Traffic in Cambodia

Hello everyone,

Which city or area do you live in in Cambodia, and how do you find the traffic?

How long does it take to commute to work or run errands?

Is there a rush hour in your city? What times of the day would you recommend people to avoid driving if they can?

Are there any ways to avoid spending too much time in traffic in Cambodia?

What is parking availability and cost like?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Hi Priscilla.

Traffic in Cambodia, pfew a hot item. Luckily you do not ask about traffic rules, as they are totally ignored   :D

I live in Sihanoukville, a growing town/city. Traffic is not bad at all, no traffic jams, only when there is an event during Khmer holidays. Parking is no problem and free. No rush hour.

Riding a motorbike is tricky, as you have to drive "worst scenario", meaning you have to expect the unexpected, people driving against traffic, large vehicle means priority, no indication of turning right or left, no stop for red lights. But if you drive in a relaxed way it's all ok.

I get a bit annoyed by foreigners adapting to the bad habits of Khmer drivers. I see foreigners also drive against traffic, wearing no helmet, some even no back light, using their phone while driving etc.
Things they would probably not do in their home country, but here they think it doesn't matter.

Transportation in the city is by tuktuk or moto taxi (motodop), nearest places like Kampot can be reached by minivan and a bus service. Phnom Penh is 230 km away and can be reached by several touringcar services, by train during the weekend and even by plane (SHV - Siem reap - PP).

Taxis are of course available for all rides.

The islands off the coast (Koh rong and Koh rong samloem) are frequented by regular ferries.

This about sums it up.




I've been living and working in Siem Reap for 6 years.

Traffic is steadily increasing but proportion of vehicle types seems to be constant : Motobikes 65%, Cars, 25% lorries 9% cycles 1 %  . Note percentage of cycles increases a little in rural areas.

Some river traffic (to Battambang or Phnom Penh or surrounding tourist sites) but doesn't have a major impact on roads connecting to docking points.

No functioning railways - although old route Battambang to border and beyond to be renewed - assisted by Chinese investment .

Roads have improved recently. Main trunk road (6) between SR - PP now entirely hard - top with some town bypasses. Note some bus companies still route through towns for 'local' pick ups' or scheduled stops.

Most of the heavy congestion is in big towns and cities, particularly Phnom Penh. Its seldom stationary but rush hour can be less than walking pace. Most tuk and moto drivers can still find alternative city routes fairly easily. Pedestrians are reasonably safe due to the relatively slow moving traffic but motos will often use any means to file their way through heavy traffic. Care must be taken crossing so-called one-way streets as motos often ignore the one-way rules.

Rural routes (red tops) are not that congested but hazards will always be present through livestock, farm vehicles, hidden village accesses an so on. North and north east rural trunk routes improving..

Traffic pollution : average. For regular cycle and moto users some town and rural routes face masks are often worn particularly during dry (dusty) season.


Priscilla :

Which city or area do you live in in Cambodia, and how do you find the traffic?

I live in Battambang, but recently returned from a trip through Phnom Penh, to Sihanoukville. The traffic here in Battambang is tame, by comparison to either of those two cities. In both SHV and PP, it's like a space video game, where you have to avoid all the alien ships or you will be destroyed.

Priscilla :

How long does it take to commute to work or run errands?

In Battambang, only a few minutes. The city is fairly compact, for its size.

Priscilla :

Is there a rush hour in your city? What times of the day would you recommend people to avoid driving if they can?

The only times we have bad traffic here, will be during holiday events like the Water Festival, etc. Otherwise, it isn't too bad driving here, really. A couple of areas may be congested at times, like Road 3 and Pub Street, though.

Priscilla :

Are there any ways to avoid spending too much time in traffic in Cambodia?

Two ways that I know of - motorcycle or walk.

Priscilla :

What is parking availability and cost like?

Thus far, I have never had to pay for any parking, anywhere in country. I avoid places that charge, because there are many other free parking areas, throughout the country.

I lived in Phnom Penh for a year and worked for an International School there. The school had five campuses. I had to goto all of them once a week. I lived in the BKK3 district by Toul Sleng Museum. The main campus located in Toul Kork was about 20 minute drive early morning. 7 A.M. The afternoon is a lot busier. I got home about 45 to 60 minutes later. The traffic is crazy. People will drive towards you all the time in the wrong lane. Cars get trapped easily in traffic. I would not drive a car unless it was for a very long trip. The Moto bike can slip through crowds of people but is dangerous. I wrecked once and my hand was swollen for almost two months.   The light at intersection turns green every one goes. There is no taking turns so you have to be aware at all times. 4-6 is bad time of day to drive but 9-10 is too. Leave early morning if you have plans. Traffic will slow you down greatly.

