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www.hotsia.com > Combodai > Battambang

 

 

 

Battambang is Cambodia's second-largest city and the capital of Battambang Province, which was founded in the 11th century. It is the former capital of Monton Kmer and lies in the heart of the Northwest of Cambodia. Until the war years, in which almost every infrastructure was destructed it was the leading rice-producing province of the country.

The name Battambang or Batdambang, literally means "loss of stick" referring to a legend of the Preah Bat Dambang Kranhoung (Kranhoung Stick King). The population is nowadays around 250,000 people . Its a riverside town, home to some of the best-preserved, French colonial architecture in the country. Until recently Battambang was off the map for road travellers, but facilities have recently been improved and it makes a great base for visiting the nearby temples, such as Phnom Banon and Wat Ek Phnom, as well as the closedby villages. It's a secondary hub on the overland route between Thailand and Vietnam, and if the National Highway No 6 from Poipet to Siem Reap is ever upgraded it'll become an even smaller hub. The network of charming old French shop houses clustered along the riverbank is the real highlight here, and there are a number of Wats scattered around the town. The small museum has a collection of Angkorian-era artifacts, and beyond the town there's a number of hilltop temples, yet more Wats and a pretty large lake. One of the more famous hills is Phnom Sampeau (Ship Hill) with the notorious killing caves.

Battambang did not give way to the Khmer Rouge movement after the fall of Phnom Penh, but its been in the centre of the ongoing government Khmer Rouge conflict ever since the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 pushed the genocidal regime out of Phnom Penh and to the Northwest.

Until the surrender deal of Ieng Sary (Khmer Rouge number three man based in Pailin),Battambang was the Khmer Rouge stronghold in the region.

In the earlier history Battambang flip-flopped back and forth between Thailand (called Siam before their 20th-century renaming) and Cambodia. Its been a part of Thailand most of the time since the 15th century, with Cambodia regaining control (more specifically due the French) in 1907. The Thais grabbed it again, with Japanese assistance, in 1941 and kept the region in their camp until the World War II years in 1947.

 

The Allied Forces helped persuade the Thais that the region was originally part of ancient Cambodia and the world community would not take kindly to the Thais holding onto it further. Like the rest of the Northwest, there is still a lot of Thai influence apparent. The main currency is still the Thai Baht and many people are able to converse in Thai. But the area is very Khmer, with ancient Khmer ruins scattered around, and even the ways of life are much more similar to the rest of Cambodia than to Thailand.

Battambang city is a peaceful and pleasant place these days. The main parts of the city are situated closed to the Sangker River, a tranquil, small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province. It is a nice, picturesque setting. As with much of Cambodia, the French architecture is an attractive bonus of the city.

The provincial capital of Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia (2007 estimated population around 1/4 million people).

It is located in one of the biggest rice-growing areas in Southeast Asia. The average altitude of the province is around 50m. The province is bordering to the North with Banteay Meanchey, to the West with Thailand, to the East and South with Pursat and the great lake Tonle Sap. The countrys total surface is about 11,702 sq/km with around 67.7 inh/sqkm.
The city is on both the highway and railroad linking Phnom Penh with Thailand; after the outbreak (1970) of civil war in Cambodia, the BattambangPhnom Penh road was a prime target of the Khmer Rouge insurgents, who, by capturing it, severed Phnom Penh from its major source of rice.
 
Battambang was acquired by Thailand in 1809 and returned to Cambodia in 1907. The city has also a technical university.

 

How to get there

From Phnom Penh to Battambang its about 291km via national road number 5.
It is accessable from Thailand via Pailin, Banteay Meanchey. Generally from Siem Reap to Battambang can be via air and overland.

Today, there is no operating flight to this province yet at the moment.

Speed Boat
During the rainy season, its a good alternative to the shared taxi. The road from Siem Reap to Sisophanis is quite lousy. So therefore its best to take the opportunity of a nice and relaxing boat trip.

The dry season eventually makes this impassable as the river water level goes down. Departing from Siem Reap taking the 7 am boat, youll arrive at Battambang about 10:30 am. The cost is around US$ 10-15 per person, depending on demand. So its negotiable.
 
Departing from Phnom Penh taking the 7-8am boat, youll arrive at Battambang around 3-4pm. The cost is around US$ 16-22 per person.
 
