Traveling via the refurbished-1960s train by Royal Railway is one of the options to get to Kampot. If you would love to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Cambodian countryside, it is the ideal option.
Like many people who were excited to try out the revived passenger railway, we decided to board the train to Kampot for the first time. In general, our experience on the train was pleasant, but there was some information that we wish we should have known earlier so that we could have been more prepared for this long journey. So, if you are planning to go to Kampot by train, this is a quick guide for you.
Type of Seats You Should Choose
There are two types of carriages for passengers, with different seating arrangements. One type has two long seats parallel to the carriage’s length, facing each other, and backed by the window. The second type has seating blocks of four seats, two facing the back, and two the front.
If you prefer a big leg-room, I would recommend the first type. However, in this arrangement, you can be easily distracted by passengers walking back and forth along the carriage to the restrooms or the kitchen. Also, the long seats are not broken down for each passenger, making them less private.
If you want a better view, the second type suits you better, even though it has a smaller leg-room. Just remember to choose the window seats facing forward!
Both types are air-conditioned, which makes the journey comfortable, regardless.
Traveling Duration & Food on the Train
The train travels at a speed of about 30 km/h. We joked that with a motorbike, we would have reached Kampot in just 4 hours, sit down and drunk coconut, and gotten back to Phnom Penh before the train would arrive in Kampot. Jokes on us; the train left Phnom Penh at 7:00 and arrived at around 13:30.
Since the trip extends well over breakfast and lunch, you should pack some snacks (or food). Food and drinks are available for purchase but you cannot expect too much. We learned it the hard way as our imagination of a nice food court with tables to dine on turned out to be a small kitchen that only offered takeaways, or small chairs to sit near the cook if you don’t mind a small chat while munching on your food.
At around 11:00, the train made its first stop at Takeo. There, you can find a limited choice of snacks sold by local vendors. We grabbed some boiled eggs and a pineapple, which actually saved our stomach for the rest of the journey.
Why you should travel to Kampot by Train
The whole journey took us around 6 hours, as compared to mini-vans which would take around 4 hours. If you want to take things slow, 6 hours on the train is worth it, as you can witness Cambodian’s countryside and beautiful rice fields. In the latter part of the trip, you can catch a distant panoramic view of Cambodia’s southwestern mountain ranges, which will appear closer as the train approaches Kampot. At 30km/h, the excursion via the train is way safer and less tiring than it would be on a mini-van.
How to get the train ticket to Kampot
Phnom Penh-Kampot trips (extending to Sihanouk Province) are available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The train also runs on major Cambodian public holidays.
You should grab a ticket at the station before the departure date. It costs $7 for a one-way trip to Kampot. However, to save time, I recommend booking the ticket online, which only costs an extra $0.84 for the admin fee (via VISA card). With the online booking, it is not necessary for you to pick up the ticket beforehand as stated on the e-ticket. On the departure day, just show your e-ticket for boarding.
You can book your online ticket here.