Traffic Rules in Cambodia

I know, I know… you are going to say “What rules?” That was what I thought when we traveled on the road.

“Hey, wait! Isn’t this a 2 way street, why are cars in the opposite direction also driving towards our van?”

Trying to make a turn at a 4-way junction is really challenging when all 4 traffic lanes want to go first. I am just glad that I am not driving. I guess, the driving styles are similar to China, India and Vietnam, but felt different. It feels more congested in Phnom Penh.

Now when you travel outside of Phnom Penh, it is not so extreme, because there are fewer cars. But there are lesser rules as well. I saw a van on the road with people sitting on top. My host told me that it was a taxi. You pay less if you choose to sit on top.

There have been cases when the driver forgets about the people on top when going through low ceiling areas. But those are rare (I mean low ceiling areas).

You will always see something interesting when you travel in Cambodia. The impossible feats of logistics that we normally do not see. Now how do you transport over 50 ducks on a motorbike?

I have seen Tuk Tuks of varying lengths that can carry more than people and it is powered by one motorbike. I guess it is relatively safe since the motorbike is underpowered and cannot go fast.

Now there are motorbike taxis that carry one person. The are back seat is fitted with a flat seat for the passenger (not pillion). It is quite common for passengers to sit sideways. I wouldn’t dare. I would probably fall off. I have seen them ride like that at speeds above 50 km per hour.

Now even if you get all the traffic rules right, it can still be wrong. Our van was stopped by the traffic police in Phnom Penh. It was an interesting sight. There were six traffic police involved. One will direct the “culprit” to stop. Another will direct where to park. Yet another one will approach the driver to ask te driver to go to the traffic police counter to make payment. Two others will just be standing around doing nothing. Maybe they will rotate.

Our driver went to the counter, a temporary table set up to collect money. The police at the counter will insist on payment, though no amount is stated. Our driver kept asking what did he do wrongly. The police just insist on payment. Well, us foreigners in the van decided to join our driver at the counter. There were still no real charges.

Finally, he informed our driver that he ran a red light, which he certainly did not. Our driver insisted on a receipt which he provided. Now the driver gave the money and waited for his change. They only returned half the change. Only when he kicked up a fuss, did they return the full change.

Now all this time, there were more and more people around the counter… other drivers and riders who were also stopped by the other traffic policemen.

So those are the traffic rules in Cambodia. Oh! What rules?


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