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Battambang

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Battambang [1] is Cambodia's second most populous city and a popular tourist destination due to the many nearby ancient temples, Buddhist shrines and the infamous bamboo railway. It is also the capital city of the Battambang province. It is popular with tourists because of it's blend of modern city, small-town friendliness and some well-preserved colonial architecture, which works together to give the town a unique charm.

Understand

Get in

Map of Battambang

By road

National Highway 5 is paved and from Battambang runs southeast to Phnom Penh and northwest to Sisophon and Poipet. At Sisophon, National Highway 6 branches off to provide paved access to Siem Reap. In a car, Phnom Penh is around 4 hr away and Sisophon can be reached in just under 1 hr. By bus, Phnom Penh take about 5-6 hr and cost about US$4. Siem Reap takes at least 3 hr and costs US$3.75.

Highway 57 from Battambang to Pailin was paved in 2010. Paramount Angkor Buses run twice daily from Battambang to Pailin (2 hr) for US$4.

By boat

One boat a day travels from Siem Reap (for Angkor) to Battambang, departing Siem Reap at 07:00. An interesting and very scenic journey along small rivers, the boat threads it's way through numerous charming floating villages and past dozens of towering cantilevered fishing net installations. It can take between 4-12 hr, depending on the time of year (and hence the water level), however the time can be fairly accurately predicted by checking the time that the same boat arrived yesterday.

During the dry season, when the water level gets very low, the boats cannot get all the way to Battambang and the journey is completed by minibus or pick-up truck.

By rail

Cambodia's defunct rail system is due to be regenerated by 2013. The line runs from Poipet on the Thai border through Sisophon and along the southern side of the Tonle Sap Lake to Battambang and Phnom Penh.

Get around

The city centre is quite compact and can be mostly explored by foot. Bicycles can be rented from most hotels or private companies for US$1-2 per day. Motorcycles can be rented from US$5 a day. The driving habits of locals are hazardous. Police may try to fine tourists on motobikes. If pulled over, stay calm, smile & take the key out of the ignition (to prevent the police trying to ransom it), and pay a small fine of US1-2. Arguing, waving your driving licence in their faces or otherwise upsetting the police is not recommended.

Tuk-tuks and motorbike drivers hang around popular tourist areas. As most of the interesting and useful destinations are quite close to each other, most rides should only cost around US$2-4. More distant trips like Phnom Sampouv (the 'killing caves') will cost around US$10, and can be combined with other destinations for a total of US$12-15. Saam Bo is a tuk-tuk driver who has worked for Western companies and NGOs, and so speaks excellent English. (Most don't.) He's also resourceful, fair and pleasant-natured: 097 353 5305.

Small boats act as ferries (500 riel) and cross the river in front of the market.

See

Battambang is known for its statues which seemingly decorate every public place. Most are of animals (mythical and real) and divinities.

The most famous of these statues is on the main road in from Phnom Penh and is of an ancient Khmer King holding a stick which he used to quell rebellions in the Battambang area. The name of the town / province comes from this legend.

Battambang's central market

The town also has a number of fine early-20th-century French colonial buildings. Most of the colonial buildings can be found along the waterfront (St 1), especially just south of Psar Nat (which is quite impressive in itself). Famous Art Deco buildings are the Central market, the swimming pool Victory (riverside) and the train station. Along streets 1, 2, 21/2 and 3 are charming examples of Chinese, French and Italian architecture, with peculiar mirroring of houses constructed on one side in brick, square pillars and on the other one in concrete, round pillars. Street 3 has some charming French shop-houses.

  • The Governors Residence is the most impressive colonial building, a legacy of the early 1900s with balconies and wooden shutters and grand reception room with a 5m ceiling. It was designed by an Italian architect for the last Thai governor, who departed in 1907. The interior is closed but you can explore the grounds at leisure.
  • Battambang Museum (admission US$1) displays fine Angkorian lintels and statuary from all over the Battambang province, including Phnom Banan and Sneng, and it has multi-lingual signs.

