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Driving in Phnom Penh

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Phnom Penh.

1. Understanding the Traffic

Driving in Phnom Penh can be chaotic and challenging for newcomers. The traffic rules are not strictly followed and the roads are often crowded with cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and tuk-tuks. It’s important to be patient, alert, and defensive while driving. Always expect the unexpected.

2. Vehicle Choice

Most expats prefer to use motorbikes or bicycles for daily commuting due to the heavy traffic and narrow streets. Cars are not recommended unless necessary, as they can be difficult to navigate through the city and parking can be a challenge.

3. Parking

Finding parking in Phnom Penh can be difficult, especially in busy areas. Most places do not have designated parking spaces, so you may have to park on the street. Parking is generally not expensive, but you may have to pay a small fee to the local parking attendants.

4. Driving License

Foreigners can drive in Cambodia with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year. After that, you will need to obtain a Cambodian driving license. To get a Cambodian driving license, you will need to submit your passport, visa, and IDP to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. You may also need to take a driving test.

5. Road Safety

Road safety is a major concern in Phnom Penh. The roads are often in poor condition and accidents are common. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and use seat belts when driving a car. Avoid driving at night if possible, as the streets are poorly lit and more dangerous.

6. Respect Local Customs

It’s important to respect local customs and practices when driving in Phnom Penh. For example, honking is common and is not considered rude. It’s used to alert other drivers of your presence. Also, flashing your headlights means you are going to proceed, not that you are giving way.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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