Located in the northwest of Cambodia, Battambang is one of the most important provinces in terms of economy, tourism, and agriculture. Heck, it hosts the Bamboo Train and the country’s only winery!
Battambang is the third most populous province in the Kingdom, with a present population of more than 150,000. It is also Cambodia’s fifth largest province with a total area of 11,702 square kilometres. Battambang city is its capital.
Battambang is bordered by the provinces of Banteay Meanchey to the north, Pursat to the east and south, Pailin to the west, and Siem Reap to the northeast. Battambang also shares a border with Thailand.
Read through our location profiles and guides if you want to gain more insight and know what you can find in terms of tourist attractions, etc. in the other provinces of Cambodia. And don’t forget to check on our property listings if you want to buy or rent an apartment, house, or any other types of real estate in Battambang.
Bit of background
Until a few years ago, Battambang was largely a sleepy province visited only by a few adventure-loving tourists. Today, however, Battambang ranks as one of Cambodia’s top tourist destination, while its economy has been one of the best-performing in the country.
The province is also known as the “Rice Bowl” of Cambodia, producing more than half of the country’s annual rice output.
Head over to our Investment Guide 2019 if you want to hear more about agriculture in the Kingdom.
By bus or boat
Battambang does not have a commercial airport, so visitors must fly to either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap then travel to the area by car, bus or train.
Mekong Express, Capitol Tours, Phnom Penh Bayon Express, and Phnom Penh Sorya Transport all make trips to the town. It usually takes five to six hours along National Highway (NH) 5. A bus ticket usually costs $6 to $12.
From Siem Reap, on the other hand, buses take just 3.5 hours and tickets can be had for around $5.
There are also daily boat trips from Siem Reap to Battambang and vice versa. The trip can take from four to 12 hours depending on the time of year and costs around $20.
Bakeries and backpacker bars
Like the other top tourist destinations in Cambodia, Battambang does not lack in dining options. If you want to savour mouth-watering Khmer food while also contributing to a worthwhile cause, Jaan Bai, which is run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT), is a choice you will not regret.
Unlike Siem Reap or Sihanoukville, Battambang is not known for nightlife. Still, Battambang has some good bars and watering holes where you can drink a beer or two. The names most prominently mentioned are Riverside Balcony Bar, Lotus Bar & Gallery, Here Be Dragons, Vintage Wine Bar Mezze, and Madison.
Beds from budget to boutique
Visitors will find that there is no shortage of places to stay Battambang. Offerings run the range of price, as well.
Battambang doesn’t have as many luxury brands as Phnom Penh. Nevertheless, hotels like Bric-a-Brac and Bambu Hotel have stunning and well laid-out rooms and provide access to swimming pool, sky bar, gym, and other luxury amenities. They charge from $80 to $120 a night.
If you have a budget of $30 to $70 Battambang will not disappoint you. Delux Villa, Classy Hotel, and King Fly Hotel the most well-known in this segment.
Like the other touristy places in Cambodia, Battambang hosts a large number of budget accommodations. Of course, there are dorms where you can easily stay for $10 or less per night.
Buying or building
Battambang has been getting more attention lately as a key secondary market in Cambodia. Real estate in Battambang is quite affordable and there is potential for many industries.
Sear Neardey, senior valuation officer at Key Real Estate, which has an office in Battambang, said that the Sangkat Svay Por area is growing in popularity. Plots near the centre go for between $2,400 to $4,000 per square metre while prices are just $100 to $300 per square metre further out.
Shophouses in Battambang are currently going for around $150,000 to $180,000, Neardey said, adding that homes in a borey were often cheaper. He cited Borey Rom Chek, which had spaces on offer for as low as $40,000 or up to $80,000 for a two-story house.
There are tons of villas in Battambang. Many are outside of the city centre, however. Neardey said villas varied widely in size, lot size and level of luxury. Small ones can currently be found for as little as $50,000. Larger ones on big plots are going for up to $600,000. Some are being used for businesses, while small ones are often holiday homes.
As far as plot land, Neardey said that plots were starting at around $3,000. Development is still a bit slow, he said, but many areas are being developed for business not residential purposes.
Busy and bustling Battambang
Battambang has a wide range of markets, retail shops, and other business establishments. You can find a rich variety gift and souvenir items at La Fabrik Shop & Gallery. At Heng Chhay Ly Mart, a wide variety of locally-made and imported goods are available. Fresh fruits and vegetables and many other products can be bought from Psar Nath Market.
Below is a sampling of the most well-known and visited tourist sites in Battambang:
Boarding the bamboo
It’s probably the most well-known attraction in Battambang. Locally known as “Nori”, the trains are bamboo platforms running on wheels and powered by a small engine, usually a tractor or motorcycle engine.
The trains provide a unique and thrilling way of seeing the Battambang countryside, with its beautiful and interesting scenery. Along the route are the Banan Mountain, forests, orchards, caves, and other scenic spots. A ticket to ride the bamboo train costs $5 for foreigners and $2.5 for locals.
Built by a history buff
For people interested in ancient history and culture, this museum is a must see. Established in 1963 by the prominent French historian Madeleine Giteau, the Battambang Provincial Museum houses pottery, musical instruments, and artifacts from the Angkorian and Pre-Angkorian periods.
Bottles of the best brandy
If you are a wine connoisseur or just want to try locally-produced wines, you may head to Chan Thai Choeung (Banan) Winery 14 kilometres out of town on the banks of the Sangkae River. Every year, the place, which is Cambodia’s sole winery, produces several thousand bottles of Cambodian brandy, red wine, white wine, and grape juice.
Banan, before becoming Buddhist
Located around 20 kilometres from the centre of Battambang is Wat Banan. Built between the 10th and 13th centuries by King Udayadityavarman II, the temple sits on a hill overlooking the Sangkae River. One has to climb up on a 358-step staircase to reach the temple. Wat Banan is the best-preserved of Khmer temple in Battambang, despite being pillaged and looted in the past.
Big batches of bats
Phnom Sampeau is a historic, 100-metre tall mountain 15 kilometres outside of Battambang. The spot is peculiarly shaped like a ship, hence the name Phnom Sampeau or “ship mountain”. Overlooking Battambang, the site offers stunning views of the city and localities nearby. At dusk millions of bats fly out of the caves, making for a spectacular scene.
Boating and birdwatching
Kamping Puoy Lake was formerly a reservoir built during the Khmer Rouge era. Is now a popular recreational area located just outside of Battambang. It’s a good place for picnics, boating, and swimming. Visitors can hire a boat to explore the lake and its surroundings. Is also a good area for bird watching with the area inhabited by many different kinds of birds..
Bumming around on bikes
Want to take a freestyle tour around Battambang? Simply hire a local tuk-tuk to drive you around and point out all the sights. A half-day costs just $10 to $15 and a full day $18 to $25.
If you’re free-spirited, however, it’s easy to rent a bike, either the motor or pedal variety.
You can rent motorbikes from $6 to $8 per day or bicycles for around $2 per day.
Becoming one of the best
Battambang is sleepy no more. In the last few years, the province has steadily climbed the ladder to become one of Cambodia’s most important provinces. Barring some unexpected and tragic happening, there is no other way but up for Battambang.
Andrea Suteu, the manager of La Villa Boutique Hotel in Battambang, said the area is like no other place in the country.
“Battambang is one of the last standing towns, where you still have a taste of real Cambodia,” she said, adding that when the highway connecting the city to Phnom Penh was finished in two to three years the story could change.
“ I would urge people to visit now.”