Feb 07 2014
Getting around Phnom Penh is always a challenge. There’s a range of transport options, in the form of tuk tuk drivers with their distinct cry of “OK, tuk tuk”, and moto-dops who hang out on their bikes in the shade waiting for passengers. Negotiating prices and hoping your driver knows where he’s going are all part of the fun. Others prefer the naturally-provided biped transportation — at least you don’t pay to get lost when you’re walking. Now, Phnom Penh City is trialling a public bus service and if you’re in town during February, you might like to take a ride.
The last public bus trial, more than 10 years ago, was not popular, as locals preferred the door to door service of the two-wheeled variety. This new City Bus trial, partly funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will discover if attitudes have changed. There are some clear benefits for visitors to the city, including the icy air-con, the impossibility of bag snatching, a set fare, and a clearly marked route.
With a standard fare of 1500 riel (37 US cents), the first route runs down Monivong Boulevard from the Old Stadium roundabout in the north by the Chroy Chungvar bridge to Chbar Ampov after the Monivong flyover in the far south. Buses run from 05:30 to 20:30 with an interval of 10 to 15 minutes, with bus stops clearly marked. The experiment runs until 4 March 2014 and if successful, the service will be rolled out on five routes around the city.
For visitors to the city, the route is useful for the French Embassy (stop #1 going south) and the British Embassy (around the corner off Street 84 from stop #35 going north). The American Embassy, Wat Phnom and Raffles Hotel Le Royal are a short walk down Street 92 from stop #34 (going north). Central Market is at stops #6 (going south) and #32 northbound.
Further down Monivong Boulevard, stop #28 going north is at the intersection with Sihanouk Boulevard, handy for Lucky Supermarket and Kids City. Alight at stop #11 going south for tasty dumplings at the Chinese Noodle Restaurant. A 10-minute walk from stop #13 will get you to Phsar Toul Tom Pong (Russian Market) — take the next right after the bus stop onto Street 432 and keep walking until the junction with Street 155; you’ll find the market down to the left.
Of course, if you’re that way inclined, you could take the route from terminus to terminus, or double back on yourself and do a full circuit for just 3,000 riel, which will buy you at least an hour of air-con comfort.
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