How to get there
3 – 3,5 hours, $6 – $8
2,5 hours, $40 – $55
$5 + $20
9 – 11 hours, $21 – $23
10 – 12 hours, $125 – $140
4h 05min, $60 – $140 + $7 – $8 or $40 – $55
9 – 10 hours excl transfer, $16 – $20
5,5 hours, $135 – $340
5 – 6 hours, $9 – $12
5 – 6 hours, $60
What to do in Battambang?
#1 Bamboo Train
Listen to the click of the train against the track, breathe in the scent of rice fields, and enjoy the cool breeze while riding the Bamboo Train.
Also called a “norry”, the Bamboo Train consists of a bamboo platform with wooden frames fixed to wheels and axles. It’s powered by a small motor and rides along a 4-kilometer track, starting from O’Dambang village and ending at O’Sralau village.
As there is no end destination, the highlight is the ride itself. You’ll see beautiful countryside with lush greenery, tiny huts, farmers and women carrying wooden baskets. At O’Sralau village, you can talk to the locals and will find vendors selling snacks, scarves, and souvenirs.
Here is another unique experience: if another cart is coming from the opposite direction, the lighter cart will be manually removed from the track to give way to the heavier cart.
The ticket is $5. A tuk-tuk ride from anywhere in downtown Battambang can take you to the Bamboo Train for $4-$6. The tracks open as early as 6am because the carts also carry livestock, crops, wood and other cargo. Be prepared for bumps, as some sections have damaged.
#2 Battambang Circus – Phare Ponleu Selpak
Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus is a popular attraction in Battambang. All performers are trained by professionals of the Phare Ponleu Selpak Artistic and Social Center, a non-government association dedicated to helping children, young adults, and their families improve their lives through art.
Watch artists juggle fire, walk across a wire, stand on a stick and twist their bodies. You’ll also get to witness the traditional Cambodian dance. Unlike other circuses, not one animal is used in the performances.
Take an early dinner at the Artist’s Café beforehand and pick up a souvenir from the boutique.
Circus tickets cost $14 for adults and $7 for children. Doors open at 18:00, and the show starts at 19:00, lasting for at least an hour. You may purchase tickets at the door or from a retailer. Email the circus to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Grab some popcorn made with real olive oil and butter at the entrance.
#3 Banan Temple
After climbing 358 steps to the Banan Temple, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Battambang. This 11th-century ruin is thought to be a model of Angkor Wat (but much smaller). It sits on top of a hill 20 kilometers south of Battambang, and it has fantastic views of small villages, rice paddies and the Sanker River.
The temple has been subject to looting, but some beautiful carvings still remain. Expect to see people offering prayers, flowers and incense, as the locals consider the place to be holy.
Food stalls line the path towards the temple, so you can easily get a snack after a tiresome climb.
The entrance fee is $2/person. A tuk-tuk ride from the center of Battambang costs $10-$15/person, and it’s open from 7:00 to 19:00. Make sure your knees and elbows are covered because it is a place of prayer.
Take a side trip and explore the L’Ang But Meas cave, located just down the hill. Inside is a large stalactite with sparkling water dripping into a bowl below. Local legend has it that the water has mystical powers. You can approach a guide who has a torch and knows the cave by heart.
#4 Phnom Sampeau (Sampov) Caves
The Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau have a history of Khmer Rouge atrocities. A glass-walled memorial containing the remains of those killed sits next to a reclining Buddha statue. There is also a rusty cage and cyclone fencing that house human bones.
The caves are halfway up the Phnom Sampov Mountain, and visitors can access them via a concrete staircase, surrounded by rock formations and greenery. As it’s now a place of pilgrimage and locals gather there to sing and pray, be sure to cover your legs and elbows.
When you visit this historical site in the late afternoon, you can witness millions of bats pouring from the mouth of the cave. The experience can be slightly overwhelming; you can even feel a slight rise in temperature as the bats burst from the cave. But don’t be scared, because they will be on the hunt for small insects, not for you.
The bats usually wake up around 17:00, and the spectacle can last for up to 40 minutes. To get another perspective, ask your tuk-tuk to drive down the mountain and stop on the road to observe the black swarm from a distance.
To get from downtown Battambang to these caves, a tuk-tuk will charge you between $10-12. There’s a $3 entrance fee for the Killing Caves, but if you only want to observe the bats, you don’t need to pay to get into the caves. Nevertheless, it’s still polite to buy snacks from the vendors who arrange the tables and chairs.
#5 Ek Phnom Pagoda
Climb huge blocks of stone, navigate tiny passageways and behold a timeless beauty.
Behind a modern pagoda and a massive Buddha statue is the Wat Ek Phnom, an 11th-century temple. It’s a ruin, but it’s still impressive in its own way. The wall is made of reddish clay, and the baray (water reservoir), the fine carvings, and the fallen bricks give the sense that you’ve discovered a forgotten temple.
The tranquil setting makes it a favorite picnic spot and pilgrimage destination during local festivals. Women trying to conceive also visit the temple, hoping to have their prayers granted.
From downtown Battambang, you can take a tuk-tuk for $5, and the entrance fee is $1. Take a sarong with you, or make sure to wear long sleeves and pants.
Tip: Ask the tuk-tuk driver to stop at local houses where they make homemade rice whiskey and rice paper.
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