Transport for Siem Reap: Getting there and around using taxis, buses & planes
Getting to Siem Reap
Thanks to the proximity of the country’s most visited attraction, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is very easily and cheaply accessible. Possibilities of getting to Siem Reap include planes, buses, motorbikes, boats, trains, etc.
Siem Reap International Airport is the busiest airport in Cambodia. It has separate terminals for international and domestic flights. It serves arrivals from Bangkok, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, and many other major Asian airports, as well as all domestic airlines. It has 6 daily arrivals from Phnom Penh International Airport, arriving to Siem Reap in about 45 minutes. Prices vary, but a direct flight usually costs around $80.
All major cities in Cambodia have bus lines directly to Siem Reap. Unlike some of the roads, roads to Siem Reap are in excellent condition, and bus fares, although cheap, are considered safe and comfortable. Many major companies operate from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, and this improves the quality of the buses and lowers ticket prices. Bus station in Siem Reap also serves international bus operators, mostly from Thailand and Laos. To avoid getting scammed, one should always check the companies online before booking a ticket. The Siem Reap bus station is located just outside the town, and to get from there to Siem Reap, one should preferably get a tuk tuk ride, which costs around $3.
There are two ferry lines operating to Siem Reap: one from Battambang, and another from Phnom Penh. Trip from Phnom Penh takes around 6 hours and costs $35. This is a great way of getting to Siem Reap for those who want to admire the landscape and nature along the way. The boat goes via the Tonie Sap River and the seasonal lake of the same name. The lake is connected to the Mekong River via the Tonie Sap River. This is a nice way to see Cambodian, mostly Khmer, villages along the way. The boat from Battambang follows the same route, but lasts about 5 hours and is cheaper, around $25. Boats, or ferries, are actually hydrofoils, which are common in Cambodian rivers.
For those who prefer using taxis, the best option is sharing one with other tourists. This is actually a pretty common mode of transportation to Siem Reap, since the roads are excellent and the price depends on ones bargaining skills, as well the number of co-passengers. It usually costs around $30 to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
Siem Reap can also be reached by helicopters, but prices are much higher than they are for the other mentioned modes of transportation. The helicopters land near the Angkor Wat archaeological site. The nearest train station is Sisophon, but the railway traffic is currently stopped in Cambodia (as of 2016), so there is no way of getting to Siem Reap by train.
Getting around Siem Reap
Although this can easily be done on foot, since the town is not that big, and all of the sites worth seeing are close to each other, there are some alternatives to walking, and they are pretty cheap, too.
Bicycles are very popular in most towns in Cambodia, and Siem Reap is no exception. Most guesthouses offer the renting service; some even do it for free. Even those which don’t, charge cheaply, in most cases around $2 per day. There are also several shops renting bicycles in town, and prices are pretty much the same.
A faster alternative to renting a bicycle is, hiring a motorbike taxi. Tourists will have to rent a motorbike with driver included, because renting a motorbike is forbidden to foreign citizens in Siem Reap. It usually costs around $0.5 to $2 for a ride around town. Shops in Siem Reap also offer renting an electric motorbike, or e-bike. These green-colored motorbikes are mostly used to drive to the designated areas within the Angkor Wat site, and renting one costs around $10 per day.
By tuk tuk
The ever-present tuk tuks are also the vehicles of choice for tourists in Siem Reap, just like in most other cities in the country. Tuk Tuk drivers can be found practically everywhere around town, and the rate is-bargaining. Although very cheap, not more than $1 per person, drivers like to bargain, but this is as high as one needs to get. Tuk tuk usually take up to 4 customers.
Unlike most cities in Cambodia, Siem Reap has good roads, and cars are present in larger numbers. Tourists mainly rent taxis to take them to Angkor Wat, or near it, since driving to the famous site is restricted. It is recommended to hire a taxi with a licensed driver, preferably an English-speaking one. They are more expensive, costing around $50 per day. The alternative is hiring an unlicensed one, which is cheaper, and costs around $25 per day. There is a flat rate for taxis from the airport to the town- $7. A more dangerous, but a lot cheaper alternative is catching a “wild” taxi, where rates can be significantly lowered by bargaining; down to $10 per day.
Tips important to remember when getting around Siem Reap are: be aware of unlicensed rip-off drivers, bargain as low as possible, make sure to arrange the exact price and destination before getting into a vehicle, whichever it might be, and traffic around Angkor Wat is very restricted, so be careful about this.