Battambang is Cambodia's second most populous city and a popular tourist destination. Travelers generally stop there before or after Siem Reap, nearby town of famous temples of Angkor.
After Phnom Penh capital, Battambang is one of Cambodia's largest cities but much quieter than other bustling towns in this country as well as throughout Asia. Battambang city is the central northwest of Cambodia and located on the banks of the Sanker river which also contributes to its beauty. So far, the city still retains the ancient French architecture, the old temples and peaceful scenery that makes all visitor extremely impressed.
History of Battambang
The city was founded in the 11th century which there is evidence of occupation in the area for over 1000 years. Before 1909, the city was once a commercial center of eastern Thailand, until the 1953 period officially belonged to Cambodia when the French colonialists occupied Siam. And since the Cambodia's government, Battambang has become the center of northwestern Cambodia and lead rice-producing province contributing largely to rice and food in the war for the country.
Until under Khmer Rouge, the city also suffered the same period as the rest of the country, many people died and lives was miserable. At that time, Vietnamese had a week to administer this city after the fall of Phnom Penh in 1979, the Khmer Rouge continuously fought in the northwest until 1996. After the difficult time, Battambang recovered the peace for the first time in decades and experienced growth in tourism as well as local's lives.
Due to the invasion of the French that left the city an architecture of European style, typical of the imprints in the way of urban planning, impressive sceneries with series of shops built from the French colonial period, located along the river and the Khmer temples system is also the attraction available in Battambang.
The city is known as the gateway between Thailand and Phnom Penh capital, however Battambang is less noisy, keeping his own calm, gentle features. It is difficult to find a nightclub or shopping malls flickering lights or bustling night market, instead, you will see in the town both an elegant architecture as well as temple facilities praised and preserved by locals. Two sites of Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan are the two most impressive and ancient sites retaining the peace of the city, separate with the noisy, bustling outside.
There are several outside activites that you should experience once to discover Battambang such as:
- Cycling to explore the outskirts: Battambang is famous for its villages, the suburb has appeared on social media many time, thus attracting the curiosity of tourists. Rentin a bicycle is not expensive and give you extremely emotional experiences. Cycling through immense and endless rice fields, beautiful small villages, peaceful temples, visiting local traditional craft villages such as wine making, weaving,... all will bring to the most honest experiences about the lives of locals here.
- Conquer the top of Phnom Sampeau: For those who love history, they must visit the top of Phnom Sampeau, the spectacular hill which houses the sacred temple as well as mysterious caves. Do not ignore the discovery of rock caves or climb to the top to take the view of the great landscape.
- Visit Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan: Two popular temples attracting tourists come to Battamabang. Ek Phnom is a 11th century Angkorian ruins, built during the reign of King Sorayak Varman II. The towers was built on a large courtyard with a few beautiful carved stone figures. Wat Ek Phnom is a new temple built next to the ruins. About Wat Banan is a temple on the top of a mountain, also built from the 11th century Angkor period, consisting of 5 towers, bringing the marvelous views and peaceful atmosphere.
What to eat in Battambang?
This is a gourmet city so it is not too strange to have so many restaurants and bars with a variety of Asian, European or traditional Cambodian cuisines. Walking around the streets, visitors can easily find cheap local restaurants, quiet cafes or restaurant specializing in Western cuisine. If you are a fan of classic French cuisine as well as a creative mix of Cambodian and French, Battambang city is a high recommend destination. Besides, the featuring combination of Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes are also an interesting suggestion for memorable dinner. Items to try are amok fish, pork rice, Khmer red curry,...
How to get to Battambang city?
- At present, there has not had interational flight to Battambang, so the best way to get to the city is taking a flight from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap then taking buses to get to there. If you depart from Phnom Penh, it will take you about 5 hours, but it only takes about 3 hours from Siem Reap.
- The most interesting transportation to Battambang is the boat which originates from Siem Reap. Boat trip is also the best experience in Cambodia. The tickets are no more than 15 USD and you will spend about 4-5 hours floating on the river, depending on the starting position.
- To enjoy fully the breath of Battambang, visitor should take the jeeps, boats or motorbikes which bring you a glimpse capturing the peaceful scenery of this ancient city. In addition, Battambang's specialty is home - made taxies. It is the back of an upgraded motorbike with a recliner, visitors sit on the bikes and easily see small villages, meandering canals or vast gardens on the roadside.
- Finally, traveling to Battambang, visitors cannot miss a chance to experience the bamboo boat ride, which is also a new and exciting mode of transportation for Cambodians. The bamboo boats called "norry" have wooden frames, bamboo floors and a simple motor connected to wheels.
Which is the best time for traveling?
Battambang of Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate so the best time to travel is from November to February. At this time, the weather is mild, not too hot and less rainy. Visitors should avoid traveling in July and August because of the beginning of the flood season, making some difficulties for you to come and there is also not beautiful to admire.