Everyone has travel moments they’re not proud of. Sometimes things get stolen, other times you step on a sea urchin and wind up in the hospital, and every once and a while you have an incredible meltdown on a Cambodian night bus. What can I say? I can’t always be a glamorous travel goddess.
Getting Down South
I needed to get from Siem Reap down to Sihanoukville, which is a hell of a lot easier than it sounds. With only two weeks in Cambodia and a round-trip flight in and out of Phnom Penh, I wanted to get from the north to the south as quickly as possible. There’s no good way to get from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville except by way of Phnom Penh, and most busses stop here for a layover.
Since I didn’t really feel like wasting a full day on busses, I opted for a night bus. I usually book busses directly through the bus company because I don’t want to pay extra, but I was convinced by a friend to check out the prices at some of the tourist agencies in the backpacker area of Siem Reap.
So Many Promises…
The first place I stopped in was a tourist agency combined with a hostel. He was able to find me a company that had a direct bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, which I wasn’t able to find online. The price of this hotel bus was less than what I was planning to pay for a bus that stopped in Phnom Penh. Score!
I was promised a single bed with wifi, an outlet and a curtain for privacy on a “hotel bus” that would take me all the way to Sihanoukville without stopping. I was willing to pay the extra few dollars for a good night’s sleep, and was excited to get to Sihanoukville without a layover in Phnom Penh. Plus, I’d have the hotel bus the entire 12 hour trip, rather than switching to a bus with seats halfway.
I stood by as the owner called the company and made arrangements. We agreed to a hostel pickup. I paid for my ticket and was on my way.
Where’s My Pickup Service?
The next night I sat patiently outside my hostel with my backpack waiting for the bus to arrive. I waited, and waited and waited. The pickup didn’t come.
Finally I went in my hostel and asked them to call the company. We called three times but they never answered the phone.
Thankfully, the bus station was walking distance, so rather than miss my bus, I set out to the bus station.
When I arrived and handed over my ticket, the man checking us in told me to go inside the station. “What? What’s the problem??” I inquired. I was simply ushered inside with no explanation.
A Double-Booked Seat
For the next 15 minutes I stood there as the man behind the counter made multiple panicked phone calls. I interjected whenever possible, demanding to know what the issue was. Apparently, my seat had been double booked!
Every time I asked what was being done about the problem, the man behind the counter told me he was “checking”. “Checking what??” I finally yelled. “What exactly are you checking??” I received no answer. The other employees then proceeded to laugh at my exasperation. I literally almost punched one girl in the face I was so angry.
This bus company was a huge mess. They didn’t have a phone line, just five different flip phones constantly buzzing on the counter, which they never answered. No wonder no one picked up my three phone calls!
At first I was told that this was the bus company’s fault. They had forgotten to input my reservation into their schedule. Then I was told that the tour company I booked with had forgotten to confirm my reservation. I’m honestly still not sure what happened. Was this an honest mistake by the bus company or the tour agency? Or did the tour agency purposefully not book my ticket, pocketing the money instead?
Eventually my bus, which was over fifteen minutes late at this point, pulled away without me on it. I immediately freaked out. “That’s my bus!!” I exclaimed. “I bought a ticket!!”
“Don’t worry” the incompetent twenty-year old boy behind the counter consoled me “We have another one. They have an empty bed.”
I was relived. “Is it the same as the other bus?” I asked
“Yes, same. Same”
“and I get a single bed?”
“No. We don’t have single beds here. The tour agency lied to you. None of our busses have single beds”
Of course he lied to me.
In a whirlwind of commotion I grabbed my things and was rushed across traffic to my new bus. As I entered the bus I was shown my bed… if you can call it that.
I Want a Discount
While the rest of the bus had the beds shown in the advertisement, I was given a small single-sized bed with no curtain, no blankets or pillows, and no outlet or light.
“What is this??” I asked.
“It’s the drivers bed. For you!”
“No. That’s not what I paid for. It doesn’t have anything I paid for. I want a discount”
“I paid full price for this ticket. I didn’t get on the bus I paid for. Now you’re giving me the driver’s bed which doesn’t have anything I paid for. I want a discount”
“No discount!” He laughed as he hopped off the bus. “You either take it or you have no bed.”
