Cambodia road conditions

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by danwhite, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    I just completed a loop around the Cambos starting in Poipet. The road from Poipet to Sisophon is not good but is rideable. The road from Sisophon to Siem Reap is still dreadful. It may not be the bomb craters of a few years ago but it’s still dreadful. I was told it was doable. It is on a minsk perhaps although it would be no fun. On a road bike it’s trouble. Not just the ruts etc but also the clay which when it gets wet turns the surface as slippery as ice. I burned out the clutch and had to put the bike on a pick up. It’s bloody awful still. Thank you Bangkok Airways and the people they pay off.
    Siem Reap to PP is a race track as is Battambang to PP. Routes 2, 3 and 4 heading south from PP to takeo, Kampot and Kompong Som are all good. Route 4 is packed with fast moving trucks doing the tailgating/overtaking/bike squashing dance. Best not attempted when drunk.
    Kampot to Kompong Som is very scenic and a good road. The real gem though is the route back to Thailand from Srey Ambal to Koh Kong. Built by the Thai army this road is now surfaced and completed bar a couple of bridge crossings to remind you of the old Cambodia. It’s very scenic and very empty. Beautiful really and a very good road. South Cambodia is now some very nice touring.
    Paperwork is still time consuming on the Thai side but as long as you have the green book etc they are speeding up. Cambodian side is no problem.
    If, like me, you were dumb enough to take a road bike on the road to Siem Reap and you burn out the clutch plates, when you get into Siem Reap ask a Frenchie for a man named ‘Ten’…… He fixes foreign bikes for a painful amount of cash.


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  3. paolomotard

    paolomotard New Member

    Thank you Dan for the tips of the roads!I have a KTM 620SC, offroad bike, think it's possible make a trip in that roads? And, i am alone with my motorcycle, think it's dangerous to be alone?
    Thank you for all have nive weekend

    Paolo :)
  4. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer


    Dirt bike will do the stretch between Sisphon and Siem Reap perfectly well. Even though alot of the main roads are now fine, there are plenty of interesting side trips which are still the pot holed, bumpy rides of yore.... So a dirt bike still remains the best vehicle which is why most expats there still use them.

    Safety is fine now except in one or two heavily touristed areas the main one being Sihanoukville, where robberies with force do happen. Generally the days of the AK in the countryside are long gone thank God.

    On the bad road your main enemy is dust which can get so thick its like a huge cloud of dry ice, so pack gogglies and a face scarf.


  5. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi guys

    For all the drivers which have not been to Cambodia yet; do not expect the same type of roads in Cambodia as you have in Thailand. Except for the main roads (PP - Battanbang, PP - Siem Raep, PP - Shihanouk ville) you do need a dirt bike to get around in a reasonable way.

    On a dirt bike it is easily doable (and it is fun) even for a not too experienced driver. Plenty of loops to do, just plan it carefully and do not take too many km's per day. If you want to enjoy the country, see something and interact with the locals you should not plan much more then 250 - 300 km/day.

    Cambodia is the country for dirt bike riding which might be physically demanding, Thailand is the country for touring on nice asphaltic roads (less demanding). Do not assume they are the same or have the same kind of roads just because they are neighbors.

    But as said, it is a lot of fun to drive in Cambodia. Enjoy!!!!

    PS: They general road condition is much better now then last year but the rainy season is coming, challenges ahead!!
  6. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Well that’s where the change is. These are not the sort of surfaces that will be washed away by the rains as before. They are like the smaller provincial roads in Isaan.

    In the post UNTAC period the roads in Phnom Penh itself demanded a dirt bike…. Or at least you would have to skirt those nmassive, muddy potholes and craters on the Daelim. Now in Phnom Penh the roads are very good and improving weekly….. And the traffic is far more dangerous as a result….

    The same is being repeated all over Cambodia very fast. The road to Kandal which even in 2002 was a dusty, unsurfaced nightmare is now good. The road all the way up to Stung Treng and Laos is good (bar a short laterite bit near the border). It is being repeated all over the country. Apparently the monstrous Pailin road is doable now although I am sure its dubious inhabitants remain as monstrous as ever. With the increase in oil and gas revenue and the need for transit infrastructure the routes up into the Isaan provinces will be improved as fast as the Srey Ambal-Koh Kong Road has been. The Thais have a selfish incentive to facilitate that.

    In ’94-’98 (ish) the only really good road was the American built road to Sihanoukville….. And maybe up to Kompong Cham. Apart from the danger of obnoxious little men in baggy green caps, Cambodia was a fearsome country to navigate by road. The road to Battambang was a bone jarring nightmare on a pick up. In those days dirt bikes were the only two wheeled way.

    Now a friend of mine from Phnom Penh is cruising the countryside on a 1981 Gold wing. Another guy has imported a bunch of Harleys (not my cup of tea but I wish well to those who enjoy them). Check out The nighthawks and other assorted bikes that before would be restricted to Phnom Penh can get to Laos or Thailand just the same as they would in Thailand.

    The fly in the ointment is the difficulty in getting into Vietnam and the copycat tactics of the Stalinist protoges in Laos that could well see our pan Indo-China touring dreams come to nowt…. Here is hoping.

    Cambodia will always offer great off road riding as does Thailand…. And right now it is the only way to get to some of the more remote and mountainous parts of the country (or Otres beach in Sihanoukville… The road to which remains a blast from the past), but things are changing very fast.


  7. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    The road which 'remains a blast from the past' (Hwy 48 - Koh Kong to Hwy-4) is no longer the near impassable mud pit of past years' rainy seasons. Now a fully paved with bridges eliminating ferrying across the rivers.

    ALL of the 4 bridge spans are now completed; they have yet to finish only the side rails and sidewalks of the center 2 bridges. Avoiding Songkran, I rode to Snooky on the 14th and was quite surprised seeing all 4 bridges open and no crossing fees. I was quite surprised as I'd ridden that route just a few months before and they had yet to install any of the spans over the river on these two bridges

    I encountered R Rhiekel at Fisherman's Den, who said the 2 center bridges were closed to traffic when he rode through, a few days prior.

    However, on my return to Thailand on the 20th, they had closed the center bridges to traffiic, yet no one was working on the bridges. There were unusually long lines of vehicles waiting for the ferries. I suspicion that the powers that be closed the bridges and received a stipend from the ferry operators(?). Surely that was a temporary incident as the finish work on the center bridges will soon be completed. And the once road to hell will be only a distant memory to those that had experienced it.
  8. Eric

    Eric Member

    What is required at the border crossing. I own a bike in BKK but it is licensed in a friends name. Its a big bike 600 cc, Do you know what it would lake to cross the cambodia/thai border?
  9. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    read the link about 'Departing Thailand' here: ... ssings.htm

    Possibly the requisite letter of permission to use the bike registered in another's name might need to be certified..???
  10. Eric

    Eric Member

    Thank you.

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