Getting around Cambodia

For a country as hard-up on its luck as Cambodia, getting around is surprisingly straightforward. All the primary trunk routes are all-weather sealed roads, there is a reasonably developed bus network, a comprehensive “we can go anywhere if the price is right” taxi for hire system and, while some of the routes have faded away, it is still possible to get to some places by boat. Overall fares are very reasonable.
Getting around Cambodia

Angkor Airline


Start with the worst first. Cambodia goes through national airlines like there’s no tomorrow. Carriers that have faded from the scene include Angkor Airways, First Cambodia Airlines, Kampuchea Airlines, Mekong Airlines, President Airlines, Royal Air Cambodge, Royal Khmer Airlines, Royal Phnom Penh Airways, Siem Reap Airways and most recently Cambodia Angkor Air — and that list is for just the last ten years or so.


If you thought the airline network was a dog’s breakfast, you’d love the train system — if it was still running. Originally there were two lines, Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh to Battambang. As far as we’re aware the Sihanoukville line doesn’t run anymore, while the Battambang train runs occasionally, perhaps once a week … on a good month, with the trip taking anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. Note this is not so much a passenger service as much as a freight service (if that) that passengers can ride on. If it does happen to be running when you arrive (which is most likely not to be the case) fares are nominal. Plans are afoot to restore the railway lines, with an Australian company involved on an on again off again basis — don’t hold your breath.

Getting around Cambodia



Internal flights operate between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for Angkor (journey time – 45 minutes). The national airline is Cambodia Angkor Air (, which commenced operations in July 2009. Both PMT Air and Siem Reap Airways International are now defunct. The upgraded Siem Reap Airport, the main gateway for visitors going to see the ancient temples at Angkor, is a 10-minute taxi ride from the city.
Departure tax
US$25 for foreign nationals (included in price of airline ticket).
Side of road: Right
Road quality
Roads vary from excellent to very poor and there are numbered routes from Phnom Penh with Route 1 leading to the Vietnamese border. Care should be taken while driving as accidents are relatively frequent. Other vehicles cannot always be relied on to use headlights at night.
Car hire
It is really only possible to hire a car with a driver. Car hire can be arranged by private negotiation with a taxi waiting outside the hotels or through tour operators. 

Getting around Cambodia


Taxis can be hired in main cities, although they are not metered so the price has to be fixed in advance. Tips are appreciated. 

Given the predominant use of motorcycles for urban public transportation, travellers should ensure that any insurance policies provide coverage for riding as a driver or passenger.Cattle often stray onto the roads. In Siem Reap, the local police have banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists because of the high number of accidents.


Getting around Cambodia


Wearing seat belts is not compulsory. 

Breakdown service
These are few and far between. In most areas drivers of broken down vehicles will have to take a bus, taxi or moto to the nearest town to hire a tow to a local garage. 

An International Driving Permit is not recognised in Cambodia, and as car hire does not exist, visitors are advised to hire a car with a driver.
Getting around towns and cities
There are no public buses in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Taxis wait outside hotels and restaurants but, as they are unmetered, the fare should be fixed before leaving. Cyclos (tricycles) or motodops (motorcycle taxis) are an efficient and inexpensive way to get around and some of the drivers, especially those found outside main hotels, speak a little French or English. Siem Reap also has motorised tuk tuks.In terms of the greatest risks (particularly in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville), the greatest danger faced by visitors is from road traffic accidents, armed robbery after dark, bag snatching and, in remote areas, landmines.
Angkor Temple

Angkor Temple

Cambodia’s defunct railway system is slowly being rehabilitated, with the line from Phnom Penh Railway Station to Battambang due to reopen in 2013 after its closure in 2009.
By wate
Government-run ferries depart from the Phnom Penh port near Street 104 and go to Siem Reap, a route popular with travellers. Tickets can be bought in person at the dock or through a travel agent. Travel can be difficult in the dry season when the water level is very low and often boat services are suspended.

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