Don´t take night buses in Cambodia

       Taking night buses in Cambodia is dangerous for any person, local or foreigner. The most used route is Sihanoukville-Siem Reap, two tourist destination of the country. Before it seems a good idea to travel between both cities in the night and in the past it was well recommended. But the golden time is over: Complains of bad service are everywhere and it includes even an attempt of sexual rape of a British lady on the Virak Buntham bus company, thefts where bus staff is involved and a crush accident due to high speed by Olympic Express bus company.  

       Trying to reason with the bus companies owners is useless, because they just show they don’t mind, answer rudely and insist in blaming circumstances, like Olympic Express is doing after one of its buses turned over on January 10 with the injury of 5 passengers. The company staff, especially the driver, fled the bus, letting his passengers to their fate and his whereabouts still unknown. As for the insurance company, Caminco, their cooperation is zero. In synthesis: all these companies are managed by unprofessional, unethical and unsafe personnel that put in risk the life of their customers and the reputation of the country.

       Avoid especially any deal with Virak Buntham and Olympic Express, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other so-called bus & van companies with similar reputation. Ask recommendations about any bus or van company before buying a ticket and believe any complain about them as true, because you will probably have to prove it in your own flesh.

       A good recommendation to travel between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville is the plane, though it’s still expensive. However, it is better than to face a bad bus company. Other options is to contract a taxi – though it’s so expensive than a plane would be fair in comparison. Day buses are safer, anyway.

       If you have had a bad experience in a bus or van company in Cambodia, please let it here and put clearly their name or the name of any staff with a rude and unprofessional behavior, so  banning their business would be the best option.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

One response to “Don´t take night buses in Cambodia”

  1. reiskoppel says :

    Hi,
    If you want horror stories about buscompanies in Cambodia, we have a fresh one involving olympic express limousine bus and phuong trinh on our trip from Sihanoukville to Ho chi minh.

    What was promised: sleeper bus to phnom penh, change bus to another sleeper straight to ho chi minh. Departure in Sihanoukville at 7pm, arrival in ho chi minh at 7am.

    What we got: sleeper to phnom penh, change to seeter bus straight to ho chi minh. Departure at 7pm, arrival at 2pm!

    The ticket: Originally we tought we had booked a sorya bus as this was advertised by the travel agency. We used sorya already and had no problems. It turned out thad the travel agency lied to us and sold us an olympic express bus ticket. Of course non refundable…. we had already experienced crazy busrides all over the world, so how bad could this one be, right?

    We paid 20usd each for the trip, but there were other people who paid 24usd for the same trip.

    The trip: as agreed, they picked us up at 6.30pm at the hotel. The bus was indeed a sleeper and looked fine. Sleeping compartiments were rather small, but hey, you’re in Asia and people are shorter here. After 2h of driving around picking up some locals and parcels (they even managed to fit a motorcycle into the luggage compartiment), we finally left for phnom penh at 9pm. The ride wasn’t very smooth as the bus had some technical problems, but we managed to get some sleep.

    We arrived at phnom penh at 1am and were told to get out. When our luggage came out, the bags were soaked. Apparently the bus had to drive to kneedeep water….Then some guy collected our tickets and told us that the border would be closed if we leave richt away and we had to wait untill 5am for the next bus. That’s 4h of waiting! He took us to his ticket office were we could wait. He told us we could sleep there.

    Once there we noticed that we had been taken to another company, phuon trinh. Apparently olympic express sold us to this company (because they had not enough passengers for a full bus). This is a common practice amongst small companies, so beware of that when booking them. As of the sleeping matter….they had a room with only 1 bed and we were a group of 7! So far the sleeping part.

    At 5am still no bus…we had to wait untill 6am before the bus finally arrived. When we sat on the bus, the staff began to argue with us that we had to occupy all back seats. We were at the border at 11am (not as promised at 8am when the border opens). Going trough the border was easy and fast. After a journey of 19h (instead of the promised 12h) we were finally dropped in ho chi minh….at 4km from the city center.

    We paid for a night bus but ended up taking an evening bus and a morning bus. We have no real complaints of the quality of the busses (exept for the olympic express bus that was dangerous), but we do have problems with the way they treated us. They lied to us and only understood english if it was convenient to them. The staff of phuon trinh was also very rude and became even agressive at a certain point. Locals on the contrary got exellent service and assistance. We were treated like cattle. Tis is a disgrace for Cambodia and not a way to treat visitors in your country.

    Conclusion: get your ticket directly at the company to avoid scams. Avoid olympic express at all costs and you better not book with unknown companies either. If you use a booking office, make sure they sell you the right ticket and don’t be scared to bomb them with all questions possible. The more you ask, the less likely it is they hold essential information from you. Mekong express, giant ibis and sorya are the best companies to book with.

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