Best ways to commute between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap & other cities of Cambodia



We loved Cambodia as a country and found it very Tourism friendly. Cambodia has different kinds of things to do and explore. Siem Reap is most popular because of Angkor Wat, which is largest Hindu temple in the world and one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage site. Phnom Penh being the capital city of Cambodia becomes another important city in Cambodia and apart from that, other main cities to visit & explore are - Banlung, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Koh Ker, Battambang etc. In this post, we will some of the cheapest, convenient and time efficient options to commute between the cities.



We loved Cambodia as a country and found it very Tourism friendly. Cambodia has different kinds of things to do and explore. Siem Reap is most popular because of Angkor Wat, which is largest Hindu temple in the world and one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage site. Phnom Penh being the capital city of Cambodia becomes another important city in Cambodia and apart from that, other main cities to visit & explore are - Banlung, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Koh Ker, Battambang etc. In this post, we will some of the cheapest, convenient and time efficient options to commute between the cities. 


Before traveling to Cambodia, I had spent some time to plan out the trip and various commute options but things got changed as we actually reached in Cambodia. Reading this post can be a good idea to link the initial thoughts with what   we learned.     You may want to check out - 20 things to know before planning a trip to Cambodia     When we had to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, we chose to hire a van which can accommodate 7 people very comfortably and 9/10 as well, if needed. This option costed us $120 (yes, most of the transactions happen in dollars). It was little expensive but we didn’t have much time to plan well and the vehicle condition was pretty good which is a little challenging to find because most of these bigger vehicles are used as mini-buses for sharing commute in different parts of the country and state of the roads is not as good as you see in main tourist places of Cambodia.

Before traveling to Cambodia, I had spent some time to plan out the trip and various commute options but things got changed as we actually reached in Cambodia. Reading this post can be a good idea to link the initial thoughts with what 
we learned. 



When we had to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, we chose to hire a van which can accommodate 7 people very comfortably and 9/10 as well, if needed. This option costed us $120 (yes, most of the transactions happen in dollars). It was little expensive but we didn’t have much time to plan well and the vehicle condition was pretty good which is a little challenging to find because most of these bigger vehicles are used as mini-buses for sharing commute in different parts of the country and state of the roads is not as good as you see in main tourist places of Cambodia. 

We were 5 people to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The other option could have been a luxury bus like Mekong, who charge $15 per seat. We chose this while we came back from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. So we certainly saved $45 but both experiences are different. Mekong is not recommended as a luxury bus because it is not. No reclining seats and average interiors and comfort. We can’t comment on other bus services but I would certainly not recommend Mekong, unless other options are not available.     Do check out - Up in the air - from India to Cambodia through Kualalumpur


We were 5 people to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The other option could have been a luxury bus like Mekong, who charge $15 per seat. We chose this while we came back from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. So we certainly saved $45 but both experiences are different. Mekong is not recommended as a luxury bus because it is not. No reclining seats and average interiors and comfort. We can’t comment on other bus services but I would certainly not recommend Mekong, unless other options are not available. 


Wherever you stop for the lunch on your way, you would certainly find hammocks. So make best of them during your leisure time.      With simple maths, if you are a group of 7-8 people it’s recommended to book a mini-bus sort of vehicle and it will come with lot of flexibility in terms of where you want to stop and not. We made best use of the private vehicle with us and stopped in multiple times for buying fruits, grab snacks/drinks, lunch and other loo breaks.     You may also want to check out - Angkor Wat - World's largest Hindu Temple & must visit place for explorers

Wherever you stop for the lunch on your way, you would certainly find hammocks. So make best of them during your leisure time.  



With simple maths, if you are a group of 7-8 people it’s recommended to book a mini-bus sort of vehicle and it will come with lot of flexibility in terms of where you want to stop and not. We made best use of the private vehicle with us and stopped in multiple times for buying fruits, grab snacks/drinks, lunch and other loo breaks. 




All photographs used in this post are click on the way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, when we had luxury of stopping the vehicle wherever we wanted.     While I didn’t like the Mekong bus experience but it’s not that bad and I am sure other bus services would be a little different. Buses are certainly best options in Cambodia if you are 2-3 people and want to make best use of your time. There are overnight buses between these places so you can make best of these. And it’s not about cities of Cambodia. You can also find overnight buses to Thailand & Vietnam from different cities of Cambodia.     You may want to check out -  Cambodia - A country that runs on Bikes !

All photographs used in this post are click on the way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, when we had luxury of stopping the vehicle wherever we wanted. 



