Get Around Sihanoukville

Locals in Sihanoukville hardly ever walk. It seems that almost everybody has access to some form of transportation and most of these are available to the visitor. If you see someone walking then they either have absolutely no money in their pockets or they are doing it for health reasons. This is especially true early in the mornings and just before dusk when groups of Khmers join together in organised keep fit sessions. During the daytime it is just too hot and humid to walk or exercise for the vast majority.

MOTOS AND MOTODUPS

The commonest form of transport is the motorcycle which is known locally as a moto. Every street corner seems to have a local Khmer guy known as a motodup sitting on his bike waiting for a paying customer. These bikes are 100-125cc bikes and carry one or two passengers usually for short distances of a few kilometres around town  although they can be hired for longer trips for example to Ream National Park or the Kbal Chai waterfall. Prices should always be negotiated before climbing aboard otherwise a frantic argument will occur at the destination as the motodup will demand a hugely inflated payment. The fare depends on whether you are a local or tourist, the time of day, distance, how many passengers / pieces of luggage, availability of other motos, weather and perhaps most of all on your bargaining skills. Typical fares for a single passenger with no luggage during the daytime from Downtown to Serendipity / Ochheuteal / Victory Hill are 2000-4000 Riel ($1). From Serendipity / Ochheuteal to Otres $2 - $3 and from Victory Hill to Serendipity / Ochheuteal $1 - $2. Beware of the prices charged from the bus station as new arrivals are viewed as easy pickings by the motodups that work there and getting a reasonable price is almost impossible. Always negotiate in a calm voice and with a smile on your face and if you don't agree a price you can always walk away and find another. This is especially true at the bus station where a moto 50 metres up the road can often be found for less than half the price quoted inside the bus station.

RENTING A MOTO OR BICYCLE

Most hotels and guesthouses seem to have motos and/or bicycles available for rent and if you are an experienced rider then this may be a good way to get around Sihanoukville. If you rent a moto check it carefully as almost invariably you will have to leave your passport as insurance against any damage or loss you may incur. It is worth agreeing in writing with the person renting the bike any damage the bike has at the beginning of the rental. All bikes should come with a helmet and lock although you may wish to use your own lock as some people believe their bikes have been stolen by the person renting it to them using a spare key and then refusing to return the passport until a large cash payment is made.

To legally ride a moto in Sihanoukville you must :

Wear a helmet

Turn your headlight OFF in the daytime (curiously it is not illegal to have it turned off at night)
Have two side mirrors
Wear a short- or long-sleeved shirt
Not be so drunk you cannot stand up straight

During the high season the police set up road blocks most days in order to extract 'fines' from tourists for breaking these rules. 'Fines' are usually negotiable down to $1 or $2 depending on how many rules are broken. Never lose your temper with a policeman or raise your voice as it will be expensive. If you have not broken any of the rules and stand your ground they usually lose interest and send you on your way so they can pull over a more likely source of income.

The cost of rental of a moto depends on its age, condition and make of machine. Expect to pay between $3 - $5 per day or $60 - $120 per month. Petrol (Gasoline) costs about $ 1.30 / litre and is best bought from one of the many petrol stations although in an emergency where there is no station around roadside sellers offer plastic bottles filled with one litre of dubious quality petrol.

TUK-TUKS

Tuk-Tuks are motorcycles converted to carry more passengers and luggage. They are either a motorcycle towing a cabin via a simple hitch or a motorcycle built into a cabin with the motorcycle motor driving the wheels of the cabin. They can carry 4 people in comfort or a dozen close friends. Fares tend to be 2 or 3 three times the fare of a moto plus they are slower but they are much more comfortable than a moto and a lot safer. Also in town now are small cars which have had their rear section cut out and a 4 person cabin similar to a tuk-tuk cabin attached in its place. These offer both comfort and speed and are priced accordingly.

TAXIS AND CAR RENTAL

Taxis can be arranged through hotels and travel agents. Usually the ubiquitous Toyota Camry these can be hired either for individual trips out of town or by the day, week or month with a driver. Also in town there are many businesses now offering self-drive car rental from a Lexus to a Tico or even aged US Army Jeeps which broadly follow the model of the moto rental. Again depositing your passport with the owner is the norm.

BOATS

Being a coastal city there are an abundance of boats from jet skis at Ochheuteal to cruise liners docked at the port and everything in between. In November 2013 a fast catamaran ferry service to Koh Rong has cut the journey time from 2+ hours to about 30 minutes shuttling passengers back and forth to the main tourist island. Many of the island bungalow operators run their own boats directly to their beaches plus there are day trip cruises available which include refreshments and snorkeling in the clear waters off the islands. Sail boats can be rented by the hour from Otres Nautica down on Otres Beach along with windsurfers for those that like to be active on the water.