- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
In my opinion, Battambang is a city not to be missed during a trip to Cambodia! Still relatively unknown, this town offers a really special atmosphere.
It is THE city of cultural development in Cambodia: as such, I visited the Phare Ponleu Selpak association, Cambodia's first school of Visual and Performing Arts. It allows the Khmer youth to go to school and to express the anguish associated with war and dictatorship. A circus performance is presented several times a week. I went to several of them, and both the stories and performances by the artists touched me!
During my two-day visit, I went to visit the Phnom Sampeau mountain, the place where the Khmer Rouge performed their executions. Today it's a place of meditation for the population.
On a lighter note, I didn’t miss Battambang’s most famous attraction: the bamboo train! It's a really funny activity, especially with the family. You can also take a tour of the city by bike or a kayak tour on the river.
Although Battambang is the country's second largest city, it has a much more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere than Phnom Penh. For alternative travels, you will find several restaurants and community cafés in the city centre. You can also visit a Seeing Hand massage centre, which trains and employs blind masseurs.
The city itself has nothing exceptional, but it's nice to explore its surroundings. It’s ideal to hire a tuk tuk to visit the neighbouring villages and temples. I was particularly moved during a visit to the "killing caves" on the Hill of Phnom Sampeu, where thousands of people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Inside, a large reclining Buddha keeps watch over the bones of the victims today.
Although I wasn't particularly charmed by the city of Battambang, I had a real heart for the boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang. Passing through many floating villages and on stilts, this one is particularly exotic. Absolutely one to plan on seeing while planning for your stay in Cambodia. The boat pilot sometimes roughly masters the slips, so try not to fall asleep peacefully in the front of the boat, if you don't want to end up skewered by a tree...
From Siem Reap, I took the boat to Battambang. This step alone is worth the trip. Along the floating villages the show is continuous and the locals, are always ready to welcome you during your visit.
At first, Battambang is a city without too much charm, dusty, with avenues that are too wide, but the surroundings are amazing.
Only stay in town for the evenings and possibly shopping, and then take a tuk-tuk to visit the surrounding area. I chose to visit the Phnom Kamping Puoy dam with a boat tour, and then the Phnom Sampeou Temple, which offers a beautiful view of the surroundings. A Khmer mass grave is also located there. It's best to do this visit at the end of the day, because while going back down, you can see a mind-blowing spectacle: millions of bats leaving a cave!
I only stayed for one day, and I should have planned for more, so I could've visited other temples, and why not take a cooking class!