From Battambang to Siem Reap by boat along the Tonle Sap

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After almost three weeks in wonderful Cambodia, it was finally time to go to Siem Reap, the most popular destination inside the country, worldwide known for its mesmerizing temple ruins of Angkor.

This destination can’t obviously be missed on our journey. From Battambang there are different ways to get to Siem Reap.
The longest and most pricey option is the boat. What? But why would you chose it if it is more pricey, you ask? Well, I guess the easiest way to explain is to compare the pros and cons of each of the options you have.

From Battambang to Siem Reap (Or from Siem Reap to Battambang) – Which options do you have?

Author’s note: If you are not staying in Battambang there is also the option to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by boat directly.

By bus or Minibus

Costs: ca. $6-$9
Duration: ca. 3-4 hours

Pros: You will reach Siem Reap notable faster than by boat. Moreover, you are safe from rain and any kind of weather. You can choose between different companies and standards (e.g. VIP Bus)

Cons: The quality of buses and streets in comparison to neighbouring Thailand are quite bad. So, your trip might get a little shaky.

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Battambang to Siem Reap – Boat

Costs: ca. $20
Duration: 7-10 hours

Pros: You have the opportunity to see amazing landscapes and get a little inside in the “real Cambodia” and you save a lot of money for a tour as you are already passing through the floating villages on your way.

Cons: Takes much more time and is more expensive. During rain it might get wet and shaky.

By taxi

Costs: $40 – $50
Duration: 2-3 hours

Pros: The fastest and most comfortable option. The journey goes from door to door. No loud or bad smelling fellow travelers.

Cons: By far the most expensive option.

By boat from Battambang to Siem Reap or By boat from Siem Reap to Battambang

Author’s note: You can, of course, also do this journey the other way around with the Siem Reap to Battambang Boat.

After you have seen all your options I guess you might already get an idea of the perks of going by Siem Reap – Battambang boat. To make it more clear I’d love to tell you more about our experience on our boat tour from Battambang to Siem Reap.
First things first – I am absolutely no fan of going by boat! And still, I’d recommend you to take the boat in this case. After my time in the Maldives I’ve already realized that I sometimes tend to get seasick. That’s why usually going by boat is surely not my preferred option. But I gotta admit that this trip was totally worth it.

Besides, that’s the drawback about traveling with a partner. Your partner’s opinion must be taken into consideration as well. And after the lovely couple we met in Kampot highly recommended us to take this boat tour Eduardo was really keen on the idea of taking the boat.
Even though I could imagine a lot of things I’d rather do than spending up to 10 hours on a boat, I finally agreed.

The Siem Reap Boat Ride

From Battambang to Siem Reap, Boat, Passengers

The boat trip starts usually around 7 am. The ticket price of $20 usually includes a pick up from your accommodation to the pier.
As usual, the tuk-tuk was late, but the driver didn’t seem to bother that it already was 06.50 am when he finally arrived in front of our guest house.
Obviously, we were the last ones to arrive, but still more or less on time to enter the boat along the other passengers.
We were quite lucky to be traveling during the raining season as the Tonle Sap Lake was filled with sufficient water now.

Fun fact: During raining season the Tonle Sap can extend his size by up to 13 times. Can you believe that?

Thus, you are probably going to arrive much faster during raining season. Our journey took almost 7 hours in the end. But back to the beginning…

Which seat is the best in the boat?

Boat, Battambang to Siem Reap, Vickiviaja

Sounds like a stupid question. But as your primary teacher might have told you there are no stupid questions. We thought it was obvious that the places in the back are the best as you can lean your back against the wall. But this seat also brings along some drawbacks what we realized when A. the extremely loud humming of the motor started and B. The first person tried to open the bathroom door, as you have to get your legs out of the way every time.

You have the possibility to sit on the rooftop during the ride. You get a wonderful view from up there but most probably also an awful sunburn.

However, keep in mind that for any seat you want to choose you should prepare either sunscreen or a raincoat. You can also lower the plastic curtains. But they will also keep you from seeing your wonderful surroundings.

I guess the best would be to sit somewhere in the middle.

