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Adventures in Thailand, travel

Koh Chang to Phnom Penh by Minibus

In this blog post, I will cover the following :

1) How much it costs
2) Where to get the tickets
3) How long the total journey is
4) What to expect

Intro

I had to do another visa run to re-stamp my 6-month visa and Cambodia is the closest country to do it. I like visa runs, they give me an excuse to travel somewhere new for a few days, and Koh Chang is super close to Cambodia, so that’s where I usually go. I did Koh Chang – Siem Reap twice already, and this time I wanted to do Phnom Penh.

I’ve always postponed Phnom Penh because I knew it would make my stomach crawl when I saw Tuol Sleng (S21) and the Killing Fields. I just knew it. And it did. But we’re here to talk about the journey itself. So let’s get started.

How much is the ticket?

700 Baht – because there aren’t (many) scams at this border (Had Lek / Koh Rong), they won’t go lower than 700 baht.

Where to get the tickets?

You can get them at any tour company kiosk on the island.

They usually will go through Virak Buntham or Rith Mony bus company. If you live on the isolated East Coast Koh Chang, you can call the company I used, Monday Tour which uses Virak Buntham +66 81 863 8144 and get your hotel to drop you off at the Centrepoint pier by 8AM.

How long is the total journey?

Approximately 12-13 hours.

I left the pier at 8 AM and was in my guesthouse in Phnom Penh by about 8:30 PM.

The travel agents will say 8, but it’s not. Google maps direct travel is about 8 hours and 40 minutes door-to-door, so it can’t possibly be 8. It’s 12. Then add an extra 3 hours for waiting around for the ferry, border crossing/immigration, and changing buses (twice)

The minivans start the pickups around 7 or 7:30, depending on where you stay. You get on the ferry around 8.30 AM.

What to expect?

A long journey, lots of waiting and some gross toilets.

Our minivan actually arrived at the pier well before noon. I speak Thai and the Thai driver told me the bus to Phnom Penh doesn’t leave till 1PM and to take my time and have some lunch. But then comes a hustler from the Cambodian side rushing towards us and wrangling everyone towards the border telling them the bus is leaving to get them to hurry.

After immigration, the (obviously commissioned) hustlers will wrangle you into little shop lots with plastic chairs that try to sell you sim cards, snacks and drinks. I got a myself a Cambodian sim card for 200 baht (normal price and always a must for me). But that’s not where they make their money. The shop owner will tell you that the bus leaves at 2PM and you need to wait 2 hours there unless you get a shared taxi, which is also a feasible plan if you want to get into PP fast.

I wanted to see my 700 baht ticket through, so I waited. I decided to ditch the uncomfortable shop lot in the heat and went to have a surprisingly really good lunch at Niche Cafe which was air-conditioned. Food was reasonably priced here for 200 baht. The shop hustler was not too happy about it, but I got back by 1PM and it was fine.

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The bus left at 1PM after the passengers piled on and headed westward. Note that most passengers from Koh Chang head to Sihanoukville and Koh Rong so you will be sharing the same bus with them until the road splits, one going south towards the islands and the other north towards Phnom Penh.

We got dropped off just before the road split at a shop and waited for what felt like an hour. We had to cross the highway and get on a bus packed full of locals and farang finally heading to Phnom Penh, finally reaching Phnom Penh late into the evening around 8PM.

From the bus station, I split a tuk tuk with an old French artist man for about $3/person. reaching my guesthouse at 8:30.

Other Ways

Check out another post on this topic which explains a more comfortable and easier (also more expensive) way to get to Phnom Penh.