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Find out the Best Methods of travel in Cambodia

If you are going to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, you may think that the hardest thing is the hotel reservation and tickets purchase but not the choice of the most suitable methods of travel in Cambodia. Of course, it is not easy to find the cheapest offer and to save a lot of money but more needed to be done. Nevertheless, here in this country, you can be faced with many surprises connected with the internal movement. This can happen due to the huge difference between the local transportation and our livelihoods. And that’s exactly what will be told and compared in this article.


 

Let’s go on journey to Cambodia

 

The First Step: How to Enter Cambodia by Plane

Cambodia is quite popular for tourists, so many airlines suggest you a multitude of flights at very different prices. Border crossing by plane is the main way of entering the country, but there are only 3 international airports – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap (which is the busiest one), and Sihanoukville. It means that you can’t reach any spot of the country only using a plane and your own feet.It worth noting, that Sihanoukville airport resumed its work recently - in 2007 - and serves only domestic routes.

  Angkor Air plane

 

But the point is, not every person finds it affordable to pay for a ticket to Cambodia and also buy a second ticket to reach the interesting places from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. A one-way ticket costs $100-200 without taxes. They could be up to $80 depending on a season and destination. So, it would be better to search for other methods of travel in Cambodia.

 


 

Hunting for cheap tickets

  • Search for best airfare deals on Skyscanner, Yapta, AirfareWatchdog or the other similar services;
  •  Buy tickets 3-5 months in advance;
  • Know that prices change in relation to the days of the week. The highest fares are obviously on weekend, and the lowest – on Tuesday and Wednesday;
  • Don’t forget to clean cache and cookies. It may be strange, but websites can still indicate the old prices instead of new;

Also, sometimes it is better to look for separate flights instead of accepting the agency offer. You can find best tickets with a transfer in marvelous cities and organize yourself an additional route. It may seem a little tricky, but you won’t regret about such a decision.

 

Bus Tours as an Easy Method of Travel

Bus tours are a simple way to cross the border and get to the place you are interested in. A travel agency provides you with all the transport services; therefore you will spend your holiday exactly how you planned. The main disadvantage: you won't have enough freedom for a spontaneous trip to a city you have already discovered. Such a tour also limits the ability to plunge into a local culture, because you will be surrounded by lots of your fellow men.

But there is a way out. If you don’t want to purchase a complex tour, you can buy an excursion already in place. The prices can vary, so it is recommended to check 3-5 offers from a few companies and choose the most appropriate for you. Bus tour from one city to another costs $20-35.

Tour examples


 

Public Transportation in Cambodia

If you have ever seen movies about Asia, you wouldn’t be surprised about the fact that local transport here is uncomfortable and overcrowded. Coaches are not very expensive – the trip from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville would cost $7-10. Don’t skimp on the ticket this time, because in this case, the higher price means the higher comfort.

Tour examples

What may surprise?

There are poor road conditions in Cambodia, so your trip will be longer as you expect. In the big cities you can hold up in traffic, so get ready for an exhausting journey. The driver will stop at least once on the road, so you will have an opportunity to go out and have a small meal.

Besides coaches, urban transport in this country is also represented by:

  • Bus and minibus;
  • Remork-moto or Tuk-tuk;
  • Moto-taxi;
  • Cyclo;
  • Taxi;
  • Train;
  • Trishaw.

Buses operate only in big cities;the taxi is not very popular due to the low living standards of the population and the inability of citizens to pay for such services. The most common forms of public transport are moto-taxi and tuk-tuk. The last one looks like a truck with two seat rows which is hitched to the bike.

 

The Familiar Thing – Buses and Minibuses

The bus is the first thing that comes to mind when you need to go somewhere in the unknown city. But in Cambodia is not as simple as in America or Europe, because there are no public bus networks in the small towns.  You can use the bus only in Phnom Penh which is well-developed in this regard.

