You should not expect hundreds of opportunities to entertain when you enter Battambang. The city is focused on tourists interested in the Khmer history and culture, and it is calibrated as such. To find the main places of interest you may need to search a little bit more than in other cases. But don’t despair and remember this is one of the few places where you can taste Cambodian cognac or enjoy a burger while sightseeing Cambodian fishermen.
Get in the Beat
Bars and clubs in Battambang provide you with the rare occasion of experiencing retro music in a distant location. There is a sense of nostalgia, even melancholy, to these places, which attracts tourists especially interested in relaxing environments.
Most of the bars in town focus on pop music, even if some do come up with contemporary eclectic styles. However, the atmosphere is rather peaceful and the power of the old French colonial luxury is still relevant enough to influence lifestyle in Battambang even at this level. So, if you’re not looking for traditional Khmer music, you should expect rhythm; old-style rhythm.
- Bamboo Train Café – A great place to eat and drink beer.
- Paradise Night Club – Nice environment, where you can easily meet new people, of all ages. Great sound.
- Gecko Café – They have quite an extensive offer in the menu and very good music.
- Riverside Balcony Bar – More like the European-style bars, this one is quite versatile when you’re looking for basic entertainment.
Feel the Pulse of the City
Shopping is an excellent opportunity to buy a few nice Cambodian artifacts and learn more about their style and customs. To do that, visit Phsar Nath. This is the most important market in town and a good place to do your shopping. Feel free to negotiate or ask sellers to show you more scarves than they have displayed. They often keep nice things behind the counter.
The norry is another good opportunity to get in the rhythm of the city. In the last year there have been official talks about getting rid of norries, so you might want to try them while they still work.
A third interesting option is to leave the town for a day and go to Samlot, a place of rare beauty where you can actually hear the nature: birds, various types of animals, and water create a paradise you will never forget.
Exotic Dances, Colorful Representations
The Battambang Circus is another good opportunity to have some fun and see a different type of show than those you’ve been accustomed to. Also, during local festivals, Khmers display a wide array of traditional dances. These dances – most of which you’ve probably never heard about before – are truly remarkable and special. If you’re lucky, you can even get a few lessons, so that you can impress your friends back home with something completely different than casual salsa or international rumba.
As a special attraction, take advantage of the local shadow theatre, which is a very distinct mixture of performing arts, dances, and special effects.