Getting Around Phnom Penh: Cheap Options
Getting around Phnom Penh can be one of your largest expenses. Transportation options are rapidly changing so follow our tips and you can save some money.
Walking is of course your cheapest option for getting around Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, Cambodians use the wide sidewalks for parking and sometimes motos drive on the sidewalks. If you choose to walk, be careful to keep any bags you have away from traffic as bag snatching is the top crime in Phnom Penh. Definitely keep your expensive camera or phone out of view and away from traffic while you walk.
Tuktuks vie for business at most tourist venues. In fact, they are so prevalent that there are t-shirts that say “No Tuktuk today….. or tomorrow.” If you want to walk and be less bothered, you can tell the tuktuk drivers “Ahtday Ahkuhn Dahlieng” (Dahling works just fine). This means, “No thank you strolling.” If that’s too much to remember, just say “dahlieng” (strolling).
Tuktuks may be the cheapest mode of transport if you negotiate a good price and you have 3-4 people in your group. If you’re on your own, take a rickshaw or the bus.
Tuktuk rides in the city should cost no more than $3. If the distance is short, negotiate a lower price. Prices generally start at $1. Always negotiate before you get in the tuktuk and be sure to have small change. Some tuktuk drivers will claim to have no change if you give them a large bill ($5 or more).
If you have a lot of stops or want to see multiple sights, negotiate a daily rate ($20- $30 depending on where you want to go). Tuktuks to Phnom Tamao will cost about $30 (this assumes a full day). Choeung Ek or the silk village run about $20 for half a day. If you’re shopping at the markets, negotiate a round trip and a pick up location and time. To ensure your driver returns, pay the entire amount at the end of your trip.
Rickshaws are similar to tuktuks but are smaller. They seat two comfortably or three in a squeeze. PassApp Rickshaws charge 1000 riel per kilometer (~ $0.25) and prices start at 3000 riel ($0.75). For short distances, this may be your cheapest mode of transportation.
Download PassApp to your iPhone or Android device. You can select taxi, rickshaw or SUV. Once you select your mode of transport, you can add a destination address. I’ve noticed lately that drivers take me far out of my way to increase my fare if I enter the destination first. I prefer to just give the driver directions (see below for Khmer directions words). If you aren’t confident giving directions in Khmer, put in the address but expect to be taken a bit out of your way and pay a few thousand riel extra.
PassApp rickshaws are white or orange and have a PassApp sticker in the windshield. Blue rickshaws are a competing company. I’ve not taken one yet so I can’t tell you how they work.
Getting around Phnom Penh on the bus is becoming easier every day. Four months ago, the buses were old with questionable air conditioning.
About three months ago, China donated a fleet of new buses to Phnom Penh. The city put these buses to work, rapidly expanding from three routes to seven.
If you want the most up to date information on routes, download the stops near me Phnom Penh bus app. When I first started taking the bus, I used this app to find bus stops and track my progress towards my stop. Bus stops aren’t announced on the bus so you have to watch carefully.
If you’ve got the time, Phnom Penh’s city buses are very cheap. You will need 1500 riel in exact change for each bus you take. Buses are supposed to run every 15-20 minutes. This is generally true in the morning but becomes less reliable in the afternoon. Last week I waited 90 minutes to take the bus home from work and finally summoned a PassApp rickshaw.
Bus stops are clearly marked with large signs and paint on the street. The sign is in the middle of where the bus actually stops. There is an outline of where the bus actually stops on the street. When you see the bus coming, step towards the front of the outline and wave (especially if you’re a Westerner). Buses have conductors who make sure you put money in the box and give you a receipt. The video below is of me getting on the new city bus.
Bus drivers won’t stop if they don’t think someone is waiting. To exit the bus, press the red bell button about a block before your stop and then exit using the door in the middle of the bus.
Motos are probably the cheapest option for getting around Phnom Penh. I don’t recommend them for several reasons. Moto drivers generally speak very little English so you need to know enough Khmer to tell them where you are going and negotiate a price. Motos have high accident rates so the chances of injury are quite high. Some moto drivers are dishonest and will take you where they want to go instead of your requested destination. As a single woman, this is particularly dangerous so I’ve never taken a moto.
Giving Directions in Khmer
Drivers generally do not speak English or read maps so here are some basic directions in Khmer.
- Baht = turn.
- Chwayng = left.
- Saddam = right.
- Dtoh Trahng = go straight.
- Chohp = stop. Chohp Dtee Nee = stop here.
- Plow = street.
So, if I want the driver to go straight and turn right on Monivong Blvd, I say, ” Dtoh trahng, Plow Monivong baht saddam.”
There are other options for getting around Phnom Penh but these are the cheapest.
Here are some things to do around Phnom Penh.