How to Travel Between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2024
This post was last updated on 12/22/2023.
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It’s incredibly easy to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa. You can either take a bus, van, flight, taxi, or even boat. Depending on what you choose, it takes anywhere between one and eight hours. I recommend most people travel by bus or van, since it’s the best option when you compare travel time versus price.
Here’s everything you need to know to travel between these two cities and figure out which option is best for you.
Travel time: 6 hours
Cost: $11 – $17 USD
Taking the bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is one of the cheapest options and surprisingly comfortable. The buses run often, are spacious, have air conditioning, and some even have outlets and wifi. It’s about a six hour drive, with two or three rest stops along the way.
There isn’t a central bus station in either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Buses depart from and arrive at their offices. Some companies may offer to pick you up where you’re staying.
When I took the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap in November 2022, I rode with Giant Ibis. They’re one of the most reputable and safest transport companies in Cambodia – a country where drivers go fast and the roads aren’t in the best condition. Giant Ibis has excellent customer service. They gave out water bottles, hand wipes, and a snack to passengers. Plus, the bus I took had outlets and wifi. I think I got lucky with a half empty bus, so everyone had a row of seats to themselves.
There are overnight buses that usually leave Phnom Penh between 11 PM and 12:30 AM and arrive in Siem Reap between 5 and 7 AM. The overnight buses from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh leave between 10 PM and midnight and arrive between 4 and 6:30 AM. Since six hours isn’t a long ride, I recommend taking a day bus so you don’t arrive exhausted.
Travel time: 6 hours
Cost: $10 – $16 USD
Vans are the cheapest option for traveling between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but they can be cramped. You won’t get as much leg or seat space as in a bus. There’s also less luggage space in vans. All vans have air conditioning, but sometimes it won’t work.
Because there are more vans than buses that run every day, you shouldn’t have any trouble booking last-minute. Vans also drive faster than buses, so your trip may only be five or five and a half hours. You’ll depart from and arrive at the transport company’s office.
There’s very little price difference between vans and buses, so I recommend choosing the bus for a more comfortable ride.
Taxi or private car
Travel time: 5 – 6 hours
Cost: $85 – $140 USD per car
If you’re traveling in a group, getting a private car will be more expensive per person but more comfortable than taking a bus or van. You also have the most flexibility. You’ll get picked up from your accommodation and can be dropped off wherever you want. You can take as many rest stops as you want and even stop for sightseeing along the way.
It’s best to pre-book online so you can compare prices and see reviews, but you can also ask your accommodation to help you book.
Travel time: 1 hour
Cost: $64+ USD one way
If you’re willing to trade money for time, then flying is the way to go. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap both have airports that are close to the city center, and it’s easy to get either a tuk tuk or taxi to get you to and from the airport.
Flight time is only an hour, but you’ll need to factor in the time it takes to get to and from the airport and time spent waiting in the airport. So you’ll end up saving at most a few hours, compared to taking a bus, van, or taxi.
Travel time: 8+ hours
Cost: $20+ USD
How to book: Ask your accommodation or a travel agency, go to the ferry dock, or book online depending on the type of boat you want.
Going by boat is the most adventurous way of getting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa. You’ll float through Tonle Sap Lake and soak up the sun. Boats usually leave around 7 or 7:30 AM and arrive around 1:30 PM. Note that boats don’t run during the dry season (April through June) when the water level is too low.
Taking a budget ferry is the cheapest option when traveling by boat. The only way to book a ticket is through your accommodation, a travel agency, or at the dock. For a more comfortable journey, book with companies like Angkor Express Boat and Tara River Boat that run modern speedboats and luxury cruisers. They’re more expensive, but they have better safety standards and may offer pick-up and drop-off services.
And if you want to make a full trip out of the journey, there are multi-day overnight cruises offered by companies like Mekong River Cruises, Pandaw, and Mekong Dawn. Prices start in the hundreds and go up to $1,000+ USD.
For practical reasons, traveling by boat isn’t the best option. I only recommend doing so if you’re taking an overnight cruise as a way of sightseeing.