Review: Giant Ibis buses, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

The trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by bus has improved by leaps and bounds recently. The road is fully paved now, and the trip now takes between 5.5 and 6.5 hours. This can feel like an eternity when traveling with some of Cambodia’s less illustrious bus companies, as they stop to pick up and drop off passengers all along the way. But Giant Ibis Transport is different. As I write this, I’m sitting on a new Giant Ibis bus, connected to the onboard WiFi and wondering how I ever managed this trip before they came along.

A photo of one of the new Giant Ibis buses in Cambodia

Riding in style with Giant Ibis, Cambodia.

Giant Ibis Transport began operations in 2012 and offers a variety of services that will appeal particularly to foreigners. Their fleet of buses is new, the seats lean back, they offer free WiFi, power outlets, a bottle of water and a pastry and their staff speak English. They are also the only full-size bus company in Cambodia to offer seat belts. Best of all, they offer online booking and seat reservation, thus eliminating the 30-odd minutes one would usually have to spend at a travel agent while they call the bus company and laboriously write out a ticket.

The trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap takes about 6.5 hours give or take about thirty minutes. It’s a nice way to see a bit of the countryside; along the way you’ll see traditional Khmer homes, family gardens, rice paddies, flocks of ducks, and water buffalo being led home. The 38-foot buses seat 41 passengers and while there are no toilets on board, the bus stops at the 1.5 and 3.5 hour mark. The first stop isn’t always the same, but always has a relatively clean Western toilet. The other stop is a restaurant contracted by Giant Ibis called Banyan Tree on National Highway 6 near Kampong Thom.

The Banyan Tree restaurant is a stop along the way on the Giant Ibis journey.

A 30 minute stop at the Banyan Tree is a small price to pay for a luxurious trip.

While on one hand, it does feel like a bit of a hustle to be forced to sit at a bus company-contracted restaurant for 30 minutes, there’s no way of avoiding this. Every bus company in the country stops at places that pay them for the business, and it will even happen when you take a private taxi. The plus side of Banyan Tree is that they have the same prices for Khmers and foreigners, an anomaly in the Cambodia rest stop world. The food is bland, and prices are typical rest stop levels (read: higher than you’d expect). And while Giant Ibis doesn’t own the place, they do hygiene inspections to make sure that everything is up to their standards. Moreover, the toilets are clean and have toilet paper. So overall, I can’t really complain.

Onboard, Giant Ibis offer movies in English, which are generally family-friendly action movies — anything that was once a comic book seems to be fair game. Seats have individual switches for the speakers, so the noise is not quite as unbearable for those who aren’t interested in watching the movie, and as time progresses they have been lowering the volume, perhaps recognizing that no one watches the movie anyway.

WiFi is offered onboard, using 3G. This means that the connection is available when there’s a 3G signal available, which is more than half the journey. It doesn’t work in the more rural parts of the trip, but there’s no avoiding that; this isn’t the fault of Giant Ibis, there is just no service there. The latest exciting addition are individual power outlets on all of the buses between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. They’re international-style plugs that feature inputs for most standard plugs from around the world.

Giant Ibis siem reap phnom penh interior

Interior of a Giant Ibis on the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh route. Yowza!

This isn’t the only thing that sets Giant Ibis apart from the other bus companies in Cambodia. One of my favorite things about the journey is that it does not involve multiple pickups and dropoffs along the way — previous expat favorite Mekong Express often takes an hour just getting in and out of Phnom Penh due to the extra stops.

The best thing about Giant Ibis, though, is safety. They have a maximum speed of 95 kph/60 mph, and management is alerted automatically if drivers go over this speed. The company has ten full-time mechanics and their dedication to safety seems very genuine.

Of course everything is not perfect — the seats are narrow enough that it’s unpleasant to sit next to a portly stranger, but they have more legroom than any of the mini-buses. The drop-offs can be a bit chaotic, but they’ve worked to improve this since my last review.

Currently, buses run from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at 8:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., the schedule is the same in the opposite direction, with buses from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as well. They also have a night bus service in both directions at 10:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m., and 11:30 p.m which I’ve taken many times and was pleasantly surprised. Review: Giant Ibis night bus, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap.

Tickets on the Giant Ibis Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route cost $15, and prices are the same for locals and foreigners. You can buy tickets online and choose your seats in advance.

Buses drop off in Phnom Penh at the Giant Ibis office across from the night market on Street 106 and at the new Giant Ibis bus station in Siem Reap [map].

Giant Ibis

T: 095 777 808
giantibis.com
Buy tickets online

Ticket offices:
Street 106 (across from the Night Market), Phnom Penh [map]
T: 023 987 808

6A Sivatha Road, Siem Reap [map]
T: 095 777 809

82 Responses to Review: Giant Ibis buses, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

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  1. marco says:

    Hi there
    can i ask if is there any alternative to Giant Ibis night bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville (via or not Phnom Penn?
    i’m reading many complaining about this transfert
    i am worried that the night bus will not arrive in time to get the earliest bus leaving for Sihanoukville
    i would like to take directly a boat transfert to the island when we will arrive there without stop in Sihanoukville
    thank you for the suggestion

    • Lina says:

      Despite any complaints, the Giant Ibis is still the best night bus in Cambodia. Personally, I do not trust any of the other companies. The bus from Siem Reap arrives very early, with more than enough time to connect to the bus to Sihanoukville. You can also fly from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.

