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Battambang Travel Guide: The Bamboo Train & Best Things to Do

The charming town of Battambang is not the type of place where you should expect to find particularly spectacular sights. However, what you can look forward to is: Relaxing flair, colonial streets, and an authentic insight into the everyday life of Cambodians.

Are you thinking about stopping off in Battambang on your trip through Cambodia? In our travel blog we show you what to expect in Battambang and which sights you should not miss out on. We reveal the best things to do and our highlights and provide tips for your trip.

Battambang Travel Guide

1. Battambang Travel Guide: FAQs & Initial Travel Tips

Battambang is the provincial capital of the province of the same name and is located in western Cambodia. Even though Battambang is the third largest town in Cambodia, the centre truly feels more like a small rural town. It is surprisingly cosy and relaxed.

In the centre of Battambang you will find some architectural remnants from the French colonial time. However, you should only expect to find some of the buildings renovated and well-kept – most of the streets are now a little run down but leave a charming impression.

Battambang is most famous for the legendary bamboo train. Goods were once transported along these railway lines – today the adventurous ride on the bamboo train is the most famous tourist attraction in Battambang.

How many days should I plan to stay in Battambang?

We ourselves spent two nights in Battambang and found this amount of time to almost be too short. We could visit the main attractions without a problem, but we really enjoyed the relaxing, authentic flair in Battambang and would have liked to have stayed a little longer.

Of course, it depends how much you would like to do there, but if you are more of a leisurely traveller, we would recommend you stay three nights.

Tip: Cambodia travel guide

We always gladly recommend the Lonly Planet travel guides for Southeast Asia, as they are very well-researched. The one for Cambodia was published in Februar 2022. You can’t go wrong with this travel guide and will be well prepared.

You can purchase the travel guide here: Lonly Planet Cambodia Travel Guide

Battambang Travel Tips

2. The Best Things to Do in Battambang: Our Travel Tips

Stroll through the centre of Battambang

Battambang’s centre is cosy and compact. It is located on the west bank of the river (Sangker River) around the central market (Psar Nat). There are some lovely streets to be found here.

It is often said that Battambang is a colonial gem. However, in reality you have to comb through with a magnifying glass to find the colonial buildings. Probably the most beautiful colonial building in Battambang is the former Governor’s Residence (Sala Khaet). This building was erected at the beginning of the 20th century and is located about a 20-minute walk south of the central market.

All in all, Battambang is not a town of impressive sights, but much more a place where you can let yourself get lost in without a plan or objective.

Battambang Cambodia Tips

Bike tour with Soksabike

The great thing about Battambang: Within just a short time you can make your way from the centre to the rural surroundings and witness the life of the locals up close. The best way to get to know the region and its people is by taking a bike tour. We ourselves went out with the company Soksabike and can highly recommend them.

We decided on doing the half day tour (Local Livelihood Half Day), which takes you through rural Battambang accompanied by a guide, stopping off at a few families and local producers along the way. You can, for example, watch how rice paper or dried bananas are produced and gain a lot of insight into the daily life of the people.

On the half day tour, you will be on the road for around four hours and cover around 25 kilometres altogether there and back. Perhaps that sounds like a lot but don’t worry, it is also doable for people who are not so fit. The tour starts in the morning, so you are back before the midday heat. Our conclusion: There is no better way to invest 29 US dollars. The bike tour was our personal highlight in Battambang.

Booking & further info: Soksabike

Battambang Bike Tour
Soksabike Battambang
Battambang Bike Tour Tips

Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus

performance by the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus is not to be missed. Young people train to become circus artists here and put on a public performance several time a week. The circus school is an NGO project and the proceeds from the performance go towards the education of the young people.

The level is incredibly high and the show is very moving. Of course, it doesn’t always go as planned right away – but that makes it all the more enjoyable. Entry costs 16 US dollars. Highly recommendable!

Tickets & more info: Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus

Bamboo Train

No secret, but still worthwhile: Taking a ride on the legendary bamboo train. In the past, the bamboo train transported locals and goods. Today, it is one of the main tourist attractions in the Battambang area.

The stretch is a single track. That means: When there is oncoming traffic, the lesser laden wagon is dismantled and then reassembled. The trip ends up in a tiny village with a few souvenirs and drink stands. Then you take the same track back again.

Good to know: The stretch was recently renovated, and the roughest dips and bumps were improved. But the trip is still very adventurous. The trip takes around an hour altogether. The price there and back costs around 5 USD. The best way to reach the departure point is by tuk tuk.

Bamboo Train Battambang
Itinerary Cambodia
Bamboo Train Cambodia

Additional sights in Battambang if you have more time

Phnom Sampeau (= Phnom Sampov): A good 10 kilometres south of Battambang, the mountain Phnom Sampeau stretches 160m into the sky. As idyllic as the place may seem, the story behind it is horrific. The Khmer Rouge killed countless people in the cave system within the mountain. Therefore, the caves are also known as the Killing Caves. You can also climb up Phnom Sampeau and enjoy a beautiful view from above. The so-called Bat Cave is also well-known: In the evening hours hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the cave.

Wat Ek Phnom: These temple ruins originate in the 11th century. The Wat Ek Phnom is not one of the main highlights and can’t compete with the Angkor Temples, but it is certainly still worth the visit. It is located on a small hill about 11 kilometres north of Battambang. This takes around 20 to 25 minutes to reach by tuk tuk. 

3. Eating & Drinking: Battambang Restaurant Tips

The selection of restaurants in Battambang is not so large, still there are some very nice restaurants to be found here. Of course, we don’t want to keep our favourites a secret from you.

Jaan Bai Restaurant: This very likeable restaurant is supported by an NGO, which is committed to training disadvantaged young people. There are creative Khmer and Thai dishes on the menu – and also plenty of options for vegan and vegetarians.

The Place Rooftop Bar: You can find this cosy bar situated on the rooftop of a hotel. Perfect for one or two drinks in the evening. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner here.

About the World: This small, family-run restaurant has great Khmer food. You sit on the floor at the tables – and the experience immediately feels a little more authentic. There are also vegetarian meals on the menu and vegan meals available on request.

4. Staying the Night in Battambang: Our Hotel Tip

Would you like to stay in peaceful surroundings? Then we can recommend the wonderful hotel complex, Maisons Wat Kor, for you. This jewel is located a little outside of the town centre, but you can reach it in around 10 minutes on a tuk tuk. A fantastic retreat awaits you here.

The lovely kept and beautifully landscaped garden contains several bungalows, built around a lotus pond. The rooms are traditional and very tastefully and comfortably furnished. There is also a swimming pool – so you can refresh after a long day.

The staff are extremely accommodating, and the food is delicious. A highly recommendable hotel. Not the cheapest choice in Battambang, but a very comfortable place for you to stay.

You can book the hotel here: Maisons Wat Kor

Hotel Tip Battambang

Disclaimer: Affiliate Links

This travel guide contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. This does not change the price for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!

Have you ever found yourself in Battambang? How did you like it? Let us know about your experiences and best things to do in the comments. We look forward to your additional tips for Battambang!

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