Cambodia Busabout Review
I had worked out an internary of travelling around Cambodia on a budget and was just about to start putting this into place when I came across the Busabout tour and with a % off on my favourite website Tour Radar it was a similar price to what I had worked out in my budget itinerary.
I had seen Busabout tours before and thought they just offered a hop on bus service around Europe and Asia. I wasn’t aware they did group tours and I was a little wary as it was great value for money so I wasn’t expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised.
The tour was not as basic as I thought and even though our tour leader was not the best I have experienced on group tours, I was impressed with the tour and would recommend. I would also not hesitate in booking another Busabout Tour.
The one and only bad point of the tour
I think the thing that let this tour down slightly was the tour leader and if I wasn’t made aware of how he differed from another tour this could have put me off booking more tours with Busabout. Our tour leader didn’t seem to interact, he was new to touring and this was only his 2nd tour so it might have been lack of experience or nerves but he let it down.
On the first night it is important to get to know the group and every group tour I have been on like this, the tour leader uses this night to also get to know the group however ours went off to a house party. This also happened on at least 2 other nights of the tour where he went off to meet his friends. Considering it was only an 8 day tour it seemed he spent more time away from the group. To be honest most of our group including myself went to bed early so he could have still fulfilled his tour duties and then gone to meet his friends.
Now I know the tour leader does not have to work 24 hours a day but they are there for the needs of the group and this tour leader wasn’t. He never had an evening meal with the group and even made me meet with him at 6.30am on the last morning because the evening before he went out with friends instead of getting feedback from me. It was partly my own fault as I was unwell and didn’t attend the last meet up but once I was aware he needed me to complete a form about 30 minutes after the group had left for dinner I contacted him but he was busy with his friends.
I didn’t appreciate having to fill in an evaluation form as I was heading to the airport. I have also never been on a group tour where you enter the tour evaluation on the tour leaders phone with him sat there watching you.
Anyway, that is my only gripe about the tour – Moan over!! There was a member of the group that had just done the Vietnam tour with Busabout and she said the tour leader on that tour really interacted with the group and was brilliant so we just lucked out.
Who was on this tour
There is no age limit on this tour and it was a mixed group that all got on well. There was an American Couple in their 50s. Three solo (2 female 1 male) Australians in their 20s ,a solo female Australian in her 60s and me a solo Brit in her 30s.
Accommodation on the Busabout Tour
There are many great things about this tour which is why I would still recommend even though we did not have the best of tour guides and I might feel this way because I have been spoilt with amazing tour guides on other tours.
The accommodation throughout the tour apart from the last one was really surprising considering the price of the tour. I was expecting lower standard of accommodation but everything was really good. The hotels that were used were clean and in great locations.
On the last stop of the tour we went to a hostel which seemed really out of sequence with the rest of the accommodation during the tour. I queried why we have stayed in hotels throughout the tour and then the last stop is a hostel it wasn’t a complaint it was a genuine question and the tour leader jumped down my throat and said because it is a cheap tour and this is what you have paid for if you have a complaint contact the company. I was really shocked at this and another reason I do not value the tour leader on this tour as that was no way to speak when I was only asking a question.
Yes, the tour did end in Siem Reap which is a more popular and costly destination but when the rest of the accommodation has not been hostels and then there is one it just didn’t seem consistent. We did have our own room and wasn’t multi-sharing and it was one of the best hostels in the area so I didn’t have a complaint I just didn’t think it was consistent with the rest of the tour. Anyway, I guess that got my back up with the tour leader. There are plenty of other budget accommodations to stay in Siem Reap which is why I did find this a little strange but that’s just my personal opinion. I was actually expecting hostels throughout the tour due to the price.
I didn’t pay for solo occupancy and was happy to share with someone and I knew that I would be sharing with another female guest which is common with group tours like this.
Every room we had was spacious apart from the hostel which was really small and not suitable for people sharing fortunately it was only for 2 nights.
An example of where we stayed during out BusAbout Tour :
Our first hotel was the Angkor International Hotel, which was friendly and checked me in early. There were shops and restaurants nearby and it was close to a river so it was in an excellent location.
Our room was clean except for one cockroach in the room and this was the most standard hotel on the trip but I was still happy with it.
