What can you do in Battambang
Battambang: What to See

Battambang City is absolutely full of wonderful colonial-era architecture and historic old pagodas, and the surrounding countryside harbors not only Angkorian-era temple ruins and pagodas but also offers some of the most picturesque rice paddy and village scenery in the country. The new edition of Ray Zepp’s essential guide to Battambang and the surrounding area, Around Battambang, is available at tourist hotels and restaurants throughout Battambang City. Zepp’s 164 page guide contains invaluable information on Battambang’s historic pagodas, Angkorian era temple ruins, surrounding countryside and local travel details. Highly recommended. 
 
Bamboo Train
The bamboo train is a unique and creative form of ad-hoc local transportation. It consists of a small (perhaps 2.5m x 4m), motorcycle engine-powered bamboo cart that rides the railroad rails picking up and dropping off passengers, cargo, animals, motorcycles along the way. When it meets on on-coming train or bamboo train, it can be disassembled and taken off the rails in a minute or two, allowing the other to pass. When touring the countryside ask your driver to take you to a rail crossing where you can meet a bamboo train to take a ride.

Circus
The Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO gives Cambodian children from poor and disabled families the opportunity to “access culture via different artistic activities” including music, drawing, drama, dance and circus. Offering traditional Cambodian circus acts every Thursday evening. Call 053-952424, 017-696371 for schedule updates. Located on Route #5 about 1km west of town.
Website: www.phareps.org .
 
Cooking Classes
The Smokin Pot restaurant offers Khmer and Thai food cooking classes on request. Class daily from 9:00AM - 1:30PM at the Smokin Pot. Learn three recipes and prepare lunch in the process. Book a class at the Smokin Pot a day in advance.

Countryside Tour
The rural countryside outside of Battambang is National Geographic picturesque. Within just a few kilometers of town the countryside turns into small villages filled with stilted houses and rice paddies that stretch to the horizon. You’ll see plenty of countryside on the way to any of the local sites. Check out some of the local products in the making - rice paper, noodles and the fishpaste market. It’s all very traditional if not a bit unhygienic and smelly, but a interesting experience and adventure nonetheless. The roads are often rough and during the dry season. always exceptionally dusty. Bring a good hat and a krama to cover your nose and mouth. 
 
Ek Phnom
Ek Phnom is an 11th century Angkorian-era ruin built as a Hindu temple under Suryavarman I. The temple consists of prasats on a platform with some carvings in pretty good condition. Wat Ek Phnom, a modern pagoda, sits next to the ruin. The river road drive to Ek Phnom from Battambang passes through small villages and rice paddies and is an absolutely beautiful countryside drive. 
 

 

Phnom Banan
Phnom Banan is a mountain top, 11th century Angkorian-era ruin consisting of five prasats. Peaceful location with a nice view of the area. Also L’Ang But Meas cave. Very old (150 years+) active pagoda at the base of the mountain.

 

Pagodas
Both Battambang town and the surrounding countryside are replete with pagodas, some of them very old and highly respected. See Ray Zepp's book Around Battambang for complete information about visiting the local pagodas.
 

 

 

 Phnom Sampeou Mountain

Phnom Sampeou Mountain, steeped in legend, and topped by Wat Sampeou and a group of caves used as ‘killing caves’ by the Khmer Rouge, containing the skeletal remains of their victims. The wat is unexceptional but the view is spectacular. Ask about the legend of Neang Rumsay Sok. 
 
Provincial Museum
The Battambang Provincial Museum on the riverfront in the center of town houses a large collection of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artifacts - statues, carvings, bits of ancient temples, pottery, etc. One of the best provincial museums. Hours: 8AM-11AM/2PM-5PM, make reservations for weekend visit and they will open the door for you. Admission: $1. Tel: 092-914688, 016-896727.

Shopping in Battambang

Phsar Nath in the center of town is the main phsar (traditional market) and is geared to the locals, sporting the usual variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, clothes, sundries, food stalls, etc. Gem dealers, a couple of banks, photo shops and moneychangers line the streets that ring the phsar. Phsar Leu, just south of town, seems to be the place to buy the local specialties: oranges and pomelos from Pursat province. The oranges are said to be the best oranges in the country.

Chea Heang Drink Shop is a small convenience store on the west side of Phsar Nath, popular with foreigners and offering ice cream bars, cheeses, yogurt, wines, and other imported items.

The Smiling Sky Bookshop Second hand bookshop dealing in English language books - Cambodia related titles, novels, popular literature. Buy sell trade. On Road #2 near the White Rose.

Local goods Marble sculpture from Pursat province, woodcarvings from Battambang and sapphires from Pailin dominate the souvenir market in Battambang. Many of the hotels as well as the small souvenir/art/curios shops on Road #1 on the river in the center of town offer a selection of wood and marble products. The art shops have a better selection than the hotels and a couple have very interesting collections of curios, old trinkets, coins, antiques and oddities - well worth a look.

Cambodian sapphires and rubies mined in Pailin near the Thai border are brought to Battambang to be graded, cut and polished. There are some good deals on stones in Battambang but be very careful when buying. Fake and low quality jewel scams are common so you need to know gemology or know your gem dealer very well. Gem and gold dealers are located in the center of Psah Nath, in little shops surrounding the psah, and in a few shops on Road #1.  
 
TESTIMONIALS

Dear Hak,

Dr. D and myself are safely back in K.L.

We are very happy with the trip, especially with your service. You were always punctual and informative about the places you took us.

God bless you always. Will meet you again with my son next year November.

Regards.

andrew

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