Around Battambang:

Phnom Sampeu's Killing Caves
  • Phnom Sampeu, a hill with the Killing Caves of the Khmer Rouge, a few others caves adorned with Buddhist statues, and a monastery with two Buddhist Stupas on the hilltop. Entry is US$2 - also covering Wat Banan - and it takes about 1 hr to climb the circuit to the monastery on top, with a short-cut leading back down to the shops and restaurants which line the approaching road.
  • Wat Banan, the so-called mini-Angkor wat, an impressive flight of stairs lead up to a dilapidated Angkor-style temple which is still in use as a Buddhist shrine.
  • Wat Baydamram, a temple where hundreds of fruit bats live in trees under the protection of the Buddhist monks.
Wat Ek Phnom
  • Wat Ek Phnom, another Angkor-type temple ruin, about 15 km north west of Battambang. The road runs along lovely small rivers flanked by trees and small villages making it a generally nice area. Approaching Wat Ek Phnom, you suddenly encounter a giant Buddha statue in the Wat, which is certainly picture-worthy. The grounds of the Wat also have an Angkorian era temple which is in relatively good shape and with some interesting carvings.
  • Wat Samraong Knong, roughly translated as 'Wat in the forest' is an extremely old pagoda on the eastern side of the Sangker River. The eerie old Wat was used as a Khmer Rouge prison, and there were many executions on the premises. A new pagoda is now being built, and there is a memorial to the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, with graphic illustrations just to the north.

There are several opportunities to explore villages just south of town. The cultural village of Watkor, just a few kilometres south of the town centre has several "ancient wooden houses" from the early 20th century. Further south are the agricultural villages of Kompong Seyma, and Ksach Puoy. For info call District Administration Battambang: ☎ +855 1288 1516, +855 1666 6111.

  • Battambang Circus, Phare Ponleu Selpak (10 min journey in tuk-tuk from the centre of Battambang-most drivers know the the circus), +855 53 952 424, [2]. Performances every Mon and Thurs from 18:00. The shows are fun, energetic and exciting and include a range of circus disciplines. The ticket price helps support the NGO school which works with disadvantaged children and teenagers. After the show, you can have dinner there for US$6 US$10.

Do

The bamboo train near Battambang
  • Rent a bicycle and cycle along the river. Upstream (south) or downstream (north). Both directions are flat and mostly paved, and it is possible to cycle along the river bank for a considerable distance, of up to 20 km each way. Also worth trying are the unpaved roads, they are esy to cycle along, have nearly no traffic and there plenty of children to say hello. A good adress for renting regular and better bicycles is The Battambang BIKE rental and repair directions="60 street 2,5" Info@thebattambangbike.com ☎ +855 17 905 276
  • The Bamboo Train: (The term "train" being used loosely - A large bamboo platform mounted on train axles powered by a small go-kart engine). A trip to the train can be booked in most hotels or arranged with a motorbike/tuk-tuk driver. Currently it is regulated by Battambang's Tourist Police, with a standard rate of US$5 per person, minimum 2 people or US$10 for one person, with discounts for larger groups. It is worthwhile asking the driver to stop at scenic places.
  • Green Orange Kayak, +855 77 204 121. Go on a beautiful Stung Sangker river voyage from the small village of Ksach Poy to Battambang, past riverside terraces and traditional bamboo houses. Get away from the dusty roads and learn first hand about traditional fishing and farming techniques. Half day trip, 11 km. US$12.
Buying ingredients


Take a cooking class

Many restaurants around Battambang offer cooking classes at varying prices.

  • Ch'Ngainh Ch'Ngainh, a homely and familial approach to cookery carried out in a family home. (sambath_9@yahoo.com) ☎ +855 12 63 93 50. Daily courses priced at US$10.
  • Nary Kitchen, Svay Por Battambang, (opposite the Holiday Guesthouse). ☎ +855 1276 3950, inside of a homestyle restaurant with Nary and her translator husband Toot. Daily courses in the morning or evening with two mains and spring rolls priced at $10.
  • The Smoking Pot, daily courses with a minimum of two or more people, which can be a problem in low season. Priced at US$10.


