• Kate

Off the beaten path - Battambang, Cambodia

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

Battambang is a small, non-touristy city in northwestern Cambodia. When Kate visited in March 2019, it was normal for there to be a few blackouts daily - a pretty common occurrence in Cambodia. They rely on their power from neighboring countries Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Kate went to Battambang mainly to kill time after her romantic weekend with Adam in Siem Reap and before her trip to Indonesia. Nadia, Kate's Swiss friend from Siem Reap was also going to be in Battambang so it was an easy decision to make and a short 3-hour bus ride from Siem Reap.

The scenery in Battambang is very different compared to dusty Siem Reap, hectic Phnom Penh and the islands in the South. Battambang is hilly, the cattle are fatter and there is the large Tonlé Sap lake which feeds into the Mekong River. The views from the bat cave and Sampov Mountain stretch over green forests and farming fields.

The city itself has a few nice cafes and an amazing photo gallery called “HUMAN Gallery'' which shows works by humanitarian photographer, Joseba Etxebarria.

Battambang is worth a visit if you have time and want to get off the beaten path. At The Place Hostel and Rooftop Bar' where Kate stayed, they offer group tour packages to several historical sites and experiences in the area. If you go during the low season, it could be tricky getting a group together so that’s something to keep in mind. As a solo traveler you’ll likely have your own private tuk tuk (and spend more riel).

Notable attractions in Battambang: 1) the famous bat cave where you can get a beer and watch 6.5 millions bats exiting the cave in a stream of black noisy specks to feed on bugs. Tip: Ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to the hill on the mountain to watch the bats leaving their cave. This is around the mountain on the other side of where all the tourists are. It's a short climb up a dirty path but the views are great and there a fewer tourists and people trying to sell you things.

2) EK Phnom temple - A Pre-Angkorian 11th century temple. Kate was templed out after Angkor Wat so she skipped this one. History buffs and ancient temple lovers will not be disappointed.

3) The Norry bamboo train - it was featured in the TV series Jack Whitehall: Travel with my father season 1. Another thing Kate didn’t do but probably would have with one more day.

4) The Killing Caves - where atrocities were committed by the Khmer Rouge. Kate opted out because the S-21 Prison and Choeung Ek Killing Fields in Phnom Penh hold similar stories and it's a lot of depressing history to absorb.

5) Mrs. Bun Roeung's Ancient House in Battambang is a traditional Khmer house on stilts. This was a unique experience that you don't need to venture too far out of the city to do. Visitors go on a donation-based tour of the inside and see tons of antiques and relics of a long-ago (ancient) time. Our tour was given by a very old Khmer man who spoke no English but decent French. Luckily Kate was with a few people who could translate.

For more Battambang photos, visit our gallery page.

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