Cambodia Bus Trip Wish List

 

More that meets the eye.

Whenever anyone mentions Cambodia, the first two things that come to mind are Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat which is located in Siem Reap. These are the well known spots to tourists and travelers visiting the Kingdom of Wonder. I did not know what to expect from Cambodia after visiting here 5 or 6 years ago. I had also assumed that development was taking place but at a slow pace which made me think that there were no other places we could visit beyond these two cities.

And so I thought.

Cambodia does not have different states like back home in Malaysia but what they do have are provinces and cities, each with its own unique appeal. Plenty of local guide books such as The Phnom Penh Visitors’ guide or Pocket Book Cambodia allows you to get to know other parts of the country in summary. Thanks to this, I am able to read about these wonderful places which we could reach via a road trip. Of course the road trip would mean traveling overland by bus since we don’t have a car (yet) and the motorbike won’t be able to make it through the unfinished roads.

Planning a bus trip in Cambodia.

Now if you plan to drive or take the motorcycle out of the city, it’s best you plan ahead due to distance and the facilities that available (or not available along the way). It’s also good to know where you can stop for a bite, toilet break (sometimes the bushes would do) and fuel refill as this could be hard to find. Along the way, you’re most likely to see children and locals cycling on the roads (or cows).

If you’re like me and plan to visit other parts of Cambodia by bus, then what you’ll need is to read up on the bus schedules, the hotel stay options and figure out things to do when you get there. I prefer this as it’s more stress free and I get to travel with the locals together. The bus would usually stop at a restaurant or a gas station for a quick break before it goes on its way again.

Since I’ve been here for a year plus, I still haven’t seen everything in Cambodia and I plan do to so before it’s time to leave. Here’s a list of provinces or cities that I plan to visit as soon as I can!

[1] Kampong Som (KPS) or known as Sihanoukville 

Pristine beaches and islands await in KPS.

Pristine beaches and islands await in KPS.

Where is it: South coast of Cambodia.

What is it known for: Premier beaches and islands. Friends have been raving about Sihanoukville which has a few beaches like Otres, White beach, waterfalls, seafood and the island hopping tours to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloeun. Although there are many tourists especially backpackers which can be seen in this area, we could choose a more private place a few metres away and still enjoy the beach. I had missed out on an island hopping visit with my ex-colleagues last year and will try to make it up this year.

How to get there: Buses go to Sihanoukville daily via National Road #4. Journey takes 4 hours and costs around $5-$10 one way (depending on what type of bus you take).

[2] Battambang

Bamboo train in Battambang.

Bamboo train in Battambang.

Where is it: Northwest of Cambodia.

What is it known for: Home to the finest rice and popular “Bamboo Train”, Battambang is one the largest towns with a charming local, provincial surrounding. It is also close to Siem Reap and has similar Angkor-era temples, a museum, beautiful rural countryside with old colonial buildings. I assume it’s more laid back than Phnom Penh with extremely low traffic making it easy to explore the town by motorbike which we could rent once we get there.

How to get there: Buses to Battambang depart daily from Phnom Penh. Journey takes 5 hours and costs around $7 one way.

[3] Kampong Chhnang

Floating villages in Kampong Chhnang.

Floating villages in Kampong Chhnang.

Where is it: Northwest of Cambodia.

What is it known for: On the way to Battambang lies a province with many histories linking to the Khmer Rouge. It is also known for having the Tonle Sap (river) right in the middle of the province with busy floating villages and pottery work. There’s also the Khmer Rouge Airport and a cave that links to the past that will most probably make your bones chill.

How to get there: Buses to Kampong Chhnang depart daily from Phnom Penh. Journey takes 2 hours and costs $3 one way.

[4] Kratie (pronounced kraa-cheh)

Dolphins sighting in Kratie.

Dolphins sighting in Kratie.

Where is it: East of Cambodia.

What is it known for: The journey to the east is longer than the west as the roads there are still in development. This province is known for its Irrawaddy dolphins, live ones of course that can be seen in the Mekong River. According to friends, these dolphins are pink in color and lately it has been a challenge to spot them. There’s also the Mekong Discovery Trail which takes you to village homestays and a chance to spot rare species along the way.

How to get there: Buses to Kratie can be taken from Phnom Penh ($7.25 one way) or Kampong Cham ($4.75 one way). The journey takes 5 hours (from Phnom Penh) and 3 hours (from Kampong Cham).

[5] Mondulkiri

Mondulkiri is known for its gorgeous rainforest and waterfalls.

Mondulkiri is known for its gorgeous rainforest and waterfalls.

Where is it: East of Cambodia.

What is it known for: The Bunong minority group along with a mix of other ethnics can be seen living in this land of rolling hills and mountains. The Elephant Valley project can also be found here together with numerous wildlife. Sen Monorom which is the capital of Mondulkiri is known as the “Switzerland of Cambodia” as it sits between two lakes and where the hills meet.

How to get there: Buses depart from Phnom Penh ($7.50 one way) and Kampong Cham ($7.25 one way). The journey takes 8 hours (from Phnom Penh) and 5 hours (from Kampong Cham).

Where to start?

Use BookMeBus.com to search for bus departures to these provinces. You can start from either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap since these are the only 2 cities with international airports. From there, you can plan on heading to whichever direction you choose. For us, it was Phnom Penh followed by Kampong Cham, Kampot and Kep. We will plan a short weekend getaway to Provinces that are 2-4 hours journey while the rest will need more days.

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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