Now that the road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is fully paved and the trip takes only six hours, there’s no better time to get a glimpse of the Cambodian countryside through a bus window. PSD Xpress is a new company running full-size buses twice a day. If you’re trying to decide which company to take for the bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, I’ve got a report from a recent trip (I’m actually writing this review on the bus right now).
PSD Xpress is aimed at the tourist market, positioning themselves alongside Giant Ibis and Mekong Express. But how do they compare?
Upon boarding, passengers are given a bottle of water, Blue Pumpkin croissant, and the obligatory wet wipe that is offered on every bus and even the odd fine-dining establishment in Cambodia.
The air-conditioned buses, which seat 45 passengers, are not new, but are in good condition. The seats are comfortable and are a bit wider, offering slightly more space than Giant Ibis. There’s a huge recline option on each seat, which is great for the sleepy passenger on an empty bus. Each seat has a individual power adaptor — most seem to have British, American, and European inputs, but some were American and European only. The power supply is excellent; my phone was fully charged in an hour. On other buses they must throttle the power supply because while you get enough juice to keep playing Candy Crush, it doesn’t offer much reserve power.
Above each set of seats there is a control to turn the speaker on or off, but mercifully there was no movie playing on this trip. My only complaint is that there were a few minor repair jobs needed — one of the overhead vents was dripping cold water and I saw a broken power outlet, but overall the buses were in far better shape than Mekong Express’s aging fleet.
One nice thing about the PSD Xpress trip is that they do not pick up passengers along the way. This is common practice in Cambodia so the driver can make a little extra cash, but it can add a significant amount of extra time to a trip, as the bus stops multiple times to pick up and drop off passengers in various towns along the way. On PSD Xpress they even have a sign on every seat asking passengers to please report it if the driver engages in this activity. On my trip they didn’t stop a single time, although they drove a little faster than I would have liked.
There were two stops on the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh trip. One was at Lim Bunnla Restaurant in Kampong Thom and the other was at Bathey Rest Area in Skun. Both had clean bathrooms (pro tip: bring your own toilet paper if you need it) and reasonably priced food. At just about every rest stop on bus trips in Cambodia the dining options are far more expensive than out in the real world, but neither of these places engaged in the price gouging that is one of my least favorite things about bus travel in the kingdom.
Their offices, particularly in Phnom Penh, are better than any we’ve seen in Cambodia before. They sell travel gear that would be handy on the trip (such as eyemasks) and even have an espresso machine. For once, arriving early won’t seem to bad.
For now, the best thing about PSD Xpress is that no one knows about it. The buses are running back and forth between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap nearly empty, offering passengers ample space to spread out and enjoy the ride. If Giant Ibis’ ascent is anything to go on, it’s likely that the PSD Xpress buses will not be running at full capacity for at least a year, which makes it an attractive choice in the meantime. As someone who travels alone on this route often, I’d much rather have an empty seat next to me than a stranger in elephant pants.
PSD Xpress schedule:
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 8 a.m., 10:30 p.m.
Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville: 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh: 8:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 per person and can be reserved online for a small additional fee of less than $1. When you book online you can choose your seat in advance. Book PSD Xpress tickets now.
PSD Xpress also have buses from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville for $11.
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