Local Color in Traditional Cambodian Transport
Cambodia is host to an array of fascinating local transport that can be seen in both the countryside and the cities. Most of the transport methods originate from Cambodia’s agricultural roots with a few interesting changes along the way. Here’s an overview prepared by our office in Phnom Penh.
Known traditionally as a remorque, but more recently as a tuk-tuk, this popular mode of transport by tourists and locals is increasing in urban areas of Cambodia. Remorques are especially useful in Siem Reap and are a great open-air way of exploring the Heritage Site as well as the main town. Khiri Travel Cambodia has their own tuk-tuk, which can be branded for our partners offering trips in Siem Reap.
Only seen in the cities and much like in neighboring Laos and Vietnam, these three-wheeled passenger bicycles called cyclos or samlors are a cost effective and traditional way of navigating around the urban sprawl of Phnom Penh. Although they are not as popular as they were in the past, the novelty of taking a cyclo trip is unchallenged. Arguably the best way to see Phnom Penh is to take a ride in a cyclo through the small alleys and along the riverside. The pace is perfect to take in the city’s unique atmosphere. Fares are usually a couple of USD depending on where you go. Khiri Travel started a project in 2009 where we provided cyclos to individuals needing a job.
Motodup’s have firmly taken away the majority of the cyclo business. Motodup’s are motorcycle taxis. They are the cheapest and easiest way to get around and navigate Phnom Penh’s traffic. The drivers are predominantly male, often seen with a cigarette dangling from their mouth, and can be seen everywhere, usually relaxing with a group of friends on a street corner or outside a hotel or restaurant. They will shout ‘’Moto!’’ and you know you’re in the right place. The ride can be quite an experience depending on the driver! Prices are usually 1 USD to anywhere local.
Only seen in the outskirts of cities and in the countryside the remorque-moto is a large trailer attached to the front of a motorcycle. These are used to transport people and goods and especially farmers to and from the fields or on the edge of towns ready to ferry farmers back to the countryside. Fares are very cheap, at around 100 Cambodian riel (about 0.2 USD) per kilometer.
Not to be confused with the western word for lorry, nori is the Khmer name for a locally made train that is made from bamboo and powered by a small engine from a car or motorbike. Tourists call it the Bamboo Train. This crude but surprisingly fast makeshift train is a fun experience. The network of tracks was originally built by French colonial settlers and later adapted by the Khmer after the Khmer Rouge period. Travelers in Battambang certainly should try the nori!
A rotei is a cart pulled by an animal and is used widely in different ways throughout the Kingdom. Rotei sess is a cart pulled by a horse. These are usually used for transporting goods or people. Rotei kor (ox cart) and rotei krobei (buffalo cart) are used for farming, pulling ploughs or transporting goods at a slower pace.
Khiri works with the Cambodia Dutch Foundation in Siem Reap where visitors can take a rotei kor from town to Prasert Banteay Ampil Temple. It’s slow going and not the most comfortable of journeys but it remains the only way to navigate the rice paddies during wet season….a real local transportation experience!
For more information on the local ways of transportation in Cambodia and booking requests, please contact [email protected].
Picture 3 by: Boaz Zippor