There have been vast changes to the transportation network in Cambodia in recent years – from new highways to new trains. Many dirt roads have now been surfaced, I’m almost (that’s almost) sad to see the demise of the many red dirt roads since we first visited. But it’s still a huge adventure traveling around Cambodia. Many of the Cambodian transport routes still travel on narrow, bumpy roads. They rely on minivans that have stations seemingly in the middle of nowhere. And then of course there’s the wet season, which seems to disrupt everything. Here’s our guide to transportation in Cambodia, the modes of transport, and how to get around Cambodia.
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Transportation in Cambodia can involve a variety of transport modes. There are large buses, minivans, trains, planes, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and remorques too. There are boats, both on the Mekong and to the islands. And most of your journeys will include a combination of the above. While the longer distance journeys will use buses and vans and occasionally the train, in cities and towns, you’ll be using tuk-tuks, remorques, and motorbikes too.
Getting to Cambodia
You can’t fly directly to Cambodia from North America, Australia, or Europe, so if this is your primary destination you’ll likely fly in on a connecting flight. Bangkok is a popular destination, as there are great onward connections from there. Once you arrive in South East Asia, then it’s relatively easy to figure out how to get into Cambodia, either by plane or overland.
There are two international airports in Cambodia – Phnom Penh (PNH) and Siem Reap (REP) and there are a variety of main border crossings into Cambodia from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.
The main land border crossings are easily navigated. However, not all of the border crossings are open for foreign visitors, and visa on arrival is only available at certain border crossings. Visa on arrival costs US$30, but there are reports that local prices can be uplifted with a “processing fee”. Whatever the rate you end up paying for a Cambodian visa on arrival you can only pay in cash and in US dollars.
Most travelers will be able to get an online visa from the official Cambodian government website here. It’s an easy-to-use site. It accepts foreign credit cards, and you will usually get an answer within 3-4 working days. So plan ahead and make sure that you have your transport ready for when your visa comes through.
This guide from the Cambodian Government includes the names of the entry and exit ports to Cambodia (which you NEED to complete your visa application). You can ONLY enter Cambodia at the entry port referenced on your visa. Yes, they do check. And if you’re taking a mode of transport that takes you over the border your transport company WILL check before you set off.
If you’re taking the Mekong River boat, from Vietnam to Cambodia, then read our guide on going from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh here.
Arriving by Air in Cambodia
Whether you’re arriving from further afield or a neighboring country in South East Asia, you’ll find that Cambodian airports aren’t that well served by public transport and pre-arranging an airport transfer is always a good idea. We work with and recommend Welcome Pickups for airport transfers.
Getting Around Cambodia
In South East Asia you’ll find some interesting driving techniques – most likely unlike anything that you find at home. Cambodia beats most of them. And not in a good way. Drivers here tend to be faster, and less worried about speed limits or sides of the road. Those of a nervous disposition should not sit in the front seats of buses. Me? I sit at the front. I like to see what’s coming. We’ve not had an accident or a close call on any of our trips to Cambodia.
Anyhow. Here are the main modes of transport in Cambodia.
Flights around Cambodia
Flying in Cambodia can be the quickest way around, there are only two international airports in Cambodia – Phnom Penh (PNH) and Siem Reap (REA), but there are also only three routes that you can currently fly in Cambodia. These routes are
You can check the routes prices and times for flights in Cambodia here
However, before booking a flight in Cambodia you also need to consider the location of the airport and the time (and cost) it will take you to get there.
Phnom Penh Airport
The airport in Phnom Penh is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Phnom Penh City center. It will take between 30 minutes to 60 minutes to get to the airport from the city. There are four modes of transport that you can use to go to and from the airport. There’s a city bus, taxi service, private transfer and also the remorques that are used in the city. You can also use the Cambodia PassApp, Grab, or TADA app to arrange a tuk-tuk or remorque to take you to the airport
Siem Reap Airport
Siem Reap Airport is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the city center of Siem Reap. It usually takes about 20 minutes to go by road from Siem Reap airport to the city center. You can find the transport options for Siem Reap Airport here. A new Siem Reap airport is due to open on 16 October 2023 however it is not yet clear when flights will be moving from the current airport to the the new airport.
