Road networks and infrastructure in Cambodia are constantly improving, with new transports options coming to the table all the time.
Before hitting the road, see our Road Safety section.
A combination of a covered trailed pulled by a motorcycle, this remains the favourite mode of transport for visitors travelling around the cities (and temples) with friends or large items and time to spare. They are a relatively safe (due to low speeds) and leisurely way to travel, and also provide a degree of protection from the sun and rain. Smaller metered tuktuks with integrated motors in the style of those in India, Thailand and elsewhere in the region are starting to appear. While accommodating viewer people and offering limited views in comparison to classic tuktuks, these are a more efficient and affordable way to get around. Ride hailing apps for tuktuks and taxis are now on the up in the cities.
Motodops (moto + driver)
Nippy and manoeuvrable, motodops are the quickest way to get around town, and the chosen mode of transport for most Khmer.
Cyclo, rickshaw or pedicab, call it what you will, as elswehere in the region, this pedalled powered front-loading buggy-type affair is an affordable way to get around urban areas. Now a rare sight, in Cambodia, they can still be flagged down around busy markets (such as the Central or Night markets) and classy hotels. Although necessary to agree a fare ($1-3) before sitting yourself down, it’s good to be generous to these lean, often ageing cyclists as they get you there under their own steam and are certainly a dying breed.
Guide to taking tuktuks and motos around town
Before you get aboard, keep the following in mind:
Spot your driver
Those waiting outside establishments will generally charge more than drivers on the move, so flag one down. Get a map and learn directions in Khmer. Remember the map is for your purposes – most drivers can’t read them. Choose a driver without a passenger helmet at your own risk- motorcycle injuries are amongst the most common of patients admitted to hospitals in the capital, of which head injuries ranked high.
Learn some local landmarks
Local drivers typically navigate the city via its large attractions/landmarks, local markets (psars) and pagodas (wats), so learn their names if you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the Mekong!
Agree on a price
Next, save yourself a disagreement upon arrival by negotiating a price in advance. Here’s a rough beginner’s guide to tuk tuk prices:
$2 for short trips up to 7 minutes
$3-5 for journeys across town
long hauls to the airport starting at $7 (moto) and $12 (tuktuk)
In each case fares will increase after dark.
When getting on/off…
Beware moto burn! Located on the right-hand side of most motos, exhaust pipes are usually exposed and build up some serious heat, especially on long journeys. It’s best to get on and off motos on the other side, especially when weighed down with bags – pipes can inflict nasty burns on contact, which heal slowly and painfully in the humid weather and may require antibiotics further down the line. Should you get one, apply iodine solution or zinc oxide ointment generously as soon as possible.
Learn some Khmer
Negotiating in Khmer will bring down costs – if a price is too high, lament “T’lai na!” (“so expensive!”) for a better deal. Learning basic directions is a good idea – “Yeut yeut”, meaning “slow down” is especially useful – see our Language guide for more.
Renting a Motorcycle
If you’re new to motorcycling, Cambodia is not a great place to learn but if you want to jump in with both feet, make sure you are under the supervision of someone who knows how to ride. Novice riders should ride only smaller semi-automatic mopeds and then only with extreme care and attention, keeping in mind that red lights, right of way, staying in the correct lane, use of mirrors and indicating before turning off a road are commonly disregarded. Roads in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are getting busier each year, with more and more 4WDs taking to the roads, which were certainly not designed with them in mind.
You are not required by law to hold a Cambodian driver’s license if riding a moto 125CC or under but it is still advisable for any rider to get one, considering International Driver’s Licenses aren’t recognised by local authorities and you can’t count on health or travel insurance cover without one. To obtain one, visit the Ministry of Public Works & Transport office (St. 598) or go to an agent ($35+) such as Call Kim (E: email@example.com, T: 092 256 388) and be prepared for up to 7 days’ wait time. Once in the country, you can use Wing to send mobile payments.
Drivers are required by law to wear helmets, and traffic police will fine those found in violation. The law does not cover passengers but go helmet-less at your peril. You can rent a 100-125cc bike for $4-10 or a 250CC dirt bike for $12-$30 per day. If renting one long-term, especially to ride around the country, test ride the model around town for at least half a day to be sure it’s in good health. You will likely need to leave your passport as a deposit and be sure to buy a separate padlock – if it’s stolen, you will have to cover the cost of buying a new moto, regardless of the age of the one you rented. Check the helmet(s) provided for wear and tear, and request different one(s) if necessary.
Cambodia’s roads offer significant challenges for dirt biking- especially in the northeast provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri- which should only be attempted by experienced off-road bikers. Unless joining a Ride Along tour, there’s no guarantee that safety gear other than a (worn) helmet will be provided so if you’re hell-bent on dirt biking, bring this with you.
