What to do in Battambang

What to do in Battambang in Cambodia

Battambang is the second most populated city after Phon Penh and I must admit that arriving here knowing that it is the second main city in Cambodia and seeing few people around, one immediately thinks of the limited period of 4 years of Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communist Party) to see how things really happened.

In fact, in Cambodia about 2 million people have been killed in 4 years (the numbers are unclear) and these people were killed by their own compatriots.
The regime of the time – the Khmer Rouge – he defined the first year as Year Zero and forced everyone, elderly or sick, children and adults to work in the fields for 14 or 15 hours a day, he wanted to achieve the ideal of an agricultural cooperative society.
In 1975 and for 4 successful years the country was literally cut off from the world by Pol Pot, the intellectuals were killed because they were against the rural ideal of the government of the time and to be an intellectual it was enough to have eyeglasses, the cities they were evacuated and an attempt was made to make the society self-sufficient from all points of view and with dramatic results.

In fact, arriving in Battambang as far as I’m concerned was a bit disappointing, I don’t know what I was expecting, perhaps a sort of Siem Reap but the reality here is completely different.
Little or nothing is tourist-friendly, which means that the restaurants close at 8.30pm if not earlier, there are no street food stalls on the street, when darkness falls the city shuts down.
Yet after a day it was precisely this that started to make me like it, little if anything for tourists but everything local.
Despite French colonialism and the possible French-style villas scattered here and there, I don’t think Battambang is a beautiful city but to be able to fully enjoy this location what you need to do are excursions, all of which can be done by tuk tuk or scooter.

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What to do in Battambang

Bamboo Train – The bamboo train is an ancient means of transport used by Cambodians to move from one village to another. Unfortunately, from next year it will no longer be possible to use it, it will no longer be a tourist attraction but if you go this year you still have time for this nice experience.
The tour that combines the bamboo train and visit to the villages and killing fields it is highly recommended, it concentrates some of the main attractions of the town and its surroundings.

Cave Phnom Sampeau (Killing field) – Death camp where the bodies of Khmer Rouge victims were dumped after being killed. A painful but noteworthy place to visit so as not to forget the suffering of these countries.

Bike ride through the rural villages of Battambang. This is another very popular activity that I also recommend to discover some corners less traveled by tourists and experience ethical tourism.

phnom banan – If you are not tired of ruins yet then you should not miss these, of course they are much less impressive than Angkor Wat but it is worth visiting them and climbing the stupas.

Afternoon on the boat – If you don’t get to Battambang by boat from Siem Reap or vice versa you don’t think about going to Siem Reap by water then an afternoon among the floating villages could be an excellent idea to spend the afternoon. A boat for an hour can cost around $4 but I recommend a shop.

Phare Ponleu Selpak – Battambang Circus – 1500 Cambodian children in training to become circus and contemporary dance artists who tell the story of Cambodia, $8 entry and money absolutely well spent.

Emergency hospital – The hospital is located in the city and is easy to reach from any part of the town. You can visit the center and be accompanied by one of the international staff members (Italians) and you can see what they are doing and how they are helping these people.
Anyone can visit the hospital with prior notice and I believe it is worth it given the praiseworthy work and the incredible results they have achieved.

Traditional Khmer cuisine – Lonely Planet recommends the Smoking Pot but out of pure principle and to be able to help even those who are not lucky enough to be in a well-known guide like Lonely Planet, I opted for another restaurant/school.
Nary’s chitcken, a short distance from the central market where the food is good (I tested it before booking the lesson) and the owners also need it since business in those parts isn’t going very well.
The course started at 9 in the morning and ended at 12.
At 9 in the morning we went to the market to do some shopping and at 12 my three courses were ready and I was hungry and couldn’t wait to try them.
Menu of the day: Amok Fish, Lak lok with meat and spring rolls fresh.

I’ll just say that I didn’t have dinner in the evening as I was still full from lunch time.

How to get to Battambang

Battambang is located 2 and a half hours by taxi from Poipet, the border with Thailand, or 3 and a half hours by bus.
The cost of a shared taxi is $10 per person while the bus is $8.
If you come from Siem Reap instead you can take either the $6 bus which takes about 3 and a half hours or the barca $21 (taxi included to get to the port), which I recommend doing as it is a beautiful boat ride between floating communities.
The cost is much higher but I think this was one of the best boat trips I’ve ever done so far.
The boat leaves at 7 in the morning and arrives in Battambang around 2pm.
At the port of Battambang you will find numerousi shuttles gratuiti who will take you to the hotel and even if you haven’t booked you can always ask if it is possible to go with them and get a room at the hotel.
And Sihnoukhville instead the cost of the bus is $9 but the journey lasts 12 hours.
In fact, you have to go to Phon Penh first and change buses from there.
It was very quick but it still took 12 hours which didn’t bother me much since I’m used to it but no one warned me and I think 5 hours was enough.

To get to Phon Penh, however, the bus that leaves at 7 in the morning will take about 5 hours and costs $4.
Tickets can be purchased directly at guest houses or hotels

Where to sleep in Battambang

Battambang is a very popular city among travelers in Cambodia and as often in South East Asia the sleeping solutions are very good and of excellent quality. Among the hotels I recommend the Maisons Wat Kor a beautiful hotel in nature not far from the center and with a beautiful swimming pool and The Sanctuary Villa Battambang, bungalows in nature and structure with swimming pool. A very nice, simple and suitable alternative for backpackers is the Battambang Dream Bungalows.

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