Getting around


At the moment the only domestic route within Cambodia that operates safely and with any frequency is between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, with
Siem Reap Airways, The situation is developing though and you should check what routes are flying when you arrive. You should also take safety seriously - a number of domestic flights have crashed in recent years.


All the Mekong towns and settlements around the Tonlé Sap are accessible by boat. It is a very quick and relatively comfortable way of travel and much cheaper than flying. The route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is very popular, while the route between Siem Reap and Battambang is one of the most scenic. For those on a budget it is the best way to go. With the new road opening, boats are no longer used as a main form of transport along the Mekong and in the northeast.


The UK Foreign Office continues to advise against rail travel in Cambodia, and with its ancient locomotives Cambodian state railways cannot be recommended. The railway is desperately slow, uncomfortable and unreliable. There are two lines out of Phnom Penh: one to Poipet on the Thai border, which goes via Pursat, Battambang and Sisophon; the second, which runs south to Sihanoukville on the coast via Takeo, Kep and Kampot, is not operating at the moment. Check the situation when you arrive.


Over the last few years the road system in Cambodia has dramatically improved. A trunk route of international standards, apart from a few bumpy stretches, from Stung Treng to Koh Kong is due for completion in the near future. Much of the rest of the network is pretty basic and journeys can sometimes be long and laborious. Also, to some parts, such as Ratanakiri, the road is a graded laterite track, unpaved and potholed. In the rainy season expect to be slowed down on many roads to a slithering muddy crawl. The Khmer-American Friendship Highway (Route 4), which runs from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, is entirely paved, as is the National Highway 6 between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The infamous National Highway 6 between Poipet and Phnom Penh via Siem Reap has also had extensive work, as has National Highway 1. The Japanese in particular have put considerable resources into road and bridge building.

Bus and shared taxi

There are buses and shared taxis to most parts of the country. Shared taxis (generally Toyota Camrys) or pickups are usually the quickest
and most reliable public transport option. The taxi operators charge a premium for better seats and you can buy yourself more space. It is not uncommon for a taxi to fit 10 people in it, including two sitting on the driver's seat. Fares for riding in the back of the truck are half that for riding in the cab. The Sihanoukville run has an excellent and cheap air-conditioned bus service.

Car hire and taxi

A few travel agents and hotels may be able to organize self-drive car hire and most hotels have cars for hire with a driver (US$30-50 per day). There is a limited taxi service in Phnom Penh.


The most popular and sensible option is the motorbike taxi, known as 'moto'. This costs around the same as renting your own machine and with luck you will get a driver who speaks a bit of English and who knows where he's going. Once you have found a good driver stick with him: handing out the odd drink, a packet of cigarettes or an extra dollar or two is a good investment. Outside Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, do not expect much English from your moto driver.

Motorbike and bicycle hire

Motorbikes can be rented from between US$5 and US$8 per day and around US$1 for a bicycle. If riding either a motorbike or a bicycle be aware that the accident fatality rate is very high. This is partly because of the poor condition of many of the vehicles on the road; partly because of the poor roads; and partly because of the horrendously poor driving. If you do rent a motorbike ensure it has a working horn (imperative) and buy some rear-view mirrors so you can keep an eye on the traffic. Wear a helmet (even if using a motodop).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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