Volunteering

Giving something back to the friendly and helpfull locals.

One of CAD's projects - Takom Village
Students during break at CAD's Takom School
  • Children’s Action for Development (CAD) [3], is a community-based non-government and non-profit organization that provides Khmer and English literacy classes, life skills, child rights awareness, environmental awareness, job training, girl empowerment, nutrition, community education and family business programs to support poor, orphaned, vulnerable and disadvantaged rural children and families. Depending on current projects you are able to volunteer in a variety of ways, whereas the local founder Racky Thy[4] (known to the "Lonely Planet"-reader) will find a suitable job for you. [5] will give you some impressions (text in German language).

Eat

There are plenty of places to eat but after 19:00 some places close and lots of streets become dark, so eating early around 18:00, is recommended.

Good French-style bread costs 1,000 rial a medium-size baguette up north, between the French cultural centre and the giant statue marking the entry in Battambang from the main interprovincial road. The bread that street sellers have elsewhere in town is of a much lower standard for the same price, similar to that found in Phnom Penh a baguette-shape, but sprinkled with sugar, however some people do not notice any difference between the bread sold in the north and elsewhere in Battambang. It is generally of decent quality all across the city.

  • Au Cabaret Vert Restaurant (Au Cabaret Vert-Hôtel à Battambang), Toul Ta Ek, Otakom 2 (5 min from the market by tuk-tuk), +885 53 656 2000,+885 77 991 384 (), [6]. Traditional Cambodian dishes, their speciality is fish amok, complemented by a French-style menu that includes desserts and wine. US$9-16 for a main course, entrees US$8-12.
  • Bamboo Train Café & Bar', (Cross the new bridge, 200 m further and it's on the right hand side just after the pizza house), (). 06:30-22:00. Relaxed atmosphere, delicious food and friendly staff (N 13° 05.549',E 103° 12.178')
  • Cafe Eden, (), [7]. Western style riverfront cafe restaurant run by an American woman. Serves Western and Asian food, and coffee (but no juices). Kitchen works to Western food handling and preparation standards. (13.099622,103.199188)
  • Gecko Cafe, Street #3 (One block South of Psa Nath Market). Nice atmosphere, limited but very tasty menu, free WiFi. Staff extremely friendly and helpful and good clean environment. The business is designed to help local people to develop their standards of living and lifestyle. Staff are paid more than the average wage, and this is reflected in the service. There appears to be a well managed training programme in place for all the staff
  • Natural (Part of the project of an NGO called Coconut Water Foundation), N091-G34 Road 3. 20 Ousaphear Village, Svaypoar Commune (street no 3, 100 m south of the central market), +855 89 409 958. A shop and organic coffee place. The shop sells handmade clothes, bags and wallets made by local home based producers and from other local NGOs, watercolour post cards and pictures made by art students from another NGO. Organic fruit shakes, green tea with fruits and vegetarian breakfast & brunch options. There is also a khmer lady weaving using an authentic old style loom.
  • Smokin' Pot, Ph.3. Cooking school-come-restaurant offering a good range of Khmer and Thai food. Vegetarian-friendly. Note that there are two establishments called "Smokin' Pot" a few blocks apart. Mains 8,000-20,000 rial.
  • White Rose, (Almost opposite the Smoking Pot). Big menu, and some great fruit shakes. This place is more typically Asian-style than Western-style cosy but is still full of foreigners. Service can be very slow. The owners' children can run riot in the evenings, making dining less than peaceful.
  • Apple of Love (La Pomme d'Amour), street 2.5, #63, +885 12 415 513, +885 12 963 189, [8]. 19:00-10PM. Khmer cuisine with a French twist, sophisticated and creative with pleasant staff. Wine list.
  • Cafe Flirt, street 121 (Back one street from riverside, next to White Rose Restaurnat.), +855 92238935. 0800-2300 or later. A new relaxed bar restaurant in Battambang,,serving great western food cooked by the western owner who holds a British Food Hygiene cert. fantastic burgers and homemade dishes. Serving Ice Cold Anchor or Cambodia Draught beers..Happy hour 4pm-7.00pm everyday Beer only 50C a mug,,and wine only $2.50. Guaranteed open until 11pm everyday,,the latest bar around, will stay open later if needed...So come chill out to some great tunes,,Free WI-FI, only free pool table in town! 4-6$.
  • Choco l'art café, Street 117,, 010661617. 12-12. 2 blocks from the central market towards sout-west. A unique venue in Battambang with chic, lounge fee that reflects the mood if its young, creative owners. A contemporary blend of Khmer and French cultures achieved through gastronomy and modern art. Sandwiches with home-made bread, cakes, cookies, crumbles, chocolate mousses and more... Open from 12 am to 12 pm. 3-4 $.
  • Green mango, Opposite Bamboo train café. Pastries and coffee, as a training project for disadvantaged young people
  • Make Art space, Street 2.5 # 66. An avant-garde meeting and exhibition galery, with kid art classes, film projections, recycling shop and much more
  • Sunrise Coffee House, Royal St (near Royal Hotel) (150m directly west of Psar Nath (the main market)), 053 953 426. 6.30AM to 8PM. The only Western-style restaurant which opens at dawn. Does a great Western breakfast and lunch. Juices, espresso, latte, cappuccino. Deli with huge range of cakes, cinnamon muffins, cookies, and Battambang's only wholegrain breads. Unusually fast service by Battambang standards. $4-9.


