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Transport



Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Sihanoukville.


Air

You wouldn’t believe to look at Sihanoukville’s tiny, albeit rapidly expanding, airport (KOS) that it is actually a full international airport with direct flights to both Kuala Lumpur and the Chinese cities of Kunming, Chengdu and Tianjin. Unusually KOS actually offers more overseas flights than it does domestic options with Siem Reap being the only Cambodia destination at the time of writing. Contrary to rumours there are at present no flights to Phnom Penh nor are there international flights to either Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City.

Cambodia Angkor Airlines has daily flights at 11:45 for $66 while Bayon Airlines operate flights for a bunch called Hanh Air Systems, based conveniently in Dusseldorf and who are a genuine airline not an air-conditioning unit manufacturer. They advertise daily 15:15 flights for $30—which works out at $59 including tax etc—though the same flight would cost you $136 if you book on the Hanh site which will teach you not to go via Germany if you’re enquiring about the Sihanouk to Siem Reap route. Flight times are around one hour on an ATR prop plane or something similar.

The Kuala Lumpur route is operated by Air Asia and flies every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 13:40 taking some two hours and costs start at around $60. These flights only commenced in August 2017 so we’ll see how long they last, though if they are a success, we might see further destinations served by Air Asia out of KOS.

The airport is some 18 kilometres from town just of national highway 4 in Ream district and a taxi or tuk tuk should set you back around $15 from town or Ochheuteal. From the airport, official taxis cost $20 in the reverse direction. At the time of writing, we couldn’t locate offices for any of the below in Sihanoukville itself so either pop into the nearest travel agents or have a go at booking online.

Finally, bear in mind that flight information is no more reliable than that for buses and both times and prices can vary enormously with operators coming and going.

Air Asia T: (023) 961 896 https://www.airasia.com
Bayon Airlines T: (034) 936 555, (023) 231 555, (099) 227 301 http://www.bayonairlines.com
Cambodia Angkor Airlines T: (0230 6666 786, (023) 6666 788-9 http://www.cambodiaangkorairlines.com

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Train

Sihanoukville’s unimpressive new railway station lies on a piece of wasteland accessed by muddy tracks on the north side of national highway 4, to the north of the town centre.

When we passed by in midweek there was just one woman present whose job was to chase the goats and stray dogs off the platform but despite appearances, there is now a relatively new and efficient, albeit slow, train service to Phnom Penh via Kampot and Takeo. It’s a short and pleasant journey, with some delightful scenery to Kampot and an equally scenic ride to Takeo which furthermore isn’t served by any bus routes.

As for the capital, it depends upon the time of day. A morning minibus ride into town works out a lot quicker than rail travel though if you’re coinciding your journey with Phnom Penh rush hour then the time difference is less and the train is a far more pleasant option than endless suburban traffic jams.

Services at present are limited to weekends and Monday mornings though extra services are always added during busy periods such as Chum Ben or New Year holidays. The station is both difficult to find and awkward to get to and a tuk tuk from say Golden Lion is going to ask $4 or $5. We do strongly doubt that on a regular weekend trains would be full so just turning up ought to be fine. There is also a hotline number listed below.

Departs Sihanoukville Sat, Sun, Mon at 07:00 and Sun at 16:00.
Departs Phnom Penh Fri 15:00 and Sat, Sun 07:00 and Sun at 16:00

Sihanoukville to Kampot $5 (1 hr 40 mins); Takeo $6 (5 hours) and Phnom Penh $7 (7 hours).

Sihanoukville Railway Station Off Street 708 (aka Pher St) T: (099) 222 544 Hotline: (078) 888 582-3

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Bus

From Sihanoukville, you can either travel north on national highway 4 to Phnom Penh, west to Koh Kong or east to Kampot and Kep. If you’re in a hurry or enjoy long bus rides then you have the possibility to prolong these journeys to Siem Reap; Trat and Bangkok or Ha Tien and Vietnam respectively. For any other destination in Cambodia, you’ll need to change in Phnom Penh.