Bus in Cambodia

There are many companies which are owners of a minibus fleets. The market competition here is huge and every agency is trying to attract more customers than the rivals. Prices are almost the same as the regular bus ticket, but in the most of the cases, the fee is a bit lower. The advantage resides in its speed and non-stop ride, the disadvantage – in the lack of a free space owing to an absence of the luggage section. Moreover, not everybody dares to take a risk and order a seat on the bus with the man who drives like a maniac through the bumpy road. For those who are not scared the price lies within $5-8. It is better to book the ticket in advance to avoid troubles. In addition, the free pick-up from a hotel is a very nice option.


 

Train: Rarely, But Aptly

Railway passenger traffic in Cambodia is very low. There are only two rail lines that both start in Phnom Penh and lead to the other cities. But that’s not a big deal, as you will understand later.

Trains work regularly and on schedule as at the beginning of 2017. On weekends they leave at 7 a.m. from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Also, there are additional routes on Friday at 3 p.m. from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and on Sunday at 4 p.m. in the opposite direction. As you can see, it can be one of the methods of travel in Cambodia at the end of the week, of course, only if you stayed in Phnom Penh. It is amazing, but this is the main flaw of a railway in this country for a now.

Cambodian railway

Maybe you heard stories about stuffy Indian trains, where crowds are the thickest. It is all true, but Cambodian railway was rebuilt again only a couple of years ago and is still not very popular among the locals. Inside the convenient and refurbished carriages, you can find vinyl seats and good conditioning system. You can also enjoy power sockets and clean WC. The most incredible option is an opportunity to carry your vehicle with you, whether a car or a bike.

The train ticket costs from $4 to $7, depending on the starting point and a final destination. The loading of your personal vehicle will increase the expenses by $2-5.

Inside the carriage

Why else choose train?

  •  A plenty of beautiful landscapes on the way to Sihanoukville can be seen from the window while the train is slowly chugging;
  • If you have lots of money, you can buy out an entire train to be alone or even throw a party here;
  • There are no rule which forbids you to have a ride on top of a train;
  • The unique wooden carriage is another attraction of Cambodian railway;
  • Avoid annoying traffic jams, which are common in Phnom Penh;
  • Stay safe: trip on minivan can be dangerous due to bad transport conditions and drivers’ strong predilection for a fast ride;
  • No crowds. You can sleep on the seats and no one will bother you.


 

Sometimes you Need a Boat

In most cases, you don’t need a water transport to get to the city you want. But Cambodia possesses a certain number of islands, all of which are located in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Rong and Kaoh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) are considered as the most attractive islands for tourists.

Ferry

 

The trip to Koh Rong lasts about 1.5 hours.You can use small or big boats; the last one is more commodious. The large boat tickets cost $20, though.  It is better to make a reservation one day before departure because if you don't do this, you won't get a free seat on the ferry. The transport arrives at Saracen bay.

Kaoh Tonsay is situated closer to the coast than Koh Rong, you can get over there in 15-30 minutes. Here is the same reservation rule as already said, but in this place, a small boat would be preferable to this short sail. Such transport can hold up to 6 tourists. Thoroughly plan your trip to the ferry terminal and find out the timetable, because it provides only two routes per day: in the morning and in the afternoon. You are able to acquire the trip out of a schedule for $25 dollars. Regular fare costs much less - $8. 

Outboards: local river bus

Do you remember Italian gondolas which are the symbols of Venice? Here in Cambodia, you can go for a ride on similar boats called outboards. They serve as a sort of taxi in the towns and villages near the river. The schedule for those small boats is absent, but you can find them almost in every settlement where the river stretches. Also, there is another vehicle called longtail rocket boat; it is used by inhabitants of small hamlets located on the banks of Mekong River. As you could understand, rocket means high speed, so be careful if you are going to try this one.


 

Travelling through the Town: 3 Methods

Please Welcome, Tuk-tuk!

Tuk-tuk (which is also called remork-moto) is the most popular way to make journeys across the city; it is a good thing that here are plenty of them.  It can be also seen in the countryside where it is in great request among farmers: they need to visit the nearest towns to buy the necessary goods and sell their harvest at the bazaar. Of course, rural Tuk-tuks and vehicles for tourists have a difference, because the drivers of the latter’s do everything to make quick cash, and sometimes cheating.

