Kambodscha Bus Giant Ibis

Cambodia by bus: Mekong Express and Giant Ibis Bus Review

We took two big bus trips in Cambodia: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on a Mekong Express bus and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville on a Giant Ibis bus. Here’s my Mekong Express and Giant Ibis Bus Review: how they compare, and how to book each of them. Spoiler: My vote goes to Giant Ibis. And as our trip is now quite some time ago, I also asked two fellow traveler bloggers who just traveled through Cambodia recently to share their experience and tell me about the current state of the road and how long the bus takes from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap in 2018. The basics – ticket prices, booking details including online booking, schedule etc. are at the end of this post.

Mekong Express Bus Review

Until the arrival of Giant Ibis a few years ago, Mekong Express was considered by most foreigners as the best bus company in Cambodia.  And compared to many of the other companies out there, it does have a few things going for it: they sell tickets with numbered seats, and you’re guaranteed a whole seat to yourself (yes, in Cambodia this is a little luxury that not every bus offers, especially not the minibuses). The Mekong Express bus will also take you directly to your destination city rather than making random stops in between to pick up additional passengers or packages.

Traveling to Cambodia? Check out my 3 week Cambodia itinerary for ideas on where to go and what to do!

That being said, we still weren’t very impressed. Our bus was old – ancient,  even – and considering the state of the road from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, that made the trip a bit more dangerous than it needed to be.  I also killed about fifteen mosquitoes on this trip, and I’m guessing everyone else on this bus killed their fair share too, so you might want to bring some mosquito spray to cover yourself in to avoid being bitten.


Our driver was ok, while he did spend more time overtaking other vehicles than staying on his side of the road, he did do a good job to avoid the most dangerous parts of the road (the road was partially under construction during our trip) and I definitely had more confidence in him than in his rusty old bus.

Mekong Express advertised with little luxuries like a breakfast snack, a toilet on the bus and free wifi. The snack was okay, a mini pizza of some sort with a ton of onions on it and a muffin that was actually quite tasty (when it gets to cakes & stuff like that, I’ll eat almost anything though). The toilet was indeed there and working,  however, considering the extremely bumpy trip, whatever was in that toilet was splashing all over the place. Not really Mekong Express’ fault, but you wouldn’t want to use the toilet on this bus unless you had a real emergency. And as for the wifi, I tried that about ten times and it never once worked, so don’t get your hopes up on that one. Your entertainment will be limited to ancient reruns of Mr. Bean and Cambodian Karaoke videos.


Giant Ibis Bus Review: The newer option for traveling through Cambodia

Being a bit disappointed with Mekong Express, we tried Giant Ibis for our trip from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville a few days later. Their buses are actually as new and nice as promised on their website, ours was a small 25 seater with nice clean seats and comfortable, with air conditioning at a comfortable level (not your traditional ice box that so many other buses here seem to opt for). No toilet on this bus, but they all stop on the way for a lunch & bathroom break. The flatscreen tv played English movies (Ice Age, Night in the Museum 2, pretty family friendly stuff), however the sound was a bit low to really watch. I’ve heard that their bigger buses have individual outlets on each seat so you can plug in your headphones for the movies, but ours didn’t.


The promised wifi on Giant Ibis was only marginally better than that on the Mekong Express, out of twelve times I tried it, it worked once – at the bus stop in Phnom Penh before departure. I’ve read that they just turn their 3g signal into a hotspot. With twenty to fifty people on a bus all trying to connect at the same time, it’s hard to imagine that would ever work in remote areas with generally bad mobile coverage. Your best bet,  regardless of which company you go with,  is probably to assume there won’t be wifi and plan accordingly.

Another piece of advice that goes for both bus companies, make sure your luggage makes it onto the bus, and when you arrive at your destination, try to get off the bus early to be there when it’s taken out of the luggage compartment. Mekong Express gave us luggage tags, but nobody checked those as people were retrieving their bags, and Giant Ibis did not give us luggage tags at all (from what I heard they do give them if you’re on one of their big busses, but no guarantee on that).

Giant Ibis is a bit more expensive than Mekong Express, but the difference isn’t much. Mekong Express is 11$ from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (we paid 13$ in total including hotel commission plus pickup from our hotel, probably not the cheapest deal!), Giant Ibis would have been $15 for that same trip. Conclusion – if you can go with Giant Ibis, invest the extra $ for your comfort and safety.

