These days, there are a couple of easy ways to go from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh including bus, boat, plane, taxi, and mini-bus. There are options to fit every budget, but some are nicer than others. Right now the road is in great condition and it’s a smooth ride (fingers crossed it will stay this way). The journey takes between 5 and 6.5 hours, depending on your mode of transport.
The road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap offers a glimpse of Cambodian country life, as it barrels past rice paddies, traditional wooden houses, and water buffalo and cows lazily grazing on the side of the road. The views are best appreciated from a full-size bus, as the mini-buses are more crowded and have smaller windows. If you get carsick, the bus is a better option as it’s a bit slower and significantly less bumpy.
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. Mekong Express has a solid reputation. On this route they almost always run full-size buses, but if they don’t get enough bookings you may end up on a mini-bus.
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 power outlets on board. Read our review of Giant Ibis buses from a recent trip for more info. Giant Ibis also has a night bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap that runs in both directions at 10:30, 11, and 11:30 p.m. Read a detailed review of the Giant Ibis night bus. The trip takes about 6 hours on both Mekong Express and Giant Ibis.
Tickets cost $13 on Mekong Express for foreigners and $10 for Khmers and $15 on Giant Ibis for all passengers. You can book bus tickets and select your seat online in advance for Mekong Express and Giant Ibis for an extra $1.
For other bus options from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap that you can book online, check out BookMeBus.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:25 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:45 p.m., 12:30 p.m.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11 p.m., 11:30 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11 p.m., 11:30 p.m.
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.
Cambodia Post VIP Van is my current favorite mini-bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. This government-owned transport company runs brand-new (and very comfortable) Toyota HiAce vans between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. They only carry 13 passengers at a time, so it’s less claustrophobic than other companies. The trip takes about 5.5 hours with two stops and they drive cautiously — they even have a sign on the back of the van saying “How’s my driving?” with a phone number to call. Another bonus is they do not engage in dual pricing and Cambodians and foreigners pay the same price, $8. Read our full review of Cambodia Post VIP Van.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at: 7:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at: 7:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
Larryta Express runs a fleet of 15-passenger Ford Transit Vans nine times a day between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The buses are new and clean. The drivers drive fast, but not terrifyingly and trip takes a little under 5.5 hours, including two stops. Because of the regular departures, you don’t need to purchase tickets more than a day in advance. Tickets cost $8 for Cambodians and $10 for foreigners. Read our full review of Larryta Express.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Seila Angkor is popular mini-bus company that does the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route with 18 departures every day. The drivers occasionally take some hair-raising liberties, and drive faster than I’m comfortable with, but if you are tolerant of danger they can get you there in 5 hours or less. Most of the time, though, the trip takes 5.5 hours and the drivers go at a reasonable pace. Seila Angkor run 16-seat Ford Transit vans, and you can reserve seats by number. Read our full review of Seila Angkor mini bus.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m.
You can book tickets for Cambodia VIP Van, Larryta Express, Seila Angkor and many other mini-bus companies on BookMeBus. If you use an international credit card the cost is $1 for the entire transaction (not per ticket) and you can reserve a seat at the time of booking.
There are now three airlines operating daily flights between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. 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. We have a entire blog post comparing all of the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap flights if you’re thinking of flying.
Cambodia Angkor Air is the national carrier and the most expensive option. 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. There are also two new airlines flying from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice-versa) once daily with prices as low as $40 return. Read our full review of Bayon Airlines and our review of Bassaka Air.
Taxis between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost between $65 to $100. 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 reserved in advance online (at surprisingly reasonable rates) or hired through any guesthouse or travel agent. Make sure to confirm the price before the trip, as misunderstandings are common (and frustrating). Expect your taxi driver to stop multiple times to pick up and drop off packages along the way. If you are paying on the high end of the scale, it’s fair to ask (in advance) that they do not make extra stops. 5-6 hours.
Mini-van taxis between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost between $100 and $200 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.
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 usually 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. Although the boats are probably not as safe as what you’d find at home, they have started increasing the safety standards and a new company, Mekong Explore, actually has life jackets for passengers. Most passengers opt for sitting on the top of the boat (so bring sunblock) and watch the countryside go by. The boat goes through some interesting floating villages outside of Siem Reap. Boats leave from both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh at 7:30 a.m. and the trip takes about six hours. Tickets cost $28 and can be purchased online in advance (which is a good idea in high season).
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