 

Share Taxi
Battambang to Phnom Penh 300 baht (US$ 10)
Battambang to Sisophon 50 baht (US$ 1.7)
Battambang to Pursat 100 baht (US$ 3.4)

Train
The old saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch, but in Cambodia, the old train is still free. for foreigners, thats it. However, it will just cost you some time (maybe some officers will ask you for a creative donation). The Phnom Penh to Battambang journey usually takes about thirteen to fourteen hours, if no mishaps occure.
The scenery is not nearly as stunning as parts of the Phnom Penh-Kampot-Sihanoukville routes, but you certainly will get a good sampling of rural agriculture scenery.

Schedule:
Phnom Penh to Battambang departs between 6:20 & 7 am daily
Sisophon to Battambang departs at around 2 pm daily
Battambang to Phnom Penh departs between 6:30 & 7 am daily
Battambang to Sisophon departs between 6:45 & 7:15 am daily

Motorcycle Touring Info
Riding by motorcycle is the best way to see the countryside and the sights along the way. You may stop by at some pagodas or ancient temples on the national road No 5.

 

Battambang to Phnom Penh
Its a tough but definitely doable road if you are on a motorcycle circuit tour. They are slowly (slower than an ants pace) resurfacing sections between Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang, from which the road is then pretty fair to Phnom Penh.
On the Battambang Phnom Penh highway, daytime security is not a problem, but at night scores of military checkpoints spring up with logs being put across the road so that vehicles stop. They just want a toll fee but its not a fun time of the day to be dealing with the soldiers as they are pretty liquored up by then. Avoid possible problems and just ride of taxi during daylight hours.

Battambang to Sisophon
The trip is about 64 km and takes about 11/2 hours. Battambang to Pursat is about 103 km and takes about three hours. Battambang to Phnom Penh takes about six to eight hours, depending greatly on whether you are riding yourself or in a share taxi (which mostly takes longer).

The road between Battambang and Pailin is a very rough road that has only a few decent stretches its a lot better than it was a few years back, but that knowledge wont mean much to your sore tail-side.
 
Security is not a problem. Getting to Phnom Banan is easy-just head south on the River Road (Road1) about 20 km, which at a moderate pace should take just over half and hour. You cant miss the big hill with the temple on top, visible on the right side of the road.

Turn right at the dirt road that runs smack into the middle of the hill. There are drinks and snack stands near the base of the stairway going up. There is also a dirt road going to the left by the stands that you could take up, but take the stairway as the Khmers did at the time the temple was in use.
 
Its part of the fun. A round-trip moto-taxi from Battambang is approximately 120 baht (US$ 4.5) including their waiting time.
 

 

Where to eat

Good Khmer Restaurants
Across the street from the Angkor Hotel and near Road 2 are a few good Khmer restaurants. The doublewide one in the middle is usually packed and has the best food. The other restaurants arent bad either. All have very reasonable prices.

Restaurants over the Lions Bridge
There are also a couple of good Khmer restaurants across the Lions Bridge near the statue circle on the right.

The first one you come to is the Sub-I-na. Its simple place with good Khmer and Chinese food. Better yet is the Sopheak Mongkul just beyond the Sub-I-na. The owner is a very friendly Khmer lady that speaks English and likes to chat while her staff is tending to you.
Good food, and the owner will custom-make dishes for you if theyre not on the menu.
 
Wat Leap Restaurant.
On the winding river road heading north - the part that comes away from the river for a few blocks. Its close to the temple of the same name. Khmer and Chinese food with English speaking staff that are very friendly and attentive.
 
If you are dining alone the lady that manages the place figures that you are not happy so she has a waitress or two sit down to chat with you.

The food is good. There are also karaoke rooms in the back end, but the noise does not seem to travel into the restaurant.

Teo Hotel
They have the top restaurant in town, featuring good Western, Khmer and Chinese fare at reasonable prices. If you are craving Western food, this is the spot for you

Cold Night Restaurant (Ts)
This place has the best Western food in town and also good Asian food in a nice relaxed setting its popular with ex-pat workers living in Battambang. Its located on East River Road 2 and is next to the hotel.

