Battambang Cambodia - Top Attractions and Sights

Cambodia is anticipated by most travellers as a country of peaceful people and serene temples in an exotic landscape that still bears scars of a horrific and sombre past. The second largest city of Battambang hosts several unique sights and attractions that meet these expectations.

We travelled by tuk-tuk to most of the places described, although seasoned cyclists would certainly get a buzz from riding out to see them too, if they don’t mind the heat.

Angkor-style temples

If you’re also happy to cycle uphill, head to Wat Banan (USD3 entrance fee – includes entrance to Wat Sampeou, open daily, dawn till dusk), a 13th century temple atop a limestone peak, approximately 20km out of town. There are incredible views across the surrounding countryside, reached by ascending a steep staircase of ancient stonework. As a haunting reminder of Cambodia’s violent history, anti-aircraft guns also remain at the site.

Another temple worth exploring is Wat Ek Phnom (free entry, open daily, dawn till dusk). The wat was constructed in the 11th century and is now a jumble of stones and pillaged reliefs and carvings, giving the whole place an eerie appearance like something from Lara Croft’s Tomb-Raider adventures. Situated just over 11km out of Battambang on the River Road, the remains are hidden behind a modern pagoda temple and half-built Buddha statue, giving visitors the feeling that they have accidentally chanced upon a secret ruin.

The Khmer Rouge era sights

Depressing, yet deeply important in understanding the terrifying regime of the Khmer Rouge, the Killing Caves (Phnom Sampeou) close to Battambang is another a must-visit in this area. Like many other places in Cambodia, such as the killing fields of Phnom Penh, the site is a grim reminder of the genocide that took place here in the 1970s.

We reached the location by tuk-tuk (USD3 entry – includes a ticket to Wat Banan, open dawn till dusk) and had the option of a guided tour. The caves contain grisly piles of gathered bones: thousands of victims who were bludgeoned and pushed into the deep chasm where their bodies no doubt littered the floor of the cave for years. A pagoda stands nearby, where many of the prisoners were tortured by their captors. The whole site is morbidly fascinating, with plaques depicting scenes of cruelty and describing the events that took place there. With its setting of lush jungle, wandering monkeys and beautiful birdsong, it was hard to imagine the atrocities committed at these caves less than 50 years before.

Wat Samraong Knong is another temple that saw scenes of terror during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Its name translates as “Wat of the Forest” and the verdant greenery surrounding this beautiful place certainly makes it aptly named. A fairly recent building in Cambodian terms, (it was completed in the 18th century), there is also a modern pagoda on the site that commemorates the tortured and murdered victims.

Bat temple

For travellers wishing to leave such horrific places behind and experience some nature, the captivating “Bat Temple” of Wat Baydamram (free entry, open dawn till dusk) should be next on the list. The temple is renowned for its neighbouring colony of fruit bats, which hang in the nearby Bodhi tree, chattering and bickering like winged monkeys. We would recommend visiting close to sunset, when the bats are most active. Refreshments and snacks can be bought from the small collection of vendors who have set up business close to the temple.

Winery

If the winged wildlife hasn’t cheered you up after visiting Battambang’s sobering sites of the Khmer Rouge regime, head 10km south from Battambang and you’ll discover the region’s only winery: Chan Thai Chhoeung/Banon (open daily 8am–6pm, USD2 for wine-tasting). Enjoy a glass of red that tastes nothing like any wine you’re used to back home (visitors leave feeling convinced that the proprietors know very little about how to create actual wine). The Banon Brandy is somewhat more palatable but whatever your tastes, the winery is so novel that it makes for a memorable, if hilarious visit.

News

Passenger Railway Traffic Begins from Battambang and Banteay Meanchey Provinces, Cambodia

Passenger trains started running from the provincial capitals of Battambang and Banteay Meanchey in Cambodia during the Khmer New Year. 

09 May 2018

Battambang bamboo train service gets a new lease of life

New Year’s Eve saw the rebirth of Cambodia’s renowned bamboo train service. After shutting down to make way for real trains a few months ago, a section of tracks has been shifted to a site 20kms from the original ones in Battambang.

02 January 2018

Cambodia Battambang bamboo trains may be relocated to new line

The recommissioning of Cambodia’s northern rail line means the quirky Battambang bamboo trains will have to find a new home. The head of the Public Works and Transport Ministry’s rail division says work on restoring the line from Battambang to Pursat will commence next month.

28 August 2017