Siem Reap - Phnom Penh Speed boat Ferry
Cambodia is heavily reliant on its amazing natural water source of the Tonle Sap River and this unique water system provides an enjoyable alternative method of transport between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Both Cambodia's capital and the major touristic city are situated on the banks of the Tonle Sap River and a daily speedboat ferry service has developed, connecting the two cities. This fast ferryboat service is a unique opportunity and experience of Cambodia when compared to the standard bus travel. This guide will detail all aspects of the ferry service including fares, departure times and essential traveller tips.
Reviews of the Phnom Penh Fast Ferry
The fast ferry service from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh gets mixed reviews from travellers. These negative views are often due to overcrowding, the lack of on-board services or the safety standards, because people routinely forget the country that they are travelling through. The fast ferry provides a unique means of transport between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and it’s a convenient way to experience the Tonle Sap's ecosystems and cultures - just arrive early to get a decent seat.
The Communities along the Tonle Sap River
Tourist Guide About the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh Ferry
From both cities there are two daily departures: an early morning service and mid-afternoon service. The departures from Siem Reap are from the Chong Kneas boat dock, which is 12km south of Siem Reap. The mooring in Phnom Penh is at the Sisowath Quay right in the heart of the French Quarter, convenient for arriving visitors as this is close to the main hotel district. The departures from Siem Reap are at 6:30 am and 1:00 pm, while the departures from Phnom Penh are at 7:30 am and 2:00 pm. Most of the tickets purchased include a pick up from your hotel, but this disorganised service usually adds another hour to the total travel time.
The speedboat ferry whizzes along the 250km route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and it’s only slightly longer than the bus journey, with a journey time of five hours. Ticket prices vary depending on where the ticket was purchased from and the levels of commission added to the ticket, but expect to pay between $35.00-$40.00 (correct in 2015).
The colourful skyline of Phnom Penh
As the Tonle Sap varies dramatically in depth during the year, there are seasons when the fast ferry services are cancelled due to the depth of the water. During the dry season, smaller (shallower) boats are used and groundings are much more common on the ever changing mud banks. If the waters drop too much, the ferry services may be completely cancelled and coach travel is the only option. During the main tourist season, November through to March, the river levels are high enough for a regular service.
Warning About The Siem Reap - Phnom Penh’s Ferry
A word of warning for the boat journey: the weather conditions on the lake can rapidly change and the boat does speed over the waters of Tonle Sap. It may seem like a great idea, while boarding the boat to sit on the flat roof, but do be prepared for yourself and your luggage to get very wet. On two separate occasions I have witnessed the boat slowing to let the wet and bedraggled passengers sit below. Equally if the sun is out, remember to put sun block on as there is no shade and people get very sun burnt.
During the high season it is common for more tickets to be sold than seats available. Late passengers may find themselves standing for the entire journey. Also understand the country that you are travelling through. Do not expect the same safety standards as back at home. If you are particularly uncomfortable by the levels of safety offered, consider hiring a taxi for the journey between the two cities and travel on the equally unsafe roads.