Bus and Overland Travel To Cambodia
This page provides information that can give an idea about going to Cambodia through an overland trip by bus and by other road vehicles. This could be valuable pre-trip knowledge for those who plan to go to Cambodia by overland travel for the first time. Go to the Table of Contents of this page. Click here
Table of Contents
Travelling the highways that connect the cities of Cambodia, with Bangkok in Thailand and with Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam, can bring a traveller into unique experiences that can give additional hues of color to the rainbow of travel tales that will surely be fondly kept and later always retold among friends in recollection of adventures and misadventures in exotic faraway places.
Condition of Buses and Quality of Service
General Condition of Buses
These buses are operated by transportation companies that are conscious of the fact that they often get to carry foreign nationals from more developed countries who are visiting Cambodia as tourists and do try to maintain the general condition of their buses according to globally accepted standards. The condition is not much different from tourist buses in more developed countries.
The buses are all air-conditioned. The passenger accomodation provides well padded reclinable "bucket seats" with arm rests and head rests that are arranged two seats per row. Many buses have a toilet on board. There are overhead racks for handcarried bags and bulky luggages are stacked inside a large luggage compartment with secure compartment doors below the passenger deck.
Possibility of Some Misadventures
It is, however, possible to experience rare incidents of flat tires, leaking aircon ducts, a seat that refuses to be reclined, smelly cargoes that have been allowed to go onboard, temporarily unusable toilet, and sometimes noisy co-passengers. It can depend on the bus you happen to get.
Send to us your story, suggestion or comment about this. Take note of the name of the bus you took. We will publish it if it can encourage improvements, good practice or warn others what to avoid. Other travellers will appreciate the information. Email to this address: email@example.com
Quality of Service In A Bus
The quality of service that can be experienced in buses going to Cambodia may vary according to the bus line you will take. We wrote down, below, the general conditions we have observed. Please tell us your own experience on this. We will publish in this website your story, suggestions or comments, if they can help make improvements, warn of what to avoid or encourage a good practice. Take note of the name of the bus you took. Many will appreciate what they can learn from you. Send your story, suggestion or comment to firstname.lastname@example.org
Buses generally depart according to schedule. However, there are times when departure is delayed up to half an hour.
Most buses are clean and comfortable. However, sometimes the driver and the bus steward pick up passengers along the way (though rarely) who carry with them items that may smell and leave some litters when they get off. There are also times when a passenger bus has been loaded with cargo (usually in the back seats) that smells bad. The way to avoid this particular problem is to choose a reputable bus line that does not allow cargoes to be loaded on their passenger buses. (Publisher's Note: We have personally observed the buses of Kumho Samco, Mekong Express and Giant Ibis to be generally free of this problem. However, still take note, or photo-document it, if you get to experience such inconvenience and send your story to email@example.com so that others can be warned.)
All buses are airconditioned and comfortably cool. Sometimes, however, the driver forgets to adjust the air-con thermostat to a more appropriate temperature setting (especially when the bus is traveling in the evening) and turns the whole passenger compartment into something like a freezer.
The bus stewards always try to be helpful. The problem is language barrier. Some bus companies hire personnel who can speak English, but still the immediate understanding of any passenger request spoken in English may not be understood promptly and correctly. The steward may say "yes", like he understood what was said, and then bring up something that is entirely unrelated to what a passenger could be asking.
All bus companies provide "wet wipes" tissues and bottled drinking water free of charge. Some give fancy baked breads or pastries also free of charge.
Toilet On Board
Most have buses have toilet on board.
Almost all buses have wifi internet connection on board. There are times, however, when these are not functional.
Widescreen TV Onboard
Almost all buses have wide-screen TV on the forward section of the passenger compartment. Hollywood action movies are often shown. Sometimes, chinese movies. In the Giant Ibis buses, it is almost always the documentary presentation of the preservation of the Giant Ibis bird in Cambodia.
Some buses play non-stop music on board. Very seldom, however, they are popular songs in English. Mostly they are the Khmer (Cambodian) music. Unless you are a foreign national who has exceptional love for Khmer music, you may find this highly unpreferrable.
Stop-Overs for Food and Toilet Requirements
Buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh City make one stop-over for meal and toilet requirements. The eating place is clean and the food is fairly good and reasonably priced. The toilets are not too spick and span but more or less clean and usable for their purpose.
The buses and vans from Bangkok bound for the Thailand-Cambodia border in Aranyaprathet and Poipet makes a one stop-over in a gasoline station in Thailand with a Seven-Eleven shop where food items can be bought. The toilets are clean.
The buses from Poipet to Phnom Penh make at least one stop-over where the eating place is not much more than open counters where food is displayed. Dust and insects can actually settle on the food items. The toilet cubicles only have the traditional Khmer squat-mode latrines in them and their state of cleanliness can actually be not too encouraging to anyone who want to use them.
The buses from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap make at least two stop-overs for food and toilet requirements. The restaurants where they stop are more or less clean with variety of foods in their menus. The toilets are reasonably clean.
