The main roads in Cambodia that lead between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville have been sealed in recent years and are now in good condition, making travelling by bus much smoother than in the past and journey times shorter.
However, the roads in other parts of the country are still poor and are often little more than dirt tracks. These roads often tend to flood in the wet season and travellers should allow plenty of time for delays.
There is no local bus network running throughout Cambodia, not even in the capital city of Phnom Penh. However, fairly comfortable air-conditioned buses run regularly between all the country’s major tourists hubs, including Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Bus travel around Cambodia
Most buses depart from their destinations at around 06:00 or 07:00, while a second bus usually runs to the same destination at around 14:00 or 15:00. Nighttime services are rare due to poor lighting on the country’s roadsides.
Travel companies in most tourist destinations usually post the times of their daily buses on large boards outside their offices. Buses either stop outside these offices or a short walk away and it is generally a good idea to book a day or two in advance if possible.
Although bus times are clearly advertised, be aware that drivers rarely keep to the schedule. While these buses often leave anything up to an hour late, drivers sometimes leave early if the bus is full, so it is best to arrive at the meeting point 20 minutes ahead of time.
During long journeys, bus drivers will probably stop a few times for a short break, which will last around 20 minutes. This is the time to stretch your legs and grab a snack, passengers should check when the driver plans to leave as it may turn out that he was simply pausing to say hello to a friend or dropping something off at a roadside restaurant.
Mekong Express is Cambodia’s most popular and reliable bus company and runs regular buses from Phsar Orrusey and Phnom Penh Station in the nation’s capital as well as Sihanoukville Bus Station and Sivatha Boulevard in Siem Reap. This is the fastest and most luxurious company and ticket prices tend to be rather high, while Sorya is based in Phnom Penh and offers a slightly cheaper service between the capital city and a range of destinations.
Generally speaking, travel by bus in Cambodia is cheap and rather comfortable, although the air-conditioning tends to be turned up high on luxury buses and visitors may benefit from taking along a sweater.
Taxis in Cambodia
Taxis are a quick and convenient way to travel around large cities and towns and fares are generally low. However, these fares are rarely fixed and it is important to negotiate with the driver before climbing inside his vehicle. A good way to get an idea of the going rate is by asking staff at one of the local hotels.
Solo travellers may find taxi fares rather steep and it is a good idea to try and find a fellow traveller to split the cost with. Many taxi drivers also moonlight as tour guides and offer to take travellers on a tour of the city for a set fee. Those who plan to explore a number of different destinations may find that this works out much cheaper than shelling out for several individual taxi trips, although it is important to wait until the end of the trip to pay the fare.
Some taxi drivers also offer to take tourists to their destination of choice for dramatically reduced rates if they agree to spend a few minutes looking around certain souvenir shops or jewellers. The taxi driver receives a voucher for his petrol in exchange for taking tourists to these shops and although this may seem like a good way to save a little cash, leaving the shop without making a purchase can be a lot more difficult than it may sound.