The room was big set up for 3 with a double bed and a queen. It was quite comfortable and cool with air con and fan, tv which I didn’t watch as the signal was not good and I didn’t need to watch as there was plenty of other things to see on my first day in Cambodia. There was a fridge small wardrobe safe 3 bottles of water kettle tea and coffee. I was expecting less and was pleasantly surprised so it was a nice start to the tour I hoped the accommodation carried on to this standard and it did, even the hostel at the end of the tour was a good standard.
Breakfast was not the best very basis bread, butter, jam, omelette, noodles, tomatoes, pineapple and dragon fruit orange and mango juice tea and coffee pasta Bolognese, potatoes, baked beans but if I didn’t like anything at breakfast there was plenty of shops in Cambodia where I could stock up on snacks.
Transport during the Busabout Tour in Cambodia
I did expect us to be using public transport since it was quite a cheap tour but we had our own private mini bus. We had the same bus throughout the tour and it was spacious enough for the size of our group. If there had been more people on the tour it might not have been big enough as there were some long days travelling but this was perfect for us.
We had the same bus driver and another guy who helped carry the bags again something I was not expecting due to the cost of the tour. Our bus was clean and the driver was safe and made sure we had a comfortable journey.
There was a lot of time spent travelling but that was due to the distances being covered and even though one day we spent 8 plus hours on the bus, because it was spacious and comfortable this was not a problem. We had plenty of stops and even when a couple of us felt ill the tour leader stopped the bus for us straight away which was excellent.
The worse part of this tour was when I had an upset stomach and was sick and the tour leader dealt with it really well. I mentioned I didn’t feel well and he got the bus to stop immediately and even asked a local house if I could use their bathroom which was really kind of the local family and also the tour leader as I was happy to be sick at the side of the road. He also kept asking me if I was feeling OK and this part of his care was really good.
There was also another occasion when another passenger was poorly and even ended up in hospital and the tour leader again acted very professionally in these situations.
The Busabout tour itinerary
The tour itinerary was outstanding and even though the tour leader did not interact with the group he made sure every thing ran smoothly. I felt confident and safe in his care and think if something had gone wrong, he would have been able to deal with it.
The itinerary was an excellent mixture of activities and you could do as much or as little as you wanted. Due to the fact that this is a budget tour most activities are optional and therefore require payment but this is good as it means you don’t pay for something that you do not want to do. The optional activities which we did do were not much more expensive than if you were to book them independently.
Day 1 – Phnom Pehn
I met my room share a girl from Australia and the group is quite small a bit of a contrast to my last tour in Morocco that had 43 people on. I prefer smaller groups and was very happy with the size of this group.
We had dinner in a local restaurant called Friends which teaches locals to cook so they can have a career. The food was amazing I had a chicken burger and it was one of the best I’ve had. I was a bit bored of noodles as I had 3 lots on the flight from the UK to Cambodia as I had only arrived earlier in the day. But the burger still had an Asian twist with a spicy relish.
I had my first Angkor beer which I had plenty more of whilst travelling through Cambodia. I was going to have the critter and bug burger but was really hungry and thought it was a little early in the tour for bugs but I definitely wanted to try a tarantula which is a delicacy in Cambodia. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity, probably for the best!!
Then it was an early night for us as we had all been travelling and the tour was to begin early the next morning when we were exploring the prison and killing Fields.
Day 2 Phnom Penh
Today was an optional tour of the Killing Fields and S-21 museum everyone in the group took part. We had a Private guide and van and it cost $17 each. This is slightly higher than the cost you can get the tour online but it was convenient for us all do it together.
You can read more about the Killing Field and S-21 prison here
The tour was really good and I was impressed too, the beginning of our Busabout tour.
We then had some free time to explore Phenom Pehn. Me and a member of the group went to the Palace and a city tour by Tuk-tuk. This cost $10 for the Palace and $5 each for the tuk-tuk tour.
You can read more about what we did in Phnom Penh Here
Day 3 – Kampot
Kampot is a coastal area in Cambodia and it was a very bumpy ride, good job we had plenty of space to keep comfortable on the bus ride. We went on a river cruise which was amazing. We even got to see some fireflies when the sun had gone down. I also got eaten alive so if you do this tour make sure you have plenty of insect repellent on.