Drink

  • Espresso Cafe, (Beside Hotel Royal, inner side of yellow art-deco market). Everything is provided with a smile. Good smoothies. A good family-run Khmer restaurant.
  • Street One and a Half, End of St 1.5 (head south from central market on St.2, hang a left and find it at the end/corner of that little street). Good cafe menu with a few snacks but mainly just excellent coffee and other drinks. Good espresso coffee, very cool alleyway atmosphere.
  • Centre Cafe, Street Number 3 (one block towards the river from the Lux Hotel). 07:30 - midnight. Cheap and tasty western and Khmer dishes, usual beer coffee and smoothies, nice atmosphere and tours/bus tickets available at prices much cheaper than the hotels (half the price for a day-bus ticket to Phnom Penh than what the Lux hotel quotes). Staff speak decent English and the manager/owner is very friendly. US$1-5.
  • Madison Corner, Street 2.5, [9]. 06:00-late. The unique Pub in town. Enjoy a drink, draft beer, cocktail, home-made rum and a large variety of ice creams and local snacks. Some of the best crepes in Cambodia. A Battambang meeting place.
  • Fresh Eats, Street 2.5 (A few doors down from Apple of Love/La Pomme d'Amour). NGO restaurant with a reasonably-priced menu with lots of fruit juices, breakfast foods and make-your-own sandwiches.
  • Scoop Cocktails Bar (scooprottanakresort@gmail.com), K.o street, romcheak 5, Sangkat Ratanak, Battambang, 855-53953255, [10]. 18hours from 6.am. Scoop Cocktails Bar(River east Bank)lives sports/ 1 LCD 40inchs and 2 LCD 30inchs, best cocktails in town, free tapas and snacks, happy hours 17:00-19:00 and 22:00-23:30 ( draught beer 75c buy 2 get 1 free, all cocktails $2.50). mid day- late afternoon come for beers or cocktails swim for free. $75c-$5.
  • Here Be Dragons, On the east bank of the river, between Sar Kheng Bridge and Hun Sen Bridge, 089264895, [11]. 7am till late. Western-managed backpacker bar, restaurant and guesthouse. Has cheap beer, cocktails and good music, and a garden with hammocks. Dorm beds $2, rooms $10.


