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Boat Trips to Phnom Penh or Battambang
The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest body of fresh water in South East Asia with 38,610 square miles of water. The lake is surrounded by five Cambodian provinces, which are inhabited by about three million people. Most of these people will need to visit Phnom Penh at some point, so in response there is a fast boat between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh (6 hours each direction) and a slow boat between Siem Reap and Battambang (also six hours) which offer a really awesome alternative to boring bus rides.
During the high season the water in the lake can reach a depth of up to 14 meters, during the dry season the lake shrivels up and boats can not navigate the lake and subsequently don’t run so you can only enjoy this alternative form of travel between the high season from September to April.
The boat to Phom Penh from Siem Reap takes about the same time as the bus, but one of the benefits of taking the boat is your ability to sit on the roof, top up your sun tan and gaze onto the passing villages and riverside life. The speedboat also has an inside cabin that can be pretty noisy, the cabin can accommodate up to 80 people.
The boat to Battambang is a little more up close and personal, this is a much smaller boat, a skiff with a thin fiberglass bottom that holds around 20 people squeezed in together, it also stops at request anywhere along the river, so it is more like a shared water taxi. Although this is charming and if you are in no rush provides a great up close and personal look at life on the river, it is 3 x longer than it would take you by cab, so we would suggest if you take the boat to Battambang you should consider it more of a tour than an effective means of transport, although of course it will get you to your destination – eventually.