I've lived in Sihanoukville for almost 11 years. In the beginning, seeing cars was a novelty. Now they are everywhere. You have to be on your toes when riding a motorbike here. People ignore red lights, turn left from the right lane and ride down the wrong side of the road. I haven't had an accident because I had time to get used to the traffic here. It's much heavier now than it used to be, but I have side routes to many places that aren't quite as busy as Ekareach Street and other main roads.

They say you can tell a lot about a country by observing the traffic. Having lived in PP now for 3 years I would say, just like the country...its chaotic.
During my time here I have seen a massive increase in cars on the road. Journeys that used to take 15 minutes can now take up to 40.Now I know the roads better I can use side roads to get along quicker, but they are also beginning to fill up. The problem in Cambodia is there is no real control and little regulation. The driving test is a joke. They put up new traffic lights but very few drivers respect them colour blindness is rife in PP. They build housing developments with no thought of the effect on traffic. I have driven in Vietnam and there is a huge difference. Everyone respects the lights, wears a helmet and drives correctly. So why so different?
When you get off the main boulevards you come across many hazards that slow traffic flow. People pulling hand carts, slow moving mobile food vans, vehicles parked in stupid places. Parking is a free for all. Anywhere will do. Double ,triple parking. Large wedding marques  pitched on busy roads so traffic is cut to one lane or the road is totally blocked. Just chaos.
I see major traffic problems in 2/3 years time as car numbers continue to increase. I think its too late to educate the public on correct driving procedures as the mentality is deep rooted. Unless the government gets a grip then they are in for major traffic congestion on a permanent basis, which will ultimately affect the economy.

I live in Siem Reap 5 years now and the traffic isn't a problem for eye-opener, yes, but not a problem.  We don't have a "rush hour" here although traffic tends to be heaviest between 4:00 and 6:00 PM when everyone seems to be hurrying to get "somewhere."  Keep in mind that Siem Reap is not really a "city."  It's kinda more like a big town.  I grew up in New York City (U.S.A.) so am familiar with heavy traffic and "rush hours."  Phnom Penh comes the closest to rush hour traffic in my experience around Cambodia.

What I have to say is about the driving behavior of 75% of the Khmer people.......and I'm being that it is basically a free-for-all.  Most driver's here pay NO attention to "rules of the road" when it suits them.  I see people go through traffic lights in Siem Reap every day.  Most people go down the wrong side of a street, when it suits them.  Most people go down One Way Streets, especially in Phnom Penh, when it suits them.  Maybe half the people use their turn signals as required by law.  In Siem Reap, there are several busy intersections that are dangerous because people don't want to "give way" to another person who may have arrived first and wants to make a turn across traffic........finally, someone just goes!  The funny thing about what I've just described is that it works.  It REALLY does!  If the people here drove using the Western "rules of the road," then the traffic in Siem Reap (and I would venture Phnom Penh, Sihanouk and Battambang, at the very least) woud be at gridlock many times a day.  Okay, so I asked myself, "Why does "traffic chaos" work here when such behavior in The States would result in.........I hate to admit this.....road rage?   I believe the answer lies in the Khmer people themselves.  The people here are basically laid back and don't really get upset when dealing with traffic chaos.  In my time here I have seen very few individual drivers get upset over what another driver has done and I have NEVER seen a person yell at another person regarding that person's driving.........NEVER.  Isn't that WONDERFUL?

Cambodians have developed their own ‘highway’ code.
Bullet points:
1.  Usually, the bigger the vehicle, the more important you are.
2.   Most of them do have an understanding between each other so don’t worry about moto’s Unless they’re women.
3.   There are quieter times but you’ll have to find out for yourself.
4.   Don’t trust any driver of any vehicle.
5.   The best way to find out is to just get out there, drive steady; not too slow and not too fast.
6.   Take no notice of indicators.
7.   Fit cameras in your car and always have phone ready to take pics.
8.   Beware of rich kids driving Daddy’s fancy car.
9.   If you have an accident, they’ll demand money from you. If it’s your fault, deal and pay up.
10.  If you have an incident with a car driving youngster, they’ll tell you they’ll call the police. Tell them you’ll call them and ask them if they have a driving license. Chances are, they won’t have.
11.   It’s all a matter of getting out there and finding out for yourself.
12.  Don’t kill anyone; insured or not - Cambodians rule.

Best insurance company is Forte; Caminco close second. The nicer car you have, the more respect you get.

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