2018 Giant Ibis Review & Update on the State of the Road

As this post was first published in 2014 when we traveled to Cambodia, I asked two fellow travel bloggers, Sarah and Jen, about their recent experiences. Sarah Rothrie from TripGourmets traveled with Giant Ibis through Cambodia and told me:

“Our journey between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap at the end of 2017 could not have gone more smoothly. We took the 0845 Giant Ibis bus from the Night Market in Phnom Penh, which was scheduled to arrive at 1545 but actually got there around 45 minutes early, and with no kamikaze-style racing efforts by the driver involved (both unexpected delights when travelling by bus in South-East Asia!)

The road is now smooth and paved, with little to no construction work meaning we could actually enjoy the countryside views during the trip. The bus made two stops on the way, one of which allowed time for a quick meal. The bus was clean, and the staff very polite with good English. We were given a bottle of water and a pastry at the start of the ride. All seats had seatbelts, and the bus also had WiFi.”

Tip from a local: Share a taxi instead

When I spoke to Jen from Two Can Travel, who lives in Phnom Penh with her husband Stevo and is a total Cambodia expert, she mentioned another alternative to Giant Ibis, which still seems to be the best bus option:

“Another option to consider to travel between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is taking a taxi or private car. You’ll see Cambodia’s beautiful countryside along the way, and it’s great having the option to stop whenever you need to. It’s also cheaper than you might think! Split between 3-4 people, the cost is about the same as taking a bus, especially since you save on transport to and from the bus stations. You can book private cars and taxis through CamboTicket, or check ride sharing options in the Facebook group Taxi Share Cambodia.” She shares a lot more tips on getting around Cambodia on her blog – definitely worth a look.

Side note here: I also spoke to Jen about PSD Xpress, another bus company that had been rivalling Giant Ibis in recent times, but we’ve found out that they’ve just stopped their regular bus routes and are now operating on a charter basis, so anything you read in older articles about them is likely outdated information.

Giant Ibis bus schedule

I recommend checking either the Giant Ibis website or something like 12goAsia or CamboTicket before your trip as they will have the most up to date schedules for all routes, but here is the schedule as of May 2018 for the main route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh round trip:

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh:

Buses leave Siem Reap at 9.45am, 12.30pm, 11pm (semi sleeping bus), 11.30pm (lie flat sleeping bus)

Note on the night buses: They have two different types of sleeping buses, and if you’re like me and can only sleep curled up on your side, you may find the 11pm type bus notoriously uncomfortable as they’re angled seats, similar to the one pictured in my post one traveling Vietnam’s Mekong Delta without a tour.

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap:

Buses leave Phnom Penh at 8.45am, 9.45am, 12.30pm, 11pm (sleeping bus)

Travel time: approximately 6 hours

Ticket price: $15

Keep in mind that this is the time the bus is scheduled to leave the bus station. If you have arranged a pick up from your hotel, it will pick you up earlier!

Boarding point / Location of bus stop in Siem Reap: Giant Ibis, Sivatha Blvd, Near Central Market, Krong Siem Reap

Boarding point / Location of bus stop in Phnom Penh: Phnom Penh Bus Station & Bus Terminal, Street 90, Phnom Penh (Behind National Library)

Mekong Express bus schedule

Again, check the Mekong Express or an online booking website for the most up to date version, but here is the schedule as of May 2018:

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh:

Buses leave Siem Reap at 7.30am, 8.30am, 9.45am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap:

Buses leave Phnom Penh at 7.30am, 8.30am, 12.30pm, 2.25pm, 11pm (sleeping bus), 11.30pm (sleeping bus)

Travel time: approximately 6 hours

Ticket price:

Keep in mind that this is the time the bus is scheduled to leave the bus station. If you have arranged a pick up from your hotel, it will pick you up earlier!

Boarding point / Location of bus stop in Siem Reap: Mekong Express, Street 63, Sangkat Sala Kamreuk, Krong Siem Reap

Boarding point / Location of bus stop in Phnom Penh: Mekong Express, Street Oknha Tep Phan (182) Corner St.111, In front of Orussey Market, Phnom Penh

How to get bus tickets for Giant Ibis and Mekong Express busses

From your hotel: Your guest house or hotel will usually be able to book you tickets for all of these companies. This is definitely the most convenient option. However, keep in mind that they may go through a travel agency and you may be paying a fee to both, increasing the price of your trip. Also, the guy sitting next to us on the Mekong Express bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh had requested Giant Ibis tickets from his hotel and ended up being booked onto a Mekong Express bus, so be careful and make sure to check your ticket and confirm it’s what you asked for.

