Battambang (Khmer: ក្រុងបាត់ដំបង) with about 150,000 people (2016), is Cambodia's second most populous city, and a popular tourist destination due to the nearby ancient temples, the circus and the bamboo railway. It is the capital of Battambang Province.
Despite being Cambodia's second largest city, Battambang is often overlooked in favor of the more popular Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Battambang is quieter, less commercial and cheaper, and provides an opportunity to see a slightly less Westernized Cambodian city. Remnants of French colonial architecture can be spotted around the city, and there are food and lodging options that will cater to most budgets and tastes.
National Hwy 5 from Phnom Penh is 80% paved, though it's a very rough trip in parts. Hwy 5 runs northwest to Sisophon and Poipet. At Sisophon, Hwy 6 branches off to Siem Reap (also a rough trip in parts). In a car, Phnom Penh is around 5 hours away and Sisophon 1 hour. By bus, Phnom Penh takes 5–7 hours and costs US$5-12. Siem Reap takes 4 hours and costs US$4-5. Poipet (Thai border): 2–3 hours, US$4–5.
- Paramount Angkor Buses run twice daily from Battambang to Pailin via Hwy 57 (2 hours) for US$4.
- PP Sorya buses go from Battambang to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Poipet.
One boat a day travels from Siem Reap (for Angkor) to Battambang, departing Siem Reap at 07:00 and costs US$20. An interesting and very scenic journey along small rivers, the boat threads its way through numerous charming floating villages and past dozens of towering cantilevered fishing net installations. It can take between 6–12 hours, 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.
- 1 Battambang Royal railway station.
The city center is pretty compact and can be mostly explored by foot. Unhappily, the locals have named the main cross-street 'Pub Street', after that in Siem Reap it doesn't resemble at all. 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 motorbikes. 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 US$1–2.
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 you 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.
Don't be too stingy with tips. Tuk tuk and motorcycle taxi guys make barely enough to live, especially in the low season.
Small boats serve as ferries (500 riel) and cross the river from in front of the market.
- Battambang Circus, Phare Ponleu Selpak (10 min journey by tuk-tuk from the centre of Battambang), ☏ . Probably the most interesting thing happening in Battambang. You can check their website for the schedule or find the calendar printed on flyers around town. 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. US$14 (Jan 2018).
- 1 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. The admission charge also includes Wat Banan. 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 approach road. US$3.
- Statues. 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 and province derives from this legend.
- 2 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.
- 3 Wat Ek Phnom (about 10 km northwest of Battambang). Angkor-type temple ruin. 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 translates as "wat in the forest". An extremely old pagoda on the east 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.
- 4 Battambang Provincial Museum, Corner of Rd. 1 and Street 125. Tu-Su 08:00-17:30; closed Monday. Established in 1963, the Battambang Provincial Museum houses a small but impressive collection of Khmer artifacts. The core of the collection is statutes and temple pieces dating from the advent of Hindu and Buddhist religion in Cambodia all the way through the Angkor period. There is also a notable collection of neolithic artifacts from the Laang Spean site. The museum has been renovated, and all artifacts have English-Khmer signage. US$1.
- 1 Bamboo Train. The term "train" is here used loosely: a large bamboo platform mounted on train axles powered by a small go-kart engine. A trip on the train can be booked in most hotels or arranged with a motorbike/tuk-tuk driver. 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. Ask the driver to pause at scenic places. The Bamboo Train is running along the new track: it takes about 10 minutes to get to a stop where you can buy drinks and t-shirts; it then returns along the same route. US$5 per person shared, US$10 solo.
- Soksabike Tours, Street 1.5 (near Psar Nat), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Soksabike is a social enterprise dedicated to sustainable tourism in Battambang. They offer half day and full day bike tours around the countryside where guests can learn about the everyday life and culture of Cambodia. The money for the tour is distributed to families in the community along the way and goes to pay the salaries of the guides, all local university students. They use high-quality mountain bikes, provide a helmet and even include a coffee at one of the best cafes in town. Hotel pickup included and group discounts are available.
- Butterfly Tours, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Takes you on a half-day or full-day trip to various sites around Battambang. The tour is an initiative run by university students. The guides are students of English at the university level and provide an interesting local insight into life in Cambodia. Hotel pickups in Battambang. US$15 per person. Group discounts.
- Green Orange Kayak, ☏ . 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.
