Capitol Tours might not be everyone’s favorite bus company. But let’s face it, if you’re on a tight budget, it should be your first choice. I have traveled on Capitol Tours between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Bangkok more often than I can remember.
- The bus stops are usually right smack in the middle of town. At least in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang. Well, in Siem Reap and Battambang, the real stations are out of town, but they have free pick-up service from the ticket offices, which are downtown.
- It’s cheap! The price goes up a bit during the high season (October to March, I think). But it still hard to beat.
- Compared to what you pay, you actually get a semi-reliable service.
- Capitol’s Thai partner for routes to Bangkok actually has free working Wifi. This compares to Mekong with their so-called VIP bus service, where there is still no Wifi on the Thai side and the Wifi on the Cambodian side is usually out of order.
- It can be slow. They stop along the way very often to pick up and drop off passengers. Engine breakdowns also happen every once in a while.
- The majority of passengers are from the working classes. This can make for a noisy environment. Also be prepared for the unexpected, such as a mother having her child pee into the aisle.
- Don’t expect Wifi or any other amenities on these trips. It’s totally no-frills!
- They have routes to Bangkok, but no route from Bangkok back to Cambodia. I have no clue why.
Survival tips & tricks
All in all, it’s really not just such a bad experience. But there are some things that can make the journey with Capitol Tours a little bit more pleasant.
First, I would like to suggest that you stay relaxed and prepare yourself for a really long trip. Just accept that the bus probably won’t be on time anyways, so why get upset about some delays along the way?
Also, pack some food to snack on during the trip. The bus always stops at least twice at a restaurant, but the prices at those places are always on the higher side, I think. There are also many reports of these restaurants charging foreigners extra, but the one time I bought something, I made first sure to see how much a local paid and lo and behold, I was charged exactly the same price. I guess your mileage may vary!
Finally, Capitol Tours will usually allow you to choose your seat. I found it better to take a seat in the back section. It seems locals aren’t too picky and ticket clerks automatically assign seats starting from the front. So, if the bus isn’t full, you are more likely to have a lot of space for yourself in the back.