I didn’t plan much for my backpacking trip 2 months ago. But where to spend my birthday was something that I prepared for. I decided I want to spend it in Cambodia this year, but not in Phnom Penh. Koh Rong Samloem is an island located in the southwestern part of Cambodia that has a gorgeous beach. This island is the place I chose to spend my birthday. I researched how to get there and read that there is a train service from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, the city where you ride a boat to get to the island. Although travel is faster if I rode a bus, I chose the train because I have read that it is a refurbished train from the 1960s. I think taking the train is far more interesting than a bus. So how was it riding a train in Cambodia?
Let me start by saying it wasn’t how I expected it to be. But before I go on with why I said that, let me give you details first on how to buy tickets and other things you need to know.
Where to Buy Tickets
You can buy tickets at the train station ticket office in Phnom Penh. It is open 08:00-16:30 on weekdays and 06:00-16:00 weekends. It is located next to the University of Health Sciences. You can also call 078 888 583 during the same hours.
However, I don’t advise buying your ticket on the day of your planned trip because tickets sell out fast. If you don’t have time to go to the ticket office, you can buy the ticket online. I bought mine through Baolau a week before departure.
Tickets and Timetable
Below is the ticket price for the train. When you purchase online, there is a service fee of US$ 2 and a processing fee of US$ 0.99.
Ticket Price as of June 2019
|Phnom Penh||5.00 USD||7.00 USD||8.00 USD|
|Takeo||5.00 USD||6.00 USD||7.00 USD|
|Kampot||7.00 USD||6.00 USD||5.00 USD|
|Sihanoukville||8.00 USD||7.00 USD||5.00 USD|
Train Schedule as of June 2019
As of June 2019, trains from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville run on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Trains also run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during major holidays.
What’s the Train Like?
As I have said in the first part of this post, the train wasn’t what I expected it to be. I have read that the trains are old trains that were refurbished so I was expecting something like this:
However, I was surprised when I got to the departure area. The train looked like this:
Apparently, Royal Railways Cambodia purchased modern-made passenger trains from Mexico to transport passengers from the Phnom Penh train station to Phnom Penh International Airport. These are single-unit rail cars. Trains from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville are refurbished air-conditioned train, hauled by a locomotive and with car-carrying wagons. But sometimes, the new, single-unit rail cars are used for that route.
The new train has a toilet, air conditioning, automatic door, luggage space, and flat-screen TVs. The seats were comfortable and nicely padded.
Train Ride Experience
I took the 7:00 train to Sihanoukville on my birthday, June 16. It was a Sunday so there were two trips that day. Although my original plan was to go to Sihanoukville, I changed my mind two days prior, because I have read bad things about Sihanoukville. Instead, I alighted at Kampot, a city more than 2 hours away from Sihanoukville.
The train left the station on time. The train passed by through the suburbs of Phnom Penh and out into the countryside. After almost 2 hours of journey, the train made its first stop at Takeo Station. The train stopped at the station for about 20 minutes. I saw passengers leaving the train to buy some food so I decided to go down and buy food too.
From Takeo Station, our journey continued and we passed by paddy fields backed by distant hills. As we got closer to Kampot, limestone karsts stand out in a flat landscape. The views were very nice compared to the scenery when you ride a bus (I took the bus on my way back to Phnom Penh).
Some pictures of the views on the way to Kampot:
I enjoyed the trip even if the aircon broke down for more than an hour. The Khmer girl who was seated beside me was very friendly even though she only speaks very little English. She was with her friends and they were going to Kampot too. They brought a lot of food with them and they kept eating inside the train. Every time they open a bag of chips or cookies, they would offer it to me first.
The train ride to Kampot was 4 hours and 20 minutes. It was a very memorable and comfortable trip. I was even able to take a nap along the way. I highly recommend doing this trip too if you have plenty of time. Who knows, you might end up riding in one of the refurbished trains from the 1960s.
Hope you liked this post about train travel in Cambodia. If you have questions, feel free to comment below. Subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss any of my posts. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates. You can also check out my backpacking highlights in my IG @tnadeperalta.