Traffic in Cambodia drives on the right side of the road. And like in Ho Chi Minh City, enforcement of traffic rules in Sihanoukville is not strong. There are hordes of motorcycles around, with most of the drivers not wearing helmets. Cambodian children learn to drive by the age of seven, and you can even see some of them driving by on the streets.
Sihanoukville does not have an established transportation system. The lack of intra-city buses and taxis has given way for the motor-taxis and tuktuks to flourish. There is no regulating body over these informal transportation; hence, there is no “standard” price. This is why tourists are asked to negotiate the fare first before getting on. It will save time and headache later.
If a visitor insists on driving a car or motorcycle in Sihanoukville, here are some tips:
- Get a Cambodian driver’s license. International Drivers Licenses are not recognized here.
- Wear a helmet always.
- Even when the light is green, be aware of vehicles coming from the side, as Cambodian motorists generally take the traffic lights as “suggestions,” rather than the rule.
- Beware of vehicles behind you when you stop for the red light. They could ram you from behind, as they would expect you to proceed.
In short, be careful in driving around Sihanoukville and other parts of Cambodia. No matter who is at fault, the foreigner is almost often blamed. Given the lack of insurance in Sihanoukville and the deficiency of the medical facilities, the importance of taking extra care can never be emphasized enough.