The most beautiful boat trip in Cambodia is the one from Battambang to Siem Reap. The other way around is also possible. It offers the opportunity to watch life on and around the river during the tour. It is a long boat trip, in which the season is decisive for the duration. In the rainy season you can take the trip in about 5 hours. In the dry season, where the water level in the Sangkae River is low, it will take a few hours longer because the crew has to push the boat regularly with bamboo poles if it is likely to get stuck.
During the trip you can sit inside on chairs, or you will find a spot on the upper deck. Here you are sitting in the blazing sun, so ensure you have good sunscreen and a hat. All your luggage will be on board, placed at the front. The best places in the boat are at the front, because the rear seats are right next to or for the engine. It is convenient to bring earplugs to mute the sound.
Along the way, you pass a lot of floating villages where the population lives. You see fishermen standing in the water with their nets and also see very large boats sailing with immense fishing nets. Traders, often women, sail with their boats along the cottages and try to sell their stuff. Sometimes such a boat arrives and the trader comes aboard to sell to some of the tourists. Children play in the water. It gives a very authentic picture of life on and along the river. The boat moors in one of these villages. You can stretch your legs here, enjoy lunch and visit the bathroom. On board there is often no toilet.
The last part of the trek is about the large Tonle Sap lake. This lake constitutes slightly less than 10% of the total area of Cambodia. It seems that you are almost at Siem Reap, but in reality, it takes a while to cross the lake. Finally, you arrive at the port of Siem Reap, where dozens of tuk-tuk drivers are already waiting to bring you to the hotel. It was a wonderful trip. Count on a long journey, it is not called the “Slow Boat” for nothing. But the authentic images of life on the river you just don’t see from the bus.
Practical tips for a boat trip from Battambang to Siem Reap
- There are some operators that manage this boat trip. Enquire about comfort. Some have cockpit seats, others only benches without backrest on board. The latter is not recommended.
- Please find out beforehand if there is a toilet on board, most boats do not have that.
- A ticket costs about $20 per person. The boat usually sails at 7 o’clock in the morning.
- Take a pillow or something like that, you have to sit on board for a long time!
- Bring enough snacks and water for the trip.
- There is only a stop once for lunch and a toilet visit.
- Take sunscreen and a hat if you want to sit on the upper deck.
- Try to get a spot in front, there you have the least engine noise. What’s more, bring earplugs to be on the safe side.