Cambodia’s local aviation scene has improved. There are presently three airports serving scheduled passenger flights: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville.
Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, is the primary operator, flying between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, as well as airports in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. The establishment of a second airline, Cambodia Airlines, was announced in 2013. The airline, which is set to commence service in 2013, is a collaboration between Philippines Airlines and local partners. It is not yet in flight (Dec 2013).
Aero Cambodia, a charter airline, flies twin engine 10-70 passenger aircraft from Phnom Penh to Cambodia’s other 16 airports.
Helistar Cambodia is a VIP helicopter charter and scenic flight business that operates across Cambodia. Helicopters may be hired to fly one-way or return trips between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The standard hourly charter cost is $1,700 per flying hour, plus 10% VAT and 10% SPT. They fly Eurocopter Ecureuils with seats for up to 6 people that are contemporary and air conditioned. They also have international pilots who are licensed. At both international airports, a pick-up and drop-off transport service is also provided.
Since about 2008, the Cambodian government has been feverishly improving roads across the nation. While this is excellent for the nation, it rapidly renders travel advice outdated! Finding an unsealed road is really very difficult, and most visitors will have no horror tales of car-swallowing ruts or wet-season quagmires. For the time being, notable unpaved roads that travellers might find useful are: Battambang-Koh Kong (currently a great dirt bike adventure across the mountains or a long detour by bus via Phnom Penh), access to the Banteay Chhmartemples (a high-quality unsealed road, as good as a sealed road during the dry season), and the road between Sen Monorom and Banlung (if there’s any remote jungle left in Cambodia). The borders, the seashore, and the main cities are all well-connected by excellent highways.
Longer trips may be made in Cambodia by bus, pickup truck, or shared cab. Whichever of these is accessible will be found in the local market square in many towns. Bus stops will be located in larger towns and cities. Buses may also service their businesses’ offices, which may be more convenient than the bus terminal in Siem Reap. Mekong Express has the finest reputation for luxury and speed and charges a premium as a result. Sorya (previously Ho Wah Genting) and GST provide a no-frills service at a somewhat lower cost. Capitol runs between its strategically placed offices, allowing for transit from city center to city center. Peasant movers in shackles Mount Angkor Transport is excellent for getting to more distant locations, but it is lacking in comfort and safety.
Bus safety is a major issue in Cambodia. Every year, hundreds of bus accidents occur on Highway 5 between Phnom Penh and Battambang, many of which are horrific and result in numerous deaths. There have even been bus-on-bus collisions. Drivers are inexperienced, irritable, and, according to some who work at roadside gas stations, occasionally drunk. The majority of these incidents go unreported, but regular travelers on Highway 5 may expect to see a half-dozen bus accidents in a month.
Bus travel is generally inexpensive, with trips from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville costing about US$5. If you don’t like the cold air conditioning, bring something warm with you, and earplugs if you don’t enjoy Khmer karaoke. There are a few late-night trips, but the majority of buses depart in the morning and the last ones go in the afternoon.
Some people think that cabs are safer for intercity travel, however taxis often drive excessively quickly and are implicated in many tragic incidents. A cab from Phnom Penh to Battambang should cost about US$25 for the front seat.
Motorcycle taxis are common in cities. Simply stand on a corner for a minute and someone will give you a ride – typically for a modest, customary charge of US$1 or less.
With the noteworthy exception of Siem Reap, motorcycle rentals are accessible in numerous places. Be cautious if you are driving or riding yourself: driving habits in developing nations vary greatly from those in affluent ones. Local traffic laws will also vary from one city to the next.
Many of the main rivers have seasonal ferry service. The main roads are from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Battambang. The boat from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong is no longer in service. Boats are slower than roads, demand greater fees for foreigners, and may be congested and dangerous at times. However, Cambodia’s roads are extremely hazardous, and boats are definitely the safest choice. The high-speed ferry from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap costs US$33 and takes about 6 hours, leaving at 07:30, and provides a magnificent glimpse of rural life along the Tonle Sap River.
A few luxury boats also run between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Saigon. It’s an excellent alternative to conventional boat service for about US$150/day, which includes lodging, meals, and excursions.
The boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang takes longer (especially during the dry season), is less comfortable, and costs more than taking a seat in a shared taxi, but it is preferred by some visitors for its up-close view of subsistence farming (and hundreds of waving children) along the river. Taking the boat late in the dry season (April-May) is not recommended since low water levels require you to switch to smaller boats in the middle of the river.
By bamboo train
Despite the absence of regular rail services, there are bamboo trains or noris operating near Battambang, and you may even travel by bamboo train from Phnom Penh’s suburbs to Battambang on demand. These trains are home-built railcars that can transport just about anything, including pigs, motorbikes, and crops, as long as it fits on the train. They’re also a lot of fun to ride on, and they’re fairly safe, with pleasant drivers. They cost around $2 per passenger for a short trip and about $6 if you hire one with a driver. You may locate a norry by asking around, or you can find one at Battambang station.