As he said this, I stood there like a dumbass not knowing what to do.
The bus driver and the few men working on the bus then started pointing and laughing at me as I struggled to get my things onto my bunk while fighting back tears. None of them spoke any English and found my outburst hilarious.
Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I started sobbing in my little half-bunk. Here I am, alone with no one. Harassed and made fun of by the bus company, angry and frustrated. I was confused and upset. I had no idea who’s fault my predicament was, with no curtain to protect me from the men laughing at me below.
I found a thick blanket at the bottom of my bed, which I curled up in, facing the window. Immediately I felt a tap on my back.
Through sign language and a few basic English words, I learned that this blanket belonged to one of the men below.
Nothing. I literally had nothing. Not even a blanket.
I could have gotten my sarong, a pair of socks and a thick sweater out of my luggage, but we were already driving at this point. I didn’t even have anything to ball up to make a pillow. All my stuff was below the bus.
I gave him back his blanket, and tried to ask if there were any spare blankets or pillows. I pulled out my ticket and showed the man, and then typed $20 into my phone. I pantomimed “I paid $20”, trying to explain that I had paid full price for my ticket.
Eventually the man understood, and I think he felt a bit bad for me. I guess they were under the assumption that I had paid less, or was given the bed as a favor. Once they realized I had paid full price and was obviously scammed by the company or someone else, they became a bit more sympathetic. The guy even found a spare blanket for me in the back.
Can I Sleep With You?
Completely exhausted and unable to use my phone or computer due to the lack of outlets to charge them (there were no outlets near my bed at my last hostel), I drifted off to sleep. Once I was just dozing off into dream land, I was jolted awake by the driver.
“I sleep here” He said.
“This is my bed”
“I paid for this bed”, I explained.
“But where will I sleep?” He guilted me.
I looked down to motion to the chairs below my bed, when I noticed that the bus driver had let on about twenty Cambodian passengers, who were all sitting in the space around the driver’s seat and in the isle, crowded towards the front.
I get it. The bus company gave away the driver’s bed due to some sort of mistake or scam. That’s really unfair. I honestly felt bad for him. But I also paid $20 to be on that bus and have a bed, and I didn’t even get all of what I paid for. Besides, it was midnight at this point. If I gave him my bed, where the hell would I sleep? On the floor of the isle??
“Where would I sleep??” I asked. “I paid for this bed. I paid for a ticket”
He then motioned that I could curl up my feet and he could sit at the end of my bed.
No. No way. No way Jose.
I felt really bad, but not bad enough to let a strange man into my bed. It really sucks the company gave his bed to me, but I also paid for that bed. The driver also chose to let a bunch of extra passengers on for money, taking over the only room he had for himself. That was his own choice… I think.
After repeating “no” over and over again, he eventually gave up and sat in the isle, leaning against the back wall of the bus, and promptly fell asleep there. Honestly, it looked more comfortable than attempting to do the same thing on a top bunk. He actually had room to stretch his legs out. This makes me think he was looking for an excuse to get in my bed with me.
Awesome. Let’s add attempted sexual harassment to my list of night bus adventures.
Then we got in an Accident…
As I began to be lulled to sleep by the aggressive driving on the world’s bumpiest dirt road, I was awoken with a BANG. It felt like we had hit a large boulder… or maybe broke an axel in a giant ditch… or maybe we totaled our bus by hitting a cow. Who knows? All I know is that I actually almost fell out of my bed.
The bus continued on slowly for a few minutes until it faded to a stop. There was a wild commotion as the twenty locals hitching a ride broke into a dull roar discussing the situation in Cambodian. Of course, this was all happening directly below my bed, which also didn’t have a curtain. I was even lucky enough to have people leaning on my bed with their elbows. One guy even jabbed me in the back.
Eventually I tightened my eye mask, shoved my ear buds in my ears and turned to face the wall. I was so exhausted; I slept for most of the two-hour ordeal.
