Mar 13 2012

How to travel safely by bus in Cambodia

Published by at 10:33 am under Health & safety


Travelling around Cambodia can be… well, an adventure. Traffic laws are lax, drivers are brash (and by brash I mean reckless) and roads are poor. In 2011 there were 41 bus accidents in the country, and it’s looking like 2012 may beat that. In the past few weeks alone, several high-profile bus accidents have left a number of tourists dead.

They look so innocent when they aren't on the road, don't they?

On March 8, a Rith Mony night bus between Poipet and Phnom Penh crashed, injuring seven, including three foreign nationals. On February 28, a Paramount Angkor Express bus (the sister company to Rith Mony) crashed between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, killing two tourists injuring and injuring 45 more. Two days after that, a Virak Buntham Express bus headed from Phnom Penh to Poipet — and driving on the wrong side of the road — crashed, killing the driving and injuring many others.

The Cambodian government has reacted by calling for all bus companies to install “black boxes” that will monitor the speed of drivers. Since most drivers tend to flee the scene when their buses crash, whether this will help is doubtful.

This is particularly frightening because besides travelling by bus, there aren’t a lot of other options for transport within Cambodia.

Here are a few tips for travelling as safely as possible by bus in Cambodia.

Avoid night buses. Night buses are particularly accident prone, probably because bus drivers still follow the typical Cambodian schedule and wake up early in the morning, which means they tend to fall asleep when working the night shift. There have been many night bus crashes in Cambodia. Personally, I wouldn’t take one if you paid me.

Choose your bus company carefully. In 2011 Mekong Express was the only bus company that did not get in an accident — they’re the best choice for the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to HCMC routes. Rith Mony is generally considered the company to avoid — both in terms of service and constant breakdowns. The recent crash indicates that driver negligence is also a problem. Their sister company, Paramount Angkor Express, is little better.

Be brave and exit the vehicle. If you end up in a bus where the driver is driving in a way that makes you nervous, get off the bus. As much as a pain this may be, be aware that traffic accidents are the number one cause of death in Cambodia. If you think your driver is driving badly, get off the bus and find another way to get where you are going. It’s not with risking your life over.

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10 responses so far

10 Responses to “How to travel safely by bus in Cambodia”

  1. […] post: How to travel safely by bus in Cambodia | Travelfish on Cambodia Useful […]

  2. […] countries like Cambodia where food hygiene isn’t always as reliable as it could be, where traffic rules are next to non-existent and trip hazards like 1,000-year-old temple ruins or an uneven pavement […]

  3. Nateon 23 Dec 2012 at 7:20 am

    DO NOT USE virak buntham bus service – they’re seats dont recline and aircon doesnt work even though they upsell their service with that. You also travel with a lot of luggage which they transport for a fee on passenger buses.

  4. Davidon 01 Jan 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Avoid VIP Gold bus! They sell their tickets for “sleeping bus” and instead of the sleeping bus you will have to travel with an overcrowded sitting bus with no legroom at all and sometimes no aircondition.
    They also promote their buses as “direct bus” to different destination but you will have to change to connecting bus almost every time, with a 2-4 hours waiting time.

  5. Warrenon 24 Jan 2013 at 4:04 am

    I used Sorya Bus campany as I thought that they were a good value bus company.My bus was from Phnom Penn to Siem Riep.I paid an extra dollar for Pick-up.They did not pick me up,but called my hostel 30 minutes after my bus departed telling me to come to the station myself.So I waited almost an hour for nothing,in the early morning.When I got to the station,there was absolutely no remorse or apology of any kind.They wouldnt let me speak to the manager.Even after I told the one of the supervisors I would rate their service online,there was no apology.I was surprised.Really bad customer service.What a shame.

  6. Ziaon 06 Feb 2013 at 11:17 am

    Crap! I’m heading to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh tonight on the Virak Buntham night bus. I paid $10 for the ticket. Wish me luck!

  7. Kikirikion 22 Apr 2013 at 9:28 am

    I had an accident with Virak Buntham bus company while I was living in Cambodia, Sihanouk Ville to Siem Reap route. The bus flipped over at 4 in the morning. No one was injured or death and we were lucky enough to fall on a rice field. Don’t use this company. I’d say the same as the article, Mekong Express is the best company, comfy and safe, and rates are more expensive, but still cheap.

  8. woodon 29 May 2013 at 9:25 am

    I can’t blame you guys for complaining but Cambodians don’t care about a negative internet post. It isn’t really something they comprehend in the way we do. Seriously, treat the situation like you are in the US? You are in Cambodia.

  9. Abigail Gilberton 03 Jun 2013 at 5:50 am

    Try the new Giant Ibis service – the bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap has wifi and more legroom than most. They also run a service to Sihanoukville and Kampot.

  10. Mariaon 13 Jun 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hi,

    The dead amount of accident in Cambodia is higher than other thing.
    The cause is they drive when drunk and don’t think about other life.
    In Cambodia should have strategy about this.

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