These days, there are a couple of easy ways to go from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. There are options to fit every budget, but some are nicer than others. Currently the road is in abysmal condition, so if you’re going by land, be prepared for a bumpy ride for a fair amount of the trip of the trip which now takes between 6 and 7.5 hours.
There are dozens of bus companies offering service between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Many are old, overcrowded and make dozens of stops (but are cheap, running around $6). The most popular amongst expats was Mekong Express, who are known for their safety record albeit shabby older buses. In 2012 a new company, Giant Ibis, started running buses between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and have quickly become the new favorite. They offer WiFi and, most recently, power outlets on board. We’ve got a detailed review of Giant Ibis buses from a recent trip, including photos. Both companies take 7 or 7.5 hours and include a stop for food. You can purchase tickets for both companies at nearly any travel agent or guesthouse in both cities, and Giant Ibis also offers online reservations.
Giant Ibis also has a night bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap that runs in both directions at 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. I have a longstanding fear of night buses, but Giant Ibis’ version is as safe and relaxed as one could hope. Read a detailed review of the Giant Ibis night bus.
Tickets cost $12 on Mekong Express for foreigners and $9 for Khmers and $15 on Giant Ibis for all passengers.
Giant Ibis Schedule:
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap: 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.
Siem Reap – Phnom Penh: 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.
T: 023 999 333
Street 106, Phnom Penh
T: 023 987 808
6A Sivatha Road, Siem Reap
T: 063 768 808
Mekong Express Schedule:
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 14:25 p.m.
Siem Reap – Phnom Penh: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:45 p.m., 12:30 p.m.
Booking office outside Orussey Market, Phnom Penh
T: 012 78 78 39; 098 833 399; 023 427 518
Siem Reap T: : 063 963 662; 012 315 858
Cambodia Angkor Air operate flights between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh five or six times daily. This is the fastest (and most expensive) way to travel; if you’re short on time, flying is the best option because it only takes about 45 minutes. Cambodia Angkor Air is not the most reliable airline in the world, and if a flight is mostly empty, they will bump you to the next flight. In high season, though, flights are usually booked solid. Flights can be booked online or through any travel agent. The cost is $100+ for a one way flight or $200+ for a round trip. Occasionally travel agents can get better deals, so it’s worth asking. Read our full review of Cambodia Angkor Air with booking tips.
Cambodia Angkor Air 2015 High Season Schedule:
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap: 8:50 a.m. Mon and Tues only, 10:40 a.m. daily, 12:00 p.m. Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat only, 13:10 p.m. Mon-Tues-Wed only, 14:05 p.m. Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs-Fri only, 15:55 p.m. Mon only, 17:50 p.m. Mon-Wed-Fri only
Siem Reap – Phnom Penh: 8:00 a.m. Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun only, 11:20 a.m. Thurs-Sun only, 15:25 p.m. daily, 17:30 p.m. Thurs-Fri only, 20:45 p.m. Tues-Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun only
Expats in the know seem to travel by mini-bus, as the trip is significantly shorter than by bus. There are many, many mini bus companies covering this route, but we’ve personally vetted the ones below.
Elephant Express (aka Elephant Expresses Transportation) was recommended to me by a friend who does the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh route often, and swears that Elephant is the safest of all of the mini-bus services between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I’ve taken them, and agree that they seem relatively safe compared to some of the other companies. They make the trip in between six and six and a half hours, occasionally have WiFi and drive comfortable 16-seat Toyota HiAces. Seats on Elephant Express cost $8 for Khmers and $10 for foreigners. The price includes a tuk tuk pickup at your hotel in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Read our full review of Elephant Express here.
Seila Angkor is popular mini-bus company that does the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route. The trip takes between five and six hours. With the current road conditions, in order to do the trip in five hours the drivers need to take some hair-raising liberties, and occasionally they can drive faster than I’m comfortable with. Most of the time, though, the trip takes six hours and the drivers go at a reasonable pace. Seila Angkor run 16-seat Ford Transit vans, and all seats come with a removable head/neck rest, a small bottle of water and a moist towelette. It’s good to understand the seat setup before you book, because you can reserve seats by number. Read our full review of Seila Angkor mini bus here.
