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17

Aug
2022
A Simple Travel Guide To Battambang In Cambodia
Posted By : Threeland Travel / Cambodia Travel Guide

Just a few hours travelling by bus from Siem Reap, Battambang is a tranquil town set on the banks of Sangkae River, respite from the boom and hustle of Cambodia’s tourist hubs. Highlights of this place are the charming old French shops and houses clustered along the riverbank.

There are also a number of Angkor-era temples to explore, such as the superb Prasat Banon, but without the crowds and rushes of Siem Reap. So if you could manage to spend one or two extra nights in Cambodia, this beautiful place is worthy of consideration, and here are some of our useful guides for your stay. 

Farmer in Battambang

WHERE TO STAY

Thanks to a fact that Battambang is less busy than the famous tourist hubs of the country, the accommodations here are relatively much more affordable. The city has a wide range of decent hostels, homestays and guesthouses and it is safe to day that there is always something available for everyone’s budget here. 

  1. For travellers of a limited budget, there is a good option from only USD 6 per room per night with free WiFi at The Place Hostel. With good location just steps from the Central Market, this friendly and stylish hostel provides bunk bed in dormitory room, fitted with curtains for privacy, as well as private double or twin rooms. Guests can enjoy breakfast and other meals at the rooftop restaurant or have a drink at the hostel’s bar. 
  2. Ramchang Guesthouse is the perfect choice if you want a relaxing stay at mid-price range. After a busy day of sightseeing, you can cool down at the pool, play billiards in the shaded courtyard or take a seat in the garden just for relaxing.  It locates 1 km away from the town center however you can always take advantage of their free bicycles, or get a tuk tuk for only about USD 2. Room rate is from USD 12 per night for twin or double, family rooms for 4 are also available. 
  3. Here comes our top choice for a valuable stay in Battamabang, The Sanctuary Villa. Designed to look like a Khmer Buddhist Temple, The Sanctuary has only a few very private villas. The highlight here varies from the lush gardens, boardwalks, open-air pavilions, to a beautiful pool. Daily breakfasts are served at the semi-outdoor restaurant as well as other meals with good selection of Khmer, Thai and international dishes. The property also offers complimentary pickup services from the bus or train station, as well as complimentary use of bicycles for guests who wish to explore the surrounding area. Room rate starts from just USD 30, making this an excellent value-for-money choice in Battambang.
  4. If you are seeking for a unique stay, the beautiful Bric-a-Brac boutique hotel is designed just for you! Set in a restored colonial building right in the middle of Battambang, the property has only 3 rooms that maximize your personalized experiences. Each room here is impeccably decorated by the hotel’s owners, furnished with antique pieces, down pillows and premium bedding. The hotel features an extensive movie library, workshops, and cooking classes exclusively for guests.  Guests can also use the swimming pool at a nearby resort at no extra charge. Room rate is from USD 90 per room for single and USD 130 per night for a double occupancy. 

Battambang market

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

The farmland of Battambang is considered the “rice bowl” of the country, and is known for its agricultural prowess. As such, this is an excellent place to taste some of very fresh and delicious dishes blending between traditional Khmer cuisine and French influences.

Our top choice is Jaan Bai, an innovative restaurant specializes in modern Khmer cuisine with Vietnamese and Thai influences. Serving mouth-watering dishes such as Kampot pepper crab with chili jam and a zingy papaya and shrimp salad, along with top-class cocktails, this restaurant is definitely a foodie’s delight. With the support of Australian chef David Thompson, the restaurant is working as a social enterprise, training underprivileged young people and giving its profits to the Cambodian Children's Trust, a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of vulnerable and impoverished young people.

daily life in Battambang

Other options include Nary Kitchen – the restaurant that runs a popular cooking class, guiding tourists to make traditional Cambodian dishes in a home-style kitchen; Flavors of India – a nice change from Khmer food with a variety of savory vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes; and The Place Rooftop Bar and Restaurant – a nice place to chill out and chit-chat, with cheap beer and a mix of Western and Khmer food.

Battambang also has the best coffee in the country, so if you are a caffeine-addict, you have to come for a sip at Kinyei Café. Managed by Feel Good Coffee, Kinyei Café is an employee-owned social enterprise, offering a vocational training program for local youth. It serves the best-in-town espresso coffee with and a small, tasty menu of savory items and baked goods. 

Rice paper making in Battambang

As expected from a less-visited city, the foods and drinks here come at much better prices in comparison with the larger touristy cities. With such quality given at such price, we would confidently rate Battambang as the best place for food and drink in Cambodia. 

THINGS TO DO 

If you have just one day or two to spend in Battambang, we have selected these top attractions to take the most advantage of your time and maximize your experiences here. 