- Volunteer Teaching English (Battambang Orphanage Village Assistance) (10 min north of Battambang), ☏ . Stay at a home stay in Samroang Khnong Village and volunteer to help teach English to children. Call Mr Sophorn and he will pick you up from town and make you very welcome indeed. No experience or special skills are required, just a willingness to help the delightful local children speak a bit more English. The small price includes accommodation and three delicious meals a day. US$12 per person per night.
- Battambang Countryside trip (Hotel pickups in Battambang), ☏ . Offers tuk-tuk day trips to the countryside surrounding Battambang including seeing local crafts, temples and other major sites. Customised trips available.
- Ch'Ngainh Ch'Ngainh, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A homey, familial approach to cookery conducted in a family home. Daily courses priced at US$10.
- Nary's Kitchen (opposite Holiday Guesthouse, 200 m from central market), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Battambang's original cooking school, and still highly popular. Hotel pick-up, market tour to buy ingredients. US$10 (4 separate dishes; vegetarian available; free cookbook to take away).
- Smokin' Pot, corner of Street 121 and Road 1.5 (in the city center), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. You'll meet Chef-owner Vannak outside the restaurant and go by tuk-tuk to a produce market south of town to buy herbs, vegetables and fish; then you'll go to his house outside of town and spend about two hours cooking up several Khmer dishes. The patio-turned-training-kitchen is authentically Khmer, an insight into how most of Cambodia cooks and eats. Vannak's is very knowledgable about Khmer cuisine and speaks excellent English, so everyone (from amateurs to pro cooks) will learn something. US$10.
ATMs very occasionally swallow cards (and banks don't give them back), so use cards that are cancellable online, and bring a spare.
- Heng Chhay Ly Supermarket, Borei Road off Street 1, ☏ . 07:00–21:30.
- Chea Neang Drink Shop Supermarket, 611 Street 3, ☏ . 06:00–20:00.
- Psar Nath & Psar Boeung Chhoeuk (Public markets). Fruit stalls.
- Lucky Supermarket, NE corner of intersection @Hwy 5, Street 524/106, La He St. 08:00-22:00.
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.
You can get some great French-style bread (by French standards) for 1,000 riel a medium-size baguette up north, between the French cultural centre and the giant statue marking the entry in Battambang from the main inter-provincial 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, baguette-shapes, but sprinkled with sugar. 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.
- Apple of Love (La Pomme d'Amour), St 2.5, #63, ☏ , . 07:00-22:00. Khmer cuisine with a French twist, sophisticated and creative with pleasant staff. Wine list.
- Au Cabaret Vert Restaurant (Au Cabaret Vert-Hôtel à Battambang), Toul Ta Ek, Otakom 2 (5 min from the market by tuk-tuk), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, starters US$8-12.
- Bamboo Train Café & Bar' (cross the new bridge, 200 m further and it's on the right side just after the pizza house), ✉ email@example.com. 06:30–22:00. Relaxed atmosphere, delicious food and friendly staff.
- 1 Cafe Eden, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M 07:30-21:00. Western-style river front cafe restaurant run by an American woman. Serves Western and Asian food, and coffee. Kitchen works to Western food handling and preparation standards.
- Coconut Lyly, Street 111 (200 m west from central market), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 09:00–22:00. Offers a nice compact menu with mainly Khmer dishes. The food is recommendable. US$3-4 for a main course.
- Choco l'art Cafe, Street 117 (1½ blocks west of Street 3), ☏ . 08:00–23:00. Coffee shop with assorted omelets and both sweet and savory crepes. Popular with local NGO workers and some expats.
- Flavors of India, Street 121 (Near intersection with Road 1.5), ☏ . 11:00–22:00. Excellent North Indian dishes with local and imported beers, lassi and noteworthy entrees. Mains from US$3-5.
- Gecko Cafe, St 3 (one block south of Psa Nath Market). Nice atmosphere, limited but very tasty menu. Free Wi-Fi.
- Natural (Project of an NGO called Coconut Water Foundation), N091-G34 Rd 3. 20 Ousaphear Village, Svaypoar Commune (St 3, 100 m south of the central market), ☏ . 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 loom.
- Smokin' Pot, corner of Street 121 and Road 1.5. This Battambang mainstay offers a good variety of Khmer, Thai and Western food in an aging-yet-charming setting that echoes the city itself. Vegetarian friendly. Good drinks. US$3-5.
- White Rose (Ko Lap Sor) (almost opposite the Smoking Pot). Huge menu, and some great fruit shakes. This place is a bit more 'Asian' than Western, but is still full of foreigners. Service is chaotic, food is quite good, and the upstairs provides one of the few Battambang eateries where you get an outlook and a breeze.
