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How to Get around Phnom Penh: A Guide to Transportation and Travel Routes

Phnom Penh is served by multiple transport systems, including public buses, private taxis, and ride-hailing via mobile apps. You can choose one specific way to get around the city, or you can also walk the city.

Today's article will discuss the ways of how to get around Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, and the best travel routes within.

Phnom Penh, the Vibrant and Bustling Capital of Cambodia

In the south-central region of Cambodia, the city of Phnom Penh on the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers stands out for its unique nature and culture.

phnom-penh-riverside
Phnom Penh riverside

People have inhabited parts of Southeast Asia since the early Stone Age. Though there is probably an active settlement in Cambodia's golden age of Angkor (9th-15th century AD), Phnom Penh entered the historical record when it became the Khmer capital in the mid-15th century AD.

The climate in Cambodia is subject to tropical monsoons, which means there are two distinct seasons: the rainy season, accompanied by high humidity, from May to November, and the dry season, from December to April. Overall, the weather is hot year-round with minor variations.

Local Forms of Transport

Getting around Phnom Penh can be an adventure in itself. Here are six ways to get around the city.

Tuk-Tuk

phnom-penh-streets
New futuristic tuk-tuks arrive on the streets of Phnom Penh

A tuk-tuk is a motorized rickshaw that is a popular form of transport in Phnom Penh. They are convenient, inexpensive, and easily navigate the city's crowded streets. And tuk-tuk drivers are usually friendly and knowledgeable about the city, but it's essential to negotiate the fare before getting in.

As a general guide, a short ride within the city costs about 2-3 USD, while longer trips cost up to 10 USD. However, the cost of a tuk-tuk ride in Phnom Penh can vary depending on the distance traveled, time of the day, and the negotiation skills of the passenger.

Moto

phnom-penh-moto
Moto archives

A moto is a motorcycle taxi, another popular form of transport in Phnom Penh. They are fast, inexpensive, and can easily navigate through traffic. However, they are not the safest transport, so wearing a helmet and holding on tight is essential.

Compared with a tuk-tuk, a moto ride costs less money. Generally, it can cost 1-2 USD for a short ride, while up to 5-10 USD when on a more extended trip.

Bicycle

phnom-penh-bicycle
Angkor to Phnom Penh by bicycle

Cycling is a great way to explore the city and get some exercise at the same time. There are several places like Flying Bikes 2 in the Duan Penh district, Lucky Rentals in the Chamkar Mon, and Vicious Cycle, where you can rent a bicycle, including mountain bikes, city bikes, and electric bikes.

The cost of renting a bicycle in Phnom Penh can also vary depending on the quality of the bike and the duration of the rental. You can expect to pay around 2-5 USD per day for a basic bike rental, while 10 USD per day with higher-end bikes.

City Bus

phnom-penh-city-bus
Taking the bus from Ho Chi Minh city to Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh has a public bus system that is inexpensive and easy to use. As of 2020, public transportation in Phnom Penh consists of 17 lines. The buses are air-conditioned and run on a set schedule, mostly between 5:30 am to 8 pm, making them reliable transport.

The city buses, operated by the Phnom Penh Municipal Public Transportation Company, have a flat fare of 1,500 Riel (approximately 0.37 USD) per ride, regardless of the distance traveled.

Private Taxi

private-driver-cambodia
Private drivers with their clients

A private taxi can be more expensive than other forms of transport. By the way, ride-hailing via mobile apps has become a popular means of transportation in Phnom Penh. After acquiring Uber, Grab and PassApp have become popular ride-hailing services in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

You can expect to pay around 5-10 USD for a short-distance trip within the city center, or it can cost up to 30-50 USD or more for a longer trip.

Walking

phnom-penh-walking
Students walking the streets of Phnom Penh

Walking is the most economical way to explore the city and take in all of the sights and sounds of Phnom Penh. The city is relatively small, and most of the major attractions are within walking distance of each other.

