Over the last year, I’ve taken more Giant Ibis night bus journeys than I care to admit. When I first moved to Cambodia, I vowed I would never take a night bus in Cambodia. Since then, I’ve made an exception for Giant Ibis because of their safety record and the many precautions they take to make sure each trip is a safe one. I’m now a regular on the Giant Ibis night bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. In this post, I’ll share some details about the company and the trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice-versa).
What makes Giant Ibis different from other night buses in Cambodia is that they make safety a priority. The buses go slowly, with a maximum speed of 60km (37 miles) per hour. They enforce this by transmitting the speed via GPS to the Giant Ibis office so that management knows if a driver breaks the rules and go faster. Going slowly is not only safer, but allows for a better night’s sleep, because even at at these speeds the bus usually arrives in six or six-and-a-half hours. Another safety precaution Giant Ibis takes is to always have two drivers on each bus, and they switch half-way through the journey. If one driver feels fatigued he can switch out and take a nap.
In addition to offering a safe ride, each seat is equipped with a power socket that accept standard American, Euro, and UK plugs, and most of them usually work. The bus has WiFi (password: giantibis) that is provided by 3G. This means the connection works as long as there’s 3G coverage, which is for true for about 60% of the journey. Be aware that they do turn out the lights soon after the journey begins, so if you do want to read you will need to bring your own lighting.
The buses are air-conditioned and have a toilet on board. Overly cautious types such as myself bring a sweater for the former and tissues for the latter. Passengers are all given a bottle of water, and each bed comes with a pillow and blanket. When you board the bus you’ll be given a bag to keep your shoes in, so as not to get the beds dirty.
Nowadays, there are three Giant Ibis night buses going each way between between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, with slightly different seat configurations. At 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. the bus have 30 lie-flat seats, with 14 on the bottom and 16 on the top. The only downside of this is because there are two fewer seats, there isn’t always a bed for the driver who may end up sleeping next to you in the aisle. On these buses, there are eight single beds and 11 seats of double beds.
The 11 p.m. Giant Ibis night buses have 32 beds, with 15 on the bottom bunk and 17 on the top. The beds do not fully lie flat, but offer a 45 degree angle that’s pretty decent, and some taller people seem to find the angled seat more comfortable than the lie-flat ones. Seat 6-F is right next to the toilet, and as such, is probably the least optimal seat on the bus. Each bed has a cubby at the bottom to keep your shoes (and feet) in.
The buses do not have two levels, rather, the seats are designed like bunk beds with one on the top and one on the bottom. All of the Giant Ibis night buses are arranged with one row of two beds next to each other, and a row of single bunks with an aisle in the middle. If you are traveling alone, try to get one of the single beds because although the row of two has two separate beds on the 11 p.m. bus, they are still right next to each other. The 10:30 and 11:30 buses have no divider for the double beds, so are probably not ideal if you are traveling solo.
The night bus buses are not new, but they are fully refurbished. As on all buses, the toilets are not the nicest in the world (if you are a larger person you’ll have a hard time squeezing in) but at least these ones are usually clean. The road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is still bumpy — although better than a year ago — and if you aren’t a sound sleeper, it can be a challenge to get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, that challenge is usually alleviated for me by bringing an eye mask, ear plugs, and a sleeping pill.
I travel between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap regularly, and the trip can be excruciatingly long. Because I save so much time by sleeping through the journey, I’ve become a regular on the Giant Ibis night bus. Despite being pretty highly strung about road safety in Cambodia, overall, I think the Giant Ibis night bus is a safe way to get across the country (here are the other options for this route).
In Phnom Penh, the buses boards on time at the Giant Ibis office on Street 106 across from Phnom Penh’s night market. For the daily night bus to Siem Reap they do not offer hotel pick up, but the office is centrally located and walking distance from the riverside. Once you arrive in Siem Reap the bus drops off at the more centrally located Giant Ibis ticket office near Old Market (rather than the Giant Ibis bus station).
In Siem Reap, the night bus leaves from the Giant Ibis ticket office near the Old Market. If you’re arriving in Phnom Penh, the bus drops off at the Giant Ibis office on Street 106 in Phnom Penh. You can find maps for both stations at the end of this post.
Giant Ibis night bus schedule:
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap: 10:30 p.m., 11 p.m., 11:30 p.m.
Siem Reap – Phnom Penh: 10:30 p.m., 11 p.m., 11:30 p.m.
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.
Street 106 (across from the Night Market), Phnom Penh [map]
T: 023 987 808
6A Sivatha Road, Siem Reap [map]
T: 095 777 809