How to Travel Around Cambodia by Bus
Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries in South-East Asia. Even though the country has seen some dark days in its recent history and is not as developed as its neighbour Thailand, it still has much to offer to travellers and tourists from all across the world. With the country’s emergence as a growing international tourist hub, it’s no surprise that an ever-increasing number of travellers are making their way to Cambodia every year.
One of the most frequently asked questions with regards to travel within Cambodia is which form of public transport to choose. While there are tuktuks, taxis and trains, the most popular form of travelling within the country is via buses. Buses are cheap in Cambodia and if you are planning a trip to the country on a shoestring budget, then Cambodia bus services are what you should be looking out for.
Over the course of this article, we will discuss the bus services in Cambodia, their quality and whether or not you should prefer them over other forms of transport. So, let’s get going!
Local Buses or MinibusesIf you want to save your money while travelling short distances in Cambodia, you should hop aboard a local Cambodia bus. However, expect your bus ride to be anything but comfortable, as these buses get extremely congested, especially during peak traffic hours. Thanks to their low rates, these minibuses are the preferred choice of public transport for most locals as well.
Most drivers of these local buses take their own sweet time in driving passengers from one place to another. They make stops frequently to pick up more passengers as they go. By the time you finish half your journey, you can expect the bus to be packed to the brim, absolutely overflowing with people.
These buses don’t look the poshest and nor are they meant to be. They simply offer a cheap means of travel that is not necessarily fast. If you are in a hurry to get to your destination, perhaps a taxi or a tuktuk would be a better but more expensive option. Local buses also do not make stops for snacks and toilet breaks, so it’s best to use a toilet before you step into one.
While you are aboard a Cambodia bus, do not for even second ignore your belongings. Cambodia’s tourist hubs are garnering a not-so-welcome reputation for robberies and thefts are easier in congested environments.
Points to Remember• Local buses are the cheapest form of public transport in Cambodia
• They can get very congested and their movement is quite slow
• They are best for tourists on low budgets
• If speed is what you want, taxis and tuktuks are better options
• Be careful about your belongings on board a local bus, as thefts have been reported
Luxury BusesFor long journeys, some luxury bus services are also available. Cambodia bus travel on these buses is much more comfortable than travelling on local buses. Private luxury bus operators don’t just provide buses between the major cities in Cambodia; they also provide cross-border buses. These buses generally ply at night and make stops for food and toilet breaks. Two of the most popular luxury bus services include Giant Ibis and Mekong Express.
Giant Ibis has emerged as the most popular luxury Cambodia bus operator. Apart from its well-maintained buses, the operator also boasts of courteous staffs that are quite fluent in English, which is surprising as most of the local population use only Khmer, the local language. The quality of the buses is top-notch, which guarantees safety and comfort. Some of the buses offer Wi-Fi internet connectivity as well.
Another popular luxury bus operator is Mekong Express, which offers buses for travel not just within Cambodia but cross-border buses as well. Mekong Express’ buses are purchased from Japan and feature exceptional build and safety standards. Their bus attendants may not be as well-versed as those of Giant Ibis’ in English, but they are extremely friendly and hospitable. If you want your Cambodia bus travel to be comfortable, luxury bus services are what you should choose.
Points to Remember• Giant Ibis and Mekong Express are the most well-known luxury bus operators
• Luxury buses offer comfort, safety, internet access along with snacks and toilet breaks
• No congestion onboard luxury buses
How to Book Seats on a Cambodia BusEven though online booking services for Cambodia buses are just taking their baby steps, you can still get amazing deals on some online booking platforms. BookMeBus and CamboTicket are two of the most popular platforms for online Cambodia bus bookings. Both these services keep offering deals and discounts to help you make your Cambodia bus travel luxurious and affordable at the same time.
Seats for local Cambodia buses, however, cannot be booked online, and you must make your way to the bus terminals to get tickets for them. In local buses, the trend is that the first people to arrive get the seats. So, don’t be disappointed if you see all the seats taken. You will still be allowed to stand inside the bus and travel if you have a ticket.
All in all, it can be said that Cambodia bus travel is still evolving. While there are loads of local buses for short distances, they are only worth it if you are very low on money. However, luxury Cambodia bus services are affordable and absolutely ideal for long-distance travel within Cambodia.
Here’s hoping that you have a very memorable Cambodia bus experience!