Of all of Cambodia’s large urban centers, Battambang is undoubtedly the most alluring. Located amidst attractive rolling countryside to the west of Tonle Sap Lake, the town enjoys a peaceful riverside location and possesses some of the country’s best-preserved colonial architecture.
Although it is laid-back to the point of being horizontal, the city has its own unique dynamism. In fact, it has become known for being at the cutting edge of an emerging Cambodian art scene with several galleries and creative spaces around town showcasing the work of local artists.
At the core of the city’s artistic revival is Phare Ponleu Selpak. The sprawling arts establishment, established by one-time refugees from Cambodia’s civil war, teaches visual, applied and performing arts to underprivileged kids. Its centerpiece is its circus school with students performing in energetic and often-thought provoking productions under the school’s big top.
The healthy art scene in the city, meanwhile, is complemented by a clutch of high-quality restaurants specializing in everything from fine French dining to more humble, but still delicious, Khmer delicacies.
Battambang’s bucolic hinterland is also well worth exploring. The famous “bamboo train” – an eccentric and noisy contraption – runs along a short section of track just outside town and is one of the world’s most unique rail journeys. Another great way of exploring the countryside is by bike, the small surrounding villages and palm-studded landscapes offering an idyllic glimpse into rural life.
HALF DAY TOUR: WAT, WATER & ARCHITECTURE BIKE
Travel by foot, boat and bike along the Sangke River and experience Battambang daily life. You will learn about the rich history of the city and discover its fantastically preserved colonial architecture. Take the opportunity to pray with the monks at Wat Povil, before continuing to the nearby Wat Kor Village to appreciate the century-old Khmer heritage houses.
See Battambang through the eyes of a local with a guided bicycle tour of the town and its surroundings. Capture the essence of daily life while riding past cottage industries, busy markets and vibrant fields. Stop often to meet with the locals and soak-in the beauty of the countryside.