- Ambrosia Cafe, 112 Street 2, ☏ . Su-F 07:00–22:00; Sa 18:00-22:00. Excellent cafe with good western and Khymer food at reasonable prices. They also have a selection of board games and an xbox if you want to play. They have a film night on Tuesdays using a good projector (free, as long as you are eating/drinking there).
- Heng Chhay Ly Food Court (3rd Floor), Borei Road off Street 1. 08:00-21:00.
- Nary Kitchen (Street 111, 200 m from central market), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Home of Battambang's original cooking school, this restaurant remains highly popular. A nice range of Asian and Western dishes, US$3-4.50. Nice shakes. Host speaks fluent English and French. Central.
- Center Cafe, St 3 (One block towards the river from the Lux Hotel). 07:30–24:00. Cheap and tasty Western and Khmer dishes. The usual beer, coffee and smoothies. Nice atmosphere. Tours and 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.
- Espresso Cafe (Beside Hotel Royal, inner side of yellow art-deco market). Everything is provided with a smile. Great smoothies. A good family-run Khmer restaurant.
- Fresh Eats, St 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.
- Madison Corner, St 2.5, ☏ . 06:00–late. The unique pub in town. Enjoy a drink, draught beer, cocktail, home-made rum and a wide range of ice creams and local snacks. Some of the best crepes in Cambodia. A popular meeting place.
- Scoop Cocktail Bar (email@example.com), KO St, Romcheak 5, Sangkat Ratanak (River, east bank), ☏ . 06:00–late. Live sports on a 40 in LCD and 2 LCD 30 inches. Good cocktails, free tapas and snacks. Happy hour 17:00-19:99 and 22:00-23:30: draught beer US$0.75, buy 2 get 1 free, all cocktails US$2.50). US$0.75–5.00.
- Street One and a Half, End of St 1.5 (head south from central market on St 2, turn left and it's at the end/corner of that little street). Good cafe menu with a few snacks but mainly just excellent coffee and drinks. Cool alleyway atmosphere.
- Chhaya Hotel and Serviced Apartments, 118, St 3, Svaypor, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Single, double, and triple rooms, both air-con and fan. Cable TV. The cheaper hotel rooms have a shared bathroom, the more expensive ones have private facilities and a refrigerator. Serviced apartments have large rooms with kitchenette and balconies, large en suite bath, Wi-Fi, cable TV. 24 hr security, free airport/bus station/boat harbour transfers. Hotel: US$4-12, apartments: US$20/night or US$270/month.
- 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$9.
- Here Be Dragons, Riversise East, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. six bed dorm and private rooms fan or A/C dorm US$4/6; fan or A/C room from USD12/15.
- Holiday Hotel, #695, St. 4, ☏ . Good hotel with elevator and large reception area. Rooms have air-con, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and en suite bath. US$15-20.
- Hotel Royal, 115 Street (On a side street west of the central market), ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. Rooftop restaurant. Spacious double rooms with bathroom, hot water and air-con. Clean fan singles and doubles available with shared bathroom and toilets. US_7-10-15-20-25.
- Seng Hout Hotel, No 1008B, Rd 02 (50 m north of the main market), ☏ , (cell), ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. Good hotel with elevator and large reception area. Rooms have air-con or optional cheaper fan, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, refrigerator, hot and cold water, and en suite bathroom. Swimming pool. Rooftop with 360⁰ views. (There is a new Seng Hout a few doors from the original - on the corner facing the market. They're of roughly equal quality.) US$10-16.
- Ganesha Family Guest House, Street 1. 5, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. dorm and rooms dorm bed US$4.50, rooms from US$11..
- Frist Hotel, 210 Street 101, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. 6-bed dorm and rooms. Security lockers. Free wifi. Hot water. Air con 6-bed dorm US$5 per person Fan dorm bed US$3 per person. Rooms from US$7.
- Hostel BTB Cambodia, Road 121 & Road 102, ☏ . Air-conditioned 6-12 bed dorms. Security lockers. Free Wi-Fi. dorm bed from US$3.25 per person.
- Angkor Comfort Hotel, Street 1, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. Air-con double room with own bathroom, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. US$15.
- Banan Hotel, National Rd No 5, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Close to bus station and city centre. Helpful staff. Free Wi-Fi, free bicycles. US$15-25.