 

Where to stay

7 Makara Hotels
Pleasant grounds and your choice for the rock-bottom price in Battambang. For value, however, some of the other choices are better. An ugly, Spartan room with nothing but a bed goes for US$ 1.80, US$ 4 for a room with a bath outside, US$ 5 for a room with Western bath and TV, add a/c for US$ 8.

Golden Parrot Guesthouse
A simple, cleanplace with a terrace for viewing the Nat Market. Western bath. US$ 10 with a/c. with a/c.

Royal Hotel (formerly 23 Tola Hotel)
New ownership, recently nicely renovated. Friendly English speaking Khmer lady is the owner. US$ 4 fan, US$ 5 with TV, US$ 10 with a/c, h/w shower.

Monorom Guesthouse
Right on the river. Western bath. TV, fan. Try to grab a room with a window. US$ 5 per night.

Chaiya Hotel
Good value, but no English spoken. Western bath, clean, terrace, TV. Fan US$ 5, add a/c for US$ 10.

Paris Hotel
Again, good value and clean, but no English. Western bath, terrace, fridge, TV. Fan US$ 5. A/c is a good deal here at US$ 8.

Khemara Hotel
Similar to the neighbors, the Chaiya and Paris Hotels. Clean rooms withfan US$ 5, with a/c US$ 10.

With so many choices close at hand, this one is too noisy with the Khmer nightclub to justify a stay.

Oda Hotel
This is the place on the Phnom Penh side of the Lion Bridge. Its a 50s-style place, and has friendly, English speaking staff. A clean, simple room with a large bed, TV, fridge, Western bath and a/c is a good value at US$ 8. A room with two beds is US$ 10. There are also massage girls working there.

Angkor Hotel
Located on the west river road, the hotel has a nice setting and is well situated for the evening recreation along the river. The very friendly staff is a helpful source of information on things to see around Battambang.
The front rooms are especially nice with a wrap-around terrace on each floor for viewing the river and watching people. Also the best spot for renting a moto-taxi to self-tour. Cars, with driver, for rent as well. A/c, cable TV, h/w shower, one large or two small beds. Clean place. Good value at US$ 10 a night.

Heng Leng Hotel
On East Road 2, heading for Highway 5 and Phnom Penh. Nice, clean place with Western bath, TV, a/c rooms for US$ 10.

Teo Hotel
Definitely the big boy in town, its where the higher up government and military types stay when they come calling in Battambang. There is a friendly, English-speaking staff in this well-cared-for hotel.
Rooms that feature all the amenities and come with a large and small bed are US$15. There are some larger, more tricked out rooms that go for US$ 20. A climb to the roof level will get you a room with all the amenities for US$ 10.

La Villa
Nicely restored 1930s colonial house. Six rooms with a/c and fan, stylishly decorated with antiques and Art Deco furniture. Western and Asian food and a wide selection of cocktails served in the a/c restaurant or garden. $40-$50. Tel: 012-991801, 012-826186 E-mail: lavilla@online.com.kh

Park Hotel New hotel
overlooking a nice little park near the entrance to town. A/c and fan rooms with attached bathroom, cable TV, hot water and fridge. $5-$12. Tel: 053-953773, 012-817170 E-mail: park_hotelbtb@yahoo.com

Spring Park Hotel
Brand new hotel located near the New Iron Bridge at the south end of town. A/c and fan rooms with all amenities and en suite bathroom. Conference room. $6-$35. Tel: 012-849999
 
For more information or booking, please visit http:/www.tourismcambodia.com/hotels/

 

Shopping

Phsar Nath
In the centre of the 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 on the west side of Phsar Nath offers ice cream bars, cheeses, yogurt, wines, and other imported items.

 

Where to see

Banteay Sat
Banteay Sat How is 105 km (2h) From Provincial Town. Historical Sites and Buildings, Location: Koh Village, Kaoh Chiveang Commune, Aek Phnom District.
 

Barsaet Temple
Barsaet Temple is located in Barsaet Villlage, Tapoan commune, Sangke District, about 15 kilometers east of Battambang provincial town. The temple was built in the 11th century, between AD 1036 and 1042, during the region of King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050). This temple was seriously damaged, and only the door frame remains. Next to this temple, there is an ancient pond that is 20 meters long, 12 meters wide and 10 meters deep. It hold water year round.
 