When getting around Phnom Penh, it's important to keep a few things in mind to ensure your safety and health:
1. First, always negotiate the fare before getting in a tuk-tuk or taxi to avoid being overcharged.
2. Second, wear a helmet when riding a moto to prevent injuries in case of an accident.
3. Third, be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you to avoid theft.
4. Finally, drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun.

Travel Routes in and out of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh has several travel routes within the city and to the surrounding areas. Here are some popular routes for travelers:

In Phnom Penh
Riverside Area

phnom-penh-riverside
Riverside in Phnom Penh with golden sunset

This is the most popular area for tourists. It stretches along the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. Besides, the riverside area is home to many tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, National Museum, Wat Ounalom, and numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes.

If you are staying in the central area of Phnom Penh, you can walk to Riverside. Renting a bicycle is also an option to explore the city. And if you prefer public transportation, be sure to check with a transport provider, such as a bus or a ferry, to get to Riverside.

Central Market Area

phnom-penh-central-market
Central Market in Phnom Penh

Central Market, also known as Phsar Thmey, is a hugely popular market in the heart of Phnom Penh. It was constructed in 1937 during the French colonial period and is known for its unique Art Deco-style architecture.

Central Market is open daily from early morning until late night. Visitors can find various items for sale, including Cambodian silk, souvenirs, handicrafts, and local snacks. Please click here to learn more about shopping tips in Cambodia.

If you are visiting the nearby Independence Monument or Riverside, walking is the best way to the Central Market. Also, you can easily find a tuk-tuk.

Sra'Art Gallery

sra'art-gallery
Wine and art pairing exhibition Sra'Art Gallery

Sra'Art Gallery is Phnom Penh's only commercial contemporary art gallery dedicated to promoting and increasing public knowledge of the flourishing contemporary Cambodian art scene.

It is on the 7E0 Street Sothearos, Chumneas, located in the Tonle Bassac neighborhood, close to Independence Monument. The open time is 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-18:00 from Tuesday to Saturday.

Several ways, such as tuk-tuk, taxi, bicycle, bus, or walking, are all available for you to choose from. However, be sure to check the exact location and directions before heading there.

Out of Phnom Penh
To Siem Reap

angkor-wat-siem-reap
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Siem Reap is one of the most popular destinations in Cambodia, famous for the temples of Angkor Wat. The distance from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is about 320 kilometers. You can travel between the two cities by bus or private taxi. There are also flights available.

For your travel plans, here are the estimated travel times for different transportation options:

1. Bus journey: 6-7 hours

2. Taking a taxi: around 5 hours

3. The flight time: approximately 45 minutes

Related Itinerary Recommended:
5 Days Cambodia Tour to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh

To Sihanoukville

sihanoukville-beach
Sihanoukville beach

Sihanoukville is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe. Distance from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville is about 230 kilometers. Bus and private taxis are the most common way to travel from the two cities.

For your travel plans, here are the estimated travel times for different transportation options:

1. Bus journey: 4-6 hours

2. Taking a taxi or private car: around 3-4 hours

3. The flight time: 1.45 hours (Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-Sihanoukville)

Related Itinerary Recommended:
14 Days Cambodia Road Tour to Sihanoukville

To Kampong Cham

kampong-cham-bamboo-bridge
Bamboo bridge in Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham is a province located in the eastern part of Cambodia, along the banks of the Mekong River. It is known for its beautiful countryside like Bamboo bridge and Koh Pen Island, historic temples as Phnom Srei Temple, and bustling market places.

The distance between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham is around 123 kilometers.

For your travel plans, here are the estimated travel times for different transportation options:

1. Bus companies: 2-3 hours 

2. Taxi or Private car: 1.5-2 hours 

For those who enjoy the open road and a more adventurous mode of transportation, renting a motorbike is an option. Be ware of a longer journey and not ideal road conditions.

Related Itinerary Recommended:
17 Days In-depth Cambodia Tour with Animal Encounters.

Conclusion

Getting around Phnom Penh can be an adventure, but it can be a safe and enjoyable experience with the right information and advice. By exploring the city's must-see attractions and trying out the local forms of transport, you're sure to have an unforgettable trip to Phnom Penh.

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