In this article, we’ll cover all the best ways to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap so that you can choose the best mode of transport for you!
Most travellers to Cambodia begin their journey in the capital, Phnom Penh. Probably best known for the Tuol Sleng genocide museum (housed in the former S21 prison) and the Choeung Ek genocide centre (also known as the Killing Fields), Phnom Penh has a long and tumultuous history. But today, it’s actually one of Southeast Asia’s fastest changing cities, with trendy micro-bars and health cafes popping up just a few blocks from traditional markets and ancient temples.
After spending a few days exploring Phnom Penh, you’ll probably head north to Siem Reap and the famous temples of Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is quieter and easier to navigate than hectic Phnom Penh. But with over 2.6 million tourists a year, there is no shortage of things to do in Siem Reap.
The distance between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is only ~200 miles (318 km). And to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, you have several transportation options to suit every travel style and budget. Of course, the most convenient way to get to Siem Reap is by plane, which takes just under an hour. But if you’re looking to save money, it’s best to take a bus or minibus.
You can also take a private car, which will get you to Siem Reap in just 5 hours and allow you to stop along the way. Or if you are in Cambodia during the rainy season and fancy a real adventure, there is even a boat connection.
Flights from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Duration: Less than an hour
- Cost: $50 or more per person
As mentioned earlier, the fastest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is by plane. A flight between the two cities takes less than an hour (plus, of course, the time spent checking in for your flight at the airport). If you are short on time in Cambodia, flying is certainly the best way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
While flying is the fastest way to travel, it is also the most expensive. Airline tickets generally cost between $50 and $150 for a one-way trip. Cambodia Airways and Cambodia Angkor Air both offer direct daily flights between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Between the two, we prefer Cambodia Angkor Air for its comfort and punctuality.
Keep in mind that Cambodian domestic flights are not always reliable and flights are often delayed. Morning flights are usually more punctual than afternoon flights. Phnom Penh International Airport (airport code PHN) is located approximately 10km from downtown Phnom Penh.
The most convenient way to get to the airport is to use a ride-sharing service like Grab (iPhone|Android) or PassApp (iPhone|Android). You can also simply hail a taxi or tuk-tuk, but both are more of a hassle and unlikely to save you any money.
The cheapest way to get to the airport in Phnom Penh is by local bus, which costs less than $0.50. If you’re feeling frugal (or adventurous), bus line 3 is the one to take.
Private car from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Travel time: ~5-6 hours
- Cost: ~$90 – $140 per vehicle
If you are travelling with a group of 3 or more people, it may be wise to arrange a private transfer from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
You can book a car and driver to take you to Siem Reap for as little as $90. So while it’s more expensive than travelling by bus or shared minibus, it’s actually only $30 per person if you can share it between 3 people. And you can get a 6-passenger vehicle for only $130, or $22 per person.
A private transfer is generally faster and more comfortable than a bus and has the added benefit of allowing you to stop at interesting sites along the way. You will also be picked up from your hotel in Phnom Penh and delivered directly to your hotel in Siem Reap. This door-to-door service saves you time and hassle at the bus station or airport.
Travel time is 5-6 hours depending on traffic and if you decide to stop during your trip.
We recommend that you book online in advance as you can easily compare prices and read reviews from other travellers. And because the fare is fixed, you won’t have to worry about being overcharged or haggling with your driver on the day of your trip.
If you book your transfer through your guesthouse and not online, be sure to confirm the full price before leaving Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, misunderstandings can sometimes occur regarding the final price.
It is also advisable to have the address and telephone number of your hotel or guesthouse in Siem Reap. Be sure to give these to your driver if you wish to be dropped off directly at your accommodation.
Bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Travel time: ~6 hours
- Cost: ~$11.00 – $17.00 per person
If you are on a budget, the best way to travel between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is by tourist bus. The trip takes about 6 hours, depending on traffic, and will cost you less than $20 per person. Dozens of bus companies offer this route in Cambodia, and it’s a surprisingly comfortable (and affordable) way to travel.
Tourist bus companies like Giant Ibis offer reclining seats, power sockets and air conditioning that actually works. They also advertise free Wi-Fi (although buses in Southeast Asia rarely actually have Wi-Fi).
Be wary of booking with the cheapest bus companies, as you will probably regret your decision. They tend to have older buses and are notorious for breakdowns, overcrowding and unexplained delays.
We strongly recommend that you spend a few dollars more and book with a bus company that has a strong safety record and good customer reviews. The most popular bus companies are Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, Virak Buntham Express and Mey Hong Transport.
Giant Ibis is our best choice and Mekong Express is the second best option. There is really no reason to book with any of the other bus companies.
Unfortunately, there is no main bus station in Phnom Penh that all these buses use. Each company has its own bus station or transport office.
