Getting there and away
Plans do exist for a rail upgrade though there are no services at all at present -- well, except for the bamboo variety. For onward travel you have a choice of bus services or taxis, with the extra option of boat travel in the case of Siem Reap.
Battambang does not as yet have the swish services that the Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route does, though you could now take a VIP minibus, which is likely to have WiFi. The main buses will be pretty basic, and there’s little to differentiate them in terms of price or service.
Plenty of buses leave throughout the day from both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and all points en route, with a more restricted service to Pailin as well. Times vary with road and weather conditions but normally allow six to seven hours from Phnom Penh, and three or four for Siem Reap. We know the websites say five hours from Phnom Penh, but that’s rather hopeful. You can shave off an hour for Siem Reap or the capital if you’re using a minibus but bear in mind you don’t necessarily get the same seating space as in a large bus.
Some places will offer tickets to further destinations such as Sihanoukville, Bangkok or Saigon but unless it’s an urgent journey we reckon it’s much better to break up your journey in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh to Battambang
Mekong Express VIP Minivan, daily, $12, 5 hours: 05:30; 06:20; 07:30; 08:30, 13:30; 23:30
Capitol Tours, daily, $6, 5 hours: 06:45; 07:00; 08:00; 09:00; 10:30; 11:30; 12:30; 13:00; 14:00; 14:45; 15:00; 16:00; 17:30
Capitol VIP Minivan, daily, $10, 5 hours: 07:30; 08:30; 14:00
Golden Bayon Express VIP Minivan, daily, $10, 5 hours: 07:30; 08:30; 13:30; 14:30
Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, daily: 07:00; 08:00; 09:00; 10:00; 11:00; 12:00; 13:30; 15:30; 17:30
Siem Reap to Battambang
Capitol Tours, daily, $5, 3.5 hours: 07:30; 08:30; 09:30; 12:30; 13:30
Sorya Transport, daily: 07:30
In front of Orussey Market, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 427 518, (012) 263 823
1) #14AE0, St. 182, Sangkat Beng Prolitt, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 724 104, (023) 217 627, (012) 404 650
2) #428, Street 9, Siem Reap
T: (063) 963 883, (012) 810 033, (092) 277 311
Phnom Penh Sorya Transport
1) Corner of Streets 217 and 67 (Sorya Theatre), Phnom Penh
T: (012) 631 545, (023) 210 359, (092) 121 278, (081) 908 022
2) #588, Tep Vong Street, Siem Reap
T: (092) 181 800, (012) 235 618, (081) 908 000, (092) 120 218, (081) 908 018
Golden Bayon Express
#3E0, St. 126/St.51 (Pasteur), Sangkat Psas Thmei, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 966 968, (089) 221 919, (010) 968 966
Daily boats run the scenic journey across the Tonle Sap and up the Sangke river between Battambang and Siem Reap, leaving from each port at 07:00 every morning.
Arrival times can vary enormously depending on which boat is being used, and the water levels - indeed during the dry months of March and April services may be cancelled due to low water. We’ve also seen services interrupted by infestations of water hyacinth blocking up the waterways, so do not take departures for granted either -- check ahead of time.
At best in September and October when the channels are full the trip will take seven hours, while during the dry season it can take anything up to 10 or 12 (and more). Note boats will generally make only one stop -- at a grocery store in Bak Preah floating village –- and otherwise there is nowhere to buy any snacks or drinks, so go prepared.
Boats can get very crowded in high season, but the scenery is fantastic. Prices are around $20 a ticket give or take a dollar or two depending upon where you purchase your ticket.
As with bus services, shared taxis depart Battambang for Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Pailin and Poipet and all stops along the way and as per usual in Cambodia you can either pay for a taxi for yourself or buy a seat (or two) in a shared vehicle. The usual arrangement is four passengers in the rear and two in front so if you want the front seat to yourself you will have to pay for two places. Your hotel can call to book a car or seat(s) for you and tuk tuk drivers will know the departure points for the various routes.
For Phnom Penh expect to pay around $60 for a private taxi or $10 for a shared taxi seat. For Siem Reap it's around $40 and $7 respectively
Battambang has both tuk tuks and motodops, with a tuk tuk ride within town costing a dollar or so, though the drivers may ask for more if there are several passengers. Longer rides to say Sampeu, Phnom Ek and so on are open to negotiation as would be day or half-day rental. We paid for instance $6 for a half-day sightseeing around town and $10 for a half-day to Phnom Banan and Phnom Sampeu. Your hotel or guesthouse should be able to advise on prices, find drivers and even suggest routes for you. Again, as usual, if you want an obliging, happy driver don’t try and beat him down to his last 50 cents of profit! We got lunch for our driver, gave him a couple of dollars tip and got several extra and interesting stops thrown in in return that we hadn’t asked for and didn’t even know about.
Gecko Cafe has motorbikes for hire at $7 per day, ($5 for a half-day) and bicycles at $2. Several hotels and guesthouses will offer similar services at similar prices such as Soksabike and Today Tours (only $1), both on 1.5 Street, Sunrise Cafe near the main market and BTK Bikes on Street 2.5 have proper mountain bikes for $5 or 6 per day.
Note while traffic is very light in Battambang compared to Phnom Penh or even Siem Reap, this can mean that speeds are higher so do be careful!
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