Traveler Review: Battambang to Siem Reap by Mekong Express VIP bus
Most travelers who enter Cambodia from Thailand by bus will cross the border at Poipet. Once on this route, the first stop on the tourist circuit is Battambang, Cambodia’s second largest city. Battambang is a sleepy city set on the banks of the Sangker River. It is famous for its French Colonial architecture, mountaintop temples and as being the place where tourists in Cambodia can ride the bamboo train, called the Norry locally. It is also less than 100km away from Siem Reap and the world famous Angkor Wat.
So near yet so far
When I heard that the distance between Battambang and Siem Reap are less than 100km apart, I thought it would be a relatively straightforward and fast journey. It’s not. Due to the lack of a direct road between the two it takes an approximately 3 to 4 hours depending on your choice of bus. However, if you chose a company that is popular with locals, they often stop to pick up and drop off people along the way and you could end up taking 4+ hours to get to Siem Reap. These buses cost between $5-7 depending on the company you chose.
Recommended option – Mekong Express VIP Bus
Being quite an impatient person these options just don’t do it for me. That’s why, the last time I travelled from Battambang to Siem Reap as I showed my father around the Kingdom, I chose to use the Mekong Express bus service. The cost of the ticket was $9, so a little bit more than the other options. These are only 25 seater buses, also known as VIP buses (as opposed to 30-40 seats + additional stools in the aisle on other buses) however, and come with reclining, spacious leather seats as well as a free bottle of water and a cold towel. This bus is comfortable and fast and when it says it is a direct bus it really means it. There is no stopping to drop off and let people on. In fact, there is only one brief stop for a toilet break just over an hour into the journey.
In addition, They offer pick up from most hotels within Battambang which again reduces the hassle attached to your trip. When I used this service, I made it to Siem Reap in just over 3 hours, unflustered, and with enough energy to begin exploring the ancient temples (including the famous Angkor Wat Temple) that same day. This certainly wasn’t the case after I did the same journey using one of the cheaper buses during a previous trip.
Even though at $8 per person for the journey, while the Mekong Express bus is a little more expensive than other options, it is well worth the extra few dollars to maximize your time in Siem Reap and ensure the best possible Cambodian holiday.
You can view a few pictures from the trip below.
Written by Michael Watson as part of the CamboTicket traveler memoir section. Michael is an expat living in Cambodia and is an avid traveler.