On the map it looks like it a going to be completely straight forward to get from Siem Reap to Battambang – but of course with many things in Cambodia – it’s not! There is no direct road to Battambang and so you have to travel North West all the way to Sisophon and then South to Battambang from there.
They may be building a more direct road, but as of January 2020 this has not yet happened.
It is possible to do it in one day if you book Siem Reap to Battambang as a tour. However, I would recommend at least one or two nights in Battambang so stay over if possible.
Getting your Bus Ticket
The best way to get your bus ticket to travel from Siem Reap to Battambang is to book it online with Mekong Express. You can do this online or at the Siem Reap Mekong Express booking office.
Avoid booking through third party websites as this can cause confusion. Things get lost in translation and problems occur. So book directly with a Mekong Express. I had a terrible experience booking with bookaway.com. First they gave me an incorrect address for the Mekong Express office for pickup. Then on the way back I was told that my return ticket wasn’t valid by Mekong Express staff because ‘not on our system!’ Read my full Bookaway review here.
The Road from Siem Reap to Battambang
No doubt about it – you will be in for a bumpy ride! Also there are currently extensive road works going on along the roads from Siem Reap to Battambang, these are causing traffic jams and further delays.
The Cambodian buses that make this journey are not the best quality. Many travellers have experienced breaking down along the way and air con drilling water on their heads! My experience was the full Cambodian experience – getting stopped by the police, our driver bribing the police and further along changing a completely blown tyre!
You will be told that the journey 3 or 4 hours long. It’s more like 5, particularly if there you break down or get stopped by police. We set out at 8am and didn’t arrive until 1pm!
On the return journey we set out at 2pm and arrived at around 6.30pm or 7pm. We made good time on the return journey without breaking down, but there was (as always) horrendous traffic coming into Siem Reap.
There is a stop halfway for the toilet and a coffee or snacks on the Siem Reap to Battambang bus route.
Alternative ways to get from Siem Reap to Battambang
You can get a private taxi from Battambang from Siem Reap for around $70. However, due to the road issues, it’s actually not too much faster than the bus, although it may be more comfortable and reliable. Check that the private car you hire is in good condition with seat belts and Air Con.
Although it takes longer and is more expensive than the bus ($25-30), the boat to Battambang is the more scenic option. You will pass countryside and local fishing villages en route and you often stop for lunch at one of the floating villages. A popular option is Angkor Express Boat which can be booked online.
Battambang is totally worth it!
Despite all of this, Battambang is TOTALLY worth it! Within just 24 hours I’d been on the Bamboo train, reached the top of Sampeau mountain and seen millions of bats fly out of a bat cave at dusk. Battambang was one of my favourite parts of my Cambodia trip.
As a city (ancient temples aside) I actually preferred it to Siem Reap. There were less traffic and pollution issues in Battambang and more authentic Cambodian experiences. In just 24 hours in Battambang I rode thew Bamboo train, visited Sampeau Mountain and saw several temples including Wat Ek Phnom.
Don’t Forget your Travel Insurance for Siem Reap to Battambang
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here:
What to Pack for Cambodia
Take light cotton tops, long comfortable trousers and maxi dresses that cover your shoulders. Thailand is a conservative Buddhist county and you are likely to be refused entry to top sites like the Phnom Penh Royal Palace and Angkor Wat with shoulders showing and shorts or short skirts. You can pack shorts and vest tops for hanging around your hotel or the pool.
Pack a water bottle because many guest houses are eco friendly and have a refill and reuse policy to cut down on plastic waste. The drinking water is fine and many hotels supply cold purified drinking water.
Bugs bite particularly in the evenings in Cambodia and so a bug repellant is essential. Also the sun can get hot – this Christmas and New Year temperatures were exceeding 32 degrees and so sun screen is another essential.
Further Reading on Phnom Penh
- What to do in Phnom Penh
- Phnom Penh Royal Palace Guide
- Phnom Penh Killing Fields Tour
- Backpacking Cambodia – Top Travel Tips
- Phnom Penh Tours