Standing in the shadow of famous Siem Reap and busy Phnom Penh, Battambang is still not very popular destination in Cambodia.
Located in the Northwestern side of the country, it is a homeland to some of the best preserved French colonial architecture in Cambodia. The charming city is filled with modern cafes and art galleries – with exhibits of best local artists. All this is set along the riverfront area.
It is the second largest city in Cambodia but still you can feel the tranquil and friendly atmosphere here. Battambang is definitely the place to take a breath and explore local culture and traditions.
The magnificent 11th century Phnom Banan ruins are located 22 kilometers to the south of Battambang. At the base of the hills, you face over 350 stone steps lead to the incredible Prasat Banan with the panoramic view of the countryside. Interesting fact is that the temple with five characteristic towers, was often associated with the construction of Angkor Wat. It is very pleasant area to take a deep breath and go wonder to the Khmer Empire times.
In the past an essential solution for locals living in nearby villages to transport people, goods and food. Today, main tourist attraction in Battambang. The well-known norry is a wooden platform on wheels set on the single track and powered by engine. The ride takes you to the nearby village with a speed of up to 30 km/h.
It lasts around 15min or maybe longer when the other norry will come toward 🙂
Rice paper production
There is a village known as The Rice Paper Village on the outskirts of the city, where you can learn more about the unique and local production of rice paper for spring rolls. Family production is very famous and is indicated as the best in the country, but also common among its neighbours. Rice paper is exported to Thailand and Laos.
If you are a temple enthusiast, there is another important place worth a visit!
Located 11 km away from Battambang, the Wat Ek Phnom ruins stand on the background of a huge statue of a sitting Buddha and next to a modern pagoda. Set next to the lake and surrounded by 18 Bodhi trees picturesque area. It is a popular spot among locals for a picnic and family time during weekends.
Try bamboo sticky rice
The sweet, roasted dessert is served in a thick bamboo tube and cooked on the hot coals. It is a typical Cambodian treat filled with rice, black beans, sugar and coconut milk. And honestly, it tastes delicious! Specially served by local lady in a rural village of Battambang.
The popular fish market set in the countryside of Battambang is a slightly wet warehouse, where Cambodian families prepare prahok – the traditional fish paste. It is spicy and salted with a specific flavor sauce used to all dishes in Cambodian houses. I am not a very sensitive girl, but the smell of the fermented fish in the market was enough to knock me out. However, I still think that it’s worth to see 🙂 It gives you a simple example of this Cambodian treat.
The Killing Caves of Phnon Sampou
Today a memorial place and a popular tourist attraction, in the past the field of brutal murders during the Khmer Rouge massacre. On the bottom of a huge cave there is a monument created from the bones of the killed ones. It was built to memorise this tragic event.
The Bat Cave
At the end of the day, I can recommend you to visit the Phom Sampeau and the popular bat cave. Every day, there is a spectacular performance, and the main actors are bats, yes, bats! Around 5pm millions of bats fly out of the dark cave to start the night hunting. This is a pretty great experience to see it with your own eyes!
Vising the small villages in the district of Battambang, gave me an unique lesson of appreciation. It is a real eye-opening experience. The rural areas of Battambang are one of the poorest in Cambodia. Almost half of the people living there, live on less than one US dollar a day. However, I still received lots of smiles and kind welcomes from locals.