Tourists Urged to Avoid Cambodia’s Dangerous Night Buses

The Kingdom’s night buses, especially those transporting customers from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, have become a “huge” cause for concern among business-owners and tourism officials in the coastal city, they said.  

Last year, multiple cases of thefts, scams, assaults and even an attempted rape were reported on Virak Buntham night buses between Temple Town and the coast, resulting in a substantial boycott of that company and multiple criminal cases against its staff. A recent accident, in which an Olympic Express night bus flipped over allegedly due to reckless driving, has heightened concerns about safety.

Several of its passengers were hospitalized, with some requiring urgent surgery.
In response, some Sihanoukville businesses have now said they refuse to recommend night buses at all, and are advising customers to share taxis or travel during the day on a reputable and safe bus service like Giant Ibis.
The Sihanoukville Tourism Association, which has been engaging with consular officials, police and residents as well as Cambodian authorities on the matter, has updated its position on night buses.

The association is now encouraging its members to advise all their customers about the risks of travelling by night, especially by bus. The association has also asked western embassies to modify their travel advisories for Cambodia to include information on the risks of using night buses.
The association says they would like foreign consular officials to warn their citizens about the reported accidents and crimes on night buses. The association has even suggested that embassies should consider advising tourists in Cambodia not to travel at night.

“It’s clearly not good,” said Douglas McColl, vice president of the association, when asked about its position on night buses. “Our official position on this issue now, is that we recommend to businesses that they should advise their guests on the potential risks to their safety and their belongings before they travel,” Mr. McColl said.
“But it should still be the guest that decides,” he added.

The UK Embassy, whose ambassador and other consular staff recently met with tourism officials and foreign residents in Sihanoukville to discuss the issue – among others – have said that they are considering new information and will liaise with other foreign missions about how the situation can be improved.
Improving the safety and comfort of travelling between destinations such as Siem Reap and Sihanoukville is critical to increasing tourism, owners of businesses in Sihanoukville say.

The negative experiences of tourists have a substantial knock-on effect, especially when they go viral, they say.


Photo by SukkhaP

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