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Once you cross any of the respective borders into Cambodia, travelling around the country is easy, cheap and convenient. Most hotels in the larger tourist destinations provide transfers at the going rate, and the busier streets in those same places are packed with shops and travel agents selling bus, train and plane tickets domestically and internationally. Please note that this post will be in USD as that is the most widely used currency in Cambodia.
There are several buses daily between these tow cities, all of them taking the same amount of time regardless of whether they’re overnight buses or daytime ones. For that reason, I suggest taking the earliest bus out of Siem Reap to avoid to hottest part of the day in an air conditioned bus instead of arriving at Phnom Penh before sunrise and having to kill several hours before being allowed to check into your hotel. Buses start from $6 and can be booked from hotels, travel agents and stores or online where you’ll be provided with an e-ticket. Because there are so many buses I would recommend waiting until you arrive in Siem Reap before booking your bus in case your plans do change.
The 320 kilometer journey takes around 6 hours depending on your bus company, with some travelling non-stop and others taking a break halfway through the journey for a food and bathroom break. Once you arrive at the informal terminus in downtown Phnom Penh, there are plenty of taxis and tuk tuks around to take you to your hotel, or you can download your journey while you still have internet access on foot to save some money.
There are only two train routes in the whole of Cambodia, with trips to other nations and many internal travel paths being carried out by buses only. Last summer a route between Phnom Penh, Battambang and Poi Pet on the Thai border.
I made a conscious decision a few months ago while fleshing out this section of my blog to advocate as little as possible for air travel where bus and train links were viable and not overly time consuming or costly. The great thing about taking private transfers and even bus and trains instead of flying is that you’re directly investing in the local economy. It’s also important to be mindful of your carbon footprint whilst travelling, particularly if you’ve already taken a several thousand mile flight to get to the region you’re spending time in.
With that all being said, there is the option to fly between these two Cambodian cities that can cost from $30 plus any baggage fees you may incur, depending on what airline you choose to fly with. The flight takes 40 minutes plus transfer times from the city center and that taken to get through security and board. Both logistically and economically, flying is the least convenient mode of transport between these two Cambodian cities.
Private transfers can often be overlooked as being extremely overpriced for many people, but once you dig a little deeper into the actual costs the difference between that and public transport are marginal, especially when travelling with larger groups. With websites like this, you can rent cars between four people from $95 but larger minivans carrying 12-15 people range from £140-150. If travelling with a lot of luggage, kids or older family members or if you’d just like to stop along the way, then hiring a private transfer might just be your best option.