Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s leading tourist destination. It is not very far from the capital city of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap (another tourism city for the world-famous Angkor Wat), and the Thai cities of Bangkok and Pattaya. Tourists get into Sihanoukville by bus, mini-bus, taxi or ferry, but when getting around Sihanoukville, the tuk-tuk is king.
The tuk-tuk is a three-wheeled ride that consists of a regular motorcycle with a carriage at the back. It’s like a modern, motorized rickshaw that can take in a total of four people. The ride is not that comfortable, but it is breezy since it is open on all sides. It is a very cultural experience, especially for western tourists since the tuk-tuk and its many variations are only available in Southeast Asia. This traditional form of transport comes in different names in different countries: in Cambodia and Thailand, it is called “tuk-tuk” because that is the sound of its chugging engine.
Almost every commodity or service for sale in Sihanoukville may be bargained for. This includes a tuk-tuk ride. The fare is not determined by meter, and although there are given fare rates, tourists must learn to agree on the fare price before hopping in because the tuk-tuk driver could make up a price before letting his passengers step out. Fare could cost from $1 to $5 for one to four passengers, and could change depending on distance and time of day. It is more expensive going around at nights.
Another way of getting around Sihanoukville is on a motorbike taxi called “motodop”. Since it is faster and less expensive than the ubiquitous tuk-tuk, the motodop is considered Sihanoukville’s main form of transport. The average fare is only S0.25 to $1, but just like with the tuk-tuk, it is best for tourists to first negotiate the fare before hopping in or else the driver will almost certainly overprice. And just like the tuk-tuk, motodops are not difficult to find because they are everywhere. All a tourist needs to do is stand up by a street corner and for sure one or two motodops would come to offer a ride. Another similarity with the tuk-tuk is that the fare gets more expensive in the evening.
A more comfortable way of getting around the city is on rental scooter or car. A tourist needs to possess a Cambodian license before being allowed to rent and drive around, but typically rental companies allow tourists to rent from them by simply showing their passport. For those who wish to do things right by applying for a license first, it takes about a month to process and would cost over $40. Car rental with or without a driver is about $35 for the entire day.
When driving a scooter, foreigners should keep in mind to always wear a helmet. They won’t be charged for not wearing one but the practice is for their own safety, since motorcycle drivers don’t normally follow traffic rules and the streets can be chaotic.
Finally, the best way of getting around Sihanoukville is on foot. From downtown to most beaches is a scenic 30-minute walk, while walking around the entire town won’t take more than an hour.