Getting from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: A traveler review

We’d spent much longer than we’d anticipated in Siem Reap (eleven days to be precise), but after an incredibly busy month in Thailand, we wanted to base ourselves in one place for a little while. 

And of course, we had to give ourselves plenty of time to see Angkor Wat and all the surrounding temples!

Once our time had come to an end at Pool Party Hostel in Siem Reap, (I’d highly recommend this place, it’s so cheap and is equipped with a pool, an on-site restaurant and very friendly staff), it was time to move on to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, with the help of Giant Ibis.

The journey to the middle of nowhere

If you’ve ever been to Siem Reap, you’ll know just how atrocious the road conditions are there. There’s virtually no concrete or solid tarmac anywhere, it’s all just sand and dirt and rubble.

We ordered a tuk tuk via PassApp (I’d definitely recommend downloading this app while you’re in Cambodia as it’s much cheaper than flagging down a tuk tuk from the side of the road) at 8:30 am and we arrived at the Giant Ibis Bus Terminal in Siem Reap just before 9:00 am.

Our bus didn’t depart until 9:45 am but I’m sure you’ll know by now if you’ve read any of my previous route reviews that I’m partial to being extraordinarily early.

Giant Ibis bus terminal, Siem Reap

The Giant Ibis Bus Terminal is practically in the middle of nowhere in Siem Reap so there’s not an awful lot to see or do around it, if you do decide to arrive early.

However, there are a couple of stalls selling various drinks, crisps and sweets so we stocked up on some Pringles, bottles of water and some noodles for my boyfriend, Matt.

There’s a little Giant Ibis office where we showed our email confirmation ticket to the staff who told us to wait inside the office until it was time to go.

All aboard

We boarded the bus to Phnom Penh just before 9:45 am and handed our luggage to the driver who promptly put it in the hold-all area underneath the bus.

Pro tip: I’d recommend having a lock or some kind of security system on your backpack when travelling in Southeast Asia. Thankfully, we’ve never had any issues with our belongings being stolen or going missing, but I have heard bad things from other travellers who’ve had issues in the past. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

The bus wasn’t completely full so there were plenty of seats available and it was such a refreshing haven in the air-conditioned bus, away from the intense heat outside. We’ve actually found Cambodia to be one of the worst places we’ve visited in our 10+ months of travelling in terms of air-con, so this was a delightful surprise.

Giant Ibis bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

We were also so happy to discover that there was free Wi-Fi on board the bus which is always a welcomed addition on any long bus journey. I’m also very pleased to say that it actually worked well too, as some buses claim to have free Wi-Fi and then the connection is so terrible, that you might as well not even bother!

Interior of Giant Ibis bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

Once everyone was settled on the bus and we were well underway, a member of the Giant Ibis bus staff came round and provided us with a small bottle of water and a pain au chocolat each. I always love little touches like this on transport as even if you forget to bring your own food or drink, you’re still well catered for.

At 11:45 am, the bus stopped for 45-minutes at a little roadside cafe where you could buy lunch and use the toilet. However, we found it to be pretty expensive for what it was (between $4 and $7 for a light meal) so we just stuck to our Pringles instead.

I spent the next couple of hours watching Netflix on my phone and intermittently napping, before the bus pulled over again at 2:20 pm for a brief restroom stop. I’m always grateful that most bus companies in this part of the world take the initiative to stop regularly at restrooms as it can be very uncomfortable to embark on a lengthy bus journey without knowing when you can relieve yourself!

The rest of the bus journey was pretty effortless and went without a hiccup. The road conditions in most of Cambodia seem to be very run down and not well cared for at all, so it was a little bumpy at times, but it wasn’t necessarily any worse than we’d experienced anywhere else in Southeast Asia.

The bus arrived in Phnom Penh at 3:40 pm which was actually 5 minutes earlier than scheduled. Little wins like this always feel good when you’ve had a long day of travelling!

The arrival location in Phnom Penh is very small and it’s essentially down a very tight, narrow road so the huge bus really struggles to park seamlessly. However, we all managed to get off the bus without a hiccup and thanks to the Wi-Fi that we were still connected to on the bus, we managed to order a tuk tuk to our accommodation via PassApp.

The journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh felt very easy and quick, especially compared to our more lengthy journeys such as the one from Krabi to Bangkok in Thailand. 

Giant Ibis are also always a great company to travel with and I would happily make that journey again.

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