Seat types and facilities on Cambodia trains

There are currently three train lines operating passengers in Cambodia:

  • Phnom Penh city to Phnom Penh Airport
  • Phnom Penh to Poipet
  • Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville

This article is about the trains which run between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, which is by far the most popular passenger train service in Cambodia.

Trains in Cambodia

Passenger trains in Cambodia are very basic, and many of the fitting and furnishing are the same as those used in houses and hotels rather than made bespoke for use on a train. This is unusual even for trains in South East Asia, but understandable when you consider that passenger train services in Cambodia only started in April 2016 with the railway track having been used very seldom, if at all, since 2008.

Cambodia train in Phnom Penh Station
Cambodia train in Phnom Penh Station

Despite being basic, and having unusual fittings, trains in Cambodia are comfortable. The trains are air-conditioned and well light. The seating is comfortable enough also. The trains have a kitchen in a separate carriage and fairly good toilets. The doors between the carriages have the same type of door handle you would use on an internal door in a private house and do not shut automatically, which is an annoyance because Cambodian train passengers do not appear to understand that they should shut train doors after themselves as they pass through the train.

Inside a Cambodia train
Inside a Cambodia train

The only major weakness in train services in Cambodia is that they are very slow. It takes 7 hours 30 minutes to travel 264 km from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville which means the train travels at an average speed of 35.2 kilometres per hour, which is even slower than the notoriously slow train services in Myanmar. Train services in Cambodia are the slowest in South East Asia, but nonetheless are a good option for travelling around Cambodia because much of the road network is poorly maintained and congested and travel road by Cambodia is pretty slow as well. The only way to travel quickly in Cambodia is to fly.

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Standard Seats on Cambodia Trains

The majority of the seating on passenger trains in Cambodia is in carriages which have two padded bench type seats facing each other creating groups of four seats, except for the last rows by the doors which are single two seat benches.

Standard carriage on a Cambodia train
Standard carriage on a Cambodia train

Seats are allocated when you buy tickets, and the conductors on Cambodia train now enforce the seat allocation. If you are allocated a bad seat unfortunately you are likely to be stuck with it for most of the journey. On trains from Phnom Penh to Shinoukville a lot of people leave the train at Kampot and you can normally find, and stay, in a different seat on the last part of the journey to Sihanoukville.

Sofa Seats on Cambodia Trains

The other type of seat on a Cambodia train is a sofa type seat. In these types of carriage, of which there are fewer in Cambodia trains, the whole carriage is taken up by two long well padded seats with a wide passageway in between.

Sofa style seats on a Cambodia train
Sofa style seats on a Cambodia train

These sofa style seats tend to get booked up a long way in advance by larger groups of Cambodian people, often extended families on weekend breaks to the seaside. You will see families bring picnic lunches and boxes of beer, which are very cheap in Cambodia, and take over entire carriages enjoying the train journey as part of their holiday. Train travel may be slow but it can also be enjoyable.

Food on Cambodia Trains

There is a full catering service on Cambodia trains and the food is freshly cooked on the train in a separate kitchen car. There is no restaurant car or trolley service on Cambodia trains so passengers need to go to the kitchen car, which is generally the last carriage at the rear of the train and order through the door and then consume the food at their seat. Drinks are also sold, as are snacks, from the kitchen car.

Food on a Cambodia train
Food on a Cambodia train

The food on Cambodia trains is basic, but its also edible and clean. This chicken lunch cost $2 dollars and it come with a bag of pickles which improved the taste. It was served in a plastic box with a plastic spoon.

Toilets on Cambodia Trains

The toilets on Cambodia trains are surprisingly good. They are clean and they spacious and don’t simply vent onto the track like they do in standard trains in Thailand.

Toilet on a Cambodia train
Toilet on a Cambodia train

The one problem with toilets in Cambodia trains is that the water for the taps in the hand basin tends to run out near the end of the journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, so consider using the toilet earlier on in the journey, or bring your own wet wipes to clean your hands, or alternatively use the toilet when the train stops on route at Takeo and Kampot stations.

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