Buses are either bog standard local style services such as Soriya and Capitol, fancier more tourist orientated ones like Giant Ibis with its WiFi and hostesses, or the increasingly popular minibus services of which Cambodia Post is our clear fave. Between the numerous companies there are at least hourly departures throughout the day for the 4-hour or so run up to the capital though Koh Kong connections are at present limited to Vireak Buntham and Rith Mony while minibus services Anna Travel or Kampot Express are the only options for Kampot and Kep. You also have the choice of night or day services for Siem Reap and oddly Phnom Penh. As Siem Reap does take around 10 hours that’s fair enough but a night bus leaving Sihanoukville at 19:00 arrives in the capital at 00:30 so, a short night! We also saw night buses for Ho Chi Minh, via Hat Tien and Can Tho and Battambang via Phnom Penh.

The old central bus station in Sihanoukville town has now been demolished so buses tend to depart from either a vacant lot in the town centre or from outside their respective offices dotted up and down Ekareach. Most of the better services include free pickups from your hotel or guesthouse anyway. Below is a run-down by destination bearing in mind that schedules vary according to time of year and day of the week, (i.e. high and low seasons, holidays and weekends and so on), and a list of contact details bearing in mind that any reception should have times and prices to hand and a tuk tuk fare to the respective office is more than the commission the hotel will charge you for making a phone reservation. If the establishment in question doesn’t deal with your preferred transport provider then just pop into the nearest travel agents. The only exception is Cambodia Post which can only be booked at the post office though a phone call and turning up 30 minutes before departure to pay.

Buses between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh
Bottom of the range are Capitol, Soriya and Paramount’s standard bus services which between them offer departures almost every 30 minutes throughout the day from 07:00 to 17:45. Tickets are 20,000 riel from their offices or $7-8 from an agent but there’s no pick-up service. Virak Buntham offers a sleeper bus at the odd time of 19:00 if you fancy spending the entire evening on a bus and arriving in Phnom Penh at midnight. Also outside of the box and by the same company, is a sleeper bus with an 08:00 departure time which can only be aimed at those who haven’t slept all night.

Moving on to minibuses—generally of the 15 seater variety—then the combined schedules of; Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, Golden Bayon, Rith Mony, KSO, Virak Buntham plus Capitol and Soriya’s minibus offerings provides departures almost every 15 minutes from 07:15 to 17:30. Prices are between $7 and $10 not including commission charges with Giant Ibis probably providing the best service at the highest price. All minibus services should include pickups but check first. Our favourite, with a 12 seater bus for $7 is Cambodia Post’s effort which is actually an express parcel (EMS) delivery service that takes passengers rather than a bus service as such. Since they don’t advertise and don’t sell their tickets through agents they’re invariably half empty so on our last trip back from Sihanoukville we actually had 3 seats to spread out on. They do not, however, have a pickup service but do have functioning WiFi and depart at 07:30 or 13:30.

Tickets can also be purchased online:
Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh


Kampot and Kep
There are a lot fewer options for the ride to Kampot but Champa Mekong and Anna Travel advertise $5 tickets for the 2-hour ride and have several departures throughout the day while CTT, (Capitol), has a $7 one at 13:30. The former two continue to Kep for an additional $2 per person though both companies do receive rather mixed feedback.

Koh Kong
We could only find Virak Buntham and Rith Mony offering rides to Koh Kong with suspiciously identical 08:15 and $9 tags so this is probably a combined service. (This same service continues to Thailand.) If we understood correctly this is a regular sized bus that decants into minibuses once at the border.

Siem Reap
If you can’t afford the airfare but absolutely need to get from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap in one go then you’re facing a minimum 10-hour journey. Good news is that you have the choice of day or night travel with Capitol, Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, Golden Bayon and Rith Mony all offering the service with departures either between 07:00 and 08:00 or 19:00 and 20:00. These are all either VIP or sleeper buses with a cheaper option for the same route being regular coaches by Soriya, Virak Buntham and Rith Mony. The former go for $20-25 and the latter $14-15 depending upon commission fees.

Tickets can also be purchased online:
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville to Siem Reap

International routes
Despite searching everywhere we failed to find any Sihanouk to Pai or Vang Vieng direct services, (a gap in the market here), though long distance lovers can console themselves with Ho Chi Minh routes either via Phnom Penh or via Kampot, Kep, Ha Tien and Can Tho. We’re not fans of these torturous odysseys and why anyone would be in such a hurry to get to Ho Chi Minh City as to skip those excellent destinations is beyond us but it’s clearly popular as we found no less than seven companies offering day or night services.

