Battambang Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in Battambang, Cambodia
Many travelers visit Cambodia to see Angkor Wat or Phnom Penh, but the city of Battambang is an undiscovered gem that deserves a place on your Southeast Asian itinerary.
Battambang is in northwestern Cambodia, situated in the countryside, only a four-hour journey away from Siem Reap. It’s famous for the bamboo train, but there is so much more to explore beyond that.
There’s history, culture, a circus group, and an excellent opportunity to see traditional Cambodian life unaltered by tourism. To get to all of these rural attractions, you can hire a moped if you’re able to drive one, or you can hire a tuk-tuk to drive you around for the day.
Here are the ten best things to do in Battambang to put on your Southeast Asian itinerary:
Enjoy the arts
The Phare Ponleu Selpak (Brightness of the Arts) Circus is an incredible non-profit arts school that supports young people with creative community programs. Their shows use elements of Cambodian tradition coupled with brilliant performance skills and physical comedy.
I highly recommend it as a night out because the students put on a great show. It was a highlight of Battambang for me.
Ride the bamboo train
The history of the bamboo train is fascinating, as this traditional transportation method was used by the UN to move goods around the country. Its tracks have now been repurposed for a real train, and the bamboo version has been rebuilt nearby. Tourists can ride on the bamboo platforms known as ‘noris’ powered along the tracks by small motors.
When it meets another train, it has to come off the tracks entirely before being reassembled again to carry on its journey. It takes about 40 minutes in total, with sweeping views across farmer’s fields along the way.
Several intriguing old temples can be visited from Battambang. The most interesting are Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan, both of which you may have all to yourself when you visit.
Wat Banan is dedicated to Buddha with steps to climb up for views of its surroundings. Wat Ek Phnom is a Hindu temple built in the Khmer style.
The killing caves
The Phnom Sampeau temple is located on the site of some of Battambang’s killing fields and caves.
These torture sites are scattered throughout Cambodia as monuments to the people killed by the Khmer Rouge regime. This one is smaller than the fields in Phnom Penh but just as sobering.
Phnom Kdong peak
If you want to see one of Battambang’s macaque troops, then you can find them on the Phnom Kdong peak.
Climbing this hill gives you views across the countryside, and you can also visit the temple on top. The monks keep cats and dogs, so there are lots of animals to be found here.
Bat cave at sunset
Inside Phnom, Kdong is a cave filled with bats that leave their roosts at sunset. There are tables and chairs so you can watch them over a beer.
The spectacle goes on for a while as so many bats leave the cave each night.
A non-touristy market
Battambang’s Phsar Boeung Chhouk market can be found in the city’s center. It’s completely authentic, so you’ll see a lot of wildlife from frogs to fish being skinned, as well as buckets filled with everything from ant eggs to jumping snake fish.
Make your own Cambodian meal.
A few cooking classes in Battambang allow you to make your very own traditional dishes! I did one, and I learned how to make tofu amok, tofu Lok Lak, and spring rolls with banana and tapioca pudding for dessert.
It was a delicious way to spend a few hours. The class only cost $10, making it the cheapest cooking course I’ve ever done.
Enjoy coffee and cake at an NGO cafe.
The city has several delicious cafes run by non-profit organizations that give back to the community. Some great ones are the Green Mango Cafe and Bakery, The Lonely Tree Cafe, and Cafe Hope of Children.
Sample the food at Jaan Bai
Jaan Bai is one of the highest-rated restaurants in the Battambang area, and it serves up a fantastic three-course taster menu. Diners can choose between meat or vegetarian options, and some of the profits go towards the Cambodian Children’s Trust.
Battambang is a beautiful place to feel the vibe of a relaxed Cambodian city without the tourist crowds. There’s so much to enjoy that two days taking in the sights and sounds of this underrated destination is time well spent.
About the Author
Jennifer Sizeland is a freelance writer and producer with a travel blog that focuses on ethical living and eco-friendly travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and visit her blog at www.landofsize.com.
Battambang Travel and Tour Packages
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