Getting Around in Cambodia - Transport Guide
Cambodia is well connected to neighboring countries, and thanks to improved road networks, it’s much easier these days to get around the country. That said, road conditions are still not perfect, and it can be time-consuming to get between places.
Buses tend to be the cheapest option, but flying is quicker and more convenient for travel between Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.
Other towns can only be reached by bus, or if you are feeling adventurous there are several boat routes. In 2018, the train service which had been ceased in 2009, resumed between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh and the border town of Poi Pet and the rumors say the it won't be long before there is a direct international link across the border to Thailand.
Shared taxis can be organized, and both motorbikes and tuk-tuks are useful for sightseeing but not for long distances.
Cambodia has two major airports, one in Phnom Penh and the other in Siem Reap. Cambodia Angkor Air, Cambodian Bayon Airlines and Sky Angkor are the country’s only national carriers, and they operate routes between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Many international carriers fly to Cambodia, including Air Asia, Bangkok Airways and China Airlines. If travelling from other parts of the world, it is best connect via major regional hubs like Bangkok.
The only direct domestic routes by plane are as follows:
Phnom Penh–Siem Reap
One way flight prices start from around $50 online. The cheapest airlines are Cambodia Angkor Air and Bayon Airlines.
One way flight prices start from around $60 online. Sky Angkor is the cheapest carrier by around $40, with Cambodia Angkor Air and Bayon Airlines prices starting at around $100.
Buses are generally the cheapest and most convenient way to reach all major cities and towns in Cambodia. A number of private bus companies now run services out of both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. However, accidents can occur due to bad road conditions and poor driving, so choose a company carefully.
Mekong Express and Virak Buntham are two of the largest, whilst Giant Ibis and Thero Express run a more modern service. Giant Ibis has the best safety record, and operates a service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Rith Mony and Angkor Express both have bad safety records and should be avoided.
In terms of service, most buses have A/C and will stop at a rest station along the route. Make sure you don’t wander too far, or the driver will leave without you!
Buses are cheap, with fares starting at $4. Bus tickets can be booked here at 12Go.asia in advance.
Great news of 2018: trains are again an option for travelling in Cambodia. Cambodian trains have A/C and fares start at $4. Tickets can be purchased online or at the respective train station, although it’s best to book in advance.
If trains are your thing, make sure to visit the Battambang bamboo railway. The journey lasts approximately one hour and takes you back to your starting point. There really is no other train experience quite like it!
Boats run daily on the following routes:
The trip to and from Phnom Penh is not very scenic, it’s expensive and safety is questionable. Therefore, it is best to travel by bus or fly.
The trip from Siem Reap to Battambang (or vice versa) is much more interesting, as part of the journey is along the beautiful Sanker river. Unfortunately, boat conditions can vary and there have been accidents. Boats are often overloaded, and you may get sunburnt due to lack of shade. It’s also best to avoid this trip during bad weather or in the dry season when water levels are low. If this hasn’t put you off, you will be rewarded with some spectacular scenery on the Battambang portion of the trip. Tickets can be purchased online and cost around $20. Be aware that the trip takes between eight to ten hours!
If you plan on visiting the Cambodian islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, several ferry options depart from Sihanoukville, including two speed ferries that take between 60 to 90 minutes. A return ticket will cost $20 and can be purchased here online in advance. Ferries depart from either Serendity pier or the main Sihanoukville port. A ferry from Koh Rong can then be taken to get to Koh Rong Samloem.
Shared taxis are popular for long distance travel, especially if you are travelling in a small group. They are faster than the bus, but more expensive. Whilst there is no standard schedule, they can usually be picked up from a local transport stop every morning, or can be arranged by your hotel or guesthouse.
By motorbike / car
Off-road 250 cc bikes can easily be rented in Phnom Penh but not in Siem Reap, and you’ll have to leave your passport as security. Whilst most rentals won’t ask for it, you are legally required to have a Cambodian driver’s license, which can be arranged for around $65.
Remember to check your bike carefully and use your own chain and padlock, as any damages or loss will be your responsibility. It’s also illegal not to wear a helmet, and you should avoid riding at nighttime. When heading into countryside, stick to well-used paths and tracks, as Cambodia still has a big problem with landmines. Same advice goes for cycling.
There are also motorbike taxis that are useful for sightseeing – make sure to agree on a price beforehand if you don’t want to get scammed. They are not usually available for long distance travel.
It’s almost impossible to rent a car and the logistics involved make it an inadvisable transport choice. However, if you are set on having a car, it is easier to rent a chauffeur driven vehicle.
Tuk-tuks are an excellent, cheap way of travelling around a city or town. A tuk-tuk is a four seated cab, pulled by a motorbike, with surrounding awnings to protect you from the elements. Make sure you agree a price before starting a journey and don’t expect to get anywhere fast – especially when going uphill!