Looking for things to do in Battambang? This guide shares how to spend one day in Battambang, with tips on where to stay, eat and where to book a tour of Battambang, Cambodia.
The city of Battambang might not be the most well-known tourist destination in Cambodia, but with some of the friendliest locals and a couple of unique sites to see, you’ll find it well worth a spot on your itinerary. In this 24-hour itinerary for Battambang, you’ll learn about cities the mythical history, ride the infamous bamboo train and see a natural spectacle as millions of bats fly out of their cave at twilight.
Where is Battambang?
The city of Battambang is located in Western Cambodia, a couple of hours from the border with Thailand and south of Siem Reap. Despite being one of Cambodia’s largest cities, Battambang exudes a small-town vibe with some of the friendliest locals who welcome you to their hometown with shouts of hello and waves as they go about their day.
Planning a Trip to Battambang
This mini guide shares everything you need to know to plan your stay in Battambang, including where to stay, how to get around and where to eat. Click here to jump to things to do.
How to get to Battambang
Battambang is a large city, with transport options from the major tourist hubs of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville via bus. The bus route from Sihanoukville takes 10 hours, which can be pretty gruelling on Cambodian highways, so we opted to return to Phnom Penh for another visit before continuing to Battambang.
💰 $13.50 from Phnom Penh
The city is also connected to Phnom Penh via the northern line of the Royal Railways. During our Cambodia trip, the trains only ran on weekends, making the bus more convenient to get to Battambang.
You can book transport to Battambang via Baolau*, a search engine that compares all transport options and supports online bookings.
How to get around Battambang
As we were only spending one day in Battambang, we decided to book a tuk-tuk tour of the city to see and do as much as possible. We joined Kim Tours who was amazing and I highly recommend him for your trip to Battambang. Born and raised in Battambang, Mr. Kim has so much knowledge to share about the region.
💰 $15/person for the day
If you prefer to explore on your own, you will need a motorbike to get around the sites. Battambang Scooter and Motorcycle Rentals start at $7 a day.
Where to stay in Battambang
There are lots of accommodation options* in Battambang, but be aware that many budget hotels here don’t have AC (only fan).
We wanted to have a pool to cool off in, so we stayed at Blue Diamond Guesthouse*. The hotel is very budget-friendly, in a peaceful neighbourhood, a quick 15-minute walk from the riverfront where you’ll find street vendors in the evenings.
In the heart of the city is THE PLACE hostel*, where some friends stayed and they loved it. They have dorms and privates, with the option of AC and a social vibe complete with a rooftop bar.
Where to eat in Battambang
On our first evening in Battambang, we ate at one of the riverfront street vendors; they mostly sell hotpot, rice dishes and seafood. Along the riverfront, you’ll find street vendors selling snacks like crepes.
I recommend checking out Nary’s Kitchen for great Cambodian cuisine; we had such a lovely dinner that we returned for breakfast the next day. The hosts are super friendly and the meals budget-friendly.
What to do in Battambang
Despite only spending one day in Battambang, we were able to see and do so much. The highlights for me were riding the bamboo train, a right of passage for travellers in Battambang, and witnessing the exodus of bats as they head out of their cave and into the night to hunt.
Take a tour of the trade villages of Battambang
Bright and early, we were picked up by our bubbly guide, Mr. Kim, for a tuk-tuk tour of the countryside.
Battambang is the artistic hub of Cambodia, so our first stop was a woodcraft workshop, where local artists were creating gigantic masterpieces. Followed by a variety of villages known for local food production; everything from rice snacks made inside bamboo, to Cambodian cheese, and rice paper.
Along the way, Mr. Kim shared tales of local mythology, helped us communicate with locals and taught us all about the various trades. We were plied with fresh bananas, and traditional sticky rice, and got to try our hand at rolling spring rolls with rice paper made by a local family.
After a busy morning driving around the countryside, we had a break for lunch. Mr. Kim took us back to our hotel so we could cool off in the swimming pool and grab a meal before continuing on our afternoon of exploring Battambang.
Ride the Bamboo Train
Riding the infamous bamboo train is a must-have experience in Battambang, a right of passage if you will for backpackers.
Essentially a bamboo plank with wheels and a motor on the back, the bamboo train has you cruising along tracks left abandoned during the Khmer Rouge regime. The bamboo train pays homage to the ingenious of the locals who created the bamboo platforms to get between trackside villages. Racing through the countryside at speeds of up to 40