An update on road conditions around Cambodia.
As the green season draws to a close and Cambodia slowly but surely dries out, it is a good time to take stock of the road conditions on the main roads around Cambodia. This year, the rains were more intense than usual in some areas of the country and have continued well into November and are taking their toll on the roads. Here is a rundown of the major roads:
National Highway 6: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. There are major roadworks on the early stretches out of Phnom Penh as the road is doubled in width and this is really slowing the journey time down. This also affects all journeys towards Kompong Cham, but not the new route out to Kratie and Mondulkiri. There are also some bumpy stretches between Skuon and Kompong Thom, but the second half of the road from Kompong Thom to Siem Reap remains in excellent condition. As for the side trip to Sambor Prei Kuk, the main road north from Kompong Thom to Preah Vihear Temple is fully surfaced, but the dirt road to the pre-Angkorian temples is a little bumpy in places but generally okay.
NH7: Kompong Cham to the Laos border: This road has seen some major deterioration on the section between Kratie and Stung Treng which really slows down the journey from Kratie to the Laos border or to Ratanakiri. Repairs are ongoing, but it is really more sensible to use a 4WD on overland trips to Ratanakiri or the Laos border while these conditions persist. The road east to Mondulkiri remains in excellent condition for the time being.
NH3 & NH4: Phnom Penh to Kampot and Sihanoukville. The two main coastal highways heading south are both in excellent condition with no uncomfortable sections along the way. The only problems are on the last stretch of NH3 that links Kampot to Sihanoukville along the base of Bokor Mountain. This road has some very bumpy stretches and this slows the journey down along the south coast.
NH48: Sre Ambel to Koh Kong. This road received some damage in the more mountainous sections but is still passable for cars or minibuses and repairs are ongoing.
NH5: Phnom Penh to Battambang. In poor health from the capital to Prek Kdam, the rest is in reasonable condition, but there are some bumpy stretches through Pursat Province that can add 30 minutes to the overland journey. Continuing from Battambang to Siem Reap, the road is in good condition throughout.
This covers most of the major roads in the country. As long as the major roadworks continue between Phnom Penh and Skuon, which may take up to one year to complete, then you might consider a more comfortable flight between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with Cambodia Angkor Air rather than the time-hungry journey by road.