The next morning when I awoke, I was dead-tired with puffy eyes from crying the night before. Thankfully, I befriended the couple in the bed across from me. Both of them were shocked by my epically horrible adventure the night before, and agreed it was ridiculous the bus driver tried to get in my bed.
But once I arrived in Sihanoukville I was ready to forget the entire ordeal. I was there, only four hours later than I originally planned, with my body and belongings intact. I guess that’s all that really matters right?
I did some research after I got back and the company I went with, Virak Buntham, is not a good company. They actually have a reputation for having the most accidents due to driver error. After seeing how they treat their drivers (giving away their bed), and seeing how the drivers scam extra money (letting random passengers crowd the front), I’m not surprised.
Also, these busses go fast on dirt roads. While we made good time, we got in an accident that cost two hours. On the way to Siem Reap my Capital Tours bus was 3 hours late, for no reason other than it was driving very, very slow and making a lot of local stops. Virak Buntham was going about twice as fast as Capital Tours at night.
While this bus is the most-direct route to Siem Reap I would NOT recommend this company. Go with Giant Ibis, Capital Tours or Mekong Express. You have a stopover and have to switch busses, but it’s worth not having the experience I did. Here’s an informative post on all the different companies you can use for this long-haul ride.
UPDATE: February 2016
A Virak Buntham driver was accused of attempted rape on a foreign female passenger during a night bus journey. The driver forced her to sleep in the back of a half-empty bus by herself and then proceeded to assault her in the middle of the night. Thankfully other passengers heard the struggle and were able to help her.
When the girl reported the incident in Sihanoukville, Virak Buntham called the police on the victim for trying to defend herself. Both she and the driver were arrested. As she was being interviewed at the station, she saw the driver offer the police a bribe and walk out of the building.
While I think the bus was way too crowded for something like that to happen to me, I’m still really glad I didn’t let that driver in my bed. Ladies, always trust your instincts and don’t let people pressure you into being polite when you know something is off. Also… please do not take Virak Buntham busses at night.
70 comments on “My Epically Horrible Cambodian Night Bus Adventure”
Oh my god you poor thing :( I would have cried too. Awful experience but I’m glad you are okay!
Thanks Hannah! Sometimes you just encounter shitty days (or companies) and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m also a huge crybaby so… hahaha. There’s nothing to do now but laugh about it.
Foolish western woman, Learn your place and dress modestly and then you’ll be treated as a lady
HAHAHAHAH wow. Blame it on what I was wearing without knowing what I was wearing. Class act. Bravo. Sexism and misogyny at its finest.
We know that Daniel William is not your real name but it does not matter. Men like you will NOT scare us. We, western women, will continue to travel, continue to dress as we please and we will make no apologies to your sexist ideologies. I am going to Cambodia and my place is where and what I want it to be. The world is changing. Women are becoming more powerful and independent. Men like you will not change that. So go eat shit, “Daniel.”
As for Richelle, I applaud your bravery and I’m sorry this happened to you.
Hahaha this is amazing! Thanks so much Eliza. I totally agree :)
Hahahaha, you morons – this episode, whilst unfortunate, is a part and parcel of travelling in impoverished countries – stop trying to turn it into a man hate fest you silly dykes!
Wow…. Someone has some serious insecurities with his own masculinity. Women can talk about sexual harassment and feeling uncomfortable without being “man-hating dykes.” I suggest you go educate yourself, or… you know… read a book.
Your comment is piggish. This poor girl was doing everything she could to just make the best of multiple violations and bad behavior. Men like you have no idea how to treat woman as ladies, regardless of how they are dressed.
Thanks so much Heather! Honestly, I think some men just have their minds made up that if something bad happens its always the woman’s fault. Hopefully in the future, this belief will change. I’m actually glad he left this comment so people can actually see the type of crap women get on a regular basis.
Lol this is funny . Spare me a news which a woman still getting raped even when she using a hijab or modest dress. For Richelle i salute you for the braviest act.
My goodness!!! What a crazy night! Glad you are safe after the bus driver/bed incident! Sheesh!
