Navigating Cambodia

A Comprehensive Guide to Transportation

Embarking on a journey through Cambodia promises an adventure filled with diverse landscapes and rich cultural experiences. Thanks to significant enhancements to the national highway network, traversing the country has become more accessible, although challenges such as narrow roads and seasonal floods still persist.

Can I fly to Cambodia?

To reach Cambodia, you’ll likely require a connecting flight from neighboring Southeast or East Asian countries since direct flights from Europe, North America, Australasia, or South Africa aren’t available. Alternatively, you can travel to Cambodia by crossing via land borders with Thailand, Vietnam, or Laos. This can be done by bus or on your own transportation. However, you should note that some vehicles purchased in other countries, which have a license plate not from Cambodia, are not able to be driven in the Kingdom.

Traveling by Train

Although Cambodia’s railway system suffered during the Khmer Rouge period, efforts are underway to restore it. Presently, trains operate between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, offering modern carriages and scenic journeys. However, extensive renovations are ongoing for routes to Poipet and beyond, making train travel a developing but limited option. The option of travelling in Cambodia by train would be best for those who are looking for the experience and to enjoy the amazing countryside views on route to their destination. Whereas those looking for a faster option of travel might be better considering taxis or plane where possible.

Bus Adventures

Buses are the backbone of Cambodia’s transportation network, connecting major cities and towns affordably and conveniently. There are various operators including

  • Giant Ibis Transport
  • Larryta 
  • BookMeBus
  • Cambodia Transport Service
  • Why Not Angkor Driver
  • Mekong Express

The levels of comfort vary, but bus travel remains one of the most economical ways to explore the country, with fares starting from around $12 for Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and $15 to Siem Reap. Sleeper buses or coaches, where the ‘seats’ are actually beds, are better for long journeys (such as Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, which is usually around 6 hours) and usually travel at night. Day buses are usually mini-vans holding around 12 people, with seats in the front passenger side often being used to fit 2 more people also. The mini-vans are usually faster and will stop once or more depending on the length of the trip for people to get refreshments.

Air Travel

Cambodia Angkor Air serves as the primary national airline, with additional flights provided by smaller operators. Routes between major cities like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville offer reasonably priced fares, providing an efficient mode of travel, with flights costing between $60–80 one-way.

The new airport in Siem Reap is around 1 hour outside of the city, so bare this in mind if speed is a factor, as you will need to get a tuk tuk or car from the airport.

Renting a Car

While self-driving in Cambodia presents challenges, hiring a car with a driver offers a viable alternative for covering long distances comfortably. Despite limited availability outside major tourist hubs, this option ensures a hassle-free journey, with prices ranging from $100 per day, depending on the distance and the service required. We have recommended operators who can offer discount prices for our customers, so contact us if you need to hire private cars with or without drivers!

Travel in Cambodia together: Shared Taxis

For a balance of speed and convenience – not to mention the chance to meet some new friends! – shared taxis offer quicker travel compared to buses or minibusses, albeit with a tighter squeeze. 

There are taxis that operate from local transport stops if you don’t mind travelling with a mixed bunch or locals (and all of the market purchases and produce they might be bringing back to their hometowns in the provinces), but there are also Facebook groups where people share the journey they are going on or intend to go on and look for others to share with, and are usually expat or travellers.

Shared taxis cater to both local destinations and intercity travel, with fares typically doubling the standard price for exclusive use.

Travel in Cambodia by bike: Two-Wheel Exploration

Exploring Cambodia on two wheels offers a thrilling experience, particularly outside urban areas. 

While motorbikes provide freedom and flexibility, cautiousness is advised in congested city traffic. Renting from reputable sources is essential to avoid scams and ensure safety, with prices for automatic scooters usually around $6–20 per day depending on the size of the bike and the length of the journey (not including petrol/gasoline). 

For provincial travel, we recommend using large bikes, 250cc plus and manual (gear shift needed), which need some skill to ride and can be quite big and heavy to operate, caution is advised. For city travel, 100-150cc automatic (no gear shift required) are recommended and will also be cheaper on fuel.

