Best Backpacker Transport Routes: Siem Reap To Phnom Penh
At the moment there are a number of simple ways to get from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh including plane, bus, mini-bus, and boat. It all depends on your backpacking budget and itinerary.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: Plane
Unless you’ve got Lewis Hamilton as your bus driver, the plane is of course the quickest way to get from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. There are 3 airlines that currently fly direct from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (one of which you should definitely avoid):
Cambodia Angkor Air (around $80) – this trusted airline has been around for ages, is owned by the Cambodian government and has the best safety standards. Flight time is about 50 minutes.
Bassaka Air (around $40) – Bassaka is a newcomer to Cambodian airspace. The airline is also trusted and tends to offer one or two flights a day. Flight time is around 45 minutes.
Cambodia Bayon Airlines (around $100) – Bayon is currently flying the infamous Chinese MA60 propelled planes, which have been banned from flying in a number of other countries. Bring a parachute with you if you decide to ride this rollercoaster.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: Bus
The road from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is one of the smoothest wagon ways in Cambodia. Traveling overland also gives you a window into the livelihoods of rural Cambodia. You’ll be cruising past rice paddies, old wooden houses, and maybe even the odd buffalo staring you down.
The best company to travel with…
Giant Ibis, hands down. The bus company started operating in 2012 and has quickly become a traveler favourite. They have WiFi and power outlets on board: room for Netflix and chilling on the go. Tickets are $15. The trip will take around 6 hours.
Giant Ibis departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 8:45am, 9:45am, 12:30pm, 10:30pm, 11pm, 11:30pm
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: Mini-Bus
Journeys from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by Mini Bus tend to be much quicker than by Bus; but there’s always the chance of riding in a sweatbox and sitting inches from the armpit of a sweaty German (true story!).
However, if you do want to shave an hour or so off your bus journey time, we would recommend traveling with Cambodia Post VIP Van. The mini-bus company is government owned and tends to run a fresh fleet of Toyota vehicles.
A lovely sign is that they don’t carry out the dual pricing plan, both locals and travelers pay the same rate, around $8.
The only downside, they only depart twice a day…
Cambodia Post VIP Van departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 7:30am, 2pm
If those departure times don’t quite fit into your itinerary, then take your pick from Seila Angkor’s 18 departure times a day from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. These drivers tend to cut a few corners but can get you there in less than 5 hours.
Tickets are $8 for locals and $10 for travelers, so get practicing your best Cambodian phrases and faces.
Seila Angkor departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 6:30am, 7am, 7:30am, 8am, 8:30am, 9am, 9:30am, 10am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:45am, 1:30pm, 2pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 11pm
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: Boat
This is definitely the most adventurous of the four transport options. The ferries tend to run across Tonle Sap Lake between July and March during the wet season, as the water levels can get very low in the dry season.
These vessels would struggle to meet international safety standards and have been known to break down on occasion. However, when they are on form, you chill out on top, soak up some rays and watch the countryside float by.
Tickets cost around $35 and the trip can take between 4 and 8 hours.
The boat departs at 7:30am.
Now you’re on your way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, you might as well check out our coolest ‘Things To Do In Phnom Penh‘.
Best Backpacker Transport Routes: Siem Reap To Battambang
Other than Siem Reap, Battambang is the most popular traveler spot in Northwestern Cambodia. These are the best transport options for making the journey from Siem Reap to Battambang…
Siem Reap to Battambang: Boat
Yo ho ho-ing with a bottle of rum. The most beautiful journey from Siem Reap to Battambang is by boat. Again, as we mentioned earlier, this route is hugely impacted by the water level. The waters tend to be fully flowing during the wet season, July to March.
The views are mesmerizing. You’ll be bobbing along past many small fishing villages alongside the beautiful Cambodian countryside. The boats seat up to 14 people, but have been known to cram up to 20 on board.
Tickets cost around $20 each. However, if you want to flash the cash ‘Boats & Ho’s’ style, the entire boat can be booked for $180. This scenic trip can take between 8 and 10 hours.
The boat sets sail at 7am.
Siem Reap to Battambang: Bus
There are a number of dodgy local bus companies that drive this route. We would recommend traveling with Capitol Tours,which runs some very reasonable 42-seater buses.
The journey tends to be around 3 hours, during which there is a high likelihood you will be treated to some debatable Khmer karaoke videos. Earplugs in. A ticket for this karaoke road trip costs around $4.50 and includes a free mini-bus pick-up from your hostel.
Local travel agents to do try and rip off travelers for these bus tickets. We would advise going directly to the bus company ticket office.
