The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, a bigger gateway into the
historic city with the capacity of handling 10 million passengers by
2024, is expected to welcome flights this October.
The US$880 million airport, located about 50 kilometres from Siem
Reap city centre in Soutr Nikum district, is built by Chinese
joint-venture company Angkor International Airport Investment and will
replace the existing airport, which is smaller in size.
According to Thong Rathasak, Secretary of State for the Ministry of
Tourism who was quoted by news portal Cambodianess, the new Siem Reap
airport is a 4E airport that can accommodate all passenger aircrafts
because of its 3.6km-long runway.
Spread over 1,700 hectares, it has 38 passenger gates which are
equipped with the latest technology for passenger safety and security.
Siem Reap, home to the ancient 12th century Angkor Wat temple complex
and archaeological park, has been a major tourism product for Cambodia
for decades, which prompted the need to protect and preserve its
The new airport’s location, which is a distance away from Angkor Wat,
was chosen to reduce the impact emanating from the airport on the old
Bring tourism to next level
Prior to the pandemic, the existing airport received 1.7 million
international visitors in 2019, with a capacity of handling up to two
Chhay Sivlin, president of Cambodia Tourism Association, said the new
Siem Reap airport would enable more connectivity to other parts of the
She foresees a spurt in the development of areas surrounding the
airport and the creation of new products and services to meet the needs
of the tourists.
In addition, job opportunities would increase in the province and nearby areas, ultimately boosting the local economy.
“The new airport will be capable of handling larger aircrafts,
accommodate more passengers, and have more space for additional
facilities or services catering to the passengers company while waiting
to board their flights,” Sivlin said.
I understand that the airport is bigger in size but what’s important is ensuring more air connectivity to the country. If it can bring more connectivity to Siem Reap, I believe it will lead tourism to a next level as well as economic development in the area.
Sharing a similar sentiment, Thourn Sinan, chairman of Pacific Asia
Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter, said if everything goes as
planned, it could increase the number of flights with more international
“I understand that the airport is bigger in size but what’s important is ensuring more air connectivity to the country.
“If it can bring more connectivity to Siem Reap, I believe it will
lead tourism to a next level as well as economic development in the
area,” he added.
Over in Phnom Penh and Dara Sakor in Koh Kong, two new 4E airports
are being built by Chinese investors to support the growth of tourism in
In 2019, Cambodia recorded 6.6 million visitors, with two thirds of
them arriving by air in the country’s three existing airports including
the Sihanoukville International Airport in the southwest coast.
Busy weekends ahead
The construction of the airports are happening amid a massive public
infrastructure development including expressways, which is underway in
About US$50 billion has been touted for the expressway constructions,
upgrading and expansion of roads nationwide and augmenting
infrastructures at international border checkpoints over the next 10
While this is part of the logistics and transport masterplan to
enhance freight movement, increase Cambodia’s business competitiveness
within Southeast Asia and grow the economy, it is also expected to boost
travel and tourism.
To date, three expressways have been planned to connect Phnom Penh
and Siem Reap, and the capital city with border towns Bavet (Vietnam)
and Poipet (Thailand), following the opening of Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville
expressway last October.
Construction of the US$1.6 billion Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway is
slated to begin this June and will link with the Bavet-Ho Chi Minh
highway, Sun Chanthol, minister of Public Works and Transport, was
quoted as saying by local media.
An initial study on the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap expressway is almost complete.
Commenting on the progress in travel time between Phnom Penh and
Sihanoukville, PATA Cambodia’s Thourn said it only takes 1.5 hours to
reach destinations compared to three or four hours previously.
“Since its completion, we see most hotels and restaurants in
Sihanoukville busy every weekend. I also believe the Siem Reap highway
and the one between Phnom Penh and the Vietnam border would help grow
the economy and travel,” he said.
Sinan foresees temples on the border towns drawing more tourists and
rejuvenating border tourism as well as enhancing domestic tourism.