- 1 Khemara Battambang Hotel, No 224, Old National Rd No 5, Roumcheck 4 Village, Sangkat Rathanak, ☏ . Very comfortable beds, clean rooms with Internet access (LAN cable, but in some rooms a connection from a nearby Wi-Fi network is available), TV, air-con, fan and a fridge. Car parking possible. Also has great outdoor swimming pool. In room massage available from US$5/hr. Bicycle hire US$4/day. US$15 or US$25 VIP.
- Lux Guest House, ☏ . Rooms include hot water, air-con, fan, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, 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 lighted at night. US$8–23.
- Phka Villa Hotel/Resort, KO St, Romchea 5, Sankat Ratanak, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 10 en suite bungalow rooms, 13 m x 18 m swimming pool, free Internet and in-room Wi-Fi, free bicycles, free shuttle to town, airport shuttle (surcharge), car or taxi arranged. All rooms have hot water, air-con, fan, network cable LCD TV, DVD player, in-room safe, mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobe, toiletries. 2 private terraces, one is sun terrace facing the swimming pool. Restaurant and bar open from 06:00–24:00. US$55.
- President Hotel (1 km from mid-town. Every tuk tuk knows it.). Incompetently run with plumbing leaks and reception can rarely help with anything. Quite new and quite cheap for a nice room with modern conveniences. US$15.
- Teo Hotel, St 3, ☏ , (mobile). Immaculately clean and well-maintained rooms with double bed, air-con, and fan, hot water, TV, and fridge. Visa and MasterCard accepted. If you are in a room far from the router then Wi-Fi reception may be very poor or unavailable. Indoor restaurant is closed. Unhelpful staff. From US$10.
- Au Cabaret Vert, Toul Ta Ek, Otakom 2, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 with breakfast.
- Bambu Hotel, Phum Romchek 5, Sangkat Rottanak, KO St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 16 rooms, including 4 suite rooms (32 m² including bath), 6 deluxe superior rooms (27 m² including bath), 4 deluxe standard rooms (27 m² including bath). All have en suite baths, air-con, telephone, cable TV, DVD player, access to DVD library, iPod docker, mini bar, safe and private terrace or balcony. Free Wi-Fi, 2 computer terminals in reception for use by guests, salt water swimming pool (14 m x 6) open from 08:00–21:00. Restaurant open 06:00–22:00. From US$66.
- 2 La Villa, N 185 Pom Romchek 5 Kom, Rattanak Srok (Just across the river from the central market.), ☏ , (cell), fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Guesthouse with a swimming pool in a renovated 1930s French colonial period villa, Art Deco furniture and fittings. 7 rooms (6 in the main house and 1 in the house nearby the swimming pool). Each room has a private toilet with bath or shower, hot and cold water, air-con, fan, TV and cable network, 4 poster bed with mosquito net, light summer duvet, wardrobe, work desk, safe, coffee and tea facilities, DVD player with DVD for rent. Book ahead as it is often full. US$55–100.
Battambang is very hot during Feb–May, when air conditioning (which adds perhaps US$5 to room cost) is hard to do without. For those with vulnerable stomachs, the hot season is also the least safe, food-wise. Like all Cambodian cities, Battambang is dusty, and eye problems can result. Wear your largest sunglasses when moving around on foot or by tuk tuk. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and Japanese encephalitis are present, so use plenty of insect repellant.
Street dogs (including those fed by stallholders in the main market, Psar Nath) occasionally attack non-locals, so carrying a stick or stones is a good precaution if out walking. As with everywhere in SE Asia, women with bags are the prime target of thieves. The thief will more often than not be on a motorbike.
Boys aged 7 to early teens begging on the streets are generally glue-sniffers: buy them food but don't give them money. Adults with 'charity ID' collecting money 'for the children', generally near the river, are scammers. Sometimes they'll ask you to volunteer to teach local kids English: this generally ends in an attempt to get money from you.
As many Westerners find love in Cambodia, many are taken in by very convincing scammers. As for sex workers, many have HIV and STDs. In the more traditional Asian societies, skimpy clothing is generally only worn by prostitutes. Foreigners baring too much flesh is disrespectful.
Traffic officially keeps right, but in reality is all over the road. Look both ways before moving. Pedestrian crossings are disregarded by drivers, and will afford no safety. ATMs occasionally swallow your card: bring a spare.
If you're sick or injured, see a Western-trained doctor not one trained in Cambodia. There is often at least one of these at the Handa Medical Centre, including a Filipina doctor trained to Western standards. (No appointment needed: just show up.)
|Routes through Battambang|
|Poipet ← Sisophon ←||NW SE||→ Moung Ruessei → Phnom Penh|