Battambang, Cambodia is drawing in more visitors to enjoy its laid-back charms. It is the opportunity to go off the beaten track. This spot has loads of things to see and do for the visitor. It feels like a genuine living city. Not like an amusement park like Siem Reap can feel like now and then.
Battambang is in northwestern Cambodia. It is the capital of the leading rice-producing province of the country. Battambang remains the hub of Cambodia's northwest. It is connecting the region with Phnom Penh and Thailand.
The city is on the Sangkae River that winds its way through Battambang Province.
As with much of Cambodia, French Colonial architecture is a notable aspect of the city. It has some of the best-preserved examples in the country.
French Architecture in Battambang, Cambodia
The French architecture is one thing that will strike you about Battambang, Cambodia. It makes up a significant part of the old town. There are lines of terraced shop houses to some bigger private estates.
This makes for a fascinating strolling visit. The old governors' home, the city corridor, railroad station, and the postal station.
Battambang, Cambodia is on a waterway. There are many bridges and crosswalks. Some made of stone and some from metal which traverses the water. The majority of the lodgings and places to eat are on the eastern side.
The business sector is the middle part of the town as is normal in Cambodian towns. Its shaded paths are pleasant spots to shop and talk to the shop owners and street sellers.
Bamboo Railroad in Battambang, Cambodia
Further out of the downtown area you will locate some different sites. The most famous is the Bamboo Railway. Cambodia's railroad system is today in a condition of decay and has no trains running on it.
The villagers living along the train tracks chose to put them back to some use. They assembled their own particular trains. In no way like a full train, as you know them. The bamboo train is a lightweight wooden truck fueled by a gas motor. It keeps running along the old railroad line.
One problem though is that there are no sidings or spaces to pull over for trains to pass each other. When two trains meet one must be disassembled and put to the side for the other to pass.
You can go to the train starting point by taxi or Tuk Tuk and take a ride for a few kilometers to a village at the end of the ride. This costs five dollars.
Huge Black Statue, Vineyards, and an Abandoned Pepsi Plant
There is a great story behind this unique statue. Ta Dumbong has very important local significance. It is located at traffic roundabout on National Road 5. The name Battambang derives from the legend of Ta Dumbong.
Battambang is the area of Cambodia's unparalleled vineyard and winery. They invite guests with a wine sampling display.
Another unusual sight is the old Pepsi industrial facility. Its proprietors relinquished it when the Khmer Rouge possessed the zone. You can stroll inside and see the apparatus. There is also a large number of unfilled Pepsi bottles as they were left in 1979.
Battambang, Cambodia Sanctuaries
There are sanctuaries that were built during the same time as Angkor Wat. They are called Wat Ek and Baset and are worthy of a visit. Baset Sanctuary sits on top of a slope which likewise contains two huge hollows. Prasat Banan is a larger sanctuary that is at the summit of a 400-meter high mountain. The top of the precipice overlooks the rice fields and countryside of Cambodia. There are amazing photos you can take from here. It is an amazing sight to see.
You can reach Ek Phnom for a few dollars in a Tuk Tuk or Taxi. The round trip with the driver waiting is only about $4. Once you arrive the grounds are free to visit. The temple itself dates to about the same period as Angkor Wat and surrounded by both a wall and moat. The complex is in better shape than many of the temples you will find in Siem Reap. You would not want to leave this out of your trip.
The giant Buddha was built later. The government stopped the venture even before it was completed. They felt that this detracted from the historical value of the site
The site itself was created by King Sorayak Varman II who lived from 1002 to 1050. It is still an important part of Cambodian history. But it does not receive the love that Angkor Wat in Siem Reap receives.
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Battambang Bat Cave
Visiting the Bat Cave is a great way to close out the day. Take a Tuk Tuk for a few dollars to the outskirts of town. At sunset one of the largest concentration of bats in the world will leave their nests all at the same time. They go out each night to eat bugs and search for food.
This 100-Year-Old House is one of the oldest structures in Battambang, Cambodia. Many of the homes were damaged during the war of the last century. But this structure went without any damage and is a great example of local architecture. Spend a few minutes here before heading off to the next spot on your visit.
Slow Boat to Siem Reap
One last note, a great way to travel on to Siem Reap is by slow boat. The trip takes about 8 hours and is a good way to see life as it goes on in Cambodia in areas less affected by tourism.
We missed the boat, so we don't have a photo. Once you are in Siem Reap you can visit the Angkor Wat Complex. Check out our post on the Angkor Wat In Cambodia And Its 8 Must-See Temples.