Battambang is one of the destinations in Cambodia that still doesn’t get all the attention it deserves. We absolutely liked Battambang. The cozy city in the Western part of the country is primarily known for its bamboo train. (I will talk about it later in this post, don’t worry), but trust me there are other sights that are nontouristic and mostly unknown, but totally worth seeing. There are so much more things to do in Battambang than just the bamboo train. Just keep reading to know more about that. 🙂
What to find out in this post
Facts about Battambang
- The Capital of the Province with the same name
- City in the West of Cambodia
- In the 19th century, Battambang belonged temporarily to Thailand (Siam)
How to get to Battambang
By Boat from Siem Reap
Read here about the Boat Trip from Siem Reap to Battambang and vice-versa.
From Phnom Penh to Battambang
Duration: 6-7 hours
There are different bus and mini-van companies operating between Phnom Penh and Battambang. For us, it was one of the worst trips as it was shaky and the bus driver honks at every occasion. Therefore getting some sleep on this trip was nearly impossible.
Find all the information about different transport options here.
Where to stay? – Battambang Accommodation
$ Best Budget Accommodation in Battambang
Maybe not the best accommodation of our trip but definitely the cheapest we had during our whole trip: The Chhaya Hotel. (Check Prices and availability here.)
The rooms were obviously not really luxury but there was nothing missing. It was clean and the beds were comfy.
Moreover, the owner is super nice. He helped us to plan our stay in Battambang with information and prices. He got us our boat tickets to Siem Reap for a really good price. Furthermore, we got water for free and during the mornings you could get coffee.
$ Accommodation in Battambang
Blue Diamond (With Swimming pool!)
$ Luxury Accommodation in Battambang
Delux Villa, Battambang (With big swimming pool!)
The Battambang Bamboo train
Entrance fee: $5 per person
Opening Times: 07 am – Sunset
How to get to the Bamboo Train?
The famous Cambodian bamboo train is located approximately 5 km outside of the city center.
You can take one of the many tuk-tuks around and try to get a good price.
Or you can be as crazy as us and decide to walk in the strong midday heat.
But please keep in mind that half of the way will be outside of the city center and you will not find restaurants and shops in case you want to have lunch on your way. In the end, we decided to postpone our lunch for some hours. 🙂
On the way to the bamboo train in Battambang, you can find different kinds of buildings and cool statues. (Although I can totally relate if you rather take a taxi. The way was pretty exhausting, to be honest)
On the way, we found a little guest house. Still being dreaming about finding something eatable on our way, we entered. No food but at least they had cold water. We bought one bottle and continued our way. But suddenly the owner of the guest house came running after us, just to give us another bottle of water for free. I guess I must have looked really exhausted.
On the way back, we took a tuk-tuk though. (we still haven’t eaten anything). In the tuk-tuk, we met a group of international travelers and it was interesting hearing about their stories. Here we also met Angus and Yihao with whom we have spent the rest of our day afterwards sharing the tuk-tuk.
Riding on the Cambodian Bamboo train
The bamboo trains, also called Norry, have been used since 1980 to carry people and loads around the area. Today they are primarily used for touristic purposes. The operation gets supervised by the local tourism police. That’s why you have to buy your ticket from a policeman which approaches you with “Hello, where are you from?”(Yes, this is no scam) Depending on your answer he might know some words in your native language. (German seemed to be his favorite, in Spanish, he could just say “hola“)
The ride takes about 40 minutes (20 minutes each way) It’s a really unique experience and the nature that you get to see is beautiful.
Update 2018: The Bamboo Train is under construction these days. The length of your ride depends on the constructions and can differ.
It can even get quite adventurous at times as we almost crashed against some cows that refused to leave the rails.
You might wonder, what do you do if another vehicle comes from the opposite direction? Just get up and disassemble your wagon. Wait next to the rails until the other vehicle has passed through and you can go on as well. Simple as that.
At the end of the road, you can have a little break walking around the souvenir shops or have something to eat or a cold drink.
Kids were already waiting for us at the stop trying to sell us their bracelets. One of them even started crying when we refused. So, it’s even harder to stay strong with children.