The airport at Sihanoukville is 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the city center of Sihanoukville. This journey takes about 30 minutes and the defined taxi rate is US$20.
Trains in Cambodia
While the good news is that there is now a functioning train system in Cambodia, the bad news is that it’s still very limited. The trains are new(ish), they’re clean and comfortable, but relatively slow. The timetable also makes them difficult to use. The train from Phnom Penh to Kampot for instance leaves Phnom Penh at 06:30, so it might not work for you if you’re not an early bird!
Booking trains in Cambodia is easy. As well as buying tickets at the train stations (they can be a way out from where you’re staying), you can also book tickets via the Royal Railways site, but that’s not a secure site and it only *sometimes* works with foreign cards, or with 12goAsia, or Baolau
The trains in Cambodia run from Sihanoukville up to Kampot and then to Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh, you can get to Poipet on the Thai border. You should take a look at the main train stations in Cambodia and decide whether the train is an option for your Cambodian transport. You can prebook Cambodia railway travel here.
Main train stations in Cambodia.
- Phnom Penh Train Station
- Sihanoukville Train Station
- Kampot Train Station
- Kep Train Station
- Battambang Train Station
- Poipet Train Station
The most popular routes for Cambodian trains are
- Phnom Penh to Kep
- Phnom Penh to Kampot
- Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
- Phnom Penh to Battambang
- Phnom Penh to Poipet
- Sihanoukville to Battambang
You can and check the current train timetables and book your Cambodia train travel here.
Buses in Cambodia
Cambodian buses are the cheapest way to get around the country – you can get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for around US$11 for instance. All buses in Cambodia are privately run and you’ll get to know the different companies and which routes they run. Some are better than others, Giant Ibis is one of the better.
Because the buses are privately run, there is no central bus station and all buses leave and arrive at their own offices, and while some will offer a pick up or collection from your hotel many do not. If you’re trying to go between two locations that require connecting in another town or city, then you will 99% likely need to use the same company for both legs of your trip. Otherwise, you’ll be getting a taxi across the city to get to your next bus.
Bus offices in Cambodia for different companies are often NOT in close proximity to each other. While some bus companies have their own Facebook page or website, they’re rarely kept up to date or have schedules published in English. Your best bet is to book bus transport in Cambodia through one of the following online agencies
Minivans in Cambodia
The minivan is the most used mode of transport in Cambodia. Cambodian minivans tend to be a little more expensive than buses in Cambodia, but they tend to get there quicker, and they provide access to additional routes.
We traveled from Kampot to Sen Monorom via Phnom Penh (to head to the Mondulkiri Elephant Sanctuary) and there was no direct connection. We therefore traveled with the same company for both legs of the journey, with an easy change of bus at their office in Phnom Penh
You can check your minibus options in Cambodia here.
While minivans in Cambodia are quicker than buses, they’re also smaller, so that means there are fewer seats available and there’s also less space. If you’re tall you might find yourself a little cramped for room.
We took a minivan from Siem Reap to Battambang and our guide to that route is here.
Long Distance Taxis and Private Transfers in Cambodia
There are taxis available in the major cities and towns – and they can be booked via your hotel or you can use the Grab App or Exnet Taxi.
Rental Cars in Cambodia
You’re unlikely to be able to rent a car in Cambodia. For a start, there are very few rental cars available, and then you may be required to have a local Cambodian driving license (you’ll need to take a test). Add to that the lack of parking generally in cities, and other road users, it’s not something we recommend.
If you want to travel by car, it’s best to hire a car and driver.
Tuktuks in Cambodia
Tuktuks are a great mode of transport in Cambodia. There are different types of tuk-tuk depending on where you are. Some are imported from India, some are Chinese, and some have literally been homemade (like the one we took in Battambang to visit the bat caves!).
There’s rarely a shortage of tuk-tuks, but you should be aware that as a foreigner you’re going to pay more than locals. You can usually figure out how much a trip should cost by using the Cambodian PassApp. Even if you don’t book the tuk-tuk via PassApp you can use it to work out how much the journey should cost.