  2. Terry Tran says:

    [Sales: GiantIbis Nightbus Ticket Siem Reap – Phnom Penh]

    I would like to re-sell a ticket from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, depart at 11:00 PM – Dec 30, 2015 – with lower price: $12 (original price from GiantIbis is $15 + $1 credit card processing fee). Please contact me via email ytran39@gmail.com, I will send you details about the booking and we can discuss further. Thanks!
    ——————
    Reason: I booked 3 tickets, yet unfortunately, one of my friend cancelled her trip at the last minute. And GiantIbis does not refund if I cancel the ticket.
    _____
    Sorry if my comment bothers you guys. Sorry Lina for my spam. You can remove it after Dec 30, thank you so much!

    • Terry Tran says:

      “Tickets are non-refundable but exchangeable for 1 time only up to one year from the date of purchase.”
      –> So it’s not limited to the date I posted above, I can exchange it to any departure time that suitable for you.

  3. luke shan says:

    SPEEDING IS A NO GO>?? PLS.BUS CO.SHOULD PRINT OUT SIGNAGE IN KHMER AND ENGLISH ON THE BUS FOR ALL PAX. AS CUSTOMERS TO CALL BUS CENTRE/STATION TO REPORT RE DRIVERS SPEEDING; CARELESS DRIVING OR WITH THE PHONE WHILE DRIVING? YOUR REPUTATION AND OUR SAFETY IS NO. 1.

    • Peter Bepbob says:

      Speeding, well if they just had a GPS system and a way to Identify the Driver they might be able to ensure no more speeding ?

  4. Matt says:

    Lina — what is the Giant bus stop “address” in Siem Reap, I am looking at the google map and cannot figure it out; like — point to street intersections or commercial establishments and say North / South of that location – much appreciate

    • Lina says:

      Hi Matt, if you search on Google Maps you can find them that way, or if you look at the maps I’ve linked to have a look for the blue icon that says Giant Ibis.

  5. pushkar sinha says:

    we are in cambodia 23rd to 30th of this month. As of now we have locked Giant for our travel from siemreap to sihanoukville but with such adverse comments and experiences of some peoplwould just like to know the real Giant and what exactly can we expect from them in all respects especially safety and courtesy.

  6. Hans says:

    Any recommendations on what are the best seats? I was looking at booking seats in the front row (1C and 1D) to get a good view, but these may have limited leg room?

  7. Yvonne says:

    Hi
    Can someone please help. We are booking Giant Ibis bus from Siem to Phnom Penh, and Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, would the best seats be 1a/1b or would it be better on the other side of the bus? Also do you board first if you go to the office as opposed to getting a hotel pick up?
    Thanks so much

  8. miguel azevedo says:

    Hello. I want to know if its possible to book 2 tickets to travel into Siem Reap, from Phnom Penh. I would like to know informations about it, such as the price,and if there’s an afternoon or night bus on Thursday. Thank you.

  9. Peter says:

    Hm, after I read Lina’s review I decided to book Giant Ibis for our return to Phnom Penh. After that I read the comments below the review. Not sure I dare to let my wife know that not *everyone* is just as positive. :-)

    • Lina says:

      You have to have reasonable exceptions. For one, the road is not good. The reality is customer service and buses in Cambodia leave a lot to be desired, but in my opinion Giant Ibis is the best if only because they take safety seriously, which few, if any, of the others do.

      • Peter van Rijn says:

        After all we had a (given the circumstances) comfortable and safe trip from SR to PP.
        And yesterday we had our last Cambodian trip from Kampot to PP Airport and also this time we had no complaints about Ginat IBIS. It was the ending of a wonderful holiday in Cambodia.

        • Yvonne says:

          Thanks so much, really looking forward to it, thought we would see more of the countryside this way instead of just flying over it. I have read a lot of reviews and Giant Ibis have certainly come out on top.

  10. Andrew Legg says:

    If you book early, the best seat on the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (and vice-versa) bus is 1E, front row by the window, and the best seat for Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville (and vice-versa) is 3D if you are traveling alone (by the door, great leg room as no-one in front, and perfect view of the TV).

  11. Davie says:

    I booked my roundtrip for sihanoukville and paid for it. after i get my voucher in my mailbox i see that it only says one way. while i m 100% sure i booked a roundtrip. because i m stick to my plan and want to be on time in phnom penh again and head to siem reap.

    After sending a mail it takes some time before the reply. I dont care but finally someone friendly replied and ask me what the dates are i made my booking. this is already in the mail and i kindly send them some mail back what i booked and where and how late my traveldates are.