Dang Tung
Dang Tung How to go: 54 Km (3H:20mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Danng Tung Village, Phlov Meas Commune, Rattanakmundul District.
 

Gold Buddha Hill
This one is for your journey to Sisophan if you are heading that way (60 km or so from Battambang ). Its easy to spot from the road. See the Sisophan section for more details.
 

Kamping Puoy Bassin
Kamping Pouy Bassin is located between two mountains Phnom Ku or Phnom Ta Ngen and Phnom Kamping Pouy - in Ta Nget Village, Ta Kream Srok commune, about 35 kilometers west of the provincial town.

This gigantic civil-engineering project was central to the Khmer Rouges plan to irrigate the countryside around Battambang. Tragically, the construction of the Kamping Puoy Reservoir resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Unlike the victims of S21 and Choeung Ek most of the deaths on the Kamping Puoy project were caused by malnutrition, disease, overwork or mistreatment. The deaths were in short, preventable. A gripping, visceral and painfully honest account of life in Battambang under the Khmer Rouge was written by Haing S. Ngor, the Cambodian doctor, actor and community worker who won an oscar for the film The Killing Fields. His book Survival in Cambodia's Killing Fields is perhaps the most eloquent account of day-to-day life during the Pol Pot period. It is laced with insights into the Khmer psyche and is ultimately a heartbreaking read.

Kamping Pouy Bassin is 6meters long and 1,900 meters wide. During the rainy season the basin can hold 110 million cubic metere of water, which is used primarily for agriculture. Kamping Pouy basin is vital to this area. It is now a popular picnic site for residents of Pailin and Battambang because of its fresh air. Lotus flowers grow in the water and nearby you can buy lotus seeds to eat (they are delicious and taste a bit like sweet, uncooked peas). Takream Commune in Banan District is the nearest settlement.
 

Phnom Banan
Adapts the architecture of mid 11th century and the end of 12th century the temple was first built by king, Ut Tak Yea Tit Tya Varman II (1050-1066) and then was finally built by the king, Jarvarman VII (1181-1219). The temple is located on the top of approximate 400-meter heighten mountain at Kon Tey 2 commune, Ba Nan District in 25-kilometer distance from the provincial town by the provincial Road No 155 parallel to Sang Ke River. At the mountains valley, there are Ku Teuk and two main natural wells, namely: Bit Meas and Chhung or Chhung Achey.

This Angkor-era mountaintop temple is definitely worth a look. At the top are beautiful views of the winding Sangker River set amidst sugar palm trees, rice fields and small villages. To the south you will see a mountain range that features a crocodile shaped mountain.

The temple itself is beautiful looking from the ground as well as the top. The structures are pretty much intact, but unfortunately like so many Khmer ruins, they have fallen victim to massive looting. Still, there are some interesting works to see. There are five temple structures, like Angkor, with the middle being the largest. (Use caution around the entrance to the center structure-there is a large hanging block-a headache-in-waiting for some poor soul). As with Preah Vihear Temple (close to the Thai border in the province of the same name), there are a couple of big guns on the mountaintop next to the ruins. The guns are still pointing down at the surrounding area as they were during the more recent years of the government-Khmer Rouge skirmishes.

Its part of the sad irony of Cambodia that a place built for worship, harmony and tranquility was utilized as a place for making war. Looking down the hillside to the southwest you can see more of the ruins. As always, if you go looking around, STAY ON THE WORN PATHWAYS AND TRAILS- there may still be undiscovered landmines.
 

Phnom Kdoung
Phnom Kdoung How to go: 14 km (1h) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Kdong Village, Phnom Sampov Commune. Banann District.
 

Phnom Sampeou Mountain
Phnom Sampeou is a natural site located along National Road 57 in Sampeou Commune, Battambang district, about 12Kilometers of Battambang city. Atop a 100-meter-high mountain stands a pagoda and threee natural caves: Pkasla, Lakhaon and Aksopheak. Pkasla cave is full of uprooted stones and is considered important because it is where Phnom Sampeou residents come to celebrate after a marriage.

