Being the second most populous city in the kingdom, Battambang is filled with activities and things to see while, even considering its size, maintaining a somehow laid-back and slow lifestyle. Interesting architecture, cool cafés, a small but competent art scene and lots of attractions in its surroundings, many are the reasons to come northwest to explore Battambang!
One of the many statues decorating the city.
You can start by discovering the downtown, which is small enough to be explored by foot, just half dozen of streets along the riverfront. Here you will be able to find some fabulous old colonial French architecture, from big buildings to small villas, not forgetting the central market called Psar Nat, with its unique Art Deco style.
Example of old French colonial architecture in Battambang.
It’s a great place for an early morning or evening stroll while checking out the buildings, while the sun is not too high (Battambang can become excruciating hot sometimes) and there’s a gentle breeze coming from the river. During mid day, a great option is to explore one of the many trendy cafés you will find downtown, or taking a Khmer cooking class (costing around 10$) in Coconut Lyly or The Smoking Pot Restaurant. If it’s eating what you are looking for, check on Psar Nat (for variety and convenience) or Psar Boeung Chouk (for authenticity and very cheap prices).
The art deco style of Psar Nat.
But don’t restraint yourself to the city center, Battambang surroundings are filled with worthy attractions and beautiful landscapes to explore. One option is to hire a tuk-tuk for half-day or full day (don’t forget to work your bargaining skills!), other is to rent a bicycle or motorbike in one of the many available places downtown (around 1 and 4 dollars, respectively). You also have bike tours organized by Butterfly Tours and Soksabike Tours in case you would like to explore more remotes places with a help of a local.
Probably the most famous attraction is the bamboo train, not really a train but more like a platform mounted on train axles with a bike engine attached – a great example of Cambodia ingenuity! The local population created this method for easily transporting goods between villages using the abandoned railway tracks, now turned as well into a touristic activity interesting to be done around sunset. Also to be done during sunset, a bat cave nearby can be visited from the outside in order to observe the thousands and thousands of bats that came out for feeding as soon as the sun goes down – their flight patterns, especially if noise is made when they pass, are a worthy example of the beauty of nature! Nearby there’s also the Phnom Sampeu Killing Caves, in case you would like to find more about the impact of the Pol Pot regime, and various temples to explore, some of them in the style of Angkor Wat. One of them is Wat Banan, with and entry ticket of three dollars and being a nice climbing to the top of the mountain, but Wat Baydamram, Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Samraong Knong are also possible to be visited.
Besides the temples in the surrounding mountains, Battambang is also filled with old temples within its streets.
Hope we gave you some ideas of things to see and do in Battambang, but also don’t get too focus on visiting places because one of the magic qualities of this city is exactly its relaxed environment considering it’s the second main town in the whole country. Have a look on Camboticket website for options on how to get here from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.