The problem is that you shouldn’t buy anything from or give anything to children in Cambodia. The simple reason for that is that the children should go to school instead of selling. But if they get money, they get animated to skip their classes to beg or sell souvenirs instead. So please don’t be that guy. Even though it’s hard to say now.
The easiest way to avoid that situation is just to get out on the other side of the rail and sit on the bench there until your break is over and you go back.
By the way, the airstream during the ride is super refreshing and a nice cooling on such a hot day.
Phnom Samphou (Killing Caves, Temple, Bat Caves, Battambang)
Entrance fee: If you want to go up to the killing caves or the temple you have to pay an entrance fee of $1
Opening times: the act of the bats takes place after sunset, so it is best to arrive around 05.30pm to find a good spot.
How to get there?
These three sights are located around 12 km outside of the city center. The easiest way to get there is by tuk-tuk or motorcycle. You can get up to the foot of the mountain. But you gotta walk up yourself! (There are tours that will drive you up in a van though)
The cheapest way is to share your tuk-tuk with other travelers.
The Killing Caves Battambang
The Killing Caves are truly impressive. Especially, if you are familiar with the backgrounds of this cave.
As you can already assume by the name, many Cambodian people have been killed here during the Khmer Rouge dictatorship by being pushed down the cave.
It is really sad though, that many visitors don’t know the backgrounds or at least don’t act according to it. The behavior of visitors in Phnom Penh’s killing fields was totally different. (Find here my post about Phnom Penh and the Killing Fields)
Walking upwards a bit from the Killing Caves you will already find the top of the mountain and a beautiful temple. Don’t get discouraged by the view from below as the mountain can seem quite impressive. But to be honest, the way up was way easier and faster than it might seem like.
Besides a terrific panorama over Battambang, you will find mainly one thing here: monkeys and monks.
The monkeys are used to humans (probably even too much) and that’s why they’re not shy at all. On the contrary, if they assume you might carry food with you (especially if you are carrying a plastic bag with you) they will start to approach trying to steal whatever they can reach.
I can totally recommend you to make the way up the Phnom Samphou and the temple on top and enjoy watching the monkeys play and having this amazing view.
The Bat Cave Battambang
As soon as you have reached the foot of the mountain again (ideally you take the stairs down as it leads you directly to the exit of the Battambang bat cave) you can look for the best spot to see this magnificent act of nature. You might wanna get there around 5.30 pm to make sure you catch the best spot.
Of course, every restaurant will try to convince you they offer the best view of the bat caves. They will not mention that they also offer totally overpriced drinks and snacks. But actually, the best view you’ll probably have is from the (free) benches right in front of the bat caves.
As soon as the sun goes down the hungry nocturnal bats will wake up to go hunting. An absolutely unique experience. Thousands of bats are leaving their cave at the same time.
Unfortunately, it can be pretty complicated to take a good snap of it. As the sun is already going down the lightning conditions are surely not the best. Moreover, the animals are actually quite small.
So, just put down your camera for a while and enjoy with your own eyes instead. 😉
Wat Damrey, Wat Kandal, Wat Bovil, Wat Bo Knong, Elephant temple
On our last day in Battambang, we decided to visit the non-touristic temples in our area that we’ve found on Google Maps. Simply discovering the “real life” besides tourist crowds.
And we didn’t get disappointed. Firstly, we didn’t have to pay entrance fee. So we could spare some money. Secondly, there were no tourists wandering around, so we could look around and take pictures in a relaxed atmosphere without being bothered by others.
Furthermore, all these temples are in walkable distance from each other, so you don’t have to take a taxi or tuk-tuk.
The first temple grounds that we visited was a little flooded by the monsoon rain. But still, (or maybe especially because of that?) it was totally beautiful walking around.
The nontouristic temples just had this peaceful tranquil area. Exactly what we were looking for after the exhausting last day of sightseeing.
Our last stop was the white elephant temple. Unfortunately, many of the white elephants were already fallen apart. Anyway, a really nice place to see and we enjoyed having a walk around there.
Have you ever been to Battambang? What did you like the most? And if not what are you interested in? Let me know in the comments below.