Even though I left for Siem Reap on the fast boat (which is an absolute must), I found two tourist offices with bus times which I thought would be useful for people (times/prices as of Dec 2008):
From Neak Krohom station to Siem Reap - Depart at 8am
From Rith Mony station to Siem Reap - Depart at 7.30am & 8am
From Capitol bus station to Phnom Penh - Depart at 6.30am, 7am, 7.30am, 8am, 8.30am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm & 2.30pm - US$7.
From GST bus station to Phnom Penh - Depart at 6.45am, 7.45am & 9.30am.
From Rith Mony station to Phnom Penh - Depart every 30 minutes between 6am & 3.30pm.
From Neak Krohom station to Phnom Penh - Depart at 8am.
Bus to Sihanoukville departs at 7am - US$15.
Bus to Kep City/Kampot departs at 7am - US$15.
Bus to Bangkok departs at 12pm from Neak Krohom station - US$15.
Bus to Poipet (on the Thai border) via Capitol Bus departs at 11.30am & 1.30pm
Bus to Poipet via GST bus departs at 11.30am & 12.30pm.
I came to Battambang from the Thai border at Poipet with an American couple in a taxi which cost us 1200 baht (400 baht each) which is a lot of money. According to Lonely Planet there should be a free shuttle bus from the border crossing to the "Tourist Lounge" - whatever and wherever that is. After spending quite some time and getting very frustrated about trying to find a bus to Battambang and being told that there was only one which was at 9am, we decided to take a taxi. This was hardly the best start to a new country but in the end we got here and I got the better deal as it saved me a lot of money in the end!
I was expecting to see an impressive colonial French station building in Battambang but instead there's this rather ugly concrete carbuncle of a building. Don't expect to find any trains here (at a railway station? Come on!) as they stopped running a few years ago. When they used to run, they went to Phnom Penh, with the journey taking around 14 hours but sometimes much longer, even though the distance by rail is only 275km!
It's hard to find transportation in Battambang. Of the tuk-tuk or car variety anyway.
I lucked out while in Battambang and met the totally solid Mr. Pheng. He does both tuk-tuk and car if desired, both around the town jaunts and all day excursions. Keep in mind, a car will cost about twice as much.
If going to Battambang, you need to do a little research. There's alot to see outside of town. But you'll have to prepare your own itenary. When you do, contact Mr. Pheng. He's a driver not a guide. But he's absolutely punctual, reliable and kind. He will drive and accompany you on your explorations and probably walk along with you as you hike should you desire. The man knows alot about the countryside. And he's a protective sort. He makes sure you are safe and is happy to act as the translator should you need to speak with someone or get a message across to a local, a vendor, or even children following you around at sights looking for a little money, etc..
But be aware, he speaks basic English and is currently studying to learn more. When you get to Battambang, should you decide to give him a call, speak slowly at first. From there you can arrange for him to meet up with you and then discuss your itinerary with him in person.
Mr. Pheng struck me as a man with deep character in the three days I spent with him.
I give him a high recommendation.
Mr. Pheng (pronounced "peng") 012 732965
Although so slow, this was one of the most enjoyable moments of my trip to Cambodia. Didn't fancy doing the whole trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh, so just booked until Pursat. Even then it was that slow in the 5 hours it should have taken, we only made it as far as Svay Don Key, about half-way. At this point the train had indeed broken down, so we called up our mini-bus and got off. Because of the slow speed, this does make for some great interchange with the locals that live alongside the rails. We were even caught up by a "bamboo train" where I was invited to climb aboard and swap places with the kids. Price was about 4$ US. Just go to the station and book the day before. But be careful, there is only ONE train per week. Up from Phnom Penh on Saturdays and down again from Battambang on Sunday.
We had heard that a pleasant way to get from Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) to Battambang is to get the speedboat. Because it is the start of the wet season and the water is low we were expecting a small speedboat. We paid $15 to Shadow of Angkor Guesthouse to go on the Angkor Express. The posters and tickets showed speedboats. The guesthouse said that he journey would be 4-5 hours. LP says 3-8. We ended up on a local boat with hard wooden planks for seats. The journey took 9 HOURS. We left our guesthouse in Siem Reap at 6am and arrived at our hotel in Battambang at 4.45pm. Most people paid $13 with the exception of locals. I don't have a problem with taking local transport. I do have a problem with being mislead and overcharged.
My two companions and I traveled to Battambang via Siem Reap's "power boat." It was early October (2006) and the water was still quite high. The power boat was scheduled to depart at 7am, although we left closer to 7:45am, and the trip took approximately 5.5 hours. According to the locals that I spoke to, this is quite unusual and the boat only travels this "quickly" during rainy season.
Tip: I suggest this mode of transportation if not for the ease of use, then for the opportunity to explore Tonle Sap's beautiful water landscape, floating villages, and vast wildlife.
Tip: Politely consider the hotel options provided by the boatmen. There are limited options in Battambang and what they offer, Royal Hotel and Chaya Hotel for example, provide decent rooms at reasonable prices.
Tip: A breakfast of bananas, french baguettes, and butter is sold by the local women and children; a great option for the lengthy journey. I would not suggest buying the bottled water, however, every other natural food sold is safe and helps the local community.
Reach Siem Reap by boat from Battambang to me is the best way. The reason is that the road from the Thay border is really bad and I didn't want to land directly in Siem reap, I like to reach places slowly, as it was in the past. This way let you also see a lot of things that you wouldn't see. In this case the trip was really nice, we have seen so many little water villages, and the cambodian way of life! This is a thing you can do only in the rainy season, the boat aren't so comfortable, but it worth it!