We went to an amazing infinity pool over looking the countryside, this was combined with a visit to a pepper farm where we were shown how the pepper grows and then seeing the ladies sitting on the floor in the intense heat picking off the pepper, will make me think every time I have pepper now and I will not take it for granted.
However the infinity pool was amazing and in the heat was lovely to chill for a while, we had lunch here which was tasty.
Day 4 Sihanoukville
The beaches in Sihanoukville were beautiful and it was lovely to spend time relaxing on the beach watching the world go by. Some of the group got a bit bored so we had to leave early and head to the hotel. I personally could have stayed there longer basking in the sun as it was so relaxing. There were people walking up the beach offering massages, pedicures, selling fruit and soft drinks.
We had a lovely hotel in Sihanoukville that has a indoor pool, which we didn’t get chance to use as we had been at the beach all day but it just goes to show the quality of the hotels that we were staying at.
Day 5 Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem
We had a boat trip to Koh Rong Samloem and again another relaxing day watching the world go by as we sailed. Before our boat tour we walked around Sihanoukville to see the Golden Loin monument as we had some time until the boat was leaving.
We visited two islands and had time on our own to spend on the beach for the first stop and go on a mini hike on the second stop. I didn’t go on the hike I walked along the main stretch and looked in the local shops and cafes and sat on the beautiful white beach.
Here I got a bit lapse and had ice in my drink so I was very poorly the next day. It was my own fault.
The boat was great we had lunch included which was tasty and I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, there was also the option to get drinks on the boat. The boat ran smoothly safely and on time.
We also got time to go snorkeling and then we were surprised on the way home with a foam party. There were lots of Chinese on the boat and they absolutely loved this. I spent time on the top deck sunbathing. It was a brilliant day.
We came into port in a different area due to the tide and had to get a bus back to the pier. Where we did dock had hundreds of fishing boats and the local children came to welcome us. We walked through a little community where locals were washing, playing and having their dinner but all were smiling and saying hello.
Day 6 Battambang
We had a long drive today over 8 hours and this is when I was sick so the journey was not nice for me as I just wanted to be in the hotel.
Due to me feeling unwell I didn’t go on the optional tour to the circus but the rest of the group did and said it was a wonderful experience. I had paid for the trip the day before and didn’t get this money back as the ticket had already been reserved but I was just too unwell to go;. It was $20 but everyone said it was well worth the money as it was a great show.
Day 7 Bike ride
I was dreading today as I can not ride a bike but I did not have to, there was the option to do a tuk-tuk ride instead. Whilst some of the group did a bike ride through the countryside 3 of us went in the tuk-tuk.
This was a great day seeing how locals lived. We had a number of stops along the way such as a rice wine stop where they had pigs that got drunk on the left over rice wine. I adore pigs so loved seeing them. There was a Banana stop where they dried small bananas to make chips and rolled dried bananas. A rice paper stop and a very smelly fish paste stop.
It was lovely to see how locals lived and everyone was so friendly. This is one of the highlights of the trip. Some university students were our tour guides and they were very informative as we visited each stop. The people who were riding the bikes said they enjoyed it but it was getting very hot so it was becoming uncomfortable as it did seem to go on for a long time.
We then headed to Siem Reap where we had a brief orientation walk of the markets and pub street but to be fair our tour guide didn’t really tell us much, we were just walking around and the group was tired and hungry and just wanted to go and eat. This part of the tour is not the best but it might have been because we were all tired and hungry. The group went off and did their own thing. Me and two others went for a quick dinner and cocktail before a early night since we were leaving at 5am in the morning to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
Day 8 Siem Reap
An early start for a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. This was an optional tour but again all the group took part. We had to pay for the guide and also a pass for Angkor Wat but it was all worth the money.
The tour guide we had was brilliant she was really into photography and made sure we all got some perfect instagrammable shots.
It was beautiful to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat and explore the temples. The tour was in the morning and then we had free time in the afternoon. Siem Reap was my last stop before heading to Bangkok to join another group tour.
Would I recommend this tour
Yes I would. It was great value for money and it was a great itinerary. I felt safe and nothing went wrong during the tour. If you would like to find out more information about the tour I would advise going on TourRadar as this is where I get all my tours as they tend to be the best priced.
I will do another Busabout tour if it is in a place that I want to visit and might now even consider the hop on bus routes I have read about. Have you been on a Busabout tour I would love to hear what you thought please comment.