Cambodia

Taking the bus from Siem Reap to Battambang (and back again)

Your chariot awaits...
Your chariot awaits…

Battambang is about a 3 hour drive from Siem Reap and while SR is the smaller of the two, you wouldn’t know it by the amount of tourists that flock to Angkor City. So, is Battambang worth the visit? I think so, but it depends what you are looking for.

Even though Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, it feels like a small one. It’s got funky architecture, a walkable downtown area complete with riverside walk and park. Good eats, art galleries and a much less touristed vibe. Basically, it’s a place where you’d want to raise your kids.

And my god it’s not nearly has dusty as Siem Reap. So, if that sounds like something you’d want to check out, here’s a great way.

We chose Mekong Express (after a bit of research) which is located on 14 Sivatha Road (spelled Siwatha on Mekong’s website). Now, you will quickly learn that street numbers in Cambodia don’t mean a thing and do not appear to go in chronological order (yea!). A lot of information on the web regarding SE Asia becomes quickly out of date, too. So, aren’t you glad expats like me are here? Hmmm?

Google maps screenshot. As you can see, the DSL is behind the tree and the old sign for Mekong Express is next to it.
Google maps screenshot. As you can see, the DSL is behind the tree and the old sign for Mekong Express is next to it.

Find Canadia Bank, that massive structure on the corner of Hospital Street and Sivatha. (Oh, you know, Hospital Street, where all the “happy pizza” restaurants are located. Yeah, I thought so.) Then continue on Sivatha away from Pub Street/Old Market. On the same side as the bank you will see Mekong Express located next to the bright yellow and red DSL office. It’s also across from Asia Market.

And despite what is said on Mekong Express’ website, there are two mini-buses that go from SR to Batt, 8am and 2pm and vice versa. We took the 8am to Batt and the 2pm from Batt back to SR. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter which side of the bus you pick, both the AB and CD seats get sun because of the directions the bus travels. Also, don’t sit in the first row seats unless you loathe leg room.

Mekong Express mini bus seating chart (Siem Reap to Battambang and vice versa)
Mekong Express mini bus seating chart (Siem Reap to Battambang and vice versa)

Fortunately, you can pick your seats when you buy your tickets (which are great for those of us who get a touch of the damn motion sickness). The roads aren’t bad though, just a little bumpy, but slow going because it’s a two lane road the entire way, passing through farm lands (tractors) and towns (school kids on bicycles). The driver was safe and since I’ve lived in SE Asia for 6 years, I must say, I was impressed.

DIY curtain closer.
DIY curtain closer. Just take an empty water bottle and wrap it in a newsletter and wedge it between seats and window. I know you can do it. Try it!

There are no toilets on the bus, but you stop halfway at Serei Sophorn at the Mekong Express office. With only two toilets, you might want to hustle if you are having an emergency. Bring your own tissue.

Don’t expect a snack. They provide a bottle of water and a wet nap. But if the hunger pangs sneak up on you there is a gas station across the street. We’ll wait for you, but hurry up, alright?

As we waited for two girls to return from the mini-mart we contemplated the grammatical error of this sign...
As we waited for two girls to return from the mini-mart, we contemplated the grammatical error of this sign… #EnglishTeachers

We spent 3 days in Batt and bought our tickets back to SR the day before with no glitches. Their office is located (north of) next to the wet market or Psah Nath and I’m fairly confident you’ll find it again on Road 3. After all, if a directionally-challenged person like myself can do it, so can you. Tickets are $6 both ways.

Waiting in Battambang.
Waiting in Battambang.

Happy travels.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Taking the bus from Siem Reap to Battambang (and back again)

  1. I can totally relate to the street numbers being irrelevant. In some places in Malaysia this is the case too – the signage of a shop will be very hard to spot. Either very small, or faded to the point you can barely make out the words written on it from a certain distance.

    Generally I prefer a bumpy vehicle ride than a smooth one. To me, it makes the ride a bit more exciting. I get motion sickness, but so long as there is no violent jerking, I’m usually fine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No bumpy rides for me! If I want excitement I’ll go to the club or watch a movie. Hahahhaha.

      Yes. The numbers here are very confusing. Sometimes there are 2 different numbers on a building. I don’t think Asians take street names or numbers too seriously 😛

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been in SE Asia long enough to have adjusted and accepted that what you see may not be what you get. Or that the business has moved. But I’m still American enough to know how frustrating it is to try and find some place!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No loos on the Turk buses (not sure about the ones to Istanbul Journey is 10 hours long from where I live). I have been to Antalya, 2 hours away and there were no loo stop but one can get a drink and snack. There are a number of bus companies that travel to the same destination,
    often at the same time.

    We have a bus company called Batman that deals with intercity travel in the Western part of Turkey. I didn’t see a Batmobile yet, perhaps one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Laos and possibly other SE Asian countries, I know some 3rd or 2nd class buses just pull over and everyone scatters and “finds a friendly bush” as we used to say in Girl Scouts. Oh, lovely, eh?

      Like

      1. The ‘friendly bush’, haha. Sweet memory, Lani. I went away for a weekend with my Outdoor Club many years. On that faithful morning, I was the only one who got sick from some breakfast consumed at a cafe while we were out hiking. I went looking for a bush but it wasn’t a ‘friendly one’, it was a nettle bush. I hope I’ve learnt my lesson.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My foreign colleague is currently travelling to Cappadocia (they have mushroom shaped caves and hotel) on a bus. The journey is 7 hours long and only one toilet stop. It sure beats the ‘friendly bush’!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. what? they have safe buses?! lol.

    whenever i’m in a car in cambodia, but especially from phnom penh to battambang, or phnom penh to siem reap, i am PRAYING FOR MY LIFE. when my cousins pass the car in front of us onto the oncoming late… it’s SOOO terrifying. good to know that there are safer options!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think things have gotten better over the years. But I know what you mean. It’s the same in Thailand. I almost want to close my eyes…usually though I just resign myself to an early death…

      Like

  4. I’ll bookmark this for when I visit Cambodia, it will definitely come in handy! And providing water is a great service–here in America you won’t get jack squat on greyhound, except perhaps a stinky homeless guy next to you, ha.

    Very jealous of your travels around Cambodia!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, are you planning on visiting? 😉

      Yes, there are definitely some things that other countries do well/better than America and vice versa. I don’t know why we can’t combine all the good things in to one place.

      Don’t be jealous. I haven’t really gone anywhere yet 😛

      Like

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