From the bus company’s booking office: These companies also have booking offices in most big cities, this has become our preferred option for bus travel now since you’re getting the tickets directly from the source without any middle men, avoiding extra charges as well as confusion and the risk of being rebooked on other buses. Ask for a free hotel pickup, if your hotel isn’t too far from their office or bus stop this is often included!

The Giant Ibis office in Phnom Penh is at 3E0, Road 106. See their website for other office locations.

The Mekong Express office in Phnom Penh is at 2020, Road 5 (according to their website). See their website for other office locations.

Online: Probably the most convenient option, both Giant Ibis and Mekong Express offer online booking.

Both can also be booked via online booking providers like 12goAsia or CamboTicket, which are also convenient sites to check up to date timetables.

More on Cambodia

Traveling to Siem Reap? Check out my Guide to Angkor Wat as well!

Check out the Cambodia archives for our Cambodian adventures, including a full guide to Angkor Wat and off the beaten track options like the Kep crab market!

This post was first published in January 2014 and received a major research update in May 2018. If you find the information useful, or have updates to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Cambodia by bus: Mekong Express and Giant Ibis Bus Review

  1. Yes, it is really cheap and they have free WI FI and water. But if you need the toilet, it can be a challenge for your stomach. The bio toilet is obscene..and no stopping.

    And the ride is very bumpy, and beds are not really beds – just flat seats. Very unconfortable for tall people. We were four people but none of us slept.

    my advice is DON’T TAKE THE SLEEPING BUS …

    Also, I bought by mistake 2 sets of 4 online tickets for two consecutive days (meaning 64USDX2), but I only need one set. So we went to the Ibis Giant ofiice in Phnom Penh, we have given extra tickets and asked them to help us to recover some money.They have promised they w’ll try to sell my tickets and next day I’ll get my money back at the Giant Ibis office in Siem Reap .

    I’m sure they resold tickets because we were in full tourist season but they did not send me any money back. Only a sec email that told me again that tickets are non refundable.

    Very bad customer service.
    It was disappointing for me despite the good review. But, can be a good option for people with low budget

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Mariana! Sounds like your bus trip wasn’t as good as mine. We took a day bus that didn’t actually have a bathroom, so our bus did stop for about 15 minutes at a place with decent bathrooms. Sounds like that was a better option that the bus with a bathroom.

  3. I just took Giant Ibis from HCMC to PP. The bus itself was fine. However, crossing the border from Vietnam to Cambodia, you are ‘required’ to pay an extra $5 “service fee” to the bus attendant in order to have them “help you get your visa faster” even though there is no line. When we said we’d do it ourselves he got hostile with us. At the border, they offered no help, and told everyone on the bus we would be late because of us. Yes, we delayed the bus 5 mins because we decided to get our visas legitimately instead of paying a bribe, but that’s not why the bus was over 2 hour late from the time they told us, with no traffic or delays along the route. Of the 48 countries I’ve been to, this was the most corrupt border crossing I’ve experienced. Usually, the tour company will assist with making sure you don’t get screwed by corrupt border officials. Here, they were part of the problem and joined in to take a cut.

  4. Took the giant ibis bus from Phnom Penh to ho chi minh today, they wanted to charge me 5 dollars extra to fasten the passport-process at Vietnam boarder (i’m german). Dont give them anything they’re just bullshiting. Other then that, the 7hrs busride was comfortable and without any problems! Best

  5. Below is an account of my experience which was first published yesterday on TripAdvisor review.


    So I’m writing this at 6pm on a minibus from Larryta bus company on my way back to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap. My wife and I should be on the 2:30pm bus from Giant Ibis instead.

    We had almost ridden exclusively on Giant Ibis buses because they were the safest. Like the company website wrote: they always have two drivers for long journeys, and all their buses come with seatbelts. And we always take the big coach buses despite their slower speed because of safety.

    So what happened?

    Let me take you back to 2pm on the same day when we arrived at the Giant Ibis bus depot. We realized immediately that there would only be six other passengers on the journey.

    Shortly after, the bus attendant arrived and said apologetically that the coach bus (typically a thirty-seater) meant for the journey had broken down and we would be going on a small minibus.

    Coincidentally of course, it happened on a trip where there are only eight passengers.