Most buses offer a free pick-up service from your hotel if you book in advance. But remember to note the location when booking if free pick-up is not available.
While most tourist buses to Siem Reap leave Phnom Penh in the early morning or late afternoon, there are also some night bus options. Night buses leave Phnom Penh at 11:00-11:30am and arrive in Siem Reap at around 4:00-5:00am.
This option saves you the cost of one night’s accommodation, but you will be absolutely exhausted for your first day in Siem Reap. We do not recommend the night bus for such a short trip, but you can make your own choice.
Be sure to let your accommodation in Siem Reap know which bus you will be arriving on before leaving Phnom Penh. Many hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap will provide a free tuk-tuk to pick you up.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by Minibus
- Travel time: ~6 hours
- Cost: ~$9 – $12.50 per person
If you are on a budget and need something even cheaper than a bus, you may want to consider taking a minibus. Although not as comfortable as the larger tourist buses, the minibus is generally the cheapest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. A single ticket will cost you between $9 and $12.50, depending on the company you choose.
There are seemingly endless minibuses leaving every day, so this is also a good option if you want to decide at the last minute. In fact, some minibus companies like Larryta Express have up to 25 daily departures to Siem Reap.
We recommend that you book your ticket with one of the most reputable and well-known companies. If you don’t choose a company with good reviews, you may well end up in a minibus from hell. You will be crammed into an overcrowded minibus with no or no air conditioning and no windows to open. The journey to Siem Reap will take over 6 hours and will be very uncomfortable.
Some companies with better than average reviews are Mekong Express, Angkor E-Booking, Larryta Express and Cambodia Post VIP. Of these options, we prefer Mekong Express or Angkor E-Booking.
Most of the time you don’t really need to buy a minibus ticket in advance due to the number of companies and departures for this route, but we always recommend booking online if you want to ensure you have a seat at a specific time rather than waiting at the bus station for the next available departure.
It seems that each minibus company has a different drop-off point in Siem Reap, so it is best to ask the staff for the specific drop-off point, especially if you are arranging a trip with your accommodation.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by Boat/Ferry
- Duration: 8+ hours
- Cost: ~$55.00
If you are looking for the most adventurous way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, it is possible to take a ferry or speed boat during the rainy season. When the water level is high enough, several Cambodian companies offer this service.
It’s not the most comfortable way to travel, as it’s a hot and sticky eight-plus hour journey on a slow moving boat. However, the ferry is certainly a unique way to experience Cambodia and life on the Tonle Sap Lake.
When the Tonle Sap is at its highest water level – between November and March – you can sometimes book a place online through sites like Bookaway.com. If you can’t find tickets online, you can buy them at the ferry itself or ask your hotel in Phnom Penh to call and make a reservation for you. Booking your boat ticket one or two days in advance is usually a good idea.
On the morning of your departure, make sure you arrive early to get a good seat. During the rainy season, ferry companies usually overbook tickets. If you arrive late, you may have to stand for the whole journey, which will be unpleasant. Bring sun cream, snacks, comfortable clothes, a sense of adventure and the possibility of getting dirty and wet on the journey.
Some cheap ferry companies do not provide life jackets, so check before you board. If you have any doubts about the safety standards on offer, it is best to choose another company or another means of transport.
For safety reasons, we recommend Angkor Express. They apply safety standards such as life jackets on board. The trip costs ~$55 per person and departs early in the morning from Sisowath Pier in Phnom Penh.
Some luxury boats also offer this route if you want to travel more slowly and comfortably. Companies like Mekong Dawn offer a 3 day, 2 night cruise on a nice luxury boat, including meals and excursions. These luxury boats can cost you a few hundred dollars, but are well worth it if you prefer to travel in style.
When you arrive in Siem Reap, the ferry will drop you off at Phnom Krom port. You’ll then have to take a tuk-tuk or taxi for about 20 minutes before arriving in the city centre. It will cost you about $5 for a tuk-tuk or $10 for a taxi. Motorbike taxis should also be around for a total cost of a few dollars.
FAQ get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
What is the distance between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap?
The distance between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is approximately 200 miles (318 km).
How long does it take to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap?
The quickest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is by plane, which takes less than an hour. Other means of transport (including bus, minibus, private car and boat) will take you at least 5 hours and possibly up to 10 hours.
What is the best way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap?
Flying from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is probably the easiest way, but a private car is also a good option if you are travelling in a group, as you can make the journey in ~6 hours.
What is the cheapest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap?
The cheapest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is to use a minibus which costs from $10.
What is the best bus company to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap?
We prefer Grand Ibis. They are a bit more expensive but worth it. The second best option is Mekong Express.
We hope this guide has helped you determine the best way to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh! If you have any suggestions, let us know below.