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:
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.
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.
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:
The Smokin' Pot restaurant near
the White Rose restaurant at the corner of Street 1 in the
center of town also offers cooking classes.
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.
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
As both are south of Battambang City, the trip to Phnom Banan is often combined with a stop at Phnom Sampeou
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.
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:
Tel: 092-914688 016-896727
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.