Yeah I doubt he could’ve done anything too bad, but it was still uncomfortable nonetheless!
Oh dear. This has to be one of the worst Cambodian travel experiences I have ever read. I can’t even imagine having someone try to crawl into my bed after everything you had experienced that day. I honestly can’t imagine it. I’m glad you arrived at your destination in one piece.
Yeah, in hindsight it doesn’t even feel that bad! I guess all the good from my trip overshadows it :)
Oh gosh I’m so sorry!! I would have been so upset…..we loved Seim Reap when we went–such a beautiful town! :)
I loved Siem Reap too. I really didn’t want to leave! Unfortunately I only had two weeks in Cambodia :(
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NEVER GO TO CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM! ALL SAME SAME. SORRY FOR THIS TRIP. GO THAILAND AND HAVE GOOD TIME. Hi from Preben.
Hi Preben, I actually really enjoyed my time in Cambodia and Vietnam (minus the night bus and my friend having his bag stolen in Phnom Penh). Bad stuff happens everywhere. I got my phone stolen in Thailand! It still won’t keep me from enjoying SE Asia :)
Sounds like a crappy journey but i think you got lucky, in some respects:
1 – http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/16702/virak-buntham–sexual-assault-/
2 – http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/14682/camera-theft-casts-harsh-light-on-bus-company–police/
3 – http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/14989/boycott-of-virak-buntham-bus-company-launched/
All Virak Buntham…
The advice now, in Cambodia, is to generally avoid using night buses at all.
Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip here!
Wow it’s scary to think I could’ve easily become one of those girls in the sexual assault category had I let that driver sleep in my bed! I agree, maybe next time I’ll just waste a whole day and take a day bus. It’s not worth it!
We had something like this happen in Sth America a few years back (I wont mention any other names, apart from mine and Colin’s)
We were out riding the dunes, there was about 20 of us, mixed ages (18-60 odd)
It had been a great trip, but at the end of dune riding, all the drivers had set up a BBQ and drinks for us, it looked great, anyway we all got stuck into the food and drink, the drinks were pretty strong, I just had the one, but pretty soon everyone was pretty drunk and daft games were played, it was all good fun
But then the drinks got stronger until they were nearly straight spirits, I couldn’t drink it like that so passed on every round
After a while the fire died down and Colin and I decided that sleeping in the dunes weren’t for us, so we got a driver to take us back to our hostel, everyone else grabbed sleeping bags and staggered off to find a spot on the dunes
We had been in the hostel about 2 hours when there was a lot of shouting and everyone burst in, it was everyone we had left in the dunes, a driver who was screaming at everyone, the other drivers had a hold of him, one of the girls was screaming a blue streak, the other 2 were crying, I asked what had happened,
The girl that was screaming and swearing, stopped and said “Its that bastard, he was raping ***** and she was too drunk to realise it
Colin went for the driver, he hit him and broke his hand, these were my friends, these girls were like my daughters, so I went for him as well, but my being ex forces, it was head, boots and open hands, I broke his nose, kicked him in the nuts, then laid into him with the bots, I was livid, fuming for him doing this to a friend of mine
I was pulled off him, he just laid on the for, the police were called, then an ambulance for Colin and the driver
I was interviewed by the police, no charges, Colin was interviewed, no charges, the driver was charged with rape, then the police beat him up some more, they used their batons, though
**** didn’t want to press charges as she said she was too drunk to know what was happening
The company rep turned up for the dune buggy company and said he couldn’t have the bloke working for him, so he was sacked, then his wife turned up, she had a bag with her, it was all his stuff, she threw it at him and screamed at him, then she went for him with her nails, jeez he was in a right state
The headman of the village turned up and told him he was to leave the village and not to return
The hostel owner turned up, she was in a right state, nothing like this had ever happened before, she was crying and apologising to all of us, our tour company had been here or coming here for years
The driver was bought out of the wagon were he was waiting for the police, he was bought in front of everyone and had to apologise to us all, I never accepted his apology, I gave him a Liverpool (or Glasgow)kiss and spread his nose even further over his face, everyone ;else just turned their back on him
He was hand cuffed and put in the back of the wagon
There was nothing else to be done or said, ***** came up to me and just burst into tears, I couldn’t do anything but give her a cuddle
Next morning, a couple of the blokes said to me,they were glad I was their mate and never wanted to upset me
The girls gave me a kiss and a hug, I felt a dickhead