Renting a car
Car hire is generally only possible with a driver, and when you see chaotic road conditions, you’ll be glad it’s not you behind the wheel. A great option for sightseeing Phnom Penh and Angkor in comfort and cool, expect the privilege to set you back around about $35-40 per day in and around Cambodia’s cities, rising to $50+ in the provinces, plus petrol, depending on the hours on the road and remoteness of the location (ie whether the driver can take a fare on the way back and have to stay over). Be aware that cars will likely be Toyota Camrys, which are not big on boot space so are only a suitable option for those travelling light, otherwise 4WDs/private minivans will cost $60-120 per day depending on the model and distance travelled. As with tuktuk and motos, drivers of cars will not necessary be able to read maps (although some tech-savvy drivers may have GPS on their phones) so be very clear about your travel itinerary when making your booking in travel agents and be choosy about your driver- some may have limited to no English, others may drive like maniacs so be sure to specify what you want to agents.
Out of the city
Increasing in popularity due to improved road conditions, minivans connect the majority of major towns and cities.
Journeys by minivans are quick, convenient and air-conditioned. Contact a reputable travel agency for a range of options. Be careful, however, as minivan drivers are notorious for speeding and risky overtaking- book with reputable agents and firms such as Cambodia Post VIP Van, Mekong Express and Giant Ibis.
No 1 for popularity, buses connect all major towns and cities.
When it comes to local buses, there are more and more companies to choose from, offering various qualities of service and comfort, from free wifi, onboard toilets and complimentary snacks to plastic stools lining the aisles, whistle-stop roadside toilet breaks, the occasional chicken clucking in the back, all without a seatbelt in sight. Do your research before you book and when it comes to drivers choose safety over speed.
A word on taking night buses: don’t. Unless you lack any other options. Unlit roads and reckless driving means that accidents are far more common on Cambodia’s roads after dark, not to mention that you will be forced to endure the rush hour traffic out of its cities which is often reduced to a crawl. This is especially true in the lead up to and during major holidays such as Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben when driving under the influence is added to the mix. If you must travel at night and bus is the only to go, book with Giant Ibis who have the best safety record.
With a growing number of ride-hailing apps jostling for position in the capital, taxi hire in towns and cities has never been easier. There are a handful of metered taxi companies with rates per km often cheaper than tuktuks. Call Global Meter Taxi, Choice Taxi or Great Wall Taxi for a pickup or for sightseeing in and around towns, ask your hotel, guesthouse or call in to a travel agent.
Shared taxis can be found at Central, Orussey and Olympic markets in Phnom Penh. If you are three or more, you can book the entire car by buying spare seats to make the journey more comfortable, but be prepared to double the price for the front seat and quapruple it for the back row as cars are often filled to the rafters with eight passengers plus driver. The going rate may be as little as $5 per seat, up to $20 depending on the destination, and it’s worth knowing that there are not always fixed prices on every route so negotiate.
Newly resumed passenger service links Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville via Kampot.
National Carrier Royal Railways re-opened its doors to passengers in 2016 and its popularity is climbing amongst those who can travel early weekend mornings or mid- Friday afternoons. Fares are inexpensive at $6 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and passengers are rewarded with rare views of Cambodia’s countryside uninterrupted by its road networks, and thus less peopled.
Domestic flights link Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Taking off from the capital and touching down in the gateway to Angkor less than one hour later with low cost fares, air travel is a good way to go if you’re short on time. National flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air and Sky Angkor offer daily flights between all the major hubs.
Services connect Siem Reap to Battambang or capital Phnom Penh.
Though scenic at first, the trip out of Phnom Penh along the Tonle Sap river then traces the vast Tonle Sap lake enroute to Siem Reap, with fairly nondescript view and limited seating choices. These days the more popular and affordable way to travel is along paved roads, which can bemade year-round whereas waterbound travels can only be made during wet season May-November pending water levels.
Journeys aboard smaller boats which operate between Siem Reap and Battambang are more rewarding in the way of river scenery but can take a whole day including delays.
A great country for cyclists to explore, Cambodia offers flat roads with very occasional rises, with the notable exceptions of Bokor Mountain and some of the northeast. If you’re up for the challenge, mountain bikes are the best way to go as uneven surfaces can be unforgiving to those in the saddle. Most rural roads have a flat unpaved trail alongside roads but even here one must exercise caution as local traffic passes at high speeds, especially on new surfaced roads. Bicycles can be transported around the country in the back of pickups, the holds below buses (for an extra $5 or so) or on the roofs of minivans, companies willing. Hotels and guesthouses rent out commuter bicycles from $1 per day, or higher ($7-15) for imported brands such as Giant or Trek. World-class bikes brand new and second hand, safety equipment and authentic spare parts are widely available in Phnom Penh but be prepared to perform your own repairs elsewhere- besides patching up and inflating tyres, most “mechanics” are at a loss when it comes to finer adjustments such as gears and replacing chains. Due to wear and tear from Cambodia’s dust and humidity, internal gears are a great option provided you carry spares and know how to fix them yourself should anything go awry. Ride along tours around Siem Reap and elsewhere are a great option for those new to pedalling around the sites.