Recently, Battambang province has become our favorite place in Cambodia. What’s quite ironic about it is that on the way to this lovely town I fell off my bicycle and a foot injury stuck me in the hotel room for a few days, then a week after that I was hit by a car on the way to dinner, and today Greg has nearly been struck by lightning. Yet still, Battambang will remain one of the best destinations of this trip for us.
THINGS TO DO IN BATTAMBANG
What Battambang city has to offer is a lively and friendly atmosphere and a wide range of relaxing activities from which you can pick and choose and never be disappointed.
People go to Phnom Penh to see The Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. They go to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat Temple Complex. They spend a hot long weekend on Kaoh Rong or Sihanoukville. And what I love about Battambang is that you come here and you have plenty of ways to spend your days. It’s not as much defined by its history, however, there are numerous cultural aspects to it. Perhaps it doesn’t have a beach or the biggest temple complex in the world, but it’s still pretty damn impressive.
CHARMING PAGODAS AND BUDDHIST TEMPLES
Battambang city offers you a wide selection of beautiful temples and local pagodas to explore within its city center. You can easily rent a bicycle and cycle around town to see them or you can go on a quick tour via tuk-tuk. The drivers will surely know the nicest ones and take you to see them. Of course, renting a bicycle would be a better option for someone on a limited budget.
Some of the nicer pagodas we visited in Battambang: Pipetthearam Pagoda, Sangke Pagoda, Damrey Sor Pagoda and Wat Kor. You can take a look at some of them in the video below from our YouTube channel On the way to TV. Make sure to subscribe for more!
If you’re staying in the central part of Battambang then within your reach is an impressive colonial building worth checking out – the Governor’s Residence. Even though you are not allowed inside, it looks spectacular and majestic.
OUTSIDE BATTAMBANG – GET TO KNOW THE PROVINCE
Not far from the city there is yet another historical site from the times of the Khmer Rouge regime. Phnom Sampeu, a hill with Killing Caves of the Khmer Rouge. If you already visited Phnom Penh’s Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes, maybe it’s worth to check it out and deepen your knowledge of this subject. Phnom Sampeu entrance is $3 and includes Wat Banan temple and Bat Cave – some of the biggest attractions in the area.
Other temples around Battambang worth exploring on a bike, bicycle or a tuk-tuk tour – Wat Ek Phom, Wat Samraong Knong, and Wat Baydamram. They are all marked on Google maps and they’d make a great bicycle trip for you and your companions.
One of the most unusual attractions in Battambang Province is located about 10 km south. It’s the one and only winery in Cambodia. It’s famous for the production of wine that doesn’t taste like anything you’ve ever tried before (so we’ve heard). They also produce whisky that’s actually known for being fairly decent. Wine tasting is $2, so make sure to check it out when you’re there. Let us know in the comments how was the wine!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How I Fell Off My Bike in the Middle of Nowhere in Cambodia and My Ultimate Survivor Island Getaway: Koh Rong Island.
Since we’re talking about local delicacies, we also found out that it’s good to try grilled rat in Battambang, if you’re up for such things. The rats are caught in rice fields, so I guess you could say they’re free range. Our local friend told us they taste nice, but they’re nothing like chicken! Also, we were advised not to eat awful city rats. If you wanna try a good rat – Battambang is apparently the place to do it.
WHERE TO EAT IN BATTAMBANG
Battambang offers you a wide range of restaurants and cafes worth trying out. These are the ones we thought were the best restaurants in Battambang.
They serve great Chinese food at Battambang Town Restaurant (on the corner of Street 121 and Street 2) and Chinese Noodle Restaurant (next to Ambrosia Cafe on Street 121). These two Chinese restaurants are also a great budget option with mains starting at $2.
Ambrosia Cafe serves good western food as well as a wonderful Khmer curry, (Greg’s favorite). Friendly staff and a great manager kept us eating there multiple times during our stay in Battambang. Prices vary between $3-5. It is also one of the only places open till late in the area unless you’d like to opt for an Indian restaurant across the street. Everything else closes no later than 8 pm.
If you’re craving western dishes you can also try Sunrise Cafe, a restaurant with a very cool premise and a lot of Khmer and western food choices. Our favorites there are Chicken Quesadillas with homemade salsa and some greatly looking sandwiches served with French fries. I’ve heard they also have great homemade cookies and muffins, but we didn’t get a chance to try them this time around. We would definitely recommend stopping by for lunch and a cinnamon iced coffee. Prices between $2-5.