Always agree on a rate before you get in the tuk-tuk. And remember that tuk-tuk drivers rarely have change (or so they say), so don’t hand over a US$100 bill expecting change. Carry Cambodian Riel and small US dollar bills to get around this.
Remorques in Cambodia
Cambodian Remorques (it’s a French name) are a glorious Cambodian way to travel. They’re unique but have only been found in Cambodia since about 2001. We used them on our first visit to Siem Reap to visit the Angkor Wat temples back in 2014 and we continue to use them now.
A Remorque seats up to 4 people – or two people with bags really comfortably – and it’s a covered passenger seating area that’s pulled by a motorbike. They are found in varying states of “home-made-ness”.
My favorite was the remorque that took us to the Battambang Bamboo train. And got us to the bat cave for sunset and then back to our hotel in Battambang (although we did have to stop for fuel and water several times!). Many Remorques struggle with four people in, the weight is generally too much for them, so don’t expect full speed.
However, around Siem Reap, or Phnom Penh they’re a glorious way to travel. You can specifically book a remorque on the PassApp, instead of a tuk-tuk.
Motorbikes in Cambodia
Using a motorbike to get around in Cambodia is a great option. Motorbikes are super for getting around in cities (if you’re ok with the traffic) and perfect for going around the countryside. We’ve used them around Kampot and also around Battambang. And, although we were offered the use of a friends’ moto in Phnom Penh we felt that the traffic was too busy for us and we enjoyed taking tuk-tuks and remorques instead.
You’ll be able to easily find motorbikes to rent in Cambodia. Here’s a selection of some of the tours and motorbike rentals that you can expect in Cambodia
Bicycles in Cambodia
If you prefer to be self-powered, then using a bike to get around specific areas is a great option for transport in Cambodia. You’ll find bikes for rent in places like Siem Reap to explore the Angkor Wat Temples and there are also some bike tours available in Cambodia.
Tourist and Local Boats in Cambodia
When it comes to using boats as a mode of transport in Cambodia there are two main areas where this is possible. The first are the boats that go to the islands off the coast of Cambodia, boats leaving from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem for instance. Then there are those boats that use the Mekong River. The route from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc in Vietnam is one that we’ve done in both directions to cross the border from Cambodia to Vietnam (and back) and it’s a great journey. The route down the Mekong from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc runs year-round.
In the wet season (May to September) you can also take a boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or from Siem Reap to Battambang. At the beginning and end of the season, you’ll use a bus for part of the journey, so it’s best to check locally about river levels.
Boat trips from Siem Reap head to the Tonle Sap Lake and visit floating villages too.
Popular Routes Around Cambodia
If you’re traveling around Cambodia, then check out these popular routes that we’ve taken and written up. You’ll also want to read our guide to transportation in Cambodia.
- How to Go from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc (Cambodia to Vietnam by Boat)
- Go from Kampot to Phnom Penh
- Going from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri
- How to Go from Sihanoukville to Kampot
- How to go from Mondulkiri to Siem Reap
- How to Go from Siem Reap to Battambang
- Going from Battambang to Phnom Penh
- How to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Here’s how to go from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh – Vietnam to Cambodia
Transport within Cities in Cambodia
Getting around in cities in Cambodia is easy. There are heaps of tuk-tuks available, and local buses occasionally will run the routes that you want. The main point is that it’s cheap and relatively easy. Here’s a little more about them.
Taxis & Grab & PassApp & Tada
The best way of working out how much a taxi should cost within a city in Cambodia is to use Grab, or PassApp, or new kid on the block, TADA and get an estimate. If you’re using a taxi in the street, always agree the price in advance. Never assume that your taxi driver will have change, so make sure you have small US dollar bills and riels.
PassApp is really good, even if you don’t want to use the app (you can use the app and pay cash), you can get an idea as to how much it costs for a trip.)
TADA is a new player and you might find it cheaper as it promises to charge the driver no commission
Tuktuks, Motos and Remorques
A moto is simply a motorbike that comes with a driver. You hop on the back, riding pillion behind the driver, and they take you to your destination. It’s the law in Cambodia that the pillion passenger has to wear a helmet, so if your driver hasn’t got one for you, don’t get on.