For Ho Chi Minh City, among the usual suspects are: Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, Soriya, Rith Mony, Virak Buntham, Champa Mekong and Kampot Express but we’d hazard a guess a lot of these are frequently combined, especially in low season. The latter two are minibuses and run via Ha Tien while the others go up highway 4 to the capital and along route number 1 to Ho Chi Minh. Again there are day or night sleeper options so 08:00ish and 19:00ish though according to printed timetables both prices and journey times are roughly comparable. Price range goes from $23 for Rith Mony or Soriya up to $29 for Giant Ibis, give or take a dollar or 2 commission and stated travel times were between 12 and 14 hours on either route.

Tickets can also be purchased online:
Ho Chi Minh City to Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville to Ho Chi Minh City

The second long distance destination on offer is Bangkok, with Rith Mony and Virak Buntham extending their Koh Kong service via Trat to the Thai capital. Side options include Koh Chang, Koh Samet or Pattaya. Their 08:15 service costs $18 and takes seven hours to reach Trat where you’ll need to add on two hours and $7 if you want to include the boat to Koh Chang. Sihanouk to the border is by coach and the short run from the border up to Trat by minibus. At Trat you are decanted into either the Koh Samet (10 hours and $28) and Pattaya (12 hours and $29) minivan or a direct Bangkok one, (12 hours and $26). Both companies also run $26 Bangkok night sleepers with Rith Mony’s leaving at 19:00 and Virak Buntham’s at 19:30.

Tickets can also be purchased online:
Bangkok to Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville to Bangkok

Note that even a brief trawl through the web brings up a wealth of horrendous bus feedback stories—especially with longer and combined journeys. At the end of the day you get what you pay for and if you can’t spare an extra night on route from A to B perhaps you shouldn’t be going there. Don’t complain if you’ve tried to save a couple of bucks by purchasing the cheapest ticket available or tried to be clever by signing up for some absurd combo ticket. If you want to go to Rabbit Island then get out in Kep, go to the jetty and buy a ticket—it’s not rocket science! If your destination is Ho Chi Minh City then buy a ticket to Phnom Penh, ask your reception to sort you out with a ticket for the following morning and have a relaxing evening and a night’s kip.

Under normal circumstances, we can’t sincerely recommend travelling any further by bus in one go than Phnom Penh, Kampot or Koh Kong. If you insist however then remember that Giant Ibis is not the most expensive without reason and Mekong Express is probably the best plan B. They generally come in second highest priced and do try hard though their vehicles aren’t as new as the former’s. If it’s a cheap ticket for the simple run up to Phnom Penh then look no further than Cambodia Post.

Anna Travel (Kep) T: (097) 982 8756
Cambodia Post VIP Van (EMS) Ekareach St, near Independence Monument T: (081) 793 355
Capitol Tours (CTT) Ekareach St (between Acleda Bank and Canadia Bank) T: (034) 217 627 http://www.capitoltourscambodia.com
Champa Mekong Kampot with an office on Ochheuteal Beach Rd T: (033) 630 0036
Giant Ibis 2 Thnou Street, Sihanoukville T: (023) 999 333, (089) 999 818 http://www.giantibis.com
Kampot Express Kampot T: (078) 555 123
Mekong Express 171 Ekareach St T: (034) 934 189 http://www.catmekongexpress.com
Paramount Angkor Express T: (017) 525 366, (016) 260 086, (034) 933 618
Phnom Penh Soriya Ekareach St T: (034) 933 888 http://www.ppsoryatransport.com
Virak Buntham Express Travel Ekareach St T: (012) 322 302



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Boat

Increasingly now passengers are being offered combined bus and boat tickets from Phnom Penh, or even Siem Reap, thus skipping Sihanoukville altogether. Unless you are in a desperate hurry though it’s straightforward to bus down to Sihanoukville, spend a day or two looking around then either book your boat ticket from your guesthouse or wander down to the boat jetty on Serendipity.

At the time of writing there were at least six different companies running boats between Sihanoukville and the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. All have spanking new variations on the speedboat theme; all have similar prices of $15 to $20 open return and all claim sailing times of around 30 to 45 minutes. There doesn’t seem to us much to choose between them and your choice probably depends upon what time you wish to go.

Between the various companies, there are departures pretty much every 30 minutes between 08:00 and 17:00 but note both prices and time tables can vary at short notice. Note also that while companies we checked all stated that free pick-up from your guesthouse or hotel was included in the ticket price this is worth re-confirming.