COOKING CLASSES IN BATTAMBANG
The number one restaurant in Battambang according to TripAdvisor is Coconut LyLy restaurant which also offers cooking classes for $10 per person. The class includes a trip to the local market, picking up ingredients, cooking class of four dishes and then, of course, eating them. The classes end with the students receiving a little book with recipes of the dishes served in the restaurant. We haven’t tried the cooking class, but we ate there multiple times. We both must admit we can’t say a single bad word about it. The only downside is quite a simple Khmer menu, so not really a lot to choose from. Great quality of food and awesome staff. Most of the dishes are $3.
Another popular place offering cooking classes in Battambang is Smokin’ Pot. You will also find it on Street 121. It’s a cozy nice restaurant with some interesting promotions (at the time – all fruit shakes for $0,50), quite a nice menu and it also provides other services to its customers such as bus tickets, motorbike and bicycle rental, etc. We’ve only heard good things about this place and we enjoyed our dinner there as well. We did, however, find dining there quite an underwhelming experience, because the restaurant has massive potential and just seems to be in need of better management to attract more customers. I’m guessing you can tell we have experience in working in hospitality, right?
A TASTE OF INDIA IN CAMBODIA
The last but not least – The Flavors of India. We both love Indian food so we had to try this place even though it was definitely the most expensive option. Mains start at about $4-5 but can go as high as $8-9. You also have to order rice and naans separately like in most Indian restaurants. The good thing is most of the mains can be easily shared between two people. If you’re on the budget, you can still treat yourself to some Indian flavors and spend about $6 per head.
We tried other restaurants in Battambang, but these ones are the only ones worth a recommendation in our opinion. Check them out if you’re around!
Of course, street food is also available, so make sure to taste the street cuisine sometime!
BATTAMBANG HOTELS – WHERE TO STAY?
From what we’ve seen Battambang has quite a lot of great accommodation options for every traveler from budget guest houses and mid-range hotels to high-end resorts and French villas with sky bars and swimming pools.
We stayed at Asia Hotel located near Vietnamese Embassy. They offer spacious and clean air-con rooms with free wifi for $13. Due to a loud wedding celebration on the same street, we decided to move to a different hotel after a few days. Khmer weddings can last for as long as three days from early dawn till late at night.
Our second hotel was slightly more expensive. Sovannphum Hotel offered nice rooms, but of a slightly higher standard. More comfortable beds, essential toiletries and it was considerably more modern. The rooms cost $15 per night so as you can see there’s plenty to choose from. Accommodation standard depends solely on your budget in this case. You will find this hotel on the East Riverbank side of town. It is ever so slightly closer to street 121 and most of the restaurants we mentioned earlier.
When looking for a place to stay, ask to see the room before paying and checking in. Sometimes they smell, sometimes they’re not ready for guests. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a few rooms in the same hotel. You can try asking for a discount if you’re traveling in low season. Especially if you’re planning on sticking around for more than a night or two.
HOW TO GET IN AND HOW TO GET OUT?
There is a lot of options, you just need to be smart about it and research the bus companies before booking.
From what we’ve heard and experienced, we can definitely recommend the Capitol Tours buses. They go to Phnom Penh nearly every hour in the morning and some of them also in the afternoon. The buses have air-con and quite comfortable seats. Make sure though to book them one day in advance. They are often full, especially in the mornings. Don’t risk ruining your plans for the day.
If you’re going to Phnom Penh, try to avoid getting there during the peak hours in the afternoon. Otherwise, you can be stuck in traffic for another 1 or 2 hours in Phnom Penh. If you go early in the morning, it’s more likely the trip will be about six hours instead of eight.
VIRAK BUNTHAM BUS COMPANY
If you’re going anywhere else – we can’t help, but we’ve heard that the Virak Buntham Bus Company has the worst reputation. It is known for bad reviews mentioning theft, drunk drivers, accidents, etc. We actually bought tickets before we knew that and then returned them. There was no way we’d be getting on that bus after all the stuff that happened to us in Battambang. A bicycle accident, being hit by a car and nearly struck by lightning was enough for us.
Generally, buses from Battambang are available to various destinations. From Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, Svay, Poi Pet and even Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. Make sure you research the companies before you pay for your tickets! Safe travels!
Below you can take a look at some of our other videos from Battambang on our YouTube channel!