Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by bus, and then back by minivan – in 2013

About 5 pm the day before our journey we asked the hotel to get bus tickets for the next morning to Sihanoukville. They booked and confirmed immediately, and we paid $10 per ticket. Interestingly, when we paid at the front desk they gave no receipt. So I asked, and they said the tickets would be the receipt, which they’d give us later when they were delivered. We trusted them, and it was fine.

It is supposed to take four hours to get there. We thought we’d have a half day in Sihanoukville.
USD$10 per ticket at the hotel

USD$10 per ticket at the hotel

At 9.30 am we were picked up in a minibus, and dropped off at the Sorya Transport bus station 15 minutes later.

Sorya Bus Station

Sorya Bus Station

Sorya Bus Station

Sorya Bus Station

We boarded the bus, but the a-c was off, so it was hot.

Bus to Sihanoukville

Bus to Sihanoukville

quite comfortable interior

quite comfortable interior

The bus left 10 minutes late at 10.10, and made a couple more pickups on the way out of Phnom Penh. The bus was a double decker, with passengers on the upper deck.

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It was almost full. Leaving PP was an extraordinarily slow crawl.

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Dusty and bumpy following lorries.

nice elephants

nice elephants

Around 11.15 we seemed to finally be out of the city, and the speed picked up to double digits.

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Sometimes 40 or 50, and even 68 when overtaking once. (My GPS told me the speed.)

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But often back to a slow crawl in a convoy of lorries, buses, vans… 20 – 30 until we could overtake.

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Towns all the way along, and dry. Some flies and mosquitos in bus. The land was very dry.

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Around 12.45 we stopped for a break for 20 minutes.

where we stopped for a break - juice, fruit, beer, food available. And pretty disgusting toilets.

Where we stopped for a break – juice, fruit, beer, food available. And pretty disgusting toilets.

After that the land became hilly and green. Sometimes we could pick up speed once we’d overtaken a lorry, but soon we’d catch up to another and crawl again.

it became greener

it became greener

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a typical village on the way

a typical village on the way

There were palm oil plantations in one area. Later it became flatter, but stayed green.

OMG, palm oil palms!!

OMG, a palm oil plantation!!

About 3 pm we started climbing a big hill. At 3.15 we passed a Welcome to Sihanookville sign, and then finally saw the sea a few minutes later.

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Then at about 15.35 we finally arrived at the terminal. Which appeared to be miles from anywhere. It had taken 5 1/2 hours, and we still weren’t at the beach.

bus terminal

bus terminal

Of course, I had asked the accommodation the cost of a tuk tuk, and had been told to pay no more than $7. I tried all my tricks, and was quoted up to double that, but even after all other potential tuk tuk passengers had gone I could see we’d be in for a very long wait unless I agreed to $8.  I had heard of the local tuk tuk mafia, and how they agreed between themselves to inflate all prices, and indeed the fares were far more than Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap.

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It turned out to be a long ride, though.

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passing through Sihanoukville town

lion roundabout

lion roundabout

distressingly, many people live like this

distressingly, many people live like this

it feels like we're getting closer to the sea

it feels like we’re getting closer to the sea

another stall along the way

another stall along the way

and finally, turning into the "main road" of Otres Beach. Almost there.

And finally, turning into the “main road” of Otres Beach. Almost there.

And 30 minutes later we arrived!

We've made it. There's the sea!

We’ve made it. There’s the sea!

At last!!

At last!!

So, it’s some journey to get here. We were told, and also read, that Otres Beach is the cleanest beach, and also where you were least bothered by vendors.  It was quite clean where all the accommodation and bars / restaurants were, but less so further away where there was nothing.  But there was not much reason to go where there was nothing, anyway.

AND WHEN IT WAS TIME TO RETURN TO PHNOM PENH

OK. The bus took 5 1/2 hours, and then another 1/2 hour by tuk tuk to Otres Beach.  I guess the bus is safest as it is big, but it is too slow to overtake, so it is a slow trip. What other choices are there?  Taxi – much more expensive, more dangerous as it’s smaller than a bus, but faster.  Or a compromise – a mini-van.  Safer than a taxi as it is bigger, but more power to overtake,  and so faster than a bus, and the fare not much more than a bus, – just hoping the driver is not a maniac. We decided on the latter.  The fare was $12, and the minivan departed from the town, and not the more distant bus terminal.  From Otres it took 15 minutes and $4 in a tuk tuk to get to the minivan terminal.

terminal for minivan

terminal for minivan

timetable

timetable

It was very hot there, and a few minutes walk down the road was a supermarket with an icecream and coffee parlour, which was where I relaxed until near departure. Turn left from the terminal, and it’s across the road after a few minutes walk. Hard to miss, really.

Icecream 50c a scoop, and coffee about $1 - with nice strong air-con

Icecream 50c a scoop, and coffee about $1 – with nice strong air-con

minivan, seating about 14 passengers

minivan, seating about 14 passengers

We departed more or less on time just after 13.45.  I am not going to show the scenery on the way back, but here are a few photos.

conductor's seating

conductor’s seating

on the road

on the road

At 15.40 we stopped for a break.  It did seem we were making much faster progress than on the bus.

break time

break time

There were so many Angkor Beer trucks on the road. They have a depot on this route.

Angkor Beer truck

Angkor Beer truck

At last we were in Phnom Penh. We passed the airport.

plane spotters at the airport

plane spotters at the airport

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At about 18:00 we arrived at the Rith Mony terminal.  It had taken 4 hours 15 minutes. Not too bad. And he was a safe driver.

Plenty of tuk tuk drivers were milling around, and I caught one with Roth – 017 622 240. He spoke good English and seemed to be reliable.

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