Bamboo Train

Mentioning about the top activities for tourists in Battambang, the Bamboo Train must be the first thing that comes to our mind. Bamboo Train is an old-fashioned, short stretch of track just outside Battambang. The train was traditionally used by locals to transfer people and products around the province in the past. Up to this day, only a tiny section of the railway survives through the wars and becomes a famous tourists’ attraction. The “train” is now made up by a small bamboo platform, covered with a mat and some cushions to sit on.  During its thirty minute journey, the train will bring us through the jungle undergrowth, over the little bridges and pass the rice paddies. Neither of the train’s destinations, O Dambong and O Sra Lav villages, is attractive enough, but the train ride is a great experience itself. The funniest thing is when two trains face off on the same track; the one with fewest passengers will be dismantled to let the other one pass. 

Bamboo train in battambang

Traditional Khmer House (Homestay option is available):

Standing out from the picturesque stilted villages around Battambang, Wat Kor, 2km south of central Battambang, is famous for containing approximately 20 heritage hardwood houses. Two of the oldest in the area, which were built in the early 1900s, Mrs. Bun Roeung's Ancient House and the Khor Sang House, are open to visitors. The owners of the houses speak English and are happy to show you around their house, telling about the houses’ history and sharing with you their family stories.

Ones who wish to stay longer to discover more about the Khmer’s way of living can book an overnight stay directly with the owners of Mrs. Bun Roeung's Ancient House, as the rear section of the house has been turned into homestay accommodation. 

Banan Temple in battambang

Banan Temple:

Banan Temple is an Angkor-era mountaintop temple, locates about twenty kilometers to the south of Battambang. The temple was originally built in the mid 11st century and finished in late 12nd century. It has been heavily looted in the past, but so far, is the best-preserved of the Khmer temples around Battambang. The temple has five towers in the classic Khmer architectural style, arranged in the quincunx form somewhat similar with Angkor Wat, with the middle being the largest. You can climb up 520 steps of staircase to reach the towers to enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding. The greatest thing about this visit is that you can leisurely explore this beautiful temple without the crowds of tourists, photos will also turn out greatly since there is no one blocks your view. 

Phnom Sampeau:

Phnom Sampeau is Battambang’s highest peak, locates about 11km outside of Battambang town center. This mountain offers stunning aerial views of western Cambodia, and on the other hand, reminds tourists about the dark side of the country’s history. Many of the buildings atop of this mountain were used as prisons and interrogation centers during the Khmer Rouge genocide, and thousand people were thrown to their deaths at the killing caves nearby. One cave has been turned into a simple Buddhist temple, where the skulls and bones of the victims are kept in a metal cage, similar to that at Cheoung Ek in Phnom Penh.

After visiting the caves and paying our respects, we can continue to witness the spectacular sunset view at the Bat Cave. As dusk falls, millions of bats leave the cave for their feeding grounds, painting the sky with a stroke of black ink for around 45minutes.

Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School:

The most popular nighttime activity in Battambang is Phare Circus (Phare Ponleu Selpak). If you are wondering if this Phare Circus and the one in Siem Reap are just the same, the answer is yes and no. Yes, this is the same system of shows, using music, acrobatics, dances, and juggling to highlight different elements of Cambodian culture, with a social message behind each production. And no, it is not just about the shows. The Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School is a not-for-profit organization, working to improve the lives of children, young people and their families with their art schools, education programs and social support activities.

Today, more than 1,200 pupils attend the school, and other 500 take part in Phare’s free vocational arts training programs. The young adults are trained in circus, dance, music and theatre skills to become professional performers. So that after graduating from Phare’s school, they can go performing in Siem Reap and internationally. There can be two, three or four performances a week depending on your travel season, detailed show schedules can be found on their official website and you can buy tickets directly online. Profits from the shows will be used to fund the school’s outreach program. The school also opens their door for visiting on weekdays, between 08:00 and 12:00 and 14:00 to 16:00. There is an exhibition space, music hall and you may even catch sight of the circus performers rehearsing their moves.

Wat Ek Phnom

The above mentioned attractions are well-selected a one-day exploration. If you have two days or more and look for something more local, our favorite alternative things to do in Battambang are: visiting to Battambang Central Market and treating yourself a bowl of kuy teav noodle soup for breakfast; going Chan Thai Choeung Winery, the only winery in Cambodia, to sample red wine, rice wine, liquor and fresh grape juice; seeing contemporary art at Battambang’s plenty of galleries and studio spaces; taking a self-guide leisure bike to explore the city and the surrounding countryside or booking a bicycle tour with Soksabike for valuable insight into local Khmer life; joining a hands-on cooking class to learn how to cook your favorite Khmer dishes at home; shopping for handmade tassels, trimmings, textiles, antiques and accessories at Bric-a-Brac; trying Battambang street food at the Night Market at riverside area. 

Street food in battambang

We hope our article will help you well in planning a perfect trip in Battambang and what out! Battambang is the place you never knew you needed to visit but once you already been here, you might not want to leave! Don't forget to check out our regularly updated travelling blog for more valuable contents.