Outside & around Battambang, Cambodia: tours, day-trips, excursions, outings
Battambang is the second biggest city in Cambodia, and some of its most interesting attractions are located outside the city. So, one of the best ways to visit them would be by hiring a tuk tuk with English or French-speaking local driver, who then becomes a guide. This is also one of the cheapest way of visiting the surrounding attractions and sites.
The Bat Caves of Battambang are definitely the most famous site around Battambang City. Bat Caves are located 15 kilometers from Battambang City, and are a must-see attraction in Cambodia. Millions of small bats fly out of the series of caves around the Sampov (or Sampeau) Mountain at nightfall every night, which is a site to remember. They form a steady stream toward the countryside, where they spend the evening eating insects. It is very important to get out of the area before dusk. The best place to watch this natural spectacle is from the surrounding hilltops.
Bamboo Train is certainly another famous site of Battambang. Cambodia has no functional railway system, and it is scheduled to be rebuilt in the near future. However, just outside Battambang City, there is a part of the rail still in use; the Bamboo Rail. The rail itself is not made of bamboo, but a small rail vehicle, called norry, is. It is actually a motorized vehicle made of bamboo and metal frame, slowly moving along the bumpy railway. Riding on it is very cheap, costing as low as 25 cents, depending on the distance and, of course, one’s bargaining skills. There are even a few norry stations along the railway, and the landscape is pretty colorful, so it’s surprise that this is the activity of choice for most tourists in the area. The locals use it too.
Banan Temple is situated some 20 kilometers from the city. To get to the temple, one must climb to the top of a steep staircase. The temple is a great example of the Khmer architecture, similar to the much more famous Angkor Wat Temple. Its hilltop position also make it a great place for viewing the surrounding area.
Phnom Sampov Temple is another Khmer temple, although newer and more accessible than the Banan Temple. It is also located on a hilltop around 12 kilometers from Battambang City, but there are roads which make it accessible even by motorbikes. Monks are still practicing religious rites in the temple. The temple is also a great place to visit if one wants to see bats flying out of the surrounding caves at nightfall.
The Killing Cave is situated close to the Phnom Sampov Temple, and deserves its name fully. The infamous Khmer Rouge actually disposed of the dead bodies, thousands of them, in this cave. There are also a number of shrines dedicated to the victims built around the Cave after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Day-trip to Pailin is a good idea for those who would like to visit the small town famed for its gem deposits. The town of Pailin is a mining town, sometimes referred to as “The Cambodian Wild West”. Gem markets are not the only thing tourists can see in and around this border town; its surrounding is known for waterfalls, temples and forests. The town is situated around 90 kilometers east of Battambang City.
Excursion to Cambodian Cultural Villages is a good idea for tourists eager to meet and understand the local culture first-hand. Local villagers dress up in their traditional clothes and perform for the tourists year-round. Located along the Sangker River, about 2 kilometers south of the town, are the cultural and agricultural villages of the Wat Kor commune where visitors can enjoy an insight into the Cambodian way of life. Ox cart rides between villages can be arranged as can visits to traditional 100 year old wooden stilt houses. Nearby it is possible to rent kayaks for those who might want a trip on the river.
Kamping Puoy is a reservoir located around 30 kilometers from the town of Battambang. The reservoir is convenient for boat rides on the surrounding lake, and a rare remaining place in the world where people are still living in stilt houses.
Sek Sork Natural Resort is one of the most popular attractions around Battambang. Located around 50 kilometers southeast of Battambang City, Sek Sork stretches along the river in 500-meter length. Around Sek Sork, tourists can also visit other attractive sites like Pich Chenda Dangtung water bubble and Laang Spean Andet. The Resort is known for its tall bamboo trees and river rapids.