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Driving in Cambodia is an adventure in itself, and it's important to conduct yourself with the utmost care when on the roads, as they can be quite hazardous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Read this article to learn about the ins and outs of weaving in and out of traffic in the Kingdom of Wonder.

You cannot be too careful when taking to the road in Cambodia, even when you're not behind the wheel. Between the reckless drivers, the potholed lanes and the corrupt police officers, who seem to be waiting for any opportunity to fine foreigners or accept a bribe, driving in Cambodia can feel like running a gauntlet. However, driving your own car is also a convenient way of getting around (particularly if you plan to travel long distances), and it can be safer than taking a tuk-tuk or a moto-dop, where you can be exposed to bag or phone snatching.

Alternatively, if you'd like to have the freedom of owning your own a car but don’t want to drive yourself, you can also opt to hire a driver. Road rules and traffic regulations are often ignored in Cambodia, and many people may be driving without a valid licence, so you may feel more comfortable with this set-up.

Cambodian driving licence

An international driver’s licence is not recognised in Cambodia, and if you have an accident while driving without a valid Cambodian licence, your health or travel insurance may not cover your claim. Although you could just opt to pay (or avoid) the small fine for driving without a licence if you are stopped, it is likely that the penalties will become more severe as time goes on, and getting a Cambodian licence can save you a headache further down the line.

Although many expats still choose to take the risk of not getting a Cambodian driver's licence, it isn't actually very difficult to obtain. To drive in Cambodia, you can opt to get an A2 licence, which is for motorcycles larger than 125cc, or a B licence, which is for vehicles that carry less than nine passengers. With a B licence, you can drive motorcycles smaller than 125cc, but you will also need an A2 licence if you plan to drive a larger motorcycle as well.

Do note that if you plan to drive a motorcycle or scooter that is less than 125cc, you do not technically need a license, but sometimes the rules get a bit blurred when it comes to foreigners so it may be worth applying for a licence anyway.

Requirements

You can apply for your Cambodian driving licence at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Your licence will be valid for one year (five-year licences are no longer available for foreigners) and will cost US$35 if you apply directly at the ministry. Driving licences tend to be processed remarkably quickly, and you could receive a provisional licence the next day. You can then expect to receive your proper licence a month later.

To apply for a Cambodian driving licence, you should be prepared to submit your passport with a valid visa, five passport photos, and a valid driving licence from your home country. If your original licence is not in English or French, you will need to submit a translated copy that has been notarised by your embassy. And, if you do not have any driving licence at all, you will be required to pass a series of computerised theory tests and a practical driving test (after taking lessons if need be) at a local driving school.

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