Getting around in any foreign country can be a bit difficult, but in Cambodia, it’s pretty easy. As you travel within the many cities and small villages of Cambodia you’ll find that everyone is accommodating which makes getting around easy and fun. We’ve included the best way to find reliable transportation, and how to avoid common tourist mistakes such as overpaying on fare!
Although you might find flying into Cambodia easy, domestic flights within Cambodia should probably be the last resort. For instance, if you’re planning on traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap you might only find ten flights available. But the good news is that booking short notice flights is no problem. You can usually get on a flight the same day, and it’s probably better to not book in advance because domestic airlines in Cambodia seem to open up and shut down in a matter of days.
You don’t want your vacation plans to change because the flight you booked six months ahead isn’t possible because the airline doesn’t exist anymore! For reliable airlines, check out flights from Bassaka Air and Cambodian Bayon Airlines. Both of these airlines usually have at least one scheduled flight between major cities daily.
A tuk-tuk is probably the most popular way to get around Cambodia, and they are everywhere! You will have no problem getting a tuk-tuk in any city, and they’re even available in most villages. Tuk Tuk drivers also know the communities, cities and lay of the land better than anyone else because they travel short distances repeatedly throughout the day.
A tuk-tuk is an open carriage or a canopied trailer attached to a motorbike or very small bus-like vehicle. You can usually ride a tuk-tuk with two people and arrive at your designation quickly. Tuk-tuk drivers will usually take you to temples, and popular tourist designations at a fair rate. Just like cyclos and cabs, you’ll want to settle a rate first and pay upfront rather than when you arrive at your destination.
Cyclo or Pedicab
A cyclo is a great option for getting around in big cities such as Seim Reap. The way to getting a good rate is to bargain and pay before you arrive at your destination. If you wait to pay until you’ve arrived at your destination the driver may casually insist the rate was higher than what you agreed to. Usually, you can find a cyclo or a pedicab in front of hotels or popular restaurants and occasionally late at night in front of bars.
For the adventure seekers and thrifty travelers, you can experience Cambodia on a bicycle for as little as $2 a day. All you need to do is show and possibly leave a form of identification with the rental service and the bike if yours all day. You can rent top-tier bikes to handle off-roading adventures into the Cambodian jungle. You can also rent safety equipment such as knee pads and helmets.
If you think you’re too out of shape for riding a bicycle all day, you will be happy to learn that most of Cambodia is very flat. The only safety concern to keep in mind is that drivers in Cambodia have very little regard for bicyclists and pedestrians, be aggressive and always watch out!
Throughout most of Cambodia runs an avid network of waterways and although many tourists have forgotten about traveling by boat, it’s a great way to get around. The express service from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by boat only takes about 5 hours. Traveling by boat is an exciting way to experience Cambodia and give yourself a rest for a few hours.
For travel between cities, a Bus is probably your best option. It’s easy to travel from one major city to another and in a much shorter time than traveling by boat. Buses are also reasonably safe and generally inexpensive. It’s always best to book through a booking company rather than through your hotel or the bus company directly as you can see the competitive rates between the various bus companies available.
The only thing to keep in mind is that there are a few accidents each year that result in tourist deaths usually involving express minivans or busses. The roads aren’t usually the problem, and these accidents usually are a reasonable occurrence after multiple reports made against the drivers. Always check the reviews on a bus company and if you see complaints or bad reviews about the drivers, stay away.
Renting a Car
Unless you’re a very aggressive driver, you probably shouldn’t rent a car. There are many more drivers on the streets in Cambodia than there were a few years ago and the drivers are hyper-aggressive. You must be extremely vigilant in driving safely and take care crossing roads as other drivers will not slow or stop for you to cross. An additional concern with driving in Cambodia is that there are many bikers, bicyclists and pedestrians all using the same, narrow, road space.
But, renting a car might be a necessary evil if you want to visit certain out of the way attractions. Areas too far out of the city won’t be available to access through Tuk Tuk, and the terrain may be too rough for biking.