Unlike other Southern Asian countries, Cambodia does not have a very developed transportation system. In fact, finding your way around the country is almost as difficult as trying to find a way into the country that doesn’t involve flying. For some travellers, this distance and relative mystery around how people get from one place to the other is a challenge they’re up for. Other travellers may not be as enthused to visit a place where there is no operational train service in the entire country.
Also, what about the adventurer who wants to hop from country to country? Is there an easy way to get from Thailand to Cambodia? What about to Vietnam? Fret not, dear explorers, Cover-More has put together a guide to help you navigate the limited and somewhat unusual transportation options available to you in Cambodia.
You’d like to take a train into Cambodia right? Maybe use this elegant mode of transportation to find your way around the country? Unfortunately, at the moment there are no passenger trains operating within Cambodia. Until recently, just one train service remained in Cambodia, from Battambang to Phnom Penh. Since 2006, service dropped significantly until finally the trains stopped running altogether in early 2009.
If, however, you are entering Cambodia from a neighbouring country, like Thailand, you can use a combination of the train and buses to get across country lines. It's easy to travel between Bangkok in Thailand and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam overland across Cambodia. It's cheap, and there's a lot to see on the way. Essentially, you will use the train as you travel from Saigon or Bangkok towards Cambodia, and then transfer to a bus service to continue on the road to Siem Reap, or whichever destination pleases you.
There are bus systems that run throughout Cambodia and neighbouring countries that will let you get just about anywhere you need to go. The rides can be long and exhausting, but generally they are the cheapest option for travel around Cambodia. Read the bus schedules carefully before you purchase your ticket and always triple check that you’ve boarded the right bus before getting comfortable for the journey.
That’s right! You heard us correctly. If you are going to be travelling from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (a fairly common trip for visitors to Cambodia), you have another option instead of the bus—you can take a speedboat ride to get there! The speedboat will cost more than the bus ($35 compared to the bus’s $10) and it takes a little longer than the bus, but it is far and away the best transportation experience you could choose. There’s something special about seeing rural life in Cambodia as your speed past the sun-drenched decks and thatched roofs. You’ll quickly get an understanding of what the coastline looks like and get to connect with the landscape instead of just looking out of the bus windows. However, if you have mobility issues, you may prefer the bus as accommodations are slightly better there than on the speedboats.
Whether you’re taking trains, boats or automobiles during your time in Cambodia, consider the importance of travel insurance. It’s your extra ace in the hole in case something unexpected occurs and you find yourself needing help while stuck in a foreign country.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Brandon; cropped from original.