Yeah, Lonely Planet uses the phrase “crumbling French artitecture” rather too loosely, but Battambang is nevertheless an atmospheric place to wander around for a day or two. There’s not much to do, but it’s very pretty in a run-down way. Plus, there are no urchins selling postcards yet, either, so it’s refreshing after the sad onslaught of Phnom Penh.
The boat trip from Battambang to Siem Reap along the Sangker River, however, is best approached with caution. There’s some beautiful riverside scenery, yes, and an interesting stop for lunch at a floating village, indeed, but it’s a very long, very loud trip.
We did it in just under ten hours (on heavily vibrating wooden bench seats). We also had the privilege of a boat accident (we smashed the prow of a smaller fishing boat with an appropriately distraught family on board—no injuries, thankfully) and a mysterious breakdown.
Do it, sure, but make sure you really want to spend a long day on a boat. The bus is faster and cheaper.