Battambang, Cambodia’s second-largest city, is one of the places you must visit. Even though the city is the third most populated city of the country, you will get the feel of the countryside with its calm and serene atmosphere. It will be worth your time to visit this city, even if it’s a stop on your way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
This city is renowned for its well-preserved French colonial architecture, burgeoning creative scene, and its abundant rice field. Battambang means “lose the stick” or “drop the stick” in Khmer, referring to an old legend about a fight between a giant king and his rival. During this fight, the king throws the stick at his rival but misses him, and the stick falls to the ground, creating a vast hole. This hole is what at present river O Dambang is. At the entrance of the city, there is a statue of the giant king and the stick.
Today, the quiet streets of Battambang are lively with cafes, artist-run galleries, and boutique shops. This city has energy, unlike any other in Cambodia. You will undoubtedly love this city, and you can easily explore many of the city in a day or two. So, let’s find out more about the city to plan your trip.
Battambang offers accommodation that suits any travelers ranging from budget guesthouses to high-class hotels. Most popular hotels lie on the river’s west bank, with a vibrant market, and best restaurants. This is also the place where most travelers prefer to stay on their trip to Battambang.
At this hotel, you can get rooms as low as $3 per night. The hotel is clean, comfortable, friendly staff and even has a roof terrace where you can enjoy food while watching the city around. If you like much better rooms with air-conditioning or an exterior window, you can get one for about 15USD.
Here, you can get rooms ranging from dorm room to posh private apartments that cost around 15USD per night. Some of the rooms also come with their own kitchen, towel/ linen, and cleaner services (if you prefer those). The Chhaya Hotel has a range of rooms that will surely meet the needs of many most of the travelers.
If you can spend more on accommodation, La Villa might be your best choice. This hotel lies in the center of Battambang, and its architecture has a colonial style. Considering the comfort and convenience you will get, the hotel is not much expensive. The hotel also has a great swimming pool to take a refreshing dip in the afternoon in the hot day.
At first sight, Battambang might seem a bit drab with its clutter of crumbling buildings and old paintings peeling out from the walls. However, as you got closer, you will see some of the most attractive collection of colonial buildings. French architecture goes back to the early 20th century.
Many of these gorgeous buildings have been restored to its former beauty, and you can explore most of these buildings on foot or by bike.
Battambang, the former capital of Cambodia, harbors the wealth of wonders, it was home to 1960s singer Ros Sereysothea and S-21 survivor and artist Vann Nath. Although most artists were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime, it is still home to a bubbling contemporary art scene. The street is full of independent galleries that you can visit for free. Some galleries also feature works from international artists.
Source: Our Global Trek
One of the major highlights of Battambang is its easy access to the gorgeous countryside. Beautiful rice paddies, picturesque villages, and ancient religious sites surround the city. This region is mostly flat, so it is also great to rent a bike and cycle around the countryside, enjoying the fresh air and rural lifestyle. Some of the renowned trips into the countryside include Phnom Sampeou, which is approx. 12km from the city. Here, you will get to see a gorgeous pagoda complex at the top of the hill that offers outstanding views of the countryside and distant hills. You will also get a enchanting view of the sunset from here. In the base of the hill, you will get to explore caves that dot Phnom Sampeou, and the wander through the countryside.
Source: That Backpacker
Bamboo Train is a unique model of transportation, made of a 3meter long wooden frame, covered with bamboo slats. It is one of the major highlights of Battambang. Locals call them norries, and it can transport both people and goods. It was developed during the 1980s when the city had serious transportation problems. Although the city’s infrastructures have improved a lot, locals still use this train. The tickets cost around 4USD for a half an hour tour through the gorgeous Battambang countryside.
Source: Atlas Obscura
At the base of Phnom Samphou lies the Bat Cave. Around 5 pm, thousands of bats leave the cave and fly around for about 45minutes- a spectacle to see. You can make the trip to the cave in the evening by combining it with a day trip to Banan Temple. You can hire a motorbike to visit the place.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Wat Ek Phnom is a gorgeous temple that lies twelve kilometers north of Battambang. The temple has two main areas- the ruins of the ancient Hindu temple and the structures dedicated to Buddhism. The ancient Hindu temple was built in the 11th century by King Suryavarman I, while the Buddhist structure is recently built. The temple shows the harmony of Hindus and Buddhists in Cambodia. This temple also has beautiful drawings on the ceilings, representing major stages of the life of Buddha.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Wat Banan lies about 20km south of the city and is one of the most beautiful sites you will see. King Jayavarman built this Hindu temple is the 11th century, and it remains a gorgeous sight. Here, you will see a beautiful pond with bungalows and hammocks where you can stay. The temple, Wat Banan, is set at the top of a mountain, so to visit the temple, you will have to climb lots of steps. The architecture of the temple is very similar to that of Angkor Wat. As the temple is very old and was looted many times, now it is in ruins.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
There is a crocodile farm about a few kilometers to the north of Battambang. Here, you will get to see hundreds of crocodiles of different ages. You can also hold recently borne crocodiles of few months old.