Getting there and away
Siem Reap’s international airport is seven kilometres away from the town centre.
If arriving on an international flight, the best option is to get an e-visa in advance, which should get you through immigration quickly and without hassle. However, most people still apply for a visa-on-arrival. To avoid getting stuck behind plane loads of other applicants, be sure to ask your flight attendants for the necessary documents and fill them out while still in the air. See our Cambodia visa information for full details.
Once you’ve cleared immigration and customs, you’ll need to get to your hotel or guesthouse. The main ways to gett from Siem Reap International Airport into Siem Reap include:
Taxis can be picked up from a booth at the airport. The fee is US$8 to the centre of town and nearby. Bear in mind the driver will hope to garner your custom for the duration of your stay, taking you around Angkor and so on — this is totally up to you.
Tuk tuks are not allowed to pick up business inside the airport, but there may be some waiting on the road outside if you want to take a look. The ride into town should be $5.
Motos are similarly not allowed to do pick-ups from the airport , but again some are likely to be loitering around outside. A moto ride into town should be about $2. You can often get the ride effectively for free by agreeing to hire the moto to take you around the ruins or show you to a guesthouse where they can get a commission for your stay. It is extremely bad form to negotiate a free ride and then decide not to use the moto for the ruins after all.
The main bus station is located about four kilometres out of Siem Reap, though some bus companies have their own stations often closer to town. In most cases, your bus’s arrival will be greeted by a legion of tuk tuk drivers. It’s usually $3 into town from the main station, although as with the airport, this can be negotiated down if you agree to contract with the driver for your visits to the temples and so on. For an outward journey, many bus companies will offer to pick you up and ferry you out to the bus station, either directly from your hotel or from the travel agent where you booked your ticket.
The best bus company doing the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh run is Giant Ibis, which costs US$15 ($16 if booked online) and takes between six and a half to eight hours. They have three day-time departures, early morning, around midday and one night bus, which leaves at 23:00. On top of being relatively luxurious, Giant Ibis buses offer free WiFi, seat belts (still very unusual), electrical outlets and air-con. Moreover, a GPS system monitors the driver’s performance and speed, meaning that they are far less likely to take the insane risks that so many on Cambodian roads seem to consider quite unexceptional.
The next best company is Mekong Express, whose comfortable though ageing buses make for Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, and vice-versa, four times a day, for $13. GST and Sorya buses also take about the same time but only cost $6 and tend to be less comfortable. Their drivers are also a little more erratic.
Minivans are a quicker option and can also be booked through travel agents in town. The ticket should be $10. When booking, try to get the seat inside the sliding door as this will afford you more leg room. Journey times can be substantially shorter than with the larger buses, however you may feel several years older on arrival. This is not for the faint of heart, and with the road out of Phnom Penh in a state of ruin — it is essentially miles and miles of rubble — you will feel the slamming of every stone that you hurtle over.
The boats to and from Battambang and Phnom Penh dock at Chong Kneas, a lake port about 12 kilometres south of Siem Reap. The trip to or from the pier takes about 30 minutes. The boat from Phnom Penh is a speed boat, costs $35 and takes around five to six hours. Transport to Siem Reap should be included in the price. The boat from Battambang is a slow boat and can take anywhere from four to 12 hours, depending on the time of year and current, and how many times you stop. Expect a moto to charge around US$2 to get into town while a car should cost about US$6.
Taxis from Phnom Penh usually cost around $45 to $55, and can be secured through travel agents in the city. The easiest and fastest way to get to the Thai border at Poipet is to take a share taxi from Siem Reap. You can either hire the entire car ($35-$55) or buy one (or two) seats in a car. Do not, under any circumstances, take an organised minibus to Bangkok.
Best described as a motorcycle towing a chariot, remorque-motos, or tuk tuks, can be found on just about every street corner. Short hops around town shouldn’t cost more than $1.50 to $2 depending on the number of passengers, but if you’re planning on using these frequently, hire one for the day at the universal price of $15. They can comfortably seat two people and three or four at a squeeze.
Very short hops around town shouldn’t cost more than a few thousand riel; a longer journey, say more than 1 kilometre, should be around $1. Daily hiring starts at about US$8, depending on where you want to go.
More expensive but more comfortable than other options, figure on US$25-30 per day for a Toyota Camry, more for a minibus. If you’re planning on visiting outlying ruins and have a few people to split the fare with, this can be a smart way to get there. Most guesthouses and travel agents will be able to sort out a car for you, or just ask a moto and he’ll find you one.
A new concept in Cambodia, these are electric bicycles that motor along at an optimum speed of 20km/h, perfect for getting around the temples, though less ideal for getting around town where the traffic moves according to arcane laws designed to weed out the unwary, and anyone else who just happens to be in the way. The bicycles cost $10 to rent for 24 hours, and you will need to bring your passport, which they will keep as a deposit. The bikes have a range of about 40 kilometres, though there are three recharge points around the temples and 10 recharge points in town.
You can rent bicycles for as little as $2 a day, including from the White Bicycle Project, which uses the rental fee to support local clean water and education programmes, as well as the Giant Puppet Project. Serviceable town bikes are available in town for between $1 and $3. These can sometimes make your day seem substantially longer if you’re planning on hiring one for touring the temples, so test it before agreeing to take it. For something more substantial, Grasshopper Adventures have a selection of highly-maintained Merida hardtail mountain bikes with touring tyres, comfort seat, lock and helmet for $8 a day.
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