Since I already purchased my Phnom Penh to Siem Reap ticket in Ho Chi Minh City, all I had to do on the departure day was to show up around 15 minutes before the bus departs.
Check-in for luggage was extremely professional – yes, there is actually a check-in system for Giant Ibis. You have to let your attendant know which bag you wish to put in the luggage compartment, and he will tag your bag and give you the other portion of the ticket. Remember to keep this ticket as you will need it to retrieve your bag in Siem Reap.
My hotel and ride for the night.
Upon boarding the first step of the bus, you will be given a plastic bag for your shoes, and asked to remove them for the bus journey. I’m not sure if you are allowed to wear slippers on board the bus, but I think the idea is to keep the floor clean for everyone, treating the bus like an actual sleeping room.
The interior of the Giant Ibis Sleeper Bus. I got on the 11pm bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap which features a slightly reclined seat, so the seats overlap each other whereby the feet of the passenger in the rear goes under the head of the passenger in front. However, only after my journey did I hear that the 10.30pm and 11.30pm buses feature completely-flat beds. Any feedback is appreciated so I can update this post.
Each berth is provided with a pillow, blanket and 2-pin power sockets. You can adjust the seat back upright if you do not wish to lie down so early.
The upper berth has a window and power sockets which hangs from above.
The bottom berth has what’s left of the window. The curtains are also adjusted at the mercy of the passenger on the upper berth. The power sockets are, however, closer to the berth on the side, rather than hanging from above.
The view from my bottom berth. It looks a little crammed, but it’s definitely more comfortable than a seat, especially for the short, overnight journey.
Upon departure, a bottle of mineral water and a wet tissue was issued to each passenger, followed by a welcome announcement in English by the attendant. While the toilet was available for use unlike Sapaco Tourist, he apologised for the WiFi that was not working during our journey. But since I had my SIM card, and I would spend most of the journey sleeping, it didn’t really matter to me.
Once asleep, I’m pretty sure that the difference in the upper or lower berth did not matter, since I only woke up when the attendant tapped me on the shoulder when we were arriving in Siem Reap. We were almost one and a half early, arriving Siem Reap at around 4am, meaning the advertised 6-hour bus journey took just 4.5 hours. I would have loved to sleep more.
Once the bus arrived in Siem Reap, passengers could put on their shoes at the steps again, before waiting at a shelter at the Giant Ibis Siem Reap Bus Terminal. Note that this terminal is not located in Siem Reap city itself, but near the junction towards Angkor Wat.
You cannot retrieve your bags immediately, the Giant Ibis staff will unload all the bags from the bus and place it at the shelter, where you queue up to prove that it’s your bag with the ticket stub you received before you boarded the bus in Phnom Penh. A very safe and efficient system, I must say.
Once you’ve picked up your bags, there are official Giant Ibis staff directing you to waiting tuk tuks to take you into the city if you needed one. However, the hotel that I booked was nearby the Giant Ibis Bus Terminal, so I just took a short walk there.
Price I paid from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: VND 340,000*
*I think I paid 340000 Dong in cash, I can’t remember the exact price but it was the equivalent of US$15. The price is in Vietnam Dong because I purchased it in Ho Chi Minh City, but you can also pay in US Dollars there if you wish.
My trip was done at the time when online booking in Vietnam and Cambodia was not so readily available. Now, you can book your tickets from 12Go Asia or Baolau for these journeys and more for a nominal processing fee, which really saves you the hassle of deciding which company to choose, factoring in extra cash to carry with you and currency to pay in.