Sleep

Budget

  • Battambang My Homestay, (little bit out of city centre, but nicely quiet (10 min by bike)), +855 12 300 249 (), [12]. Just call the owner Mr. Kun or go to the website. Very friendly atmosphere, traditional Khmer breakfast and lovely fruitplates for the evening, free bicycles, free WiFi, TV, extrodinary Tuk-Tuk drivers with high English-skills and good knowledge about the area and Cambodia in general, contact to local volunteering organisation. 12USD fan, 16USD AC.
  • Ancient House (Homestay in Watkor village), (100 m south of Watkor temple and a few km south of town), +855 12 363174. Talk with Madame Boun Roeung (who speaks some French but no English) about the possibility of staying in her "Ancient House." Accommodation is simple, with foam mattresses on the floor. Other owners of ancient houses may also be open to this.
  • BOVA Village Homestay, Samroang Khnong Village (8km North of Battambang City), 012326577 (), [13]. Khmer homestay run by Mr. Sophorn a local man who also is the founder of BOVA (Battambang Orphanage Village Assistance). $US12 per person per night which includes pickup and drop off from your location in Battambang, traditional Khmer cuisine, drinking water and accommodation with a Khmer family. Accommodation is very basic but authentic. Bicycles may be borrowed from the orphanage to ride around the village and say hello to all the smiling children. The fee is split between the host family and the Orphanage. Numerous volunteer opportunities at the Orphanage. 12USD.
  • Seng Hout Hotel, No. #1008B, Road 02 (North of Psar Nat Market 50m, Prekmohatep, next door to the White Rose Restaurant and around the corner from the Smoking Pot), +855 53 952 900, cell +855 12 530 327 (), [14]. Good hotel with elevator and large reception area. Rooms have air-conor optional cheaper fan,free WiFi, cableTV and ensuite. Rooftop cafe with 360⁰ views. Newly built in 2008 with cableTV, air-con and refrigerator. Rates inc taxes and pick up any station in Battambang city March 2011-Standard room promo rate US$16, double occupancy. Standard single (VIP) US$18 nett/room (max 2 guests).Standard double US$15 nett/room (maximum 2-3 guests). Standard twin US$15 nett/room (max 2 guests).
  • Chhaya Hotel and Serviced Apartments, 118, St 3, Svaypor, +855 53 952170, +855 12 882500 (), [15]. Opened in June 2010, single, double and triple rooms, both air-con and non air-con, cableTV available. The cheaper hotel rooms have a shared bathroom, the more expensive ones have private facilities and a refrigerator. Serviced apartments newly opened in June 2010 and have large rooms with kitchenette and balconies, large ensuite, WiFi, cableTV. 24 hr security, free airport/bus station/boat harbour transfers. Hotel: US$4-12, apartments: US$20/night or US$270/mth.
  • Lux Guest House, +855 92 335767. Built in 2009, rooms include hot water, aircon, fan, cableTV, free WiFi, fridge and minibar. Rooms are big clean and nicely decorated, as goes for the entire hotel. Staff are friendly, helpful and a little bit shy. Location is close to nice eating places and at a road which is lit at night. US$8-23 (down to $US6 in low season).
  • Tomato Backpacker Hostel, Restaurant and Bar, 20 Ushaphea Village (behind LUX Guest House), +855 12 85 34 39. Very friendly place with ensuite rooms for just US$3 and dorms for US$2. Has only 4 rooms in total on first floor that also has nice restaurant balcony. Good value.. US$2-10.
  • Hotel Royal, (On a side street west of the central market), +855 16 944955. Rooftop restaurant. Spacious rooms with bathroom, hot water and air-con. Clean singles and doubles available with shared bathroom and toilets. Wi-Fi working in most rooms + rooftop. Very helpful staff who speaks good english. Free cold water on arrival. US$7-25.
  • Golden River Hotel, Street 3 (A few blocks down from Hotel Chhaya and just before the sign posted turn for the train station). Good clean hotel with the standard facilities you will find elsewhere in Battambang. Staff are helpful and friendly. From US$5.

