There are two different buses you can take from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
1. VIP bus
– $15 pp
– includes air conditioning, wifi, and a bottle of water
– goes once per day
– takes about 6-7 hours
2. Local bus
– $9 pp
– includes air conditioning
– takes about 8-9 hours
We decided to splurge a bit and go for the VIP bus to have the internet access and a shorter bus ride.
The tickets have assigned seats which is always nice. It also included transport from your hotel to the actual bus.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 9am and our transfer picked us up about 8:15am.
At the bus depot there are several people selling snacks if you need anything for the trip.
The seats are pretty comfortable and there is a decent amount of legroom.
This is what the bus looks like
Advice: if the bus stops and many people are running off to buy something, go buy one too.
The first stop our bus made was at a road side stand selling what looked like pieced of bamboo roasting on a grill. A ton of people were leaving the bus and buying bags full of these bamboo things, so Glenn got off the bus and bought us one too. It was 2000 Cambodian riel ($0.50).
We had no idea what it was. It looked like a piece of bamboo with the outer coating stripped off. The bottom seemed to be open but the top was stuffed with straw.
A nice gentleman in the row across from ours reached over and said let me help you. First he pulled out the clump of straw. Then he pulled out what looked like a few wet leaves (maybe bamboo leaves?). Next he started peeling back the bamboo sides, similar to how you would peel a banana. This revealed rice and beans inside! It was a sticky coconut rice and black beans cooked inside a stalk of bamboo!
It was a great snack and such an interesting experience. It proves that sometimes you just have to take a chance and you could end up with a great cultural experience, big or small.
There is no toilet on the bus but the bus does make several bathroom stops so this was not a problem.
The toilets were all squatting toilets so be prepared for that and be sure to bring your own toilet paper as these bathrooms do not have any.
Remember to throw the toilet paper in the trash bin and not into the toilet as the plumbing systems cannot handle paper.
I recommend bringing snacks on the bus with you mainly for convenience.
Definitely buy the rice and beans in bamboo if your bus makes that stop. If we had known what it was we would have bought more than one.
You will stop at other places that sell snacks but I am fairly certain that they gave us higher prices than they gave the Cambodians there since nothing was labeled with a price. The snacks are still under a dollar each so it is not a problem.
The air conditioning worked well on the bus so that was a great thing.
The VIP bus claims to have internet. We were able to find the wifi and enter the password and my ipad seemed to connect. Unfortunately I could not get it to actually work. It was either broken or the signal was simply not strong enough.
Be sure to have alternate entertainment for the bus ride in case the wifi does not work.