The airport at Banlung has been mothballed with no known plans for it to start operating again in the near future.
It is possible to go directly to and from Phnom Penh to Banlung, stopping in Kratie. Several minibuses offer the service, which costs about $13, and Sorya does it for $12. Prices may be slightly higher during busy season. The road is a paved, smooth path all the way (for the moment at least. Someone’s bound to find a reason to dig sections of it up from time to time).
Bona Transport: T:(012) 567161
Bung Rung: T:(012) 684 041
Ly Heng Express: T:(023) 991 726.
Our minibus back to Phnom Penh, scheduled to take nine hours, arrived in seven.
The below companies also run regular trips on full-size buses between Banlung and Phnom Penh, most leaving at 06:15 from Phnom Penh and 07:00 from Banlung, costing between $9 and $12, and taking about 11 hours to travel the 500 kilometre distance.
Rith Mony: T: (012) 818 737; (011) 823 885
Phnom Penh Sorya: T: (023) 210 359; (023) 210 859
The minibus for Siem Reap takes eight hours and leaves at 07:00 and 08:00, costing $13.
Minibuses also go to Stung Treng ($7), Kratie ($9) and virtually anywhere else you want to go in the country by taking you to one of these towns and putting you on a transfer.
Share taxis can also be arranged in Phnom Penh's Central Market or the market in Banlung, though we don't recommend these for long trips since you'll have to pay double for your own seat or expect to squish in with up to seven people.
Minibuses and taxis can be much faster -- only eight or nine hours -- although watching the drivers careen around trucks and cows might subtract a few years from your lifespan (and you also run a higher risk of getting into an accident, we know from firsthand experience).