How to get from Siam Reap to Battambang by sea

How to get from Siam Reap to Battambang by sea

If you are in Siam Reap, you will be there for one reason only, Angkor Wat.

Once you have visited this magnificent archaeological site you will most likely be eager to leave this city, and if you have not decided to go directly to Phnom Penh you will certainly be headed to Battamang.
In this case there are two modes of transport, bus and boat, but if you don’t suffer from seasickness then the journey from Siam Reap to Battamang via river is definitely an experience you must do.
In reality it would also be possible to reach the capital by boat crossing the Tonle Sap, but the stretch to Battamang is much more suggestive.

The boat trip is sold by all hotels and guest houses Siam Reap but before booking also take a look at one of the countless agencies in the city, you may find better offers and pay less.
Generally, the costs also include the tuk tuk that will pick you up directly at your hotel and take you to the port.
The choice of boat is between the fast ones (speed boat 6-7 hours) and the slow ones (slow boat 8-9 hours), the latter, even if less rapid and more uncomfortable, would be preferable, as once they enter the narrow river which leads to Battamang, you pass through numerous villages and these vehicles, unlike the speed boats, do not disturb the inhabitants who see hundreds of travelers passing by every day. Serious accidents with speed boats have occurred in the past, where unfortunately some residents have lost their lives.

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The alarm goes off early, at 6:00 sharp, the tuk tuk will pick you up and take you to the marina Chong Khneas. Bring a pillow or something similar unless you have a backside worthy of a cowboy, the benches on the boat are very hard.
I also recommend bringing food and water, the boats stop at the floating villages for lunch, but eating in these places is not for everyone. For the record, the writer did it and is still alive.

As soon as you go to the pier, you will realize that Siam Reap has nothing to do with Cambodia.
In fact, in this stretch of road we begin to understand the extent of the poverty that exists in this magnificent country.
The port looks like a setting for a Rambo film, after the bombings though.
When you finally set sail, the scenery will change rapidly, after a long stretch in open water on the Tonle Sap, the infinite shallow lake in the heart of Cambodia, on which the livelihood of thousands of Cambodians depends, you will approach the entrance of the river which after long hours of navigation will lead to Battamang.

The crossing is truly an exciting experience, the floating villages you come across are beautiful, hundreds of stilt houses, floating on the waters of the river, whose banks vary greatly in distance between the dry and wet seasons, even the waters of the Tonle Sap retreats by almost 20 km at the height of the dry season or the season without rain.

On this journey of about 9 hours you will have the opportunity to see what life is like in this part of the country Cambogia.
You will encounter the looks of women washing dishes in the waters of the river, fishermen immersed in the mud placing their pots, the immense scales used for fishing entirely made of bamboo.
But the thing that will strike you most and will remain in your mind for a long time are the smiles and festive shouts of the dozens of children who will greet you tirelessly throughout the entire journey. Half-naked children who will run to the window as soon as they hear the boat approaching, others will wave straight from the water, still others you will find in funny basins while they row towards you with a ladle.
You will be enchanted by the slow and sleepy rhythms of these people, the perpetual propagation of the waves in the still waters of the lagoons will end up hypnotising you.

In the first stretch of the river, at least until the stop for lunch, the villages, however miserable they may appear, are inhabited by smiling people who still enjoy everything they need for their survival, there are also numerous “floating shops”, small boats overloaded with goods.

As one advances and the river narrows, so much so that at times it can happen that boats run aground on the bottom or branches of plants literally creep into the boat, “slapping” the unfortunate traveller, the villages become increasingly sparse, but especially advancing towards Battamang, the conditions of the people living on the two banks worsen dramatically. Entire families live in conditions of absolute poverty some have as their sole and only shelter a ragged, torn tent, spread between two poles, even the vegetation, where it was previously green and lush, becomes totally absent near Battamang.
This at least in the dry season. This trait can only make you reflect and understand that Cambodia is not just Angkor Wat and observing these scenes the call for responsible tourism is strong.

Once you arrive in Battambang you will be waited for by numerous tuk tuks, taxis and pick-ups, let yourself be taken to the center and look for a family-run guest-house, there are many and economical ones, like the Tomato Guest house (rooms with 6 beds 4 dollars per person, double rooms 6 dollars) with very kind staff and clean rooms, from the central market Psar Nat take the diagonal towards south Preah Vihea then the first on the left, 50 meters on the right or at Chaya Hotel which is huge and always has availability, a double room costs $5 and has bathroom, hot water, television and fan (not air conditioning).

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