How do you take the train from Phnom Penh to Battambang (and back), well with the wonders of modern technology, pretty easily, with you merely needing to buy a ticket and rock up at the station. Is it though worth the effort and how does it compare with the bus?
Once again the Street Food Guy is here to answer all of you questions.
Trains in Cambodia
There’s no point mincing my words here, train travel in Cambodia is shocking in comparison to Vietnam, China and Thailand, with only two lines. Yet while they might be lacking, they are still bloody fun.
Currently there are three routes on Royal Cambodian Railways, south to the beaches of Sihanoukville and west to Poipet and technically Bangkok. Alas the later route in reality will get you as far as Pursat and Battambang.
Of there’s also a third line which is supposed to go to the airport, but is more a Phnom Penh train joyride…..
And while Cambodian trains might not be up to Vietnamese standards, they at least have one on the trains of the Philippines.
How do you take the train from Phnom Penh to Battambang
There’s tickets online, where you can pay by PayPal, Wing, or card, as well as being able to just rock up to the station and buying a ticket old school.
The ticket is just $8 and the train is far from full. On our sojourn there were just two carriages, but it is understood they will roll out more if there is desire.
Technically there are assigned seats, but in reality there are not, but hey it all tends to work out.
So what is it like taking the train from Phnom Penh to Battambang
Quite frankly it is awesome, with the journey being around the same as a bus, the price being similar, but the experience being so, so much better. Firstly you can walk around, which obviously I enjoy, secondly you cab some, which I really enjoy, and lastly the views are simply epic.
When the train starts you literally drive through Phnom Penh digging traffic and even passing through Kim Il Sung Street, before heading out into the Cambodian countryside, which is just amazing.
As the journey goes on you can walk around the train, take photos, to put your head out of the window like some kind of tired dog!
And the timing? Train leaves at 6.40 am, which is less hellish than it sounds and then arrives at 1pm, in theory, although it is famously late, with us arriving at 1.30 am.
Thankfully this is an improvement from the days when it used to get robbed by the Khmer Rouge.
Street food on Cambodian trains?
Unlike trains in other counties, even war torn Ukraine there is no food cart on Cambodian trains and you are expected to bring your own little picnic for all intents and purposes.
Should you not do this, there is another option. Pursat is the last station before Battambang and you stop there for 10-15 minutes which gives enough time to buy some street food. And they have all the classics, such as mince stuffed frog and meat on a stick, as well as rice, Cambodia truly loves rice.
Drinks wise I guess you could bring beer if you wanted to, but I did not see anyone else boozing, maybe next time……
And who else is on the train? Mostly tourists, with a smattering of locals, with the main reason for doing this being you love trains, rather than you are in an intense rush to get somewhere.