    No response yet. I hope they soon sent me the right voucher because its my right and i pay for it. Will be continued. stay save all

  12. Selina says:

    Hey guys,

    unfortunately we had a really bad experience with giant ibis. I’m pasting my email complaint here so you get an idea about what happened. It just happened one hour ago so I can’t tell you now how it ended. But as far from now the office stuff was nice.

    Dear Giant Ibis-team,we made a booking for today from ho chi minh to phnom penh. The bus was supposed to pick us up at 8:30 at our chosen pick up. We were waiting there for more than an hour and after that we thought you might forgot about us. We called you at your cambodian office where they told us to call in hcmc straight. After this call we went to your office for easier communication. No one from giant ibis was there so the nice lady from panda travel agency called your guy. After some time he showed up and told us that he was there looking for us at 8 am. But thats simply not true because we’ve been waiting there since 7:45. We also told the woman at the hostel to inform us if you’re company tries to reach us. But you didn’t, not on our mobile and not at the hostel. So what happened? Why didn’t he try to reach us?
    We booked at your company because we only heard good things about it and you’re supposed to be the best. But after all this is not good service.Your guy at the hcmc office booked us another ticket to phnom penh with a different company because we couldn’t wait for tomorrow to go there. But the thing is we payed 38$ at your company and the ticket with this new company (kumho samco bus) is 20$. So we payed way more than this ticket is worth. We therefore ask for compensation.

    Also we wanted to book another trip with you from phnom penh to siem reap but I’m not sure if I want to use your service again. I’m really sad about this bad experience because I was really looking forward to u your company.

  13. Jean says:

    Hi, first of all thanks for your review. We decided to use Giant Ibis between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh after reading it.
    However I feel obliged to give some updates after our own experience so that people know what they are paying for:
    – speed: one of the 2 drivers has been speeding the whole time. It felt unsafe, not only for us but also for all the other users of that road and mostly for the little kids that unconsciously walk on it (on one occasion the second, slower driver, had to stop because there was a naked baby wandering on the road…). I don’t know where you read that management is alerted automatically if drivers go over 95 kph but I call bullshit (not that I doubt it’s written somewhere, but this system, if it ever existed, does not work). Out of curiosity I recorded 5 minutes of the 7-hour ride on a GPS tracking app and we were often above 100 kph, and up to 110 kph… Although this is a common speed limit in countries with modern highways, driving at that speed on a road like the one between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is simply irresponsible. In addition to the safety hazards this brings, it is also very uncomfortable. Reading a book suddenly becomes a very challenging activity. To finish on that point, I’d like to add that we took advantage of the first stop to warn the kind of steward who sometimes provided explanations in Khmer and English. He told us he would tell the driver to slow down. Of course when we started rolling again nothing had changed…
    – constant honking: I’m aware of the honking game going on in Cambodia. But when it is so omnipresent that you can hardly have a conversation it’s just too much.
    – WiFi did not work (“there is a technical problem today”). Not such a loss for us but if you were planning on spending a few extra bucks for that…
    I think that’s about it from my side. All in all Giant Ibis may provide seats which are slightly larger and more comfortable than the other bus companies but after trying 2 other companies I realized I’d rather have slightly less room for my legs (and pay less…) but make it to my destination alive.
    That’s all folks! Have a safe journey!

    Oh! Did I mention the driver spent quite some time on the phone?

    • Lina says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Jean. I’d send an email to the company with this information and include the date and time of your bus. The driver should not be going over the speed limit or be talking on the phone while driving. If you report it to management, they will do something about it!

    • davie says:

      they ask me to book my roundtrip again. No thank you i wait till i m there not sure what to expect now after reading all the posts here.

  14. Rio says:

    TERRIBLE SERVICE. I arrived this morning on the giant ibis night bus from siem reap to Phnom Penh and everything about the service was far below expectation. False advertisement, and not worth the price compared to other bus/minibus services. The seats were actually bunk beds which was great for sleeping, but bottom row is floor level and extra bus crew slept in the narrow hallway snoring and elbowing my boyfriend all night. No Working WiFi or electrical plugs which seemed an ongoing problem because crew was unsurprised and dismissive of this, no snacks or coffee as advertised, no stops where passengers were allowed off the bus- which meant you had to climb over the two crew members sleeping in the hallway to get to the bathroom at the back of the bus which smelled horrible and had no toilet paper. When we arrived at 5:30am to Phnim Penh, the lights were turned on and passengers told to get off in a disorienting abruptness while a horde of tuk tuk drivers helped to unload luggage into a pile. The baggage claim tickets were of no use as no one was checking where bags went, and to avoid the complete cluster we excavated our bags from the pile ourselves and quickly walked away, followed by a trail of persistent tuk tuk drivers. Once at a safe distance we found a place to sit and collect our wits and look at a map. Was completely disappointed by the service and surprised by how commonly referenced this company is for travel in Cambodia. Based on the price of Giant Ibis, I would opt for one of the many budget buses.

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