Review: Mekong Express Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice versa)

I had the pleasure of traveling between Siem Reap and Battabang on Mekong Express recently, so I thought I’d give a much-needed bus review from the road. Now of course I  use the term “pleasure” loosely, as the road between Battambang and Siem Reap is not a pleasure by any stretch of the imagination (but don’t worry, the buses are completely acceptable).

Mekong Express minibus old sty

The Mekong Express mini-bus that plies the Siem Reap to Battambang route.

Mekong Express Siem Reap-Battambang at a glance…

Schedule: 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. (both directions)
Ticket price: $7
Trip duration: 3 to 4 hours
Vehicle type: bus or mini-bus

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There is no direct road from Battambang to Siem Reap, and all buses instead route through Sisophon and Banteay Meanchey province. National Road 5 has been under construction since 2017 and although it’s said to be finishing soon, in 2019, the current trip takes between 3 and 4 hours and parts are a bit bumpy. Once the resurfacing is complete the trip should take a little over 2 hours. 

Mekong Express is a foreigner favorite. They are known for safe driving, without the crazy lane changes and other ridiculous maneuvers that are commonly seen on the roads in Cambodia. Mekong Express has gotten a new fleet of buses for the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap bus trip, and if you wondered where the old buses went, well, they went to Battambang.

Mekong Express Siem Reap Battambang bus

And this is the full-size bus that Mekong Express drive between Siem Reap and Battambang.

Mekong Express run buses twice a day between Siem Reap and Battambang, at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. in either direction. They mostly use mini-buses on this route, but also have one full-size bus that they send back and forth as well. The full-size buses seat 40 and have a toilet on board (this is not a plus, as the smell from the toilets is usually revolting).

The full-size buses are slower and safer and more comfortable, but the drivers stop more often to pick up random deliveries and stray passengers. The mini-buses are faster and seat 18 officially, but there are four extra fold-down seats that they can put into service if they have too many passengers.

Mekong Express bus inside

Mekong Express full-size bus interior

Mekong Express promises a lot in terms of amenities, but delivers little. On my recent trips, there was no WiFi on either bus or mini-bus. The promised snack and napkin never materialized, either. Water was given on the mini-bus, but not the full-size bus. This is a short trip so none of these things are really necessary, but I wish they’d stop advertising that they have them when they don’t.

Mekong Express mini bus interior

…and the Mekong Express mini-bus interior.

Overall, the trip in both directions was painless. Both the full-size bus and the mini-bus drove safely and slowly, to minimize the bumps from the road construction. We stopped once in either direction at a place that had public toilets and sold drinks and snacks.

Mekong Express 2019 Schedule

Siem Reap to Battambang: 8 a.m., 2 p.m.
Battambang to Siem Reap: 8 a.m., 2 p.m.

The cost was $7 for non-Cambodians ($6 for locals) and tickets can be booked online. If you book online you can choose a seat in advance to make sure you don’t end up in the back. During the winter high season these buses are often sold out on the Siem Reap to Battambang route, so book at least a day or two in advance. If you can’t get a ticket on Mekong Express, the Cambodia Post VIP van is also very good, if not better. 

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7 Responses to Review: Mekong Express Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice versa)

  1. Hana Skoda says:

    I read that the travel from Siemens Reap to Battanbang on boat is very scenic and beautiful. And even if long, worth it.
    Do you know anything about it? Any recommendations? We would love to know.
    Thank you!

    • Jfrancois says:

      I took this boat last week. But the river level is low now because of the dry season. It was 6 hours of boat, 45 mn of tuktuk to reach the boat at Siem Reap and 1hour1/2 inside a very old landrover on dry sand roads to teach Battamban. Price $25.
      Very beautiful but very long and really uncomfortable. Maybe better in January when the water is higher.

  2. Dingus Flinch says:

    No idea why anyone would live in Cambodia if they could live anywhere in SE Asia. The smoke, the power outages, the beggar-scavenger classes, the slack work ethic, the thievery, the heat, the dust, the trash, and worst of all, the noise would drive any rational person insane.

    Viet Nam has industrious people. It’s noisy and busy, and it can be difficult. But you’ll find a few that appreciate good people, and that may be because there are many Catholics in Viet Nam. Of all the Asia/Western couples I’ve met, those conjoined with Vietnamese seem happiest. Thai are friendly and clean. They focus a lot on status, other people’s perceptions, and money, but the bang for the buck is better in Thailand than Cambodia.

    Cambodia has a lot scams and drugs and corruption. You can’t trust Khmer or Westerners there. It’s tough.

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