The Three Popular Overland Routes to Cambodia
The entry-points that most incoming foreign nationals use to enter Cambodia by land are the border-gates at the Thailand-Cambodia border and at the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Information below gives a bird's-eye-view how the travel is done.
1. The Vietnam to Cambodia Highway Route Via Mocbai-Bavet
This popular overland travel route, from Vietnam to Cambodia, is plied by buses that bring tourists from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Phnom Penh City in Cambodia and vice versa.
Bus Terminal In HoChi Minh City
Buses in Ho Chi Minh City, that are bound for Phnom Penh, wait for passengers at the bus terminal in Pham Ngu Lao Street. The Pham Ngu Lao Street in Ho Chi Minh City is the central area where tourist converge and the street, and adjacent streets, is lined with hotels and restaurant.
Bus Stations In Phnom Penh
There is no central bus terminal in Phnom Penh and buses offload their passengers in front of their ticket offices or their own private parking areas, all within the city.
Travel Time From Ho Chi Min City to Phnom Penh City
Travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh is about six hours. It can take a little longer if there is a traffic jam at the highway where the bus starts to join the city's traffic of vehicles as it approaches the city of Phnom Penh.
For more detailed information about traveling by bus from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, click here
2. The Thailand to Cambodia Highway Route Via Aranyaprathet - Poipet
If you take the Thailand to Cambodia Highway Route via the town of Aranyaprathet (sometimes also called "Aran" for short), at the Thailand side of the border, you will enter Cambodia thru its northwestern border gate at the Cambodian border-town of Poipet. You can do this overland trip by riding a bus or a van.
This welcome arch is the the landmark of the northwestern border-gate under which you walk through to enter Cambodia, at the Thailand-Cambodia border, at Poipet.
The Popular Bus Route
The popular route of the bus from Bangkok, Thailand, to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in Cambodia is the one that begins in Bangkok and reaches the District of Aranyaprathet in the Province of Sa Kaeo (Thailand). Aranyaprathet is beside the Thailand-Cambodia Border. Across the border, on the Cambodian side, lies the town of Poipet in the Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey.
The bus stops at the Aranyaprathet bus station. The bus station in Aranyaprathet is about 10 minutes away from the border. Motorcycle-drawn carriages called "tuktuk" and motorcycles take passengers to the border-gates.
Vans Stop At A Restaurant In Arayaprathet
Vans stop at a restaurant in Aranyaprathet that serves as "van terminal" near the border. From this restaurant you need to walk about 700 meters to the border where the Thai passport checkpoint is located. After leaving the Thai passport checkpoint you need to walk again, about 100 meters, through the "no-man's-land" between the imaginary border lines between Thailand and Cambodia, to Poipet where the Cambodian passport checkpoint is located.
Transportation from Poipet to Phnom Pehn or Siem Reap
Buses, vans and taxis wait at the transport terminal in Poipet for passengers who need to make a connecting trip to Phnom Penh or to Siem Reap.
3. The Thailand to Cambodia Highway Route Via Trat - KohKong
You can go to Cambodia from Bangkok (Thailand) by traveling the highway route that reaches the town of Trat (of the Province of Trat in Thailand) which lies beside the Thailand-Cambodia border. Across the border, on the Cambodian side, is Krong Koh Kong, ("Krong" means city) the capital town of the Province of Koh Kong.
This route is not as busy, as far as the number of tourists traveling this way to Cambodia, compared to the route from Bangkok going to Cambodia via Aranyaprathet. This past few years, however, the Cambodian immigration authority have registered a growing number of travelers entering Cambodia from Trat (Thailand) through Krong Koh Kong.
Bus Stops At Bus Terminal In Trat
The bus from Bangkok stops at the bus terminal in Trat. Vans, also parked at the Trat bus station, wait for passengers bound for Cambodia. The vans deliver and offload their passengers near the Thai passport checkpoint at the border-gate called Hat Lek. Just a walking distance away (less than 100 meters) from Hat Lek is the Cambodian passport checkpoint and border-gate, called Cham Yeam.
Local Transportation From Cham Yeam Border To Koh Kong
Taxis, motorcycle-drawn carriages called "tuktuk" and motorcycles wait in Cham Yeam to take passengers to the bus station in the town-proper of Krong Koh Kong. Buses and taxis in Krong Koh Kong travel to Phnom Penh or to Sihaoukville.
For detailed information about traveling overland from Bangkok to Phnom Penh via the Trat - KohKong route, click here.
The Bus Terminals in Bangkok Thailand
The Terminal of Buses Bound for Cambodia Via Aranyaprathet (for the Poipet Border-Gate)
Most buses bound for Cambodia via Aranyaprathet wait for passengers at Bangkok Bus Terminal Chatuchak. This bus station is also called "Mo Chit Bus Station" because it used to be located near the Mo Chit Bangkok Transit System (BTS) Station which is a skytrain station. The bus terminal is now located about two and half kilometers away from the skytrain station. Buses waiting for passengers in this bus terminal are those that travel to the northeastern provinces of Thailand, including Aranyaprathet which is beside the Thailand-Cambodia border.