Battambang bus depot is slightly out of town, so jump in a tuk-tuk to take you to your hostel.
Capitol Tours departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Battambang: 7:30am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 1:30pm
Siem Reap to Battambang: Mini Bus
If you’re feeling in a Mini Bus kind of mood, Mekong Express is the one for you. The company is a long-standing traveler favourite from Siem Reap to Battambang, especially as they have a reliable safety record.
Last time we traveled with them they had also been very good chaps and stopped the dual pricing nonsense. Tickets cost $6 for both locals and travelers. The trip takes about 3 hours.
Mekong Express departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Battambang: 8am, 2pm
Battambang’s got some unbelievably good munch up for grabs. See which tickles your fancy in our ‘Where To Eat In Battambang‘.
Best Backpacker Transport Routes: Siem Reap To Sihanoukville
It’s a ball ache that two of Cambodia’s hottest backpacker destinations happen to lie on opposite sides of the country. There are, however, a whole host of transport options for you to choose from when traveling from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville…
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville: Plane
We’ll kick off proceedings with the plane because it is oh so simple, but of course comes at a cost. Cambodia Angkor Airlines has one flight out of Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, which costs anywhere from $100 to $150 depending on the season.
This is only a one hour flight, compared to the much lengthier overland routes which I will talk you through now.
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville: Direct Bus
As the crow flies, Sihanoukville is only 200 miles from Siem Reap. However, traveling overland can be as long as 350 miles.
There are only a handful number of bus companies that do the direct journey from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville without stopping. Virak Buntham, Sorya and GST are the most commonly used bus companies.
This direct bus route is notorious for being one of the most dangerous in Cambodia. We’ve traveled this route many times; one time the bus ended up colliding with a taxi and careering of the road into a ditch. No locals or travelers were harmed during the unfolding of this story. Still, we recommend breaking up the journey with a stop in Phnom Penh and avoiding overnight trips.
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville: Bus
Giant Ibis run a service between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which involves catching a connecting bus in Phnom Penh. Tickets usually have to be bought the day before from a local travel agent or the bus company’s ticket office, and cost around $14.
The journey is speculated to be around 12 hours of fun-filled bus action.
The Giant Ibis bus departs daily from Siem Reap at 8:30pm.
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville: Bus & Mini Bus
Everyone loves a combo meal. This route, in our eyes, is the safest transport option from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, but is slightly more expensive.
The company we would recommend using is Giant Ibis. They use two separate drivers for the overnight journey to Phnom Penh, just to make sure there’s no spontaneous napping at the wheel.
You will be transported on a full size bus to Phnom Penh before hopping into one of the Giant Ibis mini-buses to cruise you on down to Sihanoukville town. The journey takes about 12 hours and costs around $23.
Giant Ibis departure timetable:
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville: 8:45am, 9am, 9:45am, 12:30pm, 11pm, 11:30pm
Heading to Sihanoukville? Discover the one secret jungle party you can’t miss out on in our ‘Sihanoukville Nightlife‘.
Best Backpacker Transport Routes: Siem Reap To Kampot
These journeys are an absolute mission, but can all be done within a day if you’re up early and efficient.
Almost all overland transport options from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville or Kampot will pass through Phnom Penh.
Regardless of which of these coastal towns you are heading to, your best bet is to jump into one of the first mini-buses that leave Battambang in the morning.
Both Mekong Express ($12) and Mean Chey Express ($9) have services that depart at 7:30am. The journey will take around 5 hours, so you should be touching down in Phnom Penh by 12:30pm.
Giant Ibis then have a mini-bus service that departs Phnom Penh towards Kampot at 2:45pm. This should leave you more than enough time to get across to the bus depot.
The journey to Kampot from Phnom Penh should cost around $10 and you will be touching down at this coastal paradise in perfect time for an evening feast.
If you’re committing to this trek, you might as well treat yourself to an epic night’s sleep when you get there. Then shimmy on over to ‘Mad Monkey Hostel Kampot‘.
On The Road Again…
Whichever destination and routes you choose to take, be sure to stay safe. Keep your valuables close to you at all times and make sure you’ve got some water.
Trouble sleeping? You can buy some magical and legal pharmaceutical sleeping pills called Diazepam (aka Valium) over the counter, which will help you well on your way to sleeping like a baby.
Safe journey compadres.
From Siem Reap To Phnom Penh & Beyond – How Did We Do?
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Mad Monkey Hostels operates in the following Cambodian locations: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot, Koh Rong Samloem