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Boat between Siem Reap & Battambang

AG Gilmore

The daily run boat ride between Siem Ream and Battambang can be anything from people's Cambodian highlight to the worst thing they've ever done and anything else in between. We'd like to give you the good, the bad, the facts and the tips to help you make the right decision. The great thing about the journey is the scenery and getting a glimpse of rural Cambodian riverside life. Along the way you will get to see fishing boats with huge fishing nets on giant contraptions (for slender pickings), riverside houses, floating houses, children playing and shouting 'hello, goodbye' as you pass, people harvesting their fields and entire floating villages. You can sit on the top of the roof of the boat to get a better view as it all passes you by. That's the good bit that makes it amazing. The journey itself takes from 7 to 10 hours (or over if you're really unlucky). At either end of the trip are narrow and very shallow canals the boat has to navigate slowly through. The size of the boat combined with this means it can often get stuck and relies on guys with poles to push it off the banks. The water levels change through the dry and wet season which affects the time taken. This varies but as rough guide think of it like this: July - Nov: The rainy season is May to Oct and so the water levels are usually good from July to November. In between these months you are more likely to be closer to the 7 hour mark than the 10 hour mark. Dec - Mar: The river levels essentially get lower and lower between this point and the chances of the boat taking 10 hours get towards certain. Apr - Jun: The water levels are so low even if they are running the service it may take a painful amount of time. The best way to find out how long the boat is taking is speaking to somebody that did it in the last few days if possible. You can usually just buy your ticket the day before or even on the day ($20). The boat sells drinks including beer for $1 but no food. It will make a lunch stop which you will be able to buy snacks, and sometimes hot food but we wouldn't count on it so it's good to bring some food. There is a toilet on the boat which won't win any nice awards or have toilet paper, so bring your own. The main issue people have with the journey is the seats which are just benches (or the roof), so you will be glad of bringing something soft you can sit on or rest your back against. If you're lucky you might be able to grab a life-jacket to assist. FYI it's very unlikely there will be enough life jackets for the number of passengers which brings us nicely on to the next big issue, capacity. If you are not in the low season the boat will very likely be completely full downstairs, probably people in the isles and certainly people sat on the roof. It's often so full it's difficult to move around the boat, so if you end up on the roof it's unlikely you will get a seat back downstairs. So bring sunscreen, sun hat and something to cover up from the sun. We have seen many a red person getting off this boat! The port for Siem Reap is at the floating village of Chong Kneas around 25km away. Tuk-tuks can squeeze 3 people on with luggage but sometimes it's too much of a squeeze for 3. If you're arriving in Chong Kneas there will be a frenzy of tuk-tuk drivers all trying to get their fare back. The fare of the whole tuk-tuk seems to vary from $8 for pre-booked, to $15 when just arriving. If you are coming from Siem Reap you can pick up a ticket including transfer to Chong Kneas for around $26. * TIP * - It's noisy and often hotter at the back of the boat near the engine. A position to avoid if possible! * SUMMARY * - To thoroughly enjoy the trip we think the key things are: - Understand how long it's likely to take. - Bring sunscreen and something to cover you up from getting fried. Alternatively get there early and stay inside. - Bring something to sit on / rest your back against. - Bring food and drink - Sit back and enjoy the wonderful journey! If you like this article please share it or let us know in the comments. If you think anything doesn't match up with your experience let us know. Thanks GOHOBO

Map of North West Cambodia

North West Cambodia-Map