    Nonetheless we boarded. And when we sat down, we noticed there were no seatbelts. Or more accurately there were webbings, retractors, latches, but no buckles. Which makes the contraceptions practically useless. Understanding that sometimes buckles are tucked away at the back of the seats or something, I asked the bus attendant if she knew where the buckles have gone and she replied there were no seatbelts. Which made some of the other passengers worried too, and they too started protesting.

    After reassuring us unconvincingly that she is also going on the journey with us too, she relented and decided to look for other solutions. One of which involved driving us in two separate cars. Now remember, they were supposed to have two drivers. But that solution got tossed aside because the other driver was apparently with the broken-down coach bus.

    Which means that Giant Ibis was prepared to take passengers on board a bus without seatbelts with one driver for the entire journey in spite of what it says on its website.

    (Now the attendant did offer to refund 50% of the fare but the point lost on her wasn’t the money but that passengers like us were prepared to pay more for the assurance of safety)

    So a second solution came up. There was a coach bus arriving in half an hour’s time from Phnom Penh. If we could wait that could be arranged. So some of us were happy with the arrangement. So Liwen and I got off with our luggage and sat down in the waiting area.

    What happened next really took the cake.

    The bus attendant alighted and asked us to board the bus again. Her reason was that the other passengers didn’t want to wait. A claim which we could neither prove nor disprove.

    But my suspicion was that someone at the top was making decisions based on dollars and cents. Why would you want a thirty-seater ferry eight passengers if you can persuade them to take a fifteen seater?

    So we asked to speak to the manager. A call was made to the office in Siem Reap and we took turns speaking to a certain “Mr Ka”. He insisted there were seatbelts on the minibus and simply refused to listen to any solutions we had to offer. We couldn’t take the night buses either because they were fully booked.

    While all this was happening, another employee came along and told the minibus driver to drive off. And two minutes later after the minibus left, the big coach bus, full of passengers from Phnom Penh arrived.

    So we could all have been on the big coach bus as promised if the bus attendant had just told the passengers to wait a few minutes longer. A point which we made to Mr Ka.

    And then Mr Ka changed his story. He asked Liwen rhetorically if it made sense for a coach bus to ferry two passengers only. All the while insisting there were seat belts on the minibus and cutting us off when we said otherwise.

    To cut a long story short – we did get a full refund back at the end, but they didn’t think that us having to possibly incur costs for an extra night’s accommodation was their problem and refused to offer anything more than one free ticket. There was absolutely no effort made to help us find alternative safe modes of transportation by other bus companies, and a higher manager we spoke to, “Siew Ping” even said he couldn’t check the availability of seats on the night bus for the next two hours because he was in a meeting. Nevermind that we informed him that my wife had to attend a training tomorrow morning.

    He also claimed that there were six working seatbelts on the minibus, which if it were true, would also mean that there were less than half the available seats with seatbelts.

    Well there had never been a need for me to check on the reviews for this bus company because we’ve always had good experiences up until now. But when we finally got ourselves tickets on a Larryta bus with seatbelts and I had time to check, it turned out that amongst the negative reviews the most common remark was that Giant Ibis used to be good. But now it’s “just like any other bus companies”.

    You can add one more review that has the same opinion I guess.

    (Postscript: And Giant Ibis, if you’re reading this because I’m making sure it gets to you, make sure you make your bus safe for your attendants too. Having them sit in the front next to the driver on a foldable stool without seatbelts and unattached to the floor of the bus is a surefire way to turn them into human missiles if a collision, even a moderate one, occurs )

  6. If Mekong Express is the best bus service it only shows what a sad state the long distance transit is in. I booked two trips- one a trip from siem reap to Phnom Pehn by VIP Express minivan, showing us a photo of a nice new van. What we got was a dirty dumpy, old van that had no basis in reality with the photo we were shown. It got us to destination but did not deliver to hotel as stated in ticket info. The next trip from phnom Pehn to HCMC by VIP “limousine “ express. Again, bait & switch. I booked both at the same time so couldn’t change and apparently this is the best of a bunch of bad choices. I actually got bug bites (bed bugs? ) from the trip, which lasted almost 8 hours even tho we were told 5 – 6 hrs. At arrival I was practically forced by a Mekong express employee motorcycle taxi to use his service instead of a car that I insisted on. He grabbed my bags and threw them on his motorcycle telling me taxi is too expensive. We agreed on a price before leaving but at arriving to my hotel he suddenly increased the price 3 times the price. He got very demanding and aggressive so I paid and ran to my hotel. The police is non existent in HCMC so there’s no rule of law.

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