Next to Phnom Sampeou are several important mountain clusters, including Phnom Kdaong, Phnom Krapeu(The Crocodile Mountain), Phnom Trung Moan, Phnom Trung Teat and Phnom Neang Romsay Sok. All are related to the Khmer Folktale titled Reachkol Neang Romsay Sok.
 

Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea
15 KM (40mn) From Provincial Town. Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Samnagn Village, Phnom Sampov Commune, Banann District.
 

Pich Chenda
Pich Chenda How to go: 44 km (2h) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Treng Commune, Rattanakmundul District.

 

Prasat Sneung
The Sneung temples are devided into two parts - East Sneung and West Sneung. The East Sneung temple is located in Sneung Pagoda, Sneung Commune, Banan Distric, about 22kilometers soutwest of the provincial town. The temple, constructed of bricks on a hill, is 30meters long and 20meters wide. It features three separate shrines and is similar in style to other temples built during the 12th century. Behind the temple is a newer temple.

The West Sneung temple is constructed of sandstone and is located near National Road 57 (The former National Road 10)
 

River Sightseeing & Boat Rentals
Just north of the Cobra Bridge, on the west bank, you will see a lot of boats hugging he riverbank. You can hire a non-motorized small wooden boat for around 4,000 Riel, and a motorized boat (if available) for around USD5 an hour. Its a pleasant way to wee the river life around Battambang town. There is also a boat you can take to Siem Reap for a smooth alternative to the lousy highway (see Coming and Going section).
 

Sek Sork
Sek Sork is the natural resort, which has been popular since before the civil war time. Sek Sork stretches along the river bank full of plant, trees and bamboo-green nature in 500-meter length. Regarding to Sek Sork, tourists can also visit other attractive sites like Pich Chenda Dangtung water bubble amd Laang Spean Andet site, which are only about 6 kilometers away.

Sek Sak located in Treng commune, Rotanak Mondul District in 50-kilometer distance southwest of the provincial town of Battambang along the National Road No 57, the former National Road No 10.
 

Wat Ek Phnom
Situated about 10 km north of the Cobra Bridge are the ruins of Ek Phnom. It was built during the Bayon period and unfortunately is much worse for the wear than Phnom Banan.Its an interesting place, however, because there is a freshly constructed working temple right in front of the ruins. This temple, along with the temple ruins, is the center of holiday festivities for the people of the nearby village. They dress up in their Sunday best and have a celebration between the old and the new temples and climb all around the ruins with their families.

The ruins are on a very small hill so there is no workout involved in viewing them much of the temple is in shambles and was heavily looted. There are still some sitting Buddha images intact higher up on the walls. On the inside is a carving of a tug-of-war with participants tugging away on a serpent. The participants on the left have lost their heads to looters (they lost face), with the guys on the right still having their heads intact.

Ek Phnom is also easy to get to-just head north on the River Road (Road 1) a bit over 10 km (the road north of the Cobra Bridge snakes around a bit, but goes back to the river). As you are getting close to the temple, you will pass over a small concrete bridge. The road beyond will veer off to the right, but the modern temple is there to the left. Enter the new temple grounds and the ruins are located to the rear. Again, a round-trip moto-taxi is about 120 baht from Battambang.

 

Wat Gahndahl
Located on the east bank of the Sanker River, the temple is a simple and run down place. There is an unusual wall mural on the outside of the temple that features a progressing story of a bad dude that apparently killed his own mother and finally had to board a boat bound for hell. Strange, indeed.

The interesting feature of this wat is the Angkor replica about 110 meters sown a dirt path from the rear area of the temple. It was built in 1969 over a small concrete pool and is the pride of the monks staying there. They say spirits and relics of deceased monks are housed inside. Battambang is not short on temples and you will see many more around town and on the way to the sights outside of town.
 

Wat Pee-Pahd
Located between River Road 1 and Road 2, this temple is set amidst pleasant grounds and is an important spiritual center for Buddhism in Battambang.
 

Wat Tahm-rai-saw (White Elephant Pagoda)
Situated between Roads 2 and 3, this ornate temple is worth a look, especially during the Khmer New Year festivities when it becomes the happening place in town for festivities. Entertainment, classical dancing and plenty of water and powder being thrown by the masses in search of fun and good luck for the coming year.
 

 

 

 
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ͧѡ mr.Hotsia ç ç ѷ Richard Lustig