All depart from the Serendipity pier unless weather conditions are unfavourable in which case they leave from the more protected old Royal pier at Sihanoukville port. Bear in mind that if weather conditions are too bad then boats won’t depart from any pier. There is also a daily, slow, cargo boat leaving from Sihanoukville port at 08:00 which takes passengers for $10 return if you really want to save $5 at the cost of 2 extra hours each way.

Angkor Speedferry, offer a $15 return, departing from Sihanoukville at 08:30, 12:00 and 14:50 and stopping at Long Set Beach, (Koh Rong), Koh Touch and Koh Rong Sanloem. Approx. 45 minutes travel time. The smaller GTVC boats claim to take only 30 minutes for the same price and have departures at 08:00, 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00. Island Speed Ferry Cambodia with a hydrofoil type craft also takes 30 minutes for $20 return and leaves at 09:00, 12:00 and 15:00. Buva Sea Cambodia attempts to go one better and claims a 25-minute crossing plus no less than seven departures by day. Those will vary considerably depending upon weather and passenger numbers but for what it’s worth published times are; 08:00, 09:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 and 17:00.

Depending upon your precise destination you may need to check schedules closely as some boats do the islands in a clockwise direction and others anti-clockwise. Furthermore, certain services stop at Saracen Bay on Koh Rong while other ones stop at M’pai (M’pay) Bay.

Finally, there’s nothing to prevent you signing up for one of the $15-20 island-hopping day trips, taking your gear with you and just hopping out at whichever island you’re planning to stay on.

As is the case in Sihanoukville the above information is very much provisional and price wars have been known to break out between the various companies. Furthermore at the time of writing there was a debate over the government’s introduction of a $2 per person jetty fee for the islands while there is also talk of the Sihanoukville port pier being demolished.

Note tickets for any of the following company’s boats can be purchased at the Serendipity Beach Road jetty and by the time of your visit, there may well be several more operators.

A final boat comment—just for the record as someone did ask us the other day—the boat service from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong ended nearly 10 years ago.

Tickets can also be purchased online:
Sihanoukville to Koh Rong

Angkor Speedboat/Speedferry St 501, Ochheuteal T: (010) 647 766, (081) 647 766, (093) 647 766 http://www.angkorspeedferry.com
Buva Sea Cambodia Serendipity Beach Rd, by the pier, Ochheuteal T: (097) 888 8950, (069) 888 950 http://www.buvasea.com
GTVC Speedboat T: (017) 338 821, (015) 661 456 http://www.gtvcspeedboat.com
Island Speed Ferry Cambodia Serendipity pier, Ochheuteal T: (015) 811 711, (087) 811 711 http://www.islandspeedboatcambodia.com

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Other

Needless to say, taxi fares vary considerably depending upon: how much commission your guesthouse or hotel is taking, how good your negotiating skills are and how busy the driver’s been of late. Most taxis are Toyota Camrys so you can fit three persons comfortably or four at a pinch. There isn’t a huge advantage to be gained over minibus services on the Phnom Penh route though they are useful for fiddlier ones such as Koh Kong or Ha Tien and they can work out at a bargain if you can split it with a few fellow travellers.

Sihanoukville to:
Phnom Penh: $45-60
Kampot: $25-35
Kep: $40-50
Koh Kong: $50-60
Ha Tien (Vietnam border): $50-60

If for whatever reason you prefer a shared taxi over a minibus then divide the lower rate above by five. Many shared taxis congregate on the waste ground that functions as the provisional bus station in the centre of town but they can leave from diverse points. If the taxi queue is warned in advance by a phone call then they will pick you up so again your best bet is probably to ask reception.

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Getting around

Sihanoukville town, along with surrounding beaches, encompasses a sprawling area and some of the beaches themselves are several kilometres long so there’s a limit to what you can cover on foot. You could do the Golden Lion roundabout into the centre of town—Phsar Leu for example—while footpaths over rocky headlands provide short cuts between Serendipity and Sokha Beaches and the far southern end of Ochheuteal and Otres Beach but if you haven’t got your own transport you will be largely reliant upon moto-dops and tuk tuks to get around. Taxis are available for longer rides—asking your hotel or guesthouse reception is your best bet—but there are as yet no Uber or Grab services.