I never thought of myself as looking after the girls (they were younger than my daughter)
I don’t know what happened, something just snapped and I saw red, I don’t regret it, I would do it again for anyone (male or female)
I am still friends with the girls on my trip, just on FB though, I get a Christmas card from *****, with Thank you from here, I hope she never remembers what happened to her that night
I know I never will, no regrets
This happened to her and we were in a group, all I can say is be careful out there, sometimes its a bad place, sometimes it wonderful (and maybe I will meet you out there)
I forgot to mention, the tour company doesn’t use this hostel any more, they still do the dune buggy’s, but no one sleeps out on the dunes any more
The driver was charged even though ****** never pressed charges, he was sentenced to 10 years prison, he lost his job, family and home
Any solo traveller or when in a group, please don’t get drunk, be careful where you are and who is around you, there may not be anyone to help you
Since this trip, I have travelled all around Africa, I don’t look after people I travel with, I just watch their backs, I hope there is someone watching mine :-)
Thank you so much for this information. I’m traveling to Cambodia in a few months and really appreciate this post!
No problem! I really loved Cambodia and I’m sure you’ll have a great time, just avoid this company when you go!
My husband and I went to Cambodia a couple months ago. He’s half Khmer, so he can speak a little bit, but mostly just understands it.
We took a bus from Battambong to Sihanoukville, and they overbooked their seats (of course). We were the last ones on the bus because we had to use the restroom at the bus station, but once we got on, there were no seats for us and 3 others in our party. They ended up kicking two women with babies out of front seats so we could sit down.
We protested, and tried to communicate that we’d rather stand for the whole ride than take the seats of mothers with tiny babies!
They treated us like some sort of white imperialists! It was seriously uncomfortable, and it just made me so sad that no one came to help or intervene.
I love Cambodia too, but there were so many instances where I could see that the Khmer people (especially women) were treated so poorly.
Yeah that’s horrible they kicked out mothers with babies when I’m sure there were plenty of fully capable men who could’ve given up their seats. They also let in people without tickets, and in my case, there were about 20 people sitting in the area under my bed. I love Cambodia too, but sometimes I hated being seen as a dollar sign or someone to be taken advantage of.
Feel sorry….really bad manner. Thank God u’re fine. What a story…well i just can imagine ur bus driver expression…pretend that he look pity, unfortunate….i plan to go to Cambodia next october. After explore Siem riep, angkor wat etc i interest to see Sihanoukville…and surprisingly flight from siem riep to Sihanoukville really expensive (for me)….so maybe i’ll take bus….and then i find ur story….
Isn’t mekong express only from Siem riep to Ho chi minh?
Take care for ur next adventures.
Thanks so much for your concern! You can definitely take the bus and you don’t have to take a night bus. This company is the only one that goes from Siem Reap all the way down to Sihanoukville, which is why I chose them. If you have a choice, just go with a different company. Rather than Sihanoukville, I actually recommend Koh Rong instead!
Hi Richelle! May I ask if there is any other night bus other than Virak Buntham I can take. Or I shouldn’t take any night bus?!
There are a few other companies that are good (basically any other company is better) but Virak Bumtham is the only one that has a bus straight shot from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.
I pays to do your research ahead of time, doesn’t it. The proper bus companies are all listed if you Google transport from city to city, I’m not entirely shocked to hear these kinds of things happening in a third world country, but I am surprised that an alone female “traveller” such as yourself didn’t first check on the reputation of the company you went with. That would have been my first priority! I’m not condoning any of “their” actions or behavior, it is horrible that things like this happen, but it’s completely naive not to plan ahead. Know better next time
I’m not sure if this is your intention, but you come across as very patronizing in this comment. Especially your use of “traveller” in quotation marks. The bus company I used is listed online, along with the route. It’s not until you google each company individually and check for scams that anything negative comes up, or at least that was the case 2.5 years ago when I wrote this. I can assure you that most travelers in SE Asia actually don’t bother to check the safety of each individual bus company, which is why I wrote this article in the first place. Rather than putting me down for sharing a negative experience I had in the first SE Asian country I traveled to almost 3 years ago, why not share my story to help other people avoid making the same mistakes as me. Just a thought.