Attention! Don’t let the driver deceive you: always remember that the initial price for a ride is frequently higher than the real one. Those cunning people always try to overcharge, so you must stand staunchly and negotiate. If not, you might be easily paying 2 or 3 times more.

A ride around the town must cost $2-5, no more. You can choose a distant destination like a landmark outside the city or whatever you want. For instance, the trip from Phnom Penh center to the airport will be about $8.

The advantages of Tuk-tuk:

  • You won't die in the hot and stuffy cab while being in the traffic jam. Instead of that you get an open vehicle with natural air-conditioning;
  • The unique opportunity to see more and feel the atmosphere of the city because the absence of closed windows;
  • It is much cheaper than the taxi or bus after the bargain;
  • They can be found everywhere: you can catch your "carriage" and don't wait for a vehicle for half an hour because of uncomfortable schedule;

There is only one disadvantage of Tuk-tuk:

  • Drivers can be insolent and demand the better pay to the end. The only way to resist them is to prove that you are aware of the local prices and are not planning on paying unfair money.

If you are going to visit Angkor complex near Seam Reap, it has the sense to rent a Tuk-tuk for the whole day. The trip to places of worship cost from $15 to $20.

Old school pedicab – cyclo

You can also meet Velo rickshaw on the streets, but it is rare in big cities like Phnom Penh or Seam Reap. In the provinces, cyclos are more common, so if you stick in the middle of nowhere, catch a pedicab and get back from there. Cyclo fares are lower than Tuk-tuk and are nearing $1-3. Rural cyclists will be fair with you, but when you see Velo rickshaw in the city, be ready to bargain as usual. 

Rotei Ses

Nowadays it exists more for entertainment than for transportation. Some organizations in Cambodia arrange special cart rides to attract tourists because people find it amusing to try a traditional animal carriage. Yes, Rotei Ses is cart pulled by horse or another cattle like buffalo or cow.

However, you still can use this thing to travel in the remote parts of a country, especially in the height of the wet season. The reason for that is the fact that soil transforms into thick mud and the common transportation doesn’t work here anymore. Only cows can cope with such a task and drag a cart in the dirt.


 

Moto-taxi – a cheap way to get any place

Moto-taxi represents a simple bike which can fit only 2 people with comfort. It is very quick and cheap (one trip costs about $1-2, it is less than Tuk-tuk) and gives you an opportunity to get everywhere you want. This transport is great if you prefer not to linger on the way and focus on a pedestrian walk through the significant locations. Or you don't like to walk at all and just need to get the café or the shop rapidly.

Don’t forget to leave your luggage at your place, because the moto-taxi is too small for all your bags. Also, be enterprising and negotiate with the driver, because they also used to overcharge due to increase in the number of foreigners in Cambodia. Get ready for higher fare if you are going to travel at night.

Caution:

  1. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver to back off, because sometimes they travel at a very high speed;
  2. Be careful with the exhaust pipe: try to take away from it. This has jeopardizing your skin - those pipes become extremely hot after long journeys. If you receive a burn, use zinc oxide to accelerate healing.

 

Taxi – the ride with comfort

Taxi is one of the most comfortable methods of travel in Cambodia. It isn't very affordable for the local people due to high fares, but the tourists gladly choose them as the basic way to drive around a town. Unfortunately, there are only a few operators in Phnom Penh which provide visitors of the city with metered taxis. That's why you need to chaffer the price again. 

Nevertheless, a car is much more convenient and way safer than moto-taxi or even Tuk-tuk. Also, the taxi drivers working for a company are usually more polite with their customers than arrogant owners of traditional transport. Some hotels or travel agencies offer visitors their own cars for sightseeing or excursions.