If you’ve got big backpacks or bags then the driver will usually put them between their legs and they’re pretty good at balancing. Be sure to agree on the price before you get on.
It’s more expensive to take a tuk-tuk than it is a moto, but they’re a heck of a lot more comfortable and stable. Keep valuables close to you, and don’t be hanging out of the tuk-tuk taking photos, your driver will likely tell you you’re likely to lose your phone in a drive-by in some places. Big bags can either go in the compartment with you, or they can be lodged in the “luggage” area at the back.
Remorques, the bigger passenger carriage that looks almost like a horse carriage attached to a motorbike, are the most expensive of this type of transport and also the most roomy and comfortable.
There’s a lot more airflow in these than in the regular tuk-tuks. If you’re using Grab or PassApp then you’ll be able to elect whether you want a tuktuk or a remorque.
Walking in Cambodia
The weather – as in the heat and humidity – makes walking around cities pretty hot and hard work. However, walking tours are a great way to explore cities. You’ll find walking tours in Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap. If you’re looking for longer walks or hikes, then I recommend the Mondulkiri Jungle Trek near Sen Monorom.
Booking Transport in Cambodia
You can book your transport in Cambodia by turning up at the offices of the bus or train that you want to take. You’ll likely have to pay cash if you do that. Staff who sell tickets will speak English, drivers usually speak enough English to let you know how long a restroom or meal break is on your journey.
It’s much easier, for city-to-city transport in Cambodia to book your tickets online. You’ll be able to use your card to pay, and also avoid having to get to and from the bus or train station offices to simply buy the ticket. A reminder that bus and minivan company offices tend to be based where it’s convenient for the bus company, not the bus passenger.
It’s best to book your tickets as soon as you know what dates you want to travel. At a minimum, 2-3 days before you want to travel, longer at peak season, when tickets and seats can be sold out a long time in advance.
12goAsia has great options for transport in Cambodia. The schedules are easy to understand, and the maps for where your transport leaves from and arrives are (IMHO) second to none). Check Cambodia transport from 12goAsia here.
BaoLau also has good options for booking transport online in Cambodia. They often provide different suppliers and slightly different timetables. So if you can’t find what you want on 12goAsai, then BaoLau is also a good choice. You can check the availability of Cambodian transport on BaoLau here.
FAQS for Transportation in Cambodia
Here are the questions that we get asked about getting around Cambodia – don’t forget if you have a question about how to travel around Cambodia you can send us an email, or ask in the comments below and we’ll answer for everyone else to see.
What’s the cheapest form of transport in Cambodia
Buses tend to be the cheapest way to get around Cambodia.
Is Grab available in Cambodia?
Yes, Grab is available in Cambodia. You might, however, want to use PassApp, which is a homegrown app for tuk-tuk and remorque drivers. A driver may not want to take you, but you can always use it as a guide as to how much a fare should be (we did this heading to ChoeungEk when we visited the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh)
Is Uber available in Cambodia?
No. there’s no Uber in Cambodia. They sold their operator license for Cambodia to Grab in 2018.
Is there a train in Cambodia?
Yes. The Cambodian trains are run by Royal Railways. It has a limited route and timetable, but there are trains in Cambodia again.
What’s the best way to get around Cambodia?
The best mode of transport in Cambodia depends on where you want to go. With a combination of buses, minivans, trains, boats, tuk-tuks, and remorques, there are plenty of options to get around Cambodia.
Travel Tips for Exploring Cambodia
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Cambodia > discount coupon here
- Arriving by air? Book your airport transfer with Welcome Pickups here.
- Book the best Cambodia tours and guides on Get Your Guide
- Save money in Cambodia with a Wise debit card
- Read about getting around Cambodia in our guide to Cambodian Transport
- Book Buses in Cambodia with 12goAsia
- Book accommodation in Cambodia with Booking
Final Words on Transportation in Cambodia
The transport options in South Asia are similar between countries, but not quite the same. In Cambodia, there have been vast improvements in transport in the last few years, with some great new roads, a functioning train service, and a lot of external investment. Whether you choose trains, buses, or minivans, you’ll still get the chance to travel in the fabulous tuk-tuks and remorques that Cambodia has as part of its transport system.
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