Ferries operate regularly along Cambodia’s main waterways and this is an excellent way to travel throughout the country. While travelling by ferry may not be the fastest way to get around, those who revel in the journey itself more than the final destination will have plenty of time to soak up the scenery as it slides slowly past and take stunning photographs along the way.
Ferries run along routes between many of the most popular destinations in Cambodia, including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Taking a ferry between the cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is an excellent way to appreciate the beauty of Cambodia and is convenient, especially as the main roads throughout the country are often in poor condition.
Tips for ferry travel in Cambodia
There are around 1,900kms of waterways running through Cambodia’s countryside and most cities as well as large towns can be travelled to easily by ferry.
Tourists will be able to take one of the many express boat services, and one of the most enchanting ferry journeys is between Siem Reap and Battambang. This journey is memorable as ferries are rarely crowded and the route is has picturesque scenery.
Passengers who arrive in Siem Reap by ferry from Battambang or Phnom Penh will disembark at Chong Khmeas ferry dock, which is 12kms south of the city. The journey takes around 12 hours to complete, while visitors can travel by ferry from Phnom Penh in seven or eight hours.
Transportation into the heart of Siem Reap is usually included in the ticket price and it takes around half an hour to reach the city centre from the Chong Khmeas ferry dock. The travel offices in most tourist areas of Cambodia offer ferry timetables and boats generally run according to schedule.
While ferries tend to run all year round, it is best to avoid travelling by ferry at the end of the dry season, which typically lasts from April to May as low water levels mean that passengers often have to transfer into small vessels in the middle of the river. Travelling by ferry to destinations in the south of Cambodia such as Sihanoukville in the peak of the rainy season can also be dangerous, as waves tend to be high.
It is also possible to take ferries to Cambodia from the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Laos. Regular passenger ferries travel along the Mekong River between Chau Doc in Vietnam and Phnom Penh and this is a popular way to complete the Vinh Xuong-Kaam Samnor border crossing. The journey takes around five hours and information of ferry times can be found in the immigration offices of both these countries as well as at the border.
While most visitors choose to take the overland route these days, it is possible to take a ferry across the border from Laos. Ferries run across the Tonlé San to the Cambodia border town of Stung Treng regularly throughout the day and the journey takes just a few minutes to complete.