Thanks for this post. And I was about to book a guided group tour with Capital Tours. With this post, no way I am pursuing the tour with them!
Hi Shin! I’m not that knowledgeable about Capital Tours, but from a quick google search it seems like you made the right decision. Some of the top words have scam in the title! I’m sure there are other tours that are much better. Intrepid Tours has a great reputation, or you could just explore Cambodia without a tour!
Oh dear – luckily you sound like the kind of person able to deal with this kind of issue…travel sometimes sucks eggs but you gotta roll with it. So much harder for single females, us lads don’t know how lucky we are! I once took a nightbus with my girlfriend from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville – we called in the ‘coffin bus’. I don’t think I’ve ever been less comfortable for so long. Still… you can laugh about it now!
Definitely true! I think night buses are much better if you’re traveling with a friend. I wouldn’t have wanted to get that snuggly with a stranger! But sometimes the worst moments make the best/craziest stories!
Ugh, totally awful. I’ve sworn off night buses completely. They drive so fast after dark on the sketchiest roads. Yikes.
Yeah I think I’m going to stick to night trains and only take night busses in desperation. That’s the great thing about traveling longer-term. You don’t feel pressured into taking so many night busses to save time.
You sound like the absolute worst. Your expectations are way too high and small things seem to affect you a lot. I’m glad I don’t know you.
Somebody researching a Cambodia trip.
Hi ‘Get over it’,
I’m glad I don’t know you either!
Don’t you have better things to do with your time?
That’s insane!! Thank you for this post I was just about to book my ticket with that company ?
Oh really! Yeah, definitely avoid them at all costs.
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I was searching for transport options from Siem Reap to sihanoukville and saw this post. Man! Didn’t expect it’s like this, I should research on what night bus company offers a good service, if such company exists. Thanks for the heads up.
Going there Oct 1st.
I’m pretty sure none of the companies are especially great, but this one is the worst by far. Expect your bus to be late or break down, and probably try to book tickets directly through the bus, rather than an agent, because both times I booked them through a 3rd party there was a problem.
Goodness me, i feel sorry for you.. This is a very recent update on their service, 3 days back took the same bus service, had booked this off without much off a research. But, fortunately for me the same guys were better they had said 9 Hrs from Siem Reap to sihanoukville which was done promptly & the driving was indeed smooth. They had informed on the bus (2+2) sleeper coach.
Heads up on the travel agents who book tickets on this service with all false information such as 2+1 sleeper bus with WiFi & Toilet.. NO nothing exists or works.. They stop 3-4 times during this trip.
Great to hear it went well for you! I agree, they trick you with photos and everything. Doesn’t exist!
I can relate to this story. Last year I took the nightbus from sihanoukville to battambang and it was aweful!
I dont know if I went with Virak… but i know the first bus had some sort of beds for 2 people and i was next to a western guy…but i was not that comfortable.
in the middle of the night they said i needed to change busses and got in a bus with ‘2 people cabins’ and again i was next to a western guy.
And apparently i was lucky coz there were some girls sharing a cabine with cambodian men en they were annoying and tried to touch them etc….
I would say stay clear of the nightbuses in cambodia if you travel alone.
I agree. Night busses are great, but you have no guarantee who will be next to you. As a solo female traveler, I definitely don’t want to wake up to someone touching me in the middle of the night.
Thanks for your useful information, because my friend and I originally plan to take Wirak bunthamthe overnight bus from hochiminh to Siem Reap.Now, definitely we will consider other bus company..
You definitely should! Even if it means transferring busses half-way, it will be worth avoiding harassment/ getting your stuff stolen. Have a great trip and enjoy Cambodia!!