Travel in Cambodia by water: Navigating by Boat

Although road travel has become more prevalent, boats still serve specific routes, such as between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap or Sihanoukville and Koh Rong. 

While not as common as other modes of transport, boat journeys offer unique perspectives on Cambodia’s landscapes, with tickets costing between $20-50 for popular routes depending on the size of the boat and the services offered.

You can also rent an entire boat for events and travel, these will vary again on the aforementioned.

Travelling by boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is a nice way to see more of Cambodia, but be warned it takes a while! If you want to travel in style and have the time, we recommend the boat trip for the experience.

City Transport

Within cities, motos (motorbike taxis) and tuk-tuks provide convenient means of transport, with negotiations for fares expected beforehand. Additionally, cyclos offer a slower-paced, nostalgic ride in Phnom Penh, while hiring a car with a driver remains an option for longer journeys, typically priced around $1 for short moto rides and tuk-tuks around the city, maximum price being around $4 (between the main areas). 

We recommend booking a Tuk Tuk via one of the ride hailing apps like passapp or grab, which will tell you the price, show you the expected time of arrival and you can track you Tuk Tuk from the moment you book it to the end of your journey.

Embark on your Cambodian adventure, navigating its diverse terrain and vibrant culture with these transportation options, ensuring an unforgettable travel experience for tourists, expats, and locals alike.

What is transport in Cambodia like?

Navigating the vast and varied landscapes of Cambodia requires a blend of local knowledge and adventurous spirit. It ranges from luxury inner city private car rental to bumpy moto taxis in some of the least explored areas of this amazing country. 

Our advice? Take the rough with the smooth! Transport in Cambodia is not just about moving from point A to point B; it’s an integral part of the travel experience, offering a unique lens through which to view the country’s rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty.

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Making the Most of Transport in Cambodia

For history buffs and cultural enthusiasts, the journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap via bus or minibus not only connects Cambodia’s vibrant capital with the gateway to the ancient world of Angkor but also offers an opportunity to witness the changing landscapes and local life along the way. This route, rich in historical significance, allows travelers to ponder the contrasts between Cambodia’s tumultuous past and its dynamic present.

Adventure seekers might prefer the independence and flexibility provided by renting motorbikes or scooters. This mode of transport in Cambodia is ideal for exploring the lesser-known gems of the country, such as the remote temples of Koh Ker and Preah Vihear, which are not easily accessible by larger vehicles. The journey itself, through rural backdrops and untouched landscapes, can be as thrilling as the destination.

Eco-tourists and those committed to sustainable travel will find cycling and boat trips particularly appealing. Cycling around the tranquil countryside or through the bustling streets of Siem Reap offers a low-impact way to engage with the environment and local communities. Similarly, boat trips along the Mekong or Tonle Sap rivers provide insight into the lives of communities for whom these waterways are a lifeline, highlighting the importance of water in Cambodian culture and economy.

For those traveling in groups or with family, hiring a car with a driver offers a stress-free way to navigate transport in Cambodia. It not only facilitates easy movement between major tourist spots, such as from Phnom Penh to the coastal town of Sihanoukville, but also ensures comfort and safety, allowing travelers to focus on enjoying their collective experience.

Embracing the Journey: Travel in Cambodia

Transport in Cambodia is more than a means to an end; it’s a part of the adventure. Each mode of transportation offers its own set of experiences and challenges, from navigating the bustling streets on a moto to the serene pace of a bicycle ride through the countryside. For travelers, the key to a rewarding journey lies in choosing the mode of transport that best aligns with their interests, whether they’re in pursuit of cultural depth, natural beauty, or adventurous exploration.

As Cambodia continues to evolve, so too does its transportation landscape, offering ever-improving ways for tourists, expats, and locals alike to explore this captivating country. From the ancient ruins of Angkor to the untouched islands off its coast, the right transport in Cambodia can turn a simple journey into an unforgettable part of the travel experience.