Until recently the only direct bus going between Bangkok and Siem Reap was run in conjunction with the Thai government and featured a fleet of mostly older buses; all other companies were forced to change buses at the border. Giant Ibis, on the other hand, offers a fully direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap (and vice-versa) that allows you to keep your baggage on the bus while you go through border control. I took the Giant Ibis from Bangkok to Siem Reap recently and thought it was a welcome addition to the route.
tl;dr Excellent ride. A few bucks more, but worth it. Book a ticket now or read on for more information
Giant Ibis is the most popular bus company in Cambodia with tourists and expats who value safety—the buses have seat-belts, and the drivers (usually) do not drive at outrageous speeds, which make them unique among Cambodian bus companies. Although the Nattakan/Transport Co. buses are not bad in this regard, Giant Ibis still as a few things that set them apart.
The buses running the Bangkok to Siem Reap route are brand new, with 37 pleather seats (plus one for the attendant). One of the more common complaints about the Giant Ibis Phnom Penh to Siem Reap buses is that there’s not a huge amount of legroom. Well, they clearly got the message because the legroom is more than generous on these buses, they’ve removed two rows of seats to allow for more space. The seats also have a 45% recline—as much as you’ll find on premium economy seats on even the best airlines.
Each seat has an individual speaker that you can turn on or off if there’s a movie playing, an air-flow control, light, and a USB input that you can use to charge your phone or other device. For Cambodia, this is high tech!
Our trip started in Bangkok, where we waited on a sidewalk off of Khao San Road with several near-to-bursting IKEA bags and a few pieces of flat-pack furniture. After many trips to the Bangna IKEA I can safely say the direct bus is the best way to get large shopping items to Cambodia.
The bus showed up a few minutes late and we proceeded to board—we were the only two passengers on the bus that day. Once we were on the bus, the entire process was seamless. The attendant was friendly and filled out our departure cards for us. I was worried this meant we’d have to pay an extra fee—as you do on other buses that cross the border—but the attendant explained that it was already included in the cost of the ticket.
While it’s possible to cross the Poipet border without paying an additional fees, most bus companies now require, or strongly encourage, passengers to pay an extra $5 for ‘VIP’ treatment at the border to have someone escort you through and streamline the process.
There are no toilets on board, but there are three stops along the way. After about two hours we stopped at the PTT rest stop, which is, in a word, amazing (as far as rest stops in this part of the world go). They’ve got clean toilets, a 7-11, restaurants, food court…pretty much all you can ask for on a bus pit stop.
A little more than two hours later, we were at the Thailand-Cambodia border, where we disembarked (leaving our luggage on the bus, the best part about taking a direct bus) and crossed the border on foot.
The walk across is only about 250 meters, but it can be confusing if you’ve never done it before. The high price tag of the trip meant that the Giant Ibis attendant confidently shuttled us from building to building as we crossed the border, making sure we didn’t get lost along the way. This is one area where the alternate direct bus, Nattakan, falls short. There are always a few random stragglers who hold the entire group back by sometimes more than an hour as they blindly try and figure out how to get their visas sorted or avoid paying bribes, but having an attendant there to keep everyone on track makes the process go more quickly.
On your way through the border it’s possible to stop and use the toilet at one of the casinos. My personal favorite is the ‘Chillax’ restaurant at Grand Diamond Casino. From there, it was another three hours to Siem Reap with one quick toilet break along the way.
In total, the trip took about 8.5 hours. We’ve since gone in the other direction as well, from Siem Reap to Bangkok and it takes a similar amount of time and everything in the review is the same, but backwards.
Overall, I thought that the Giant Ibis direct bus was a welcome addition to the Siem Reap to Bangkok route. The buses are new, the drivers are good, and the attendants are friendly. I appreciated the assistance at the border and the fact that there was no scamming or shady behavior. Although the tickets are expensive, it seems worth the price.
Tickets on the Giant Ibis Siem Reap Bangkok direct bus cost $35 and can be purchased online for no additional charge. With an online booking, you can choose and reserve your seat in advance. Book a Giant Ibis ticket between Bangkok and Siem Reap now.
Need information about visas? Most nationalities do not need a Thai visa in advance, but be sure to check before you go. A Cambodia tourist visa costs $30 and most nationalities can purchase one at the border. We have more information about Cambodia visas or Thai visas.
Giant Ibis Bangkok
22 Thanan Tanao Road, Bangkok [ map]
T: +66 921 939 333
Giant Ibis Siem Reap
Khmer Pub Street, Siem Reap [map]
T: 095 777 809 or +855 (0)95 777 809
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