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Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia > Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Getting around

  
 
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Phnom Penh's main streets are in good shape; however smaller streets and footpaths are often rutted and pot-holed, clogged with garbage, stagnant water, parked motos, sleeping people, livestock, and building materials. Many smaller streets either lack signage or bear misleading signs.

By motorbike

Motorbike rental

Motorbikes (but not self-drive cars) are available for rent, however Phnom Penh traffic is chaotic and dangerous even by Asian standards: public transport (other than motorbike taxis) is safer.

Motorbike-taxis

Motorbike-taxis (motodops, motodups or simply motos in local parlance) are ubiquitous and will take you anywhere for a small fare. A trip from Sisowath Quay to Central Market costs about 2,000 riel (US$0.50). Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger.

By taxis

Taxis are available at a few locations - most notably outside the Foreign Correspondents' Club on Sisowath Quay. Most taxis do not have meters, and fares must be agreed in advance. Fares vary, due to fluctuating fuel prices; ask hotel/guesthouse staff for assistance (hotels and guesthouses will organise taxis on request). There are a few metered-taxi companies emerging in Phnom Penh. They are very reasonably priced and in high demand. Be prepared to wait for their service, and plan accordingly.

By tuk-tuk or cyclos

Tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuks are a Cambodian vehicle consisting of a motorcycle with a cabin for the passengers hitched to the back. They are cheaper than taxis and offer a scenic experience of the city. Their clientele is almost exclusively tourists, and most drivers in tourist areas speak some English.

Cyclos

Cyclos are three-wheeled cycle-rickshaws. Considerably slower then a motodop, and gradually becoming less common in the city, they are still popular with locals and foreigners alike. The nature of the seat lends itself to a quick and easy way to transport all manner of goods from one place to another, even other cyclos and the occasional motorbike as well.

By foot

Walking can be a challenge, as cars and motos sometimes do not stop for pedestrians. To cross safely, judge gaps in the traffic and proceed with care - give oncoming vehicles ample time to see and avoid you, or try to cross with the brightly coloured and revered monks. On larger roads, two streams of traffic travel in each direction, totalling four streams of traffic you have to watch for: thus constant 360 surveillance is required when crossing roads. There is almost no street lighting off the major boulevards, and walking there at night is not recommended.

Cautions

1. As a huge number of scarred or maimed locals can attest, motorbikes are the least safe alternative. On a motorbike you are exposed to the worst consequences of the city's bad drivers and appalling accident rate.

2. To avoid later disagreements, bargain a fare before you leave. Starting to walk away is the best way to produce a reasonable fare.

3. Sometimes the only English a driver knows is something like "Yes, no problem" - leading you to believe he knows where he is going when he does not. Most tuk tuk and moto drivers in Phnom Penh come from rural villages. Incredibly, some cannot find Sisowath Quay or Sihanouk Boulevard. Make sure the driver knows where he is going before getting in/on.

4. Don't leave bags, phones, etc exposed to snatchers: such thefts from tuk tuks and motorbikes are epidemic in Phnom Penh.

5. The tuk tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive. They may be best avoided: walk half a block and hire someone else.





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