Be it a day or a week, you should plan your activities depending on how many days you’ve decided to spend in Battambang. Due to a peculiar historical context, the city has developed a very specific look, complemented by a series of local customs and traditions which add both distinction and ethnical feel to the entire community.
Apart from that, the French colonial era has marked the city as far as lifestyle and architecture are concerned. This is why your activities of choice should mix visiting local temples with trying traditional dishes, seeing a circus representation or drinking a coffee in the old French style.
History as Lifestyle
Many attractions in Cambodia in general and in Battambang in particular are directly related to history: historical buildings, old temples, wats that are more than 500 years old, vestiges, ancient practices, etc. This is the reason why visiting such places should be a top priority for you. And make sure you go beyond our top 5:
- Visit Phnom Sampeau, one of the most astonishing pagodas in the world.
- Climb the stairs at Phnom Banan. Make a photo of the sky from within the ruins.
- Learn the art of producing rice paper.
- See the old train station in the city where time has covered two distinct layers: the Khmer tradition and the French Protectorate.
- Buy a traditional, hand-made purse or karma from Rachana Handicrafts.
Grey, with a Touch of Color
Battambang is closer to real Cambodia than other destinations in Cambodia, as touristic infrastructure hasn’t replaced the local way of life. This means that most of your activities can be correlated to a world that seems grey in the first place, but becomes colorful and rich once you learn how to perceive it. To do that, follow at least some of the steps below:
- Get in the Phare Ponleu Selpak atmosphere. This is an association focused on improving war refugees’ lives through artistic practices.
- Try the long drinks Gecko Café has in the menu.
- Don’t miss the Battambang Circus. So far from Cirque de Soleil, that it seems a different kind of art.
- Take photos of the Floating Village near Tonlé Sap Lake. Water bird species included on the way.
Battambang for the Young
Some would argue Siem Reap is more suitable for young people because it is more westernized, but if you’re looking for a nice set of bars and clubs, Battambang is still a good option. Choose between Riverside Balcony Bar, Paradise Night Club or a dinner at Au Cabaret Vert restaurant.
A second set of options comprises recreation activities in and around the city. Try the norry, the bamboo train, for an unforgettable experience, or rent a bike or quad to explore the surroundings. The more you opt for local solutions (a remorque instead of a taxi) the easier you get in the atmosphere. And getting in the beat is everything that really matters in this provincial city.