Review: Cambodia Post VIP Van, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

I got a few incredulous looks when I told people I was going to take the Cambodia Post van to Phnom Penh last week. Most people probably assumed I’d be sitting on packages squeezed between sacks of mail, but the reality couldn’t be more different. The Cambodia Post VIP Van, a transport service owned by the Cambodian government and post office, runs minibuses between several cities. I tried out the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh route and thought it was an excellent ride; here’s the full report.

Cambodia Post VIP Van Phnom Penh

Pick up your mail before you depart in style from the historic Phnom Penh post office.

The novelty of the Cambodia Post transport service is that they are actually using the mini-buses to bring mail and packages from one city to another. But they aren’t old, run-down mail trucks as you might expect. Cambodia Post has purchased a fleet of brand-new Toyota HiAces, my preferred model of mini-bus because of their wide, comfortable seats. Buses and passengers are insured by Caminco Insurance, which was reassuring.

We left from the Siem Reap post office at 7:30 a.m. a few minutes early because everyone was already there. The trip took 5.5 hours and we arrived at the Phnom Penh post office a few minutes before 1 p.m. The driver was young and in uniform and drove well; several times he nosed out and then chose not to pass the car in front of him because it didn’t look safe. He seemed much more cautious — in a good way — than the average Cambodian mini-bus driver. They claim that they use GPS to track the speed to make sure that the drivers don’t drive too fast. I’m not sure if that’s true, but our driver didn’t speed or do anything reckless. That may be because each bus has a sign on the back that says “How is my driving?” with a phone number that dials straight to the Cambodian government.

Cambodia Post VIP Van

Cambodia Post VIP Van uses a fleet of brand-new (and very comfy) Toyota HiAce vans.

Usually a HiAce can seat 15 passengers plus the driver, but Cambodia Post has pulled out two of the seats in the back row for mail and luggage. This actually makes the back row less awful — four people back there feels claustrophobic, but two isn’t so bad. Because there are only three seats across the front, seats A1 and A2 (the front window seat, aka “shotgun”) are slightly more roomy. The second row has three seats across, A3, A4, and A5. The third row has a pair of seats, A6 and A7, and then one solo seat, A8. This solo seat has extra legroom as long as overflow baggage isn’t stored there. The fourth row is in the same configuration, with a pair of seats, A9 and A10, and a solo seat, A11. In the back are an additional two seats, A12 and A13, that they hold until the last minute in case they need them for more mail. These two seats aren’t sold online.

During the trip from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh the bus stopped twice, first in Kampong Thom at the Golden Chenla Hotel, and then in Skun at a rest stop that served food. The Golden Chenla Hotel had a menu for Khmers and one in English, with the prices in English double the price for the same dishes on the Khmer menu. I asked politely for the Khmer price and they capitulated pretty quickly — I had a very nice pork and rice for 8,000 riel ($2). Both stops had toilets, and as per usual there is no toilet paper, so bring your own if you need it.

Cambodia Post VIP Van Siem Reap

In Siem Reap, the Cambodia Post departs from the centrally located post office.

Tickets from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap cost $9. The buses are new, the trip was fast, the driving was cautious, and the food at the restaurant stop was good. I’d pretty much sworn off mini-buses recently, but the Cambodia Post VIP Van has renewed my faith in this mode of transport.

The Cambodia Post VIP Van leaves from and terminates at the main post office in each city. They do not do hotel pick-ups. Most of the other mini-bus companies are forced to do hotel pick-ups because their offices are not in town, but the post offices are centrally located and walkable to many hotels.

Cambodia Post VIP Van

Is it too good to be true? They even want to know how their driving is.

Tickets can be purchased online at BookMeBus for a small fee of less than $1, and you can see real-time seating charts and pick which seat you want. I got my ticket this way, printed it out and presented it at the Siem Reap post office and had no problem boarding the bus. Tickets can also be purchased at the main post office in each city.

In addition to the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route, Cambodia Post VIP Van goes from Phnom Penh to Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Poipet, Pursat, and Sihanoukville, as well as Siem Reap to Kampong Thom.

Buses run from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at: 7:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
Buses run from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at: 7:30 a.m., 2 p.m.

Cambodia Post VIP Van

Wat Phnom Post Office
Street 13 at Street 102, Phnom Penh
T: 012 931 555; 010 778 555; 088 39 93 555

Siem Reap Post Office
Pokambor Ave, Siem Reap
T: 088 8711 807
Book Cambodia Post VIP Van tickets online

Bus tickets purchased through links in this post to read more here.

27 Responses to Review: Cambodia Post VIP Van, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

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  1. Bea says:

    Hi Lina,

    Your post gave me a peace of mind. This is my first time here in Cambodia and I will be heading to Phnom Penh tomorrow. I have decided to take the bus to enjoy the scenery, I don’t mind the long travel though but I am very cautious with the driving. It’s great that I booked Cambodia Post VIP Van and after reading your blog, I’m finally convinced I did the right decision. Very informative and assuring article you have. Thank you!

  2. Debby says:

    Hi Lina, thank you for giving us so much information. I was just wondering with regards to the Cambodia Post VIP Van – how much space there is for luggage? If we have more luggage, would you recommend a bus instead? Thanks in advance!

    • Lina says:

      It depends on the load that day, obviously there’s much less space if the bus is fully booked. I think you can get away with one medium-large suitcase each, but more than that is probably pushing it.

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