Posted on March 31, 2018
I Mailed Myself to Phnom Penh
Siem Reap Phnom Penh. How do I get from one to the other? Living in Siem Reap for over two years I have had the opportunity to go to Phnom Penh many times by taxi, motorcycle or bicycle. I am aways looking for new places to go and new ways to get there so as I contemplated my next adventure I wondered: Can I mail myself to Phnom Penh?
It turns out I can.
Transportation in Cambodia can be an adventure in and of itself. If you fancy a nice smooth road with drivers who stay within the confines of well marked lanes then Cambodia might not be the place you want to drive. Following a road in Cambodia can take you to the furthest reaches of the country but driving along these roads may be best done with your eyes closed. Watching a bus come straight at you in your lane takes some getting used to. At this point it is probably better to leave the driving to someone else.
As I was researching how to get to Phnom Penh I came across a novel option – the post office. I had heard of this in passing before but I never really looked into it until I met a friend in Can Tho, Vietnam who told me this was the way he traveled while in Cambodia.
It is not some fly-by-night operation either. You go to BookMeBus to book your ticket and reserve your seat. There are routes available that will take you to places like Bavet, Kratie, Poipet and Sihanoukville. All routes go through Phnom Penh where you can link to the other cities.
The cost for the trip from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh was $9.00. I believe there is a discount for local people who pay $8.00. The trip is scheduled to take six hours
The ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
My half-full van left Siem Reap Post Office at 7:30 AM and headed south along National Road 6 towards Phnom Penh. The vans are roomy – only three people (including the driver) in the front seat and three or four passengers per row in the back. A luxury for anyone who knows how many people they cram into other Cambodian transportation options. Wifi is also available although it had spotty connections at times.
I chose shotgun for my trip to Phnom Penh which would give me the best view I could get. The middle seat in the front was empty for most of the trip – I did have to share the front for only about an hour after we picked up passengers at the first rest stop.
When I spend most of my transport time riding a motorcycle or bicycle I don’t have the luxury of leaning back and enjoying all that passes by me. This trip allows me to see all that I have missed in the past as we speed down to Phnom Penh.
The van makes two planned stops – one in Kampong Thom at the Arunras Restaurant and the other outside of Skun at a gas station/rest stop. We had about twenty minutes at each stop to get some food and stretch our legs as well as tend to other needs.
Along the way we made a couple of very quick stops to pick up random passengers along the road and drop a few others off here and there closer to their destination. The driver was courteous at all times and from my point of view he drove better than the average Cambodian on the road. That isn’t to say that some of his driving would be legal, or even acceptable in most western countries but the fear factor was near the bottom of the scale.
If you are looking to take a bus to Siem Reap and you want to avoid the crowded local vans this option through the post office may be what you are looking for. Comfortable, safe and efficient. The entire trip took five hours and twenty minutes from door to door including stops. Once at the post office in Phnom Penh the customers and their baggage were quickly unloaded and the van was gone. There are plenty of tuktuk and moto drivers ready to take you to your final destination in Phnom Penh.
Along the road in Cambodia I saw many cities and villages, Cambodian people tending to their daily activities, school children going to and from school on their bicycles, cows making it from one side of the road to the other, numerous roadside places to eat or get a moto fixed and one naked man walking along the side of the road.
Curiously the one thing I never saw was mail.