Tuk tuks and moto-dops
Local moto-dop and tuk tuk drivers have the worst reputations in Cambodia and sadly—with some exceptions—it’s warranted. There don’t seem to be any accepted, standard fares applied in town and many will attempt to charge you twice what the average fare would be. We’ll note what local consensus concurs are reasonable rates (for foreigners) below and if the driver sees you do have a rough idea he may be less inclined to overcharge. If there is a problem don’t spend ages negotiating and don’t lose your temper—there are plenty more around.

Sihanoukville tuk tuks come in two formats; standard ones similar to those you’ll see in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap as well as hybrid ones that you don’t often come across elsewhere. These are small pick-up cabs with two benches facing each other in the open rear chassis and seat 4 persons. The latter is more comfortable for longer distances—say Ream for example—and prices should be about the same.

Roughly speaking moto-taxis fares will be around half that of tuk tuks and if you do use one then the oldest guy on the crappiest bike is generally the safest bet; avoid young jocks on shiny new bikes. With either form of transport always make sure you’re clear on the price and never pay before you arrive at your destination. If you must use one at night, try not to do it alone and try to use one that you know/have used before or that is recommended by the hotel or restaurant you’re travelling from.

We repeat, below fares are approximate and though locals will pay less many drivers will attempt to charge visitors a lot more.

Ochheuteal, Sokha, Independence into town: $2-3
Ochheuteal to Independence, Victory or Otres 1: $4
Ochheuteal to Otres 2 or Otres village: $5-6
Ochheuteal to Ream: $15-20 ($30-35 return including waiting time)
Sihanoukville town or Ochheuteal to airport: $15
Sihanoukville town to Ream: $15
Otres to Ream: $10-12
Otres to town, (bus station or Psar Leu): $4
Otres 2 or Otres village to town: $5
Otres to airport: $12-15

Hiring a motorbike or bicycle
Most bikes for rent these days are automatic scooters for around $5 a day and hire shops are ubiquitous along Serendipity Beach Road, Mithona and Otres and Ochheuteal Beach Roads. If your accommodation is one of the more out of the way ones then reception will organise a bike for you while some hotels and guesthouses also have their own for rent. You may pay a dollar or two more for the convenience but you do have more fall-back if you’ve hired it directly from your hotel.

Having your own wheels is very convenient and cruising through (some of) the surrounding countryside can be fun but renting a bike or scooter in Sihanoukville does open up a whole can of worms and isn’t such an easy option as it may be elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Please note that you will be expected to deposit your passport as a caution and rental agreements do not include insurance. If you’re not happy leaving your passport then you will have to negotiate a cash deposit as to be fair they do require something and if you don’t have your own travel insurance you’d be pretty crazy to even contemplate the idea.

There have been reports of rental scooters going missing, forcing the customer to repay the entire cost of the vehicle. Weeks later, once the tourist has left town, the moto magically reappears. (If you do choose to rent a motorbike then maybe buy your own lock?) Our rental agreement included a $1,200 clause in case of loss of bike. A guesthouse or hotel with all night security is handy and we left the keys with the guard each night so in case of problems the hotel bears responsibility. (Still not hassle-free guarantee but it helps.)

Your next problem is Sihanoukville’s boys in blue. While we weren’t required to show a license of any kind to the rental shop the same does not apply to the local constabulary. You are expected to be able to produce either a Khmer or an international driving license and one from your own country will not suffice. Regardless of what the official fine is locals informed us they will start negotiations at $50-60 if you don’t have a valid license. Expats reckoned that $20 usually does the trick though negotiating with Khmer police isn’t a bundle of laughs.

Not wearing a helmet is another obvious problem but the bottom line is if they’ve bothered to stop you they will find a reason or another to fine you. Whatever you consider the rights or wrongs to be they are the law and there’s only so far you can push any “negotiations”. If you do get into any problems with the police then whatever you do, grit your teeth, keep smiling and remain polite as becoming irate will only make things worse.

Many of the scooter hire shops will also have bicycles available for $1-2 per day while some hotels and guesthouses again either have their own or can also provide you with one. Note the area is predominantly flat and cycling is a fine way to get to say Independence or Otres Beach and shouldn’t incur any hassle from local police whatsoever.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Sihanoukville? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.


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