Travel tips: 4 main transfer methods from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the biggest as well as most developed cities in Cambodia. This means that there are a huge number of visitors coming every year, making tourism services more and more available and professional. For this reason, traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa is not something too troublesome like some neighboring countries such as Laos or Myanmar. In contrast, there are a few options for travelers.


The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is slightly more than 300km away from Siem Reap. While the former is in the South-central part of Cambodia, the latter locates in the northwest of the country. The following transportation modes between these 2 cities are availed: private transfer, buses, minivan, ferry, and airplane. Each of them has its own pros and cons, thus it is suitable for different traveling desires.

By private transfer – approximately 6 hours

Price: US$100 – US$140 per car per way


Traveling by private car seems to be the most flexible way in terms of time since a driver can be ready at any time as long as you make a prior reservation with a travel agency or a hotel. The process of making an advanced booking for a car had better be made online by sending your request to the organizations or websites that are in charge of. If you intend to do it online, bear in mind to have contact with a reliable one to avoid scam companies. A private transfer is also comfortable in the way that you can decide the pick-up and drop off point at the preferable places, normally should be the accommodations you will stay in both cities. Furthermore, a private car will be safer as well as faster comparing to other modes of land transportation such as buses or minivans.


The sole drawback of hiring a private transfer is the high price comparing to other public transfers. Besides, you need to be a quiet well-organized person in order to spend time booking the service before your trip.

This choice of getting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is most suitable for those who are keen on having more privacy on the way and do not want to be dependent on other factors.


A private transfer in Cambodia
A common type of car for private transfer in Cambodia

By buses or shared minivans – approximately 7 – 8 hours

Price: US$6 – US$15 per person per way


Needless to say, taking a bus and minivan is the most economical method of transportation from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and for the way back. If you are traveling on a tight budget, this is the option for you. Although they run on a fixed schedule daily, there are various times to choose from and a wide range of companies offering buses and vans that are in good condition. Therefore, if you plan your travel well, using a bus and minivan will not cause you a problem regarding time. Despite the fact that these sharing transfers are less private, they are still comfortable enough and worth value for money. 


Unlike private transfer, people taking buses or minivans will encounter some unpleasant situations. In fact, the total traveling time is longer as the driver makes more stops on the way, even though customers dislike this. One piece of advice is that you should expect the journey to be extended by 1 or 2 more hours comparing to the stated time on the company website due to many stops. The buses and minivans serve not only foreign tourists but also local people; hence, you can find yourself sitting in the middle of products and even animals often. Some of the companies have a night bus but you should try to avoid booking this time. The road system of Cambodia is not excellent enough to ensure a safe drive during the night.

Reaching Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by buses or minivan is suitable for travelers who do not want to spend much money on transportation and do not want a too luxury service.

Some common names that you can book the service: Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, Cambodian Post VIP Vam, Larryta Express.


Traveling by bus in Cambodia
Traveling by bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

By ferry – approximately 8 – 10 hours

Price: US$35 – US$40 per person per way


Taking a ferry is by far the most interesting way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap through the Tonle Sap Lake. You will definitely love the sightseeing on the ferry, with local houses on the river banks. Some people say that the view is not too spectacular, it is somehow true, but seeing how a country life in Cambodia happens is what you should hope for. 


The ferry system on the Tonle Sap lake is considered to be seasonal. Throughout the year, the ferry cannot operate in months that the water level is too low, which are April, May, and June. Hence, if you travel to Cambodia in the dry season, the ferry is not an ideal option. Similar to buses or minivan, ferries are used extensively by local people, they even carry more local people than buses and minivans. For this reason, its quality of service is the worst. And most of the ferries are not equipped with life jackets.

This choice of transferring is only suitable for people who enjoy exclusive, local and adventure experience.

Some companies offering ferry service: Mekong Explore, Compagnie Fluevial Du Mekong, Angkor Expres.


Ferry on Tonle Sap Lake
Ferry on Tonle Sap Lake

By airplane – approximately 50 minutes

Price: US$55 – US$125 per person (Price varies depending on booking time and airlines)


Traveling by airplane from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is the quickest and most convenient way. If you do not have many days to visit Cambodia, this option is highly recommended.


Obviously, taking a flight is always the most expensive method of transportation. Besides, it cannot provide as much experience and sightseeing as the above method can.

This way of traveling suites people whose budget is big and do not have plenty of time.

There are 3 airlines available in Cambodia that have flights connecting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap: Cambodian Angkor Air, Lanmei Airlines, JC International Airlines. Among them, Cambodian Angkor Airlines is the most reviewed and provide the highest quality flights in Cambodia.


Cambodian Angkor Air
Cambodian Angkor Air

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In general, there are many choices that suitable for different types of travelers, who want to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa. Hopefully, this blog will be your handful tip when you are planning Cambodia tours 2022.


Minh Vu – Travel Specialist

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