Mid-range

  • Bungalow Restaurant and Guesthouse. CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. Amongst flowering gardens and tropical fruit trees. Good for really relaxing atmosphere and very good western and Thai food.
  • Holiday Hotel, #695, St.4, +855 81 999 006, [16]. Good hotel with elevator and large reception area. Rooms have air-con, wifi, cableTV and ensuite. US$15-20.
  • Lux Guest House, +855 92 335767. Built in 2009, air-con, fan, cableTV, free WiFi, fridge and minibar. Rooms are large, clean and nicely decorated; as is the entire hotel. Staff are friendly, helpful and a little bit shy. Location is close to nice eating places and at a road which is lit at night. US$8-23.
  • Teo Hotel, St.3, +855 53 952288, (mobile) +855 12 8570487. Immaculately clean and well-maintained rooms with double bed, air-con and fan, hot water, TV, and mini-fridge. Visa and MasterCard accepted. If you are in a room far from the router then wifi reception may be very poor or unavailable. Indoor restaurant is closed. Unhelpful staff. From US$10.
  • Khemara Battambang Hotel, No 224, Old National Rd No 5, Roumcheck 4 Village, Sangkat Rathanak., +855 53 732727, [17]. Very comfortable beds, clean rooms with internet access (LAN cable, but in some rooms a connection from a nearby WiFi network is available), TV, air-con, fan and a fridge. Car parking possible. Also has an outdoor swimming pool. In room massage available from US$5/hr. Bicycle hire US$4/day. US$15 or $25 VIP. (13.11599,103.20299)
  • * Banan Hotel, National Rd No 5, +855 77 707789. +855 61 577777 (), [18]. Close to bus station and city centre. Helpful staff. Free WiFi, free bicycles. US$15/$25. US$15/$25.
  • Phka Villa Hotel/Resort, K O St, Romchea 5, Sankat Ratanak, +855 53953255 (). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. 10 ensuite equipped bungalow rooms, 13 m x 18 m swimming pool, free internet and in-room WiFi, free bicycles, free shuttle to town, airport shuttle (surcharge), car or taxi arranged. All rooms have air-con, fan, network cable LCD TV, DVD player, safety box, stocked mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobe, toiletries. 2 private terraces, one is sun terrace facing the swimming pool. Restaurant and bar open from 06:00-midnight. Hotel opened in 2009, renovated in 2012 US$55.

Splurge

  • Au Cabaret Vert, Toul Ta Ek, Otakom 2, +855 53 656 2000, +855 77 991384 (), [19]. New hotel with bungalows around a natural swimming pool. Library, parking, free internet, tours, car and motorbike, electric bike and tuk-tuk hire arranged, international telephone, laundry and historic film screenings. US$50-66 for 2 persons, with breakfast.
  • La Villa, N 185 Pom Romchek 5 Kom, Rattanak Srok, +855 5373 0151 , mob +855 1741 1880 (, fax: +855 5373 0151), [20]. Guest house with a swimming pool in a renovated 1930s French colonial period villa, art-deco furniture and fittings. 7 rooms available (6 in the main house and 1 in the house nearby the swimming pool). Each room has a private toilet with bath or shower, air-con, fan, TV and cable network, 4 poster bed with mosquito net, light summer duvet, wardrobe, work desk, safety box, coffee and tea facilities, DVD player with DVD for rent. Located just across the river from the central market. Book ahead as it is often full. from US$55-100.
  • Bambu Hotel, Phum Romchek 5, Sangkat Rottanak, KO Street, +855 53 953900 (, fax: +855 53 953951), [21]. 16 rooms, inc 4 suite rooms (32 sq m incl bathroom), 6 deluxe superior rooms (27 sq m incl bathroom), 4 deluxe standard rooms (27 sq m incl bathroom). All have en suite bathrooms, air-con, telephone, flat screen cable TV, DVD player, access to DVD library, iPod docker, mini bar, room safe and private terrace or balcony. Free wifi, 2 computer terminals in reception for use by guests, salt water swimming pool (14m x 6) open from 08:00-21:00. Restaurant open 06:00-22:00, wine, beers, fruit juices and soft drinks available from the bar. From US$66.

Get out

Routes through Battambang
PoipetSisophon  NW noframe SE  → Moung Ruessei → Phnom Penh




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