Read the details of this at our webpage titled "How To Go To Cambodia Via Aranyaprathet". Click this link.
The Terminal of Buses Bound for Cambodia Via Trat (for the Koh Kong Border-Gate)
Most buses bound for Cambodia via Trat wait for passengers at the bus station called the Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal. It is also called "Ekkamai Bus Station" because it is right beside the Ekkamai Skytrain Station. The buses at the bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal travel to the eastern provinces of Thailand, including the southeastern province of Trat which is beside the Thailand-Cambodia border.
The Bus Terminal in Poipet Cambodia
The bus station in Poipet is just about 500 meters from the Cambodian passport and visa checkpoint. You need not even walk the distance. The government provides a bus, free of charge, that brings people to the Poipet Bus Station from the passport checkpoint. There are ticket windows in the bus station where you can buy bus tickets for Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Read details of this information at our webpage titled: "How To Go To Cambodia Via Aranyaprathet". Click here
The Bus Station in Koh Kong Cambodia
The bus station in Krong Koh Kong is along Street No. 12, near the Koh Kong Airport runway.
You can buy your bus ticket for Phnom Penh right there at the bus station. Prices vary from one bus line to another, from 25,000 Riel (about US$6.25) to 36,000 Riel (about US$9.00).
The bus for Phnom Penh leaves around 7:45 in the morning. The last bus trip, from Koh Kong to Phnom Penh, leaves around 12:45 in the afternoon.
The distance to travel, from Koh Kong to Phnom Penh, is about 275 kilometers (171 miles). Travel time takes, more or less, 5 hours. You will arrive in Phnom Penh around 6:00 in the evening.
It is wise, and more convenient, to have your hotel or guesthouse booked prior to your arrival in Phnom Penh.
The Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
The bus terminal in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam where buses, bound for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, wait for passengers is at the western end of Pham Ngu Lao Street.
Pham Ngu Lao Street is about 8 to 10 kilometers (more or less 5 miles) from the Tan Son Nhat International Airport of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), going south. Travel time from the airport to Pham Ngu Lao Street by taxi is, more or less, 20 minutes, depending on traffic density.
Read details of this information at our webpage titled: "How To Go To Cambodia from Vietnam". Click here
The Bus Stations in Phnom Penh Cambodia
The city of Phnom Penh up to now does not have a central bus terminal. Each company operating buses that ply the routes that go in and out of Cambodia to and from its neighboring countries has its own parking compund or space located in the city proper.
There are at least twenty companies, in Phnom Penh, that are operating buses, mini-buses and vans that transport passengers to Cambodia from neighboring countries (Thailand, Vietnam and Laos) and vice versa.
Listed below, in alphabetical order, are five of the twenty or more companies that have loading and offloading areas within the city of Phnom Penh. These five are the ones that have been observed to be the usual pick of tourists or that have more scheduled departures and arrivals in their respective places of origins and destinations.
SAPACO TOURIST BUS
SORYA TRANSPORT COMPANY
The Bus Stations in Siem Reap Cambodia
The main bus station in Siem Reap is located in a place called Borei Seang Nam. This is about four kilometers from the center of the city (using Highway 6 Rotunda as point of reference) going east.
The bus terminal is about one kilometer from the corner of Highway No. 6 and Bechtold Road, turning southward from the corner.
Some buses wait for passengers there. Others load their passengers in their own parking grounds but will pass by the bus terminal in Borei Seang Nam to pick up passengers there.
Listed below are the private bus stations of more frequently booked buses in Siem Reap.
How Safe Is Overland Travel to Cambodia?
Every year has a few reports of road accidents where tourists were among those involved. There are two opinions related to this that usually come up from among those who constantly travel in and out of Cambodia or between Cambodian provinces. The opinions are as follows:
Opinion #1. It is not advisable to take the bus that is scheduled for an overnight travel.
This opinion may be interpreted as: as much as possible take the bus that can deliver you to your destination before it gets too late in the evening.
Opinion #2. There are buses (or bus companies) that you need to avoid, and there are buses that you may consider safer to ride.
In relation to this, we prefer not to name the bus companies that have acquired negative impressions when safety on the road is being viewed and the number of road accidents where the buses of these bus companies were involved is taken into account.
We will rather list the names of bus companies that were noted (up to this year 2018) to have almost zero involvement in road accidents. The buses of these bus companies, named in alphabetical order, are considered safer to ride: the Giant Ibis, the Kumho Samco, the Mekong Express and the Sapaco Transport.
We will publish your unique bus experience
As already mentioned early in this page, the possibility of having an unpleasant experience in a bus ride can happen in any bus. Send to us your story, suggestion or comment about any significant bus ride experience you have had during your travel to and in Cambodia. Take note of the name of the bus you took. We will publish it if it can encourage improvements, good practice or warn others what to avoid. Other travellers will appreciate the information you can give. Email to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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