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Battambang Cambodia: Things to See and Do

Battambang City is full of wonderful colonial-era and pre-colonial architecture as well as some very old and historic pagodas. And with the continuing development of Battambang's contemporary art scene, a walking district of sorts has developed amongst the picturesque streets and lanes just south of the market, harboring chic little art spaces and cafes. A

 

Away from the city, the surrounding countryside harbors not only Angkorian-era ruins and historic pagodas but also offers some of the most picturesque rice paddy and village scenery in the country. The road trip out to the pagoda and Angkorian-era ruins at Ek Phnom is stunning. Last but not least, the famous Bamboo Train of Battambang is still running, sort of, transporting more tourists than locals these day. 

 

Sights and Activities:

 

 

Bamboo Train

The bamboo train is a unique and creative form of ad-hoc transportation. It consists of a small motorcycle engine-powered bamboo cart that rides the railroad tracks, picking up and dropping off passengers, cargo and animals along the way. When it meets bamboo train, it can be disassembled and taken off the rails in a minute or two, allowing the other to pass. The bamboo train near the city seems to be catering as much to tourists as locals these days, but is still the real deal. They now charge foreigner upwards of $5/pax.

 
 

Circus

The Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO gives Cambo-dian children from disadvantaged families the opportunity to “access culture via different artistic activities” including music, drawing, drama, dance and circus.

Guided visits available in the mornings and afternoons for $5. Regularly scheduled tradi-tional Cambodian circus performances in the evenings (exhibition at 6:15PM, show at 7:00PM) for $14. Call 077-554413 for schedule.

Located on Route #5 about 1km west of town

www.phareps.org

 
 

Cooking Classes

Cambodian restaurant Nary Kitchen offers morning and evening cooking classes every day. Classes are conducted by Mrs. Nary and her husband Toot, who start off each class with a market tour to learn about local produce. Back at the restaurant you'll then learn to cook four traditional Cambodian dishes. Once you've finished, sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch or dinner. Vegetarian options are available, and all students will go home with the recipes for the dishes that they prepared. At only $10 per person, the class is great value. Tel: 012-763950
The Smokin' Pot restaurant near the White Rose restaurant at the corner of Street 1 in the center of town also offers cooking classes.

 
 

Countryside Tour

The rural countryside outside of Battambang is National Geographic picturesque. Within just a few kilometers of town the countryside turns into small villages filled with stilted houses and rice paddies that stretch to the horizon. You’ll see plenty of countryside on the way to any of the local sites. Check out some of the local products in the making - rice paper, noodles and the fishpaste market. It’s all very traditional if not a bit unhygienic and smelly, but a interesting experience and adventure nonetheless. The roads are often rough and during the dry season. always exceptionally dusty. Bring a good hat and a krama to cover your nose and mouth.

 
  Ek Phnom
Ek Phnom, about 45 minutes from Battambang, is an substantial early-11th century Angkorian-era temple ruin built as a Hindu temple under the ruler Suryavarman I. The temple is in rough condition, consisting of prasats on a platform with some Hindu themed carvings in pretty good condition. Wat Ek Phnom, a modern Buddhist pagoda, sits picturesquely next to the ruin and a small lake. The river road drive to Ek Phnom from Battambang passes through some absolutely beautiful countryside, along a palm lined Stung Sangker river and through several small villages.
 
 

Phnom Banan
Phnom Banan Phnom Banan is a mountaintop, mid-11th century Angkorian-era ruin consisting of five prasats (towers) arranged in the quincunx (five-pointed) form reminiscent of Angkor Wat. The temple was built by the Khmer ruler Udayadityavarman II, son of Suryavarman I, the king who built the temple at Ek Phnom. Several lintel carvings are in good condition. The mountaintop is a peaceful location with a sweeping view of the surrounding area. There is a small cave nearby known as L’Ang But Meas. A very old (150 years+) active pagoda at the base of the mountain.

As both are south of Battambang City, the trip to Phnom Banan is often combined with a stop at Phnom Sampeou

 
 

Pagodas

Battambang town and the surrounding countryside are rich with beautiful old pagodas, some of them hundreds of years old, highly respected and displaying some very unique art and architecture. There are nine pagodas in Battambang town alone. In town, Wat Kandal displays some of the most interesting architecture and vihear paintings. Wat Tahm Rei Saw, built in 1903, is one of those rare Cambodian wats to display paintings of the Hindu epic Reamker. See absolutely indispensable Around Battambang for more information about visiting the local pagodas.

 
 

Phnom Sampeou Mountain

Phnom Sampeou is a mountain steeped in legend, topped by Wat Sampeou and a group of caves used as 'killing caves' by the Khmer Rouge, containing the skeletal remains of their victims. The wat is unexceptional but the view is spectacular. The whole area in intertwined with the well-known Khmer folk legend of Neang Rumsay Sok, 'the girl who let down her hair.' Many of the local geographic features are named after aspects of the legend, including Phnom Sampeou (Boat Mountain.) Ask your guide or driver to tell you the legend. For sake of ease, take the winding path up the mountain rather than the stairs, which make for a formidable climb. In the evening around 6:00PM two of the caves disgorge millions of bats which pour into the dusk sky for more than 30 minutes, making quite an impressive site. Not to be missed if you happen to be at Phnom Sampeou in the evening.

 
 

Provincial Museum

The Battambang Provincial Museum on the riverfront in the center of town houses a large collection of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artifacts - statues, carvings, bits of ancient temples, pottery, etc. These little provincial museums can be a real treat for the Angkor enthusiast, containing some rare and unique pieces, and this is one of the best of the provincial museums. Hours: 8:00AM-11:00AM / 2:00PM-5:00PM, make reservations for weekend visit and they will open the door for you. Friendly people always happy to see visitors. Guides available. Admission: US$1.00.
Tel: 092-914688  016-896727

 
 

Snack Tour

Battambang Resort offers a unique snack tour between town and Wat Kor Village. A short cycling tour (also possible by tuk tuk) brings you to different kind of food stalls where you can try all kinds of Cambodian snacks.

Every afternoon at 4:00PM.

Tel: 012-510100
www.battambangresort.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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