Time for a break

Tonle Sap Lake, View from boat

When you are on such a long trip you certainly need a little break in the middle. Our break was after three hours. Time for lunch. (Yes, in Cambodia people like to eat their lunch really early. Even if it is just 10.30 am like in our case)
We stopped by a little restaurant which was part of a floating village. The prices of the drinks were kind of overpriced, so rather bring something with you on the boat. The food was more or less fine regarding its price and the quality was good. But if you tend to avoid street food in Cambodia this food might also not be your favorite. Better bring some snacks for the way.
The restaurant also offers a toilet. It is a little squatting toilet (to which you will be probably used at this point when traveling through Southeast Asia) without a door. (I don’t know whether this door thing is normal or was just temporary)
However, the toilet on the boat is not much better, to be honest. Actually, I am not even sure whether you can even call that a toilet. More like a hole in the wall in order to let everything float outside into the water. So, choose up to your preference 😉

Continue along the Tonle Sap

Tonle sap, water plants, Battambang to Siem Reap

After some time you will realize the change of the river as you are about to enter the huge Tonle Sap. Floating through the water plants it kinda feels like passing a street which is slightly bigger than the boat itself. It just looks gorgeous.
When entering the Tonle Sap it kinda feels like being on the sea as everything you see around is water. (I heard it is quite different in high season though)

Floating village, Siem Reap, Tonle Sap
Again and again floating villages seem to appear out of nowhere. The most famous one being Kampong Phluk Floating Village near Siem Reap. And it really does look like the little houses are floating on the water. But they are standing on logs anchored deep in the ground.
In every village little boats are approaching to either try to sell us snacks or pick up one of the local passengers on board.

The floating villages on the Tonle Sap near Siem Reap

Village along the Tonle Sap, Cambodia

While you can buy tickets in Siem Reap for way overpriced tours to the floating villages, you can also see them without additional fees while taking the boat from Battambang to Siem Reap or vice-versa.
You get even more perks while joining this public transport.
Just check on trip advisor how many people disliked the booked tours or even assume it was a scam. The tourists get brought to restaurants and shops that the agency has contracts with. Moreover, they might even charge you an entrance fee, which completely gets withheld by the agency not benefiting the locals in any way. They might even try to convince you to buy a totally overpriced sack of rice “for the children”.
We could see those tour boats approaching the villages with loud music, crowded with Chinese tourists and screaming passengers.

Floating village, locals, boat, Tonle Sap, Siem Reap

Totally different in our journey. Kids were waving and smiling at us along the way, even adults trying to catch a glance inside the boat. We didn’t feel like anyone was bothered by us passing through. It felt more like being on a public bus.
Anyway, it is unbelievable how happy the people seem to be there. Many of them smiling at us. Especially considering most of them don’t even have running water in their home. Many of them were taking baths and washing their laundry in the water of the lake. And still, they are smiling.

Floating village, boat, boy, Siem Reap

This experience lets you fully appreciate where you live and what you have even if it is just for a moment. But it does make you thankful.

Arriving in Siem Reap

After around seven hours we finally arrived in Siem Reap. Don’t get me wrong this trip was amazing, but seven hours is definitely enough time for me to spend on a boat. And it felt so relaxing when the constant humming of the motor finally stopped. And even though I didn’t get sea sick this time I was happy when my feed touched solid ground again. Anyway, I am happy Eduardo convinced me to take this trip. I absolutely don’t want to miss this experience.

How to get to the city center ?

Probably you will want to stay in Siem Reap directly. Unfortunately, all the tuk-tuk drivers are part of some community charging all the same. So don’t even waste your time on a bargain.
The only thing you can do to save some money is to find some people to share your tuk-tuk with as it gets cheaper the more people you are. Latest, when leaving the boat just ask some of your fellow passengers and I’m sure they don’t mind about saving some $ either.
Welcome to the most touristic area in Cambodia!

Tours from Siem Reap

If you don’t have the time to go from Siem Reap to Battambang, you can at least, join a boat tour from Siem Reap.


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About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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14 thoughts on From Battambang to Siem Reap by boat along the Tonle Sap

  1. Such a beautiful place! It´s great that they didn’t seem bothered by you when you passed them by, to judge by the pictures it looked that way aswell. Love the woman in the back of the boat smiling at the camera!

    • thank you. yes I think it is important not to bother locals while traveling. I don’t want to make anyone feel like the were part of a human zoo or something

  2. I usually get seasick so I’m not a huge fan of boats. But this does look like an interesting experience! Cambodia is also so close to Singapore I’m surprised I haven’t visited that country yet haha gotta add that to my list now! 🙂

  3. Great post, it seems like you had an incredible time. It’s good that they seemed happy and weren’t to bothered with you being there. I love your images! Thankyou for sharing.

  4. Great post! So much helpful info. I’m actually headed to Cambodia in February, and although I don’t think I could take a 7 hour boat ride, it’s good to know it’s an option!


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