The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the transport sector in Cambodia. Lots of routes were cancelled, only slowly coming back now, and some companies that used to offer a reliable service, have gone belly-up. Especially transport companies mainly focusing on tourists have had a hard time to keep rolling.
One of the best places to check for available services and routes is the website BookMeBus, a real-time booking platform that not only allows you to compare different transportation / provider options, but also select your seats in the bus ahead of time. However, they do not partner with all bus companies in Cambodia.
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.
AVOID Virak Buntham
Whatever you book, never ever book a Virak Buntham bus! PERIOD
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).
Still not enough to make you avoid Virak Buntham? It was also discovered this ‘bus company’ illegally transports endangered wildlife species. There is a video on that: Virak Buntham bus transports 400 kilograms of wildlife.
In short: there have been many allegations against staff of Virak Buntham, including assaults, robberies, thefts, attempted rape, and criminal activities. After all these incidents, we’re surprised they’re still in business, despite calls from tourism officials, business-owners and residents of Sihanoukville and Siem Reap for a boycott of the controversial bus company.
Giant Ibis & Mekong Express are out of business
Giant Ibis Transport was launched in 2012 and was a very good bus company, it had the best road safety record of any bus company in Cambodia.
Mekong Express was for a few years also one of the best in Cambodia. However, in recent years the service seems to have gone down the drain, judging by the many complaints on TripAdvisor.
Both companies used to mainly attract tourists, and both completely stopped operating in 2020, when the tourist industry grind to a halt due to COVID-19. They have not come back to life since, and we doubt they ever will. Mekong Express and Giant Ibis still have websites up and running, but when trying to book you cannot find any available dates.
Cambodia Post VIP Van
This minivan service is often overlooked, but it’s one of the best and … cheapest! These minivans of the Cambodia Postal Service of course deliver post and packages, but also have seats available. They used to service many destinations in Cambodia, but at the time of writing passenger services are only available from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Kampot, and vice versa.
Judging by the reviews on TripAdvisor most people have had mostly positive experiences with the Post’s minivans, so it’s something worth checking out for your next trip.
Check out the current schedules of the Cambodia Post minivan.
Capitol Tours & Transport
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 old.
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!