in Cambodia. Which are the ones to avoid and which are the ones you can safely travel with?
Here are our recommendations.
The one company to definitely AVOID is Virak Buntham. The buses of this company have been involved in many accidents (more than any other bus company in the Kingdom), some of their staff are known to steal from passengers, and even sexually assault female passengers. True, most of these incidents happened on one of their night buses. Night buses should be avoided at all companies (read our warning at the end of this article).
In short: there have been many allegations against staff of Virak Buntham, including assaults, robberies, thefts and now attempted rape. After all these incidents, we’re surprised they’re still in business. Maybe not for long as tourism officials, business-owners and residents of Sihanoukville and Siem Reap have called for a boycott of the controversial bus company.
Formerly known as Paramount Angkor Express, this company has been involved in several traffic accidents. The drivers’ competence and safety instructions seem to be lacking. On top of that the service on board is minimal and the buses also regularly experience breakdowns. Not recommended.
Giant Ibis, launched in 2012, is the ‘new kid on the block.’ Literally, as they are almost neighbors of Virak Buntham. But what a difference between the two! While VB is by far the worst bus company in Cambodia, we regard Giant Ibis as the very best. Yes, Ibis is more expensive (though only slightly), but their level of service, the quality of their buses (and drivers!) are unrivalled. Plus, Giant Ibis has the best road safety record of any bus company in Cambodia.
Their buses and minivans ply routes between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Kampot, plus a service to and from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. They also run a night service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but as with any company, we advise you to avoid night travel.
You can book your seat online (with a $1.00 markup compared to when you buy your ticket at the office).
The problem in Cambodia (whether a hotel, a guesthouse, a restaurant or a bus company): when the business is brand new, the quality and service are often of high level, but deteriorating over time. Will this happen to Giant Ibis, too? We certainly hope not, but we have read some disturbing reviews lately. We still think Giant Ibis offers the best bus service in Cambodia, but will keep an eye on the business.
This bus company was for a few years the best in Cambodia and they are still a good choice. They have a good website where you can book your seats. Mekong Express large bus destinations include Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Minibuses (11 seats) run between Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Poipet and Bantey Meanchey in Cambodia, plus services between Phnom Penh and Bangkok in Thailand, and between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
They have regular promotions on bus fares (see their website), but to profit from these you have to buy your ticket at one of their offices; promotions don’t apply to online bookings.
The Mekong Express head office and bus terminal is on the Phnom Penh riverfront, just 1 block north of the Night Market.
This is one of the largest bus companies with many destinations within Cambodia, plus services to the Cambodia-Laos border, Bangkok in Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Their large bus terminal is near the Central Market (Psar Thmei) in Phnom Penh. Although they have a few new buses, many are quite old and break down often. They are also known for having the slowest buses and making long stops along the way. However, they go to a few destinations other companies don’t have in their schedule. That being said, many of these destinations can be reached by minibus or (shared) taxi.
This bus company has a small office located on Monireth Blvd. (see on Google Streetview). One of their buses was involved in a serious accident in 2013 (article Phnom Penh Post), although the bus driver was not to blame, the driver of a Honda CRV was at fault.
However, recently, on January 9th 2016, one of their buses tipped over in heavy rain (Khmer 440). Amazingly, no one was killed, but 4 passengers were injured, 1 seriously.
Both accidents happened on a night bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, about halfway near Kompong Thom. Read below why we advice you to avoid night buses!
The reviews of this bus company are also not particularly recommending. Read Olympic Bus Reviews on their Facebook page.
The head office of GST Transport is just behind Sorya Transport and the two companies are comparable in their level of service, state of buses and destinations served.
This bus company is run by the owners of the long standing budget Capitol Guesthouse near Orussey Market in Phnom Penh. What can we say? They go to many destinations and they’re cheap. However, many of their buses are quite old and a lot less comfortable than those of Giant Ibis or Mekong Express.
They also run an Express Boat service between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc (just across the border in Vietnam).
WARNING: NIGHT BUSES
Whatever you do: DON’T TAKE A NIGHT BUS! Many travelers on a budget choose a night bus to cut on expenses for accommodation. However, in Cambodia there have been many accidents involving night buses. Spending a few dollars more can save your life.