To buy the ticket you can ask to your hotel and they will buy them for you at the same price of the agency, I don't remember exactly but I think it cost 15 USD. Is not cheap compared to the local bus prices but it is for eastern people.
Esto es un transporte muy especial , ya que utilizan las vias del ferrocarril para montar en un instante el " Tren de bambu" que se desplaza a una buena velocidad por las vias del tren
Esta formado por dos ejes con sus ruedas , una plataforma de Bambu y un motor con una polea ( a los "Guiris" nos ponen una especie de alfombra )
Si viene el tren grande esta claro quien desmonta pero si es otro Tren de Bambu tienen que negociar cual de los dos es mas facil de descargar y de desmontar
Este transporte es para la gente del lugar
This is a very spetial transport , because they use the rail ways to assembly very quickly the " Bamboo Train " that is moving at a reasonable speed by the railways .
It is made with two shafts and their wheels , a bamboo platform and a motor with a pulley ( for the tourists they put some kind of carpet )
If a big train comes it is clear who disassemble but if it is another Bamboo Train , they must discuss which of them is easier to unload and disassembly
This transport is used by thelocal people
La mejor forma de desplazarse por los alrededores de Battambang es con un motero .Hablan ingles y te ensenan toda la zona , tanto los sitios turísticos como aquellos en los que puedes ver la vida y costumbres locales
Nos llevaron Sun y Thony que nos hicieron muy agradable e interesante el tiempo que pasamos con ellos
Les puedes localizar en el Hotel Royal o en : firstname.lastname@example.org
The best way to move around Battambang is with a moto driver . They speak English , and they show you all the area , all the turistic places and also those where you may see the local life and habits
We were with Sun and Thony who made us very nice and ineresting the time we spent with them
You may contact with them in the Royal Hotel or in : email@example.com
Para nosotros lo dificil fue coger la lancha en el puerto ya que se retraso la furgoneta y en medio del barullo que hay en el puerto , se nos fue nuestra lancha y cogimos la de la competencia . Un gran barullo pero al final salimos rumbo a Battambang
Como el barco estaba lleno fuimos en lel techo que es desde donde mejor se ven todas las vistas del Tonle Sap , que son muchas , muy variadas e interesantes
Si piensas hacer el viaje en el techo no te olvides de la crema solar , el sombrero , si puede ser algun cojin o algo para estar mas comodo y algo para comer y beber en el camino , aunque hacen una parada en la que puedes comprar algo
For us the most difficult it was to take the fast boat in the jetty because our van it was delayed and in the middle of the chaos , our boat departured and we took the one of the competitors . A great racket but at the end we left to Battambang
As the boat it was full , we went in the roof that is the best place to see all the Tonle Sap views that are many , very different and very interesting
If you are thinking to go in the roof of a fast boat do not forget the suntan cream , the hat , if possible a cushion or something to be comfortable and something to eat and drink on the way , though the boat stops and you may buy something
From Battambang to Pailin at the Thailand border we travelled by road. Except many motorcycles we saw many forms of transport like ox-carts and small tractors for the short distances. It is amazing to see what some motorcycles, ox-carts could transport like the motorcycle which almost disappeared under the bamboo furniture.
Soem means of transportation looked rather unique like this blue vehicle. For the longer distances we saw many pickups and minibuses. We travelled ourselves in a minibus to the Thai border in about 3 hours.
During our motorcycle trip on our way back to Battambang we made a trip by local bamboo train. The local people built these light weight bamboo traincarts as a unique and creative form of ad-hoc transportation. The train consists of a small bamboo platform of about 2m x 4m, two axles with wheels and a motorcycle engine. These carts can transport passengers, animals, motorcycles and other cargo along the railway. We saw those bamboo platforms laying at several places along the railway. It seemed the owners took only the wheels and the axles home.
It was told there was only a regular train twice a week. So the local people can use the railway freely for their own transport. When the bamboo train meets a oncoming train or bamboo train, the cart can be disassembled very easily and taken off from the rails, allowing the other cart to pass.
The rules are easy. The cart with the heaviest load can stay on the rails..... or if undecided the carriage which is to unload not very easily can stay. We had four times oncoming bambootrains, but these carts were hardly loaded, so our carts -loaded with the motorcycles- could stay at the railway.
We decided to explore the area around Battambang by motorcycle. The most far place we want to visit was Phnom Sampeau at a distance 25 km from Battambang. So we hired a motorcylce with its driver for 10$ a day.
It was great to drive at the backseat of the motorcycle in the tropical heat. The rural area around Battambang was very scenic and interesting. With the motorcycle we were able to drive small tracks and narrow bridges and make stops along the route eveywhere we liked to do so.
It was a very relaxed and local way to explore the area. We first returned to the hotel after a trip of about 9 hours.
We came to Battambang by boat from Siem Reap. We didn´t take the speedboat service of about 3.5 hours, but a smaller slow boat. This one took us 8 hours !! It was one of the highlights of my stay in Cambodia. The Tonle Sap and its wetlands are a amazing area.
The Tonle Sap, meaning Great Lake is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia with a unique ecosystem. It was very impressive to see the floating villages built on poles and the daily life of the fishermen families on the rising and receding waters.
Our boat had about 20 seats, was covered and had a toilet. We had to bring our own drinks and snacks.