While I didn’t like the Mekong bus experience but it’s not that bad and I am sure other bus services would be a little different. Buses are certainly best options in Cambodia if you are 2-3 people and want to make best use of your time. There are overnight buses between these places so you can make best of these. And it’s not about cities of Cambodia. You can also find overnight buses to Thailand & Vietnam from different cities of Cambodia. 

You may want to check out -  Cambodia - A country that runs on Bikes !

Let’s also talk about another option which sounds very interesting - Ferry/Boat ride. Looking at the kind of ferries & boats you get, I strongly discourage. It can be very boring unless you chose an option where they take stops on the way and you get opportunities to explore some local sites & lifestyles. Please be aware that it’s also a slow way to commute between the cities of Cambodia. Seatings are not comfortable at all, so local ferries are ok but long distance travel may not be a good idea. I want to be very explicit that I didn’t have boat/ferry ride between the cities but I have looked at the options and sharing my opinion only on the basis of that.     You may want to check out -  Tonle Sap Boat Tour || Boating through the flooded Mangrove Forests


Let’s also talk about another option which sounds very interesting - Ferry/Boat ride. Looking at the kind of ferries & boats you get, I strongly discourage. It can be very boring unless you chose an option where they take stops on the way and you get opportunities to explore some local sites & lifestyles. Please be aware that it’s also a slow way to commute between the cities of Cambodia. Seatings are not comfortable at all, so local ferries are ok but long distance travel may not be a good idea. I want to be very explicit that I didn’t have boat/ferry ride between the cities but I have looked at the options and sharing my opinion only on the basis of that. 


Now that we are talking about mode of transportations between the cities, let’s quickly talk about some of the options for local commute.     Tuk-Tuk is main mode of commute and they charge from $1 to $3 for most of the places within 5km. At times, they also tell random rates so few attempts of negotiations would give you a sense what is the fair price. (There are always debates if we should negotiate with these small business owners or not, but personally I don’t like to be cheated. When I find a genuine personality, I don’t mind giving tip but someone tries to be oversmart, either I negotiate hard or let that person go.) I encountered tuk-tuks in Phnom who charged random stuff earlier, when we had to commute within 1 km :).


Now that we are talking about mode of transportations between the cities, let’s quickly talk about some of the options for local commute. 

Tuk-Tuk is main mode of commute and they charge from $1 to $3 for most of the places within 5km. At times, they also tell random rates so few attempts of negotiations would give you a sense what is the fair price. (There are always debates if we should negotiate with these small business owners or not, but personally I don’t like to be cheated. When I find a genuine personality, I don’t mind giving tip but someone tries to be oversmart, either I negotiate hard or let that person go.) I encountered tuk-tuks in Phnom who charged random stuff earlier, when we had to commute within 1 km :).


Tuk-tuk can also be booked for day tour and they take you to list of popular touristy places in the city.

Tuk-tuk can also be booked for day tour and they take you to list of popular touristy places in the city. 

Moto - This is very interesting that people on bikes keep asking you for ride. It’s common in Cambodia if you are alone, because there are bikes who drop you at your destination by charging reasonable fee. The cost is usually 2000r to $1.5 as they are usually good for small distances.


Moto - This is very interesting that people on bikes keep asking you for ride. It’s common in Cambodia if you are alone, because there are bikes who drop you at your destination by charging reasonable fee. The cost is usually 2000r to $1.5 as they are usually good for small distances.

Cyclo - It's a small cycle-rickshaw which is popular in Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos. It's small and looks interesting where one person is putting the Cyclo and one person is sitting behind on a comparatively comfortable seat.    If you are looking for clear winner here is what we would say -  For Travellers - Buses (Be wise to chose right options at best price) Tourists : Group less than 3 : Go for Bus Group less than 5 : Try to find an SUV (hard to find one) Group with 7/8 - Book mini-bus   Road condition -   1. Roads connecting main touristy cities are good. 2. If you are going little away, expect some bumpy roads

Cyclo - It's a small cycle-rickshaw which is popular in Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos. It's small and looks interesting where one person is putting the Cyclo and one person is sitting behind on a comparatively comfortable seat.

If you are looking for clear winner here is what we would say -
  1. For Travelers - Buses (Be wise to chose right options at best price)
  2. Tourists :
    1. Group less than 3 : Go for Bus
    2. Group less than 5 : Try to find an SUV (hard to find one)
    3. Group with 7/8 - Book mini-bus

Road condition -
  • 1. Roads connecting main touristy cities are good.
  • 2. If you are going little away, expect some bumpy roads

Comments

beautiful story telling pictures
VJ Sharma said…
Thanks Pushpendra and Shrinidhi !

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