Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Getting Around/Transport
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Phnom Penh does not have any scarcity of public transport. It is quite easy to get around. However, the sprawling city is very hot, especially during noon. Some of the sidewalks are used as parking and the streets are not that pedestrian-friendly. Given all that, Phnom Penh offers cheap public transport that is mainly tuk-tuk and motodop or motorcycle taxi. For even cheaper rates, try hopping on a city bus, but just avoid rush hours. A traditional, fun, and another cheaper form of public transport, a cyclo is another transport option that tourists can use in getting around. For a more convenient way of getting around, taxis are available 24/7. Renting your own vehicle is also advisable since you will be able to explore and go to different areas without adding additional fares. Car, motorcycle, and bicycle rentals are widely available in the city.
Tuk-tuk, a passenger carriage pulled by a motorcycle, is the most popular form of public transport in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia. It is ideal for travelling in small groups and can accommodate four or more passengers at a time. It is always available at any part of the city and on can simply flag it down. If planning to stay longer in Phnom Penh, it is advisable to hire the same driver regularly for lower prices and less hassle. There are English-speaking drivers that are really very friendly. Ask your hotel; they could recommend a trustworthy driver. You can also get the driver’s phone number to keep him on track if you need a ride.
A regular and standard trip costs at around 2 USD, but tourists can always haggle for a really short trip for 1 USD to 1.25 USD or 5,000 KHR (Cambodian Riel). Fare from and to the airport is usually 5 USD to 6 USD depending on the street traffic. Further destinations including Choeung Ek Killing Fields, Silk Island, and Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center can cost 15 USD to 25 USD back and forth and can include a few dollars for sightseeing.
Expect to pay higher at night and pay more the more people you have in one tuk-tuk. However, for solo travelers, you can share your tuk-tuk with few people to lower your share of the fare price. Also, do add extra dollars if you asked for the tuk-tuk driver to wait or help carry your bags.
Motodop or Motorcycle Taxi
For an unusual, yet fun way of transportation, motorcycle taxis are available. This is the fastest form of public transportation. It usually costs less than a dollar to 1 USD for a short ride depending on the distance and $6 minimum for an all-day service. Expect to pay more if travelling at night.
Wearing helmet on a motorbike is a law in Cambodia. Be sure that the driver should provide helmet to avoid being called down by police officers. Beware of the police officers looking out for foreigners not wearing helmet and extort some money.
The cheapest form of transport is the city busses. The station is at the corner of the Central Market. Some are near the main attractions. The fare depends on the distance of destination from the bus stop and may cost 1,000 KHR or around 0.25 USD.
To locate a bus stop, look for an advertisement board with a large map of bus routes. Bus may come on a 10-minute interval. Several lines are the Line 1 with terminals at Monivong Boulevard and Okaha Suy Sophan Bus Terminal, stops at Wat Phnom and Central Market, and bus route at Monivong Boulevard; Line 2 with terminals at Takmao and Night Market, a stop at Ta Khmao, and bus route at Mao Tse Tsung Boulevard; and Line 3 with terminals at Chom Chay Roundabout an Night Market, stops at Royal University of Phnom Penh and Phnom Penh International Airport.
Most of the city busses are not equipped with air conditioner, so the temperature inside the buses is severely hot. Buses are often full-packed, especially during the rush hours, and passengers tend to stand.
A very unique and good transportation are the cyclos, a bicycle with passenger carriage. This is a traditional (and romantic) form of transportation and usually costs half the fare of motorcycle taxi. Cyclos are easier and offers a drier ride during rainy days compare to motorcycle taxis. It is an ideal form of transport on visiting landmarks within the city that costs less than a dollar per ride. Full-day sightseeing through a cyclo is possible at 10 USD per day.
For a convenient way of getting from point A to point B is by taxi. This is, so far, the fastest and safest way of getting around the city. Taxis can be found at the airport and some major establishments including hotels in Sisowath Quay, but one can easily book a taxi through phone or hotels and travel agencies. Taxi companies now offer taxi services 24/7 that are driven by English-speaking locals.
Fares are at around 9 USD to 12 USD from and to the airport. For getting around the city and reaching major attractions, a taxi can be hired for 35 USD to 50 USD. Further destinations including Choeung Ek Killing Fields, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, and Phnom Udong is at around 25 USD to 50 USD for a two-way ride. Always remember that night rates are higher.
Furthermore destinations like other provinces are also catered. A one-way trip to Sihanoukville, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, and Battambang is at around 65 USD to 80 USD.
Car, Motorcycle, Bicycle Rentals
Driving around Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia is somehow a hassle due to the traffic and road conditions of the city. Car rentals are available throughout the city. One can avail a car (depending on the required license) for 60 USD per day depending on the car type. A large people carrier may cost 100 to 120 USD per day. Rentals for a longer period may have a discount depending on the rental company. A trusted company is the Avis Cambodia.
Motorcycles at 49-125 cc require no license. Rental companies often ask for passports as security deposit. However, a trusted rental company, Two Wheels Only, only requires a 100 USD safety deposit and no passports are held. Motorbikes are at 7 USD per day; 25 USD per week; and 65 USD per month. Full automatic are for 8 USD per day; 30 USD per week; and 75 USD per month. Helmet rental are included for 3 days or more hire period and 1 USD per day for 3 days or less.
Bicycles are also available for rent. These are so far one of the best and natural way to get around the sprawling city. Rentals are available at 2 USD per day; 10 USD per week; and 30 USD per month.
A self-driven car requires proper documentation including driver's license. Driving license from home may not be considered and some companies require Cambodian license. International Driver’s License is not recognized in Cambodia. For 49-125 cc motorcycles, there is no need to get license. Tourists and visitors who are just staying for a couple of days can ignore getting a license, many expats just pay the small fine once stopped. However, for foreigners staying for a longer period might as well just get a license.
The requirements are 5 passport photos, passport with current visa, valid driver’s license, and a 35 USD processing fee. One can apply at The Department of Public Works and Transport or at The Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Norodom Boulevard. The turnaround time is usually 24 hours for the provisional license and 1 month for the real license. There is also an online application form available online on MPWT website.