Amazing Things to Do and See in Battambang
The largest rice-bowl of Cambodia, Battambang truly emerges picturesque countryside while the colonial town remains French architecture, old yellow buildings and some of Angkorian temples are still in good condition including Banan and Ek Phnom temples. However, visiting Battambang, tourists never leave Battambang without experiencing the unique Bamboo train. Featured by the significant Sangker River, the walkable riverside gives short highlights of evening activities and street food you may love to try. Among other reputable destinations in Cambodia, Battambang uniquely provides wonderful experience from the authentic local attractions, cultural insiders and historical places in the region.
Best things you expect to explore!
1. The Bamboo Train (Norry)
The famous thing about Battambang is The Bamboo Train or in Khmer “Norry” which provides unique experience to catch the glimpses of beautiful rural countryside and have some fun while the creative bamboo platform attached motor-engine runs over the railway which was constructed during French colonial time and the railway is linked to Phnom Penh and Poi Pet
border (Thailand). If your bamboo train confronts another coming toward you, the one with bigger load will have the right to go first while another has to get off the railway and piece the bamboo platform, and reinstalls then continues its way. There are two bamboo train stations in Battambang, the original Bamboo Train is just located 5km from the central town and it’s popularly occupied by oversea tourists while the new Bamboo Train situates near Banan temple with approx. 22km (38 minute drive) and it attractively meets local desire.
2. Phnom Sampov & Bat Caves
Phnom Sampov literally means “Mountain Ship”, set among countryside, surrounded by several mountains and it takes approx. 20 minute drive (12km) from West-south of Battambang City. Phnom Sampov is one of the major tourist attractions in the region, which houses some caves including the tragic killing caves with hundreds of victims lost their lives during Khmer Rouge Regime, Pka Sla Cave is known as the hermitage for nuns that clusters several caves admired by the serenity and nature which provide a nice walking tour throughout the caves. Atop Buddhist pagoda on the summit, travelers can enjoy the spectacular panoramic view and breathtaking or watching beautiful sunset, this religious site houses Buddha image and holds special festivals which gather local people and international tourists to pray for good fortune and happiness. At the end of exploring Phnom Sampov, travelers anxiously spend an evening to observe thousands of bats flying to their caves amidst
the orange sky.
3. Central Market (Phsar Nath)
The largest market centrally sits in the heart of Battambang Town and with a few minute walk from Sangker River, Phsar Nath is one of the main tourist destinations in Battambang province and surrounded by many shop houses, restaurants, boutique shops, hotels, guesthouses and bars. In French Art Décor design, Phsar Nath was constructed in 1930s by the famous French
architect “Ernest Hebrard” who designed a few similar markets in Phnom Penh and Vietnam during Indochina colonial period. A visit to Phsar Nath is not big different from visiting other markets in Cambodia but it gives tourists best sight of local living activities as well as the best place for shopping in the region.
4. Prohok Market Battambang (Fermented Fish Market)
Established in 1990, Prohok market is mainly specialized in purchasing and supplying the fish pastes from/to other provinces and cities in Cambodia. Prohok is used by most Cambodians in families’ cooking and Khmer culinary, and it is added to enhance the flavor in most popular Cambodian dishes which are served in many local restaurants. The short walking tour extremely provides great experience to see how daily life of people work, exchange trades, process the fermentation and making fish pastes. Despite this infamous fish market may not be a good place to visit because of its strong smell but it may become a part of your unique experience in Asia. Prohok market is located near Sanger River and with approx. 8.5km north of Battambang downtown.
5. Lok Ta Dambong Kra Nhoung
Lok Ta Dambong Kra Nhoung is the most significant landmark of Battambang and it’s a sacred place to make wishes on special festival days. Both Battambang citizens and other local people who pass by always stop to make an offering with incenses, fresh flowers and fruits to Lok Ta Dambong Kra Nhoung that they certainly believe to bring them prosperity, safe journey, good fortune and happiness then they take photos together with families and friends before leaving.
6. Battambang Provincial Museum
Battambang provincial museum is considered as the second largest museum after the national museum in Phnom Penh Capital. The provincial museum was officially reopened in the early 2019 after a huge renovation and it houses remarkable Pre and Angkorian artifacts, statues, antique musical instruments, and demon and Buddha heads. The most notable things in this small museum are the tragic evidences left by Khmer Rouge regime that brutally proceeded thousands of lives from 1975 to 1979. Today Battambang provincial museum is one of the major tourist attractions shouldn’t be missed out and it’s the best place that provides insightful Pre and Angkorian arts, history and Khmer civilization. The entrance fee is just $1.00 per person and it opens daily from 8.00am to 5.30pm except public holidays, and another thing you should be aware is taking photos is prohibited inside the museum.
7. Ek Phnom Temple
Ek Phnom temple was built in 11th century by Khmer King Suryavarman I and it’s surrounded by moat. The temple features notable architecture and Hindu mythology “the Churning of the Sea of Milk” which is also depicted at the eastern gallery of Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap. Next to Ek Phnom temple is the striking Ek Pagoda whose ages more than 250 years old which attracts local people to come and pray for happiness on festival days, and the giant Buddha image in 25m height can be clearly seen from Ek Pagoda. Ek Phnom temple situates about 12km of northern Battambang downtown and it’s one of the major tourist attractions you should include in your travel list.