Prices from one city to another:

  • By day: $50-60
  • By night: $60-70

Share taxis

It is much more advantageous to hire share taxis if you travel with a big company or have a chance to make a deal with another people. By renting a car you save your money because the fare is set for the whole car, not for the one person. If the number of people is more than 5, better to take on lease minibus or minivan with a capacity of 10-12 people. 

In the provinces, you can still use a pickup track which has mostly vanished across the country. It was popular in Cambodia a few decades ago but almost disappeared because of improved road conditions.


 

Methods of Travel in Cambodia on Your Own

Independent travelling through the country has its undeniable strengths. You will never hinge on plenty of circumstances connected with transport, drivers, hotels or travel agencies. When you are on your own you cut the spending and make decisions based on your desires and interests. It is the most meaningful reason to give up public transport in favor of rental one.

You are free to select two kinds of vehicles: a bike and a car. They are the most popular in Cambodia and relatively affordable for tourists.

 

Why Better Rent a Bike?

Almost every Cambodian citizen has a bike. It is common not only here, but also in the whole South-East Asia. Khmers learn how to ride a moto from the childhood and usually choose it as a main means of transportation while being an adult. Roads are overcrowded with bikes and sometimes it is hard not to become puzzled at first.

Attention: Due to dense traffic the car is more difficult to manage. Just imagine: you are surrounded by bikes from every angle and have to get stuck behind and wait for them to pass by. It can be a long time because traffic jams in big cities are happening often. 

What is a bike for those people?

Don’t expect to rent a good-looking modern motorcycle; the majority of those bikes have seen a hard stuff. It will look like this, give or take:

Pros and cons

  • + The rent and services are cheap;
  • + No problems with parking, because bike doesn’t take up much space;
  • + It is not very particular about road conditions; you can get any place using a bike. Here in Cambodia this is especially relevant because most roads have no surface;
  • + You are able to rent a bike on every street corner;
  • + If you decided to acquire a vehicle, don’t worry. There will be many offers for you while leaving a country;
  • – You can be tricked by frauds. Before signing papers read them attentively. Don't leave your documents as collateral and keep an eye on your bike;
  • – It takes time to get used to uncontrolled traffic: Khmers fail to comply with regulations and drive as they please;
  • – A bike is not as comfortable as a car. You will be not protected from tropical sunshine, rain and other undesirable weather conditions. There are no additional section for luggage, better leave it in the hotel;
  • – A high accident rate for this kind of transport;
  • – A risk to get hurt or lose the property.

The prices

  • Rent per day: $4-5
  • Rent per month: $60-100
  • Cost of a whole bike: $500-600
  • Expenditures on oil and lubricants: $10-50
  • Repair and maintenance: from $1 to $15 according to the complexity of a malfunction.


 

The Benefits of a Car

Cambodian people prefer bikes and the car is considered to be a sort of luxury. The rent prices are the same as in other countries all over the world. You can acquire here a very old or almost-dead car that is the vehicle which would be decommissioned in USA or Europe, though.

Pros and cons

  • + The rent price is relatively low;
  • + You will feel in the car like inside a tank and locals won’t bother you in a traffic;
  • + This vehicle is cozy: a conditioning system, a trunk, radio and lots of free seats to have a rest or even to sleep;
  • + The car is much safer than the bike;
  • – High expenditures on fuel and maintenance, if you are going to travel throughout a country;
  • – Car is not so good for bad road conditions which are widely disseminated in rural regions of Cambodia;
  • – Lack of parking places;

The prices:

  • Rent per month: $200-300
  • The cost of a whole car is equal to the price established in any other country.
  • Expenditures on fuel: $1.3 per liter (average value would be approximately from $20 to $200 depending on the frequency of use and trip's distance.

Of course, a car seems to be more familiar to you but in Cambodia, it plays a completely different role. So it makes a sense to think about bike rent.

There is no bad or good transport, they are just different. Rather, you need to proceed from your goals being pursued. If you are going to act on the spot, just adopt these pieces of advice about local transport and keep your eyes open. Cambodia is a perfect country for the adventure, so take your chance and go ahead!






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