There are two different kinds of minivans as far as I know – one for tourists and one for local people.
The one for tourists are around USD1 or USD2 more expensive than the ones that serve the local people for some routes.
I have tried this one and I’d say I don’t mind taking it again. It’s fast, relatively comfortable and it doesn’t stop to pick up other passengers along the way. Don’t expect the drivers can speak English though. Most of the passengers are tourists / backpackers. These minivans usually travel to popular tourists spots and they are slightly more expensive than the buses.
I was once travelling in the evening in the dark and had to stop in a little town. I had to make sure the driver stopped for me. Most of the time even if you have told them where to stop before you get on the minivan, they still choose to stop at a place which is convenient to themselves. That was what happened to me. In the end, I had to either take PassApp or a motorbike back to my lodging.
But I’d still choose this over the minivans for locals as long as it is not overpriced because I had too many ‘interesting’ experiences on those minivans. See below. 😛
For local people
I think most of the tourists don’t know about this unless they are connected to the local people so don’t worry, you may not experience the same thing as I had.
This is really cheap compared to buses. When I was in Kampong Cham, travelling to Phnom Penh cost USD5 or USD6 if I took a bus. But if I took this kind of minivan, it cost only USD2.5. But you can also imagine what the situation is like inside the minivan when the fare is that low. The feature photo of my one of my blogs https://learnxtravel.com/2019/07/27/its-all-over-i-will-be-proud-of-myself/ shows the situation in the minivan. Not only that, it’s overloaded all the time too.
Most of the local people on the minivan I had encountered were vendors. They brought their goods, usually insects, chicken, and vegetables to the minivan. Not only had I sat with insects, I also had sat with chicken in boxes. They were very quiet in the boxes but it’s just that I could smell them.
Many Cambodians tend to have car sickness. Yes, you know what I am going to say. Once, one of the girls sitting beside me suddenly started to throw up. No, she didn’t aim at me but she aimed at my backpack which was put in front of her (because of limited space, my backpack and I had to be separated. Usually, we were inseparable. LOL!) . I quickly took my backpack away. Her mother immediately wiped my backpack (that was very kind of her) but still, some of the vomit stayed. Lucky that the little girl only ate rice that morning. So all her vomit was just rice and water. Ok. No more detailed description. 😀
The minivan drivers also deliver goods for their customers. You may see some local people giving the drivers parcels or big items and some money before the drivers leave the ‘terminus’. Then the drivers will stop in the middle of nowhere and deliver the parcels. This is another way for them to earn extra cash.
Don’t be surprised if the drivers stop the minivan all the time to get more passengers. This is how they earn a living and that’s why you can get on the minivan too. And don’t be surprised if you see all the passengers squeezing to create more space for other passengers. Overloading is never an issue in Cambodia (as of the time I write this).
Similar to some taxis, they stop at random places too. I had travelled to Phnom Penh a couple of times from Kampong Cham. Each time, I hailed a minivan on the side of the road so they were all different minivans and drivers. Most of them stopped at Old Stadium but some of them stopped at some random places. The solution? PassApp.
Note: Some local people like to open the windows when the air-conditioner is on.
Want to know a little bit of what the drivers say when they stop the minivan? Learn some Khmer words here: https://learnxtravel.com/2020/02/16/learn-khmer/
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