8. Banan Temple
Banan temple is located about 25km south of Battambang, with 40 minute drive pass by beautiful rice fields and pomelo farm where you have a chance to taste some bites of organic pomelos. This 11th century temple was built atop Banan mountain with approx. 100m high and it’s accessible on foot through 352 steps. Surrounded by tranquil nature and two mysterious caves at the hillside, tourists can reveal amazing temple architecture along with history while enjoying the breathtaking and panoramic view dotting with Sangker River. Banan temple is considered as one of the main tourist attractions in the region but it is not actually a must-see.
9. Mrs. Bun Roeung’s Ancient House
Many tourists never forget to visit Mrs. Bun Roeung’s house which was built by a Khmer couple during French colonial time, until now it is over 100 years old, the oldest traditional wooden house admired by notable Khmer arts and architecture in Wat Kor village of Battambang. During Khmer Rouge Genocide, the house was used as the storage, kitchen and a place of threshing rice. The house truly remains attractive because of its history, crafted design and the wooden rice grinder which can describe how unhusked rice and rice are processed at the place.
10. Banan Grape Farm
In short, Banan grape farm is a considerable place to catch the highlights of grape farming, harvesting and understanding the process of red wine is distilled, and it displays some different local brandy and red wine. It’s a great opportunity to taste the authentic flavor of brandy and grape wine while wondering around is fresh, take some nice photos of the surrounding and flower gardens. The grape farm is located in Botsala village, Banan district, about 14km south of Battambang downtown and it would be a worth visit if you pass by to visit Banan temple.
11. Rice Wine Battambang
Khmer rice wine is commonly distilled by some of local people who learn from their old generation and still use traditional distilling. From homemade yeast, a mix of organic ingredients and spices to the final fermentation, Cambodian rice wine is a kind of strong local alcohol beverage which can be blended with fresh fruits and spices such as pineapple, banana,
mango, sugarcane, grape, chili, anise, black pepper, galangal, cinnamon etc. and it’s very popular in Cambodia. There are some households along Prek Daun Teav, about 10km north of Battambang, which the process of rice wine and the important yeast are produced, and tourists have a chance to witness how it’s made as well as having a few shots is something unique and memorable.
12. Rice Paper Battambang
In Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, most of set menus never miss out the delicious fresh spring rolls as appetizer before the main course is served. Rice paper is actually the main importance of the beginning which wraps all items into a roll before deepening into fresh handmade fish source mixing with peanut and chili. Rice is soaked in the water for the night, in the morning, the soften rice is drained and ground then mix with water and a bit of salt which enhances the rice papers stay longer than usual when it is really dry up. Over the burning husk is the steam pot covered by white cloth where the ground rice is poured and shaped in round until it gets enough sticky then it’s taken to lay on bamboo strips exposing under the sun for a few hours until it’s completely dry. Along Prek Daun Teav, North of Battambang, there are some friendly family households you can closely interact with while witnessing how rice paper is made as well as tasting fresh spring rolls.
13. Bamboo Sticky Rice
Going beyond Prek Daun Teav, you will come across smokes coming out of small thatched huts which are displaying and selling bamboo sticky rice, it’s a fantastic chance to stop by to reveal how it is produced as well as having some bites before leaving the place. Bamboo sticky rice is a traditional method of making Cambodian snack which is rooted from the ancient time, mixing of black beans, sticky rice, fresh coconut milk, a bit of sugar and salt then all set is stuffed into green bamboo and covered with a lid of banana leaf or soft coconut skin. Next, it is cooked on the fire for a few hours until the mixing stuffs inside is well done and soft. Once well cooked, the over burned skin of the whole bamboo will be peeled off and it’s then ready to serve.
14. Wat Samrong Knong Killing Field
Wat Samrong Knong is one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in Battambang, locates about 4km from the downtown and it’s one of the historical places which attracts hundreds of visitors to witness the darkness history and its beautiful architecture, Khmer classical art pagoda. During Khmer Rouge Regime 1970-1975, Wat Samrong Knong was brutally converted to a place to imprison, torture and kill thousands of lives which the remains of victims and evidences have been stored and can be seen at the place until today. Wat Samrong Knong is still active Buddhist pagoda which often hold national ceremonies and other religious festivals, a sacred pagoda for locals to wish for happiness, prosperity and good fortune.
15. Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary
The most important home for hundred species within Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, a great lush area houses many endangered water birds including darters, little cormorants, grey herons, greater adjutants, milky & painted storks, black headed ibis, spot billed ducks and other species that yearly migrate from different sites of The Great Lake to gather at Prek Toal sanctuary for breeding during the wet season which gives the best time to observe, learn and witness how those lovely birds are concentratively being protected. Prek Toal is truly famed for its special bird reserve, the boat excursion to visit Prek Toal bird sanctuary always admires the highlights of the significant river-life of the inhabitants in the floating communities of Battambang. It provides picturesque views of The Great Lake, passing some floating villages animated by fishing activities, learning from your local tour guide how people make a living on the surface of Tonle Sap Lake while observing rare endangered birdlife in Prek Toal reserve area. Whether you stay in Siem Reap or Battambang, it’s completely possible to explore Prek Toal bird sanctuary which a fully guided day trip can be arranged from a travel agency or your hotel.