Mey Hong Transport (formerly Apsara) is the most popular company, with comfortable mini buses equipped with seat belts going between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap four times daily. The trip takes a hair-raising 5 hours and costs $10 for tourists and $8 for locals (including expats). The only downside is that the Phnom Penh office is located in Toul Kork, slightly outside central Phnom Penh. You’ll easily get a tuk tuk from the station into town for a couple of bucks, but you’ll save money by walking away from the Mey Hong station and getting a tuk tuk on the street rather than one of the vultures at the station who wait for unsuspecting tourists to price gouge.
Seila Angkor Schedule:
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.
Seila Angkor Khmer Express
#63 National Road 6 (across from Samaki Market), Siem Reap
T: 097 777 7393; 077 888 080
#43Eo, Street 154, Phnom Penh
T: 023 697 1888; 012 766 976; 077 697 672
Elephant Express Schedule:
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at: 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at: 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Elephant Expresses Transportation
#5 Street 118, Phnom Penh
T: 023 983 133; 012 323 172; 097 888 1149
#18, National Road 6, Phum Bateay Chas, Sangkat Slorkram, Siem Reap
T: 063 963 133; 012 323 175; 011 549 999; 097 888 1139
Mey Hong Transport Schedule:
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Mey Hong Transport
#213 Street 289, Toul Kork, Phnom Penh
T: 092 411 611; 023 63 72 722
0667 National Road 6, Siem Reap
T: 088 84 11 633; 063 965 979
Taxis between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost between $65 to 85. If you are catching a taxi directly from the airport, expect to pay more. Private taxis are almost always Toyota Camrys and can fit 4 passengers as long as they don’t have a lot of luggage. The trunks are not huge, so if you’ve got more than one piece per person, it’s going to be a tight squeeze. Private taxis can be hired through any guesthouse or travel agent. Most tuk tuk drivers also have a few taxi-driving friends and relatives, so ask around and you’ll easily find one. Make sure to confirm the price before the trip, as misunderstandings are common (and frustrating). SUV taxis are also available through many travel agents. 5-6 hours.
Mini-van taxis between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost between $100 and $180 and can carry up to 15 passengers. If you’ve got more than a couple people and want to give the bus a miss, this is a good option. The vans are usually new and clean, but ask to make sure the one you hire has seat belts. You can hire mini-van taxis in Phnom Penh next to the Landscape Hotel across from the Cambodiana Hotel on Sisoqwath Quay. Van drivers gather there and you can negotiate your own price. Mini-vans can also be booked through any travel agent or hotel, but you’ll get a better price if you go direct. If you aren’t in Phnom Penh, you can call Sopheap Bung. Sopheap works with several other van drivers and can organize the right size van for you. His number is 012 894 155 and the trip takes about 6 hours.
Another option is a shared taxi. You can get shared taxis from the southwest corner of Central Market (Psar Thmei) in Phnom Penh. The cost is approximately $6-12 per person, and the drivers wait until they have enough customers to fill up the taxi like a sardine can. Although the cars are 5-seater Camrys, most will wait for at least seven passengers (plus the driver) before departing. Offer to pay extra to take the front seat, otherwise you’ll be squeezed in with three or four others in the backseat. The journey takes 5-6 hours.
Between July and March ferries run between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (they do not run during the dry season when the water levels are low). Travel is generally best during the wet season when water levels are high. The boats do not meet international safety standards, are run down and are known to break down fairly regularly. During high season, there are usually scores more onboard than there are seats for. That said, it’s a nice way to travel, and you can sit on top and watch the countryside go by (but be sure to wear sun protection!) Tickets cost $35 and leave from the Phnom Penh Port on Sisowath Quay near Street 104 at 7:30 a.m. Depending on the season and water levels, the trip can take between four and eight hours.