Review: Champa Mekong bus, Kep to Kampot to Phnom Penh

In my quest to find a direct bus from Kep to Phnom Penh (hint: there are none), I recently found myself on a Champa Mekong bus from Kep to Phnom Penh via Kampot, and frankly, I wouldn’t do it again.

Champa Mekong Tours and Travel

Champa Mekong is one of the least desirable ways to get from Kep or Kampot to Phnom Penh.

First of all, I thought the bus went direct from Kep to Phnom Penh, but actually it detours to stop in Kampot for 15 to 20 minutes. By car, the trip from Kep to Phnom Penh takes about 3.5 hours, and sometimes less. The 2:30 p.m. Champa Mekong bus was scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m., but the bus driver admitted it would be closer to 8 p.m., making for a 5.5 hour journey. On their signage at their office, though, they advertise the trip as 3.5 hours.

A taxi from Kep to Phnom Penh costs around $45, and a $8 ticket on Champa Mekong might just be worth the extra two hours for those on a tight budget or for solo travelers. But the seating configuration is such that people are uncomfortably squeezed into seats that seemed dangerous to my safety-conscious-slash-paranoid self. When purchasing the ticket I was told it was a 15-seat mini bus and the Champa Mekong signs picture a sleek new fleet of mini-buses. In reality the bus was a beaten up 28-seat Hyundai that included seven jump seats making for a crowded and uncomfortable ride. Jump seats are the ones that fold down and allow people to sit in the aisle; passengers seated in them can’t lean back and they are terribly uncomfortable.

Champa Mekong bus

The 28-passenger bus before it was mobbed by sweaty tourists. Note how there are fewer than 28 seats.

There are no pre-booked seat assignments on Champa Mekong as there are on every other transport company in Cambodia, so there was a mad rush when boarding and I ended up in a jump seat in front of the first row facing the windshield. Of course there was no seatbelt, and unsurprisingly the driver was reckless and overtaking other cars by driving into oncoming traffic (which, to be fair, is a standard driving technique in Cambodia). Because of my position on the bus, I knew that if the driver so much as stopped short I’d slam my head into the windshield. Have I mentioned the need for travel insurance while traveling in Cambodia?

Kep to Phnom Penh bus

Packed like sardines, with passengers sitting in jump seats in the aisles.

The bus was packed like a can of sardines, and every seat and jump seat was taken from Kep. Although I am in possession of a comprehensive insurance plan, the combination of dangerous and uncomfortable seats and the longer-than-expected journey convinced me to hop off the Champa Mekong and catch a taxi from Kampot to Phnom Penh. I shared it with three others so had I not bought the $8 Champa Mekong ticket, I would have only spent a few dollars more to take a taxi.

In summary, although Champa Mekong has a convenient Kampot to Phnom Penh route (or Kep to Kampot to Phnom Penh), it is one of the least desirable options. If you do decide to travel with Champa Mekong, you can buy a ticket online with on BookMeBus.

Champa Mekong Travel and Tours

38 Street 90, Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh
T: 015 696 800
Across from Kep Beach, Kep
T: 015 277 279
Ekareach Street, Old Market, Kampot
T: 087 630 036; 016 947 959

13 Responses to Review: Champa Mekong bus, Kep to Kampot to Phnom Penh

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  1. Alex says:

    Very very bad company every time very late . 3h late for sihanoukville to phnom penh and 2 hours late for phnom penh to sihanoukville and we miss the last boat for koh rong so very bad they just don t fucking pay attention about your travel and more i leave in cambodia. So please book a another company last time for me with them.

  2. Warren says:

    Kampot travel and tour are very good. Bigger vans in better condition, not over crowded, older professional drivers and very friendly, helpful office staff. Same price, same schedule.

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