How to take the train from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville

I have previously written about how to take the train from Phnom Penh to Battambang and even Thailand, but how do you take the southern route to the coastal city of Sihanoukville and where can you go from there.

In fact it works much the same way as it does on the other of the two lines, with trains originating in Phnom Penh. The one gem about the southern route though is that it can also be used to visit the tourist meccas of Kampot and Kep, as well as home of Ta Mok Takeo.

Taking the train in Cambodia

The train service in Cambodia was initially set up the French colonialists, but unlike in Vietnam no trie national network was ever set up. This meant that during the times of trouble within Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, as well as its latter insurgency there quite literally was no train.

This has of course changed over the years as foreign investment has come in, but as things stand the passenger service is mostly used for ferrying tourists, while the business end of Royal Cambodian Railways is used for moving freight.

As things stand there are three lines. Thee first of these goes up to Battambang and Poipet, and is one we have previously written about. There is also a new line that runs pleasure rides to the airport and a third going south to Takeo. Kep, Kampot and finally Sihanoukville. 

Going out of Phnom Penh the 7 am start gives you a morning arrival in Kampot and Kep, with Sihanoukville being breached at 12.40 pm, while on the way back you start at 2 pm and arrive after 9 pm, although trains are always a little late.

You can check the train schedule here.

Eating, drinking and going to the toilet on the train

If you are used to Vietnam, Thailand, or even Myanmar where the people will come on and sell you food and drinks, then we should warn you Cambodian trains are a little different. On the way out at least we suggest that you stop and get supplies. 

Drinking beer on the train is legal and not frowned upon, with this being something slightly easier to do now they have made the toilets somewhat more hygienic. The less said about the currents state of the seats the betterโ€ฆ.

For lunch/dinner the train will quite literally stop at a station that has decent amount of street food and wait as you all get fed. This is the MO for all train journeys within Cambodia.

Why take the train from Phnom Peng to Sihanoukville (or back)

Quite simply if you are not intro trains, or you are in a rush then there really is no reason for you to take train from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, or back. This is very much one that is about the journey rather than the destination. 

Said trip starts with you meandering through the streets of Phnom Penh, such as Kim Il Sung Boulevard, before going off into the Cambodian countryside and then quite literally causing by the beaches of Sihanoukville. This is an old school train experience.

If though you are also looking to save time the train can stile of use when going from Kampot, or Kep to Sihanoukville by train which actually does manage to knock not just an hour off of the journey, but also save your bum from the bumpy roads.

And just like that you are in Sihanoukvile ready for either some serious casino time, or better still heading out to either Koh Rong, or one of the other islands. 

Gareth Johnson
Author: Gareth Johnson

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours and has visited over 180+ countries. His passion is opening obscure destinations to tourism and sharing his experience of street food.