Thank you so much for this detailed account. We just met a man near Pub Street at a travel agency that tried to sell us this exact ticket and the same exact company. If I had not read your post, we might have booked it. Now I am thinking maybe we fly or else take a day bus with a respected company but I am so grateful to know to be very thorough! We want to spend time on Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloeng. Did you prefer one over the other and did you stay anywhere you liked? Is it worth staying a night or three in Sihanoukville before catching the boat?
Oh wow, yeah it looks like that bus company is very popular with ticket hawkers!! I would take a day bus, or do a night bus to Phnom Penh and a separate day bus to Sihanoukville. You can purchase the tickets together at a more reputable company- you just don’t get a bed the whole way down and have to change buses. I actually didn’t have time to visit Koh Rong Sanloem because I wanted to spend some time in Kampot and Kep, but I LOVED Koh Rong (I wrote two posts about it here and here). I heard that Sanloenm is better for couples or people in a group, and because I was alone, I figured I’d skip it for now. It should be great though because there’s been some development on Koh Rong’s long beach in the last year (silently crying), and Sanloem is more untouched.
As for Sihanoukville, unless you like to party with young 20-somethings I would skip it in favor of both Koh Rong’s and some time in Kampot and Kep. However I have a friend (also a young 20-something) working at a hostel on Otres Beach far from Sihanoukville’s main drag, and she loves it! Much less overpriced restaurants and bag theft down that way. If it were me though, I would skip it in favor of the other places, which is exactly what all the locals and expats I asked told me to do.
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Really sorry to have read what had happened to you. But truly thanks God that you are okay and really appreciate for your kind sharing.
Thanks so much Wendy. While it wasn’t too fun at the time, at least it’s all a funny story now! I just want to make sure that other people avoid making the same mistakes I made.
Ugh I’m so sorry that happened to you! I had some hellish night bus rides in SE Asia, some of them solo, but luckily nothing like that. In Vietnam, I did watch a couple get kicked off a night bus at midnight b/c it was overbooked though. Not sure what can be done to prevent that stuff.
Thanks so much Stephanie :) I would say the only thing we can do is A) promote the good companies on our blogs and call out the bad ones and B) spread the word to everyone which companies are good so that people stop traveling on the horrible ones. The problem is that most SE Asia travelers are on a budget and just go with the cheapest option. For me, this company was the ONLY one doing the straight route. Next time I won’t just blindly take the most convenient option.
Great article, thanks for the tips! With the stunning temples of Angkor, moving historical sites like the Killing Fields, delicious food, colorful markets, and the mighty Tonle Sap, Cambodia is a joy to visit. However, there are numerous tourist targeted scams to be wary of.
Do be wary of the visa scam, coin collectors, scam orphanages, Angkor Watt touts, incense/prayer scam, Tonle Sap floating village rice scam, milk/food beggar, pickpocketing, snatch theft, invitations to a local home for gambling, tuk tuk scam, rape accusation, fake police and many more!
Thanks so much for the great advice! I definitely witnessed the baby milk scam while I was in Siem Reap.
Thank you for posting this. I’m a solo female planning on travelling round Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand in a few months time, and this page has made me much more aware of potential hazards. Thank you for taking the time to write this, and I’m very glad you’re okay.xx
Thanks so much Katie, I’m so glad this post helped! While traveling around Southeast Asia is perfectly safe, there are a few things you should be aware of like… googling the safety of bus companies. I also definitely recommend wearing pants in Cambodia (the touristy elephant pants work great) just to avoid extra attention. Other than that, have a great trip!
Wow, what a adventure! Loved to read your story!! :)
Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked it :D
Solo trips can be ended like this. But anyhow be careful and sure while planning or booking something for the next trip.
Thanks Ragini! That is so true. It was definitely a big wakeup call, especially since it was my first time traveling solo. I always recommend to everyone now that they check the reviews before booking anything.
Thanks dear for honorable advice for travelers who are strange for that information i will share this information to my clients . may book my ticket helps you for future assistance
I’m glad this helps! Good luck with your business :)