Inquiry Submission By PBX78
Just thought to give my opinion of this apparently “must do” trip to help others avoid disappointment in future. To put this in context the boat currently costs $35 vs. $10 for the bus/coach. The bus certainly is the budget option and few things can be as dull as a 5 hour bus trip, but the boat is just as long a journey and not a much better option in my experience.
I made the trip with my other half in early March so not yet the dry season when the water levels reportedly make for a long journey. We had no info about the trip when we booked bar what the salesboy told us, we questioned him in detail about the type of boat and conditions and were ensured it was a modern boat with air conditioning, we would be able to go outside and get some sun, it was comfortable etc. The reality could not have been further from the sales patter.
The boat was a decrepit single hulled shell dating in my estimation a good 20 years, with only one exit forward, no opening windows, no life jackets, a frankly horrible toilet and the promised aircon turned out to be a single large unit at the front end of the cabin blasting icy cold air out – ice box up front, oven to the rear.
The seats were not numbered so it was a first-come first served arrangement, there was no legroom whatsoever, less even than on Ryanair flights. The boat was very noisy and ran aground several times during the 5 hour voyage, which caused alarming 20 degree rolls and ended up with the crew pushing us off the bottom with 30 foot bamboo poles. We were provided with complimentary baguette (unfilled) and bottle of water, additional drinks were around the $2 mark which if you’re not aware is about double the restaurant price and 4 times the shop price.
On reaching the top of the lake we had to disembark onto an even more rickety tourist boat which alarmingly rolled and wallowed its way up a muddy tributary to the siem reap boat station. ON reaching siem reap we had a few drinks and later read in a guide book that not much of the transport in the area meets international safety standards, The boat certainly didn’t. Had it capsized on the lake it is likely that many people would have perished either from being trapped in the cabin or unable to reach the distant shores of the lake.
On the bright side the boat was not fully booked so there was enough room to stretch out a bit,. and trips to the outside were possible by walking down the edge of the narrow deck and sitting on the roof with the majority of the luggage. The view was pretty dull for most of the trip, mainly consisting of river bank, rice paddies and locals fishing. Ok for an hour but you quickly tire. At the lake end we were met by numerous local kids paddling around the floating village in washing up bowls carrying snakes…. worth seeing I guess but at what cost?
So just be aware… the boat from PP to SR in March 2011 is not luxurious, it does not offer much more of a visual treat than the coach, is vastly more expensive than the coach and there is a just a small chance that it might capsize and kill you. Oh yes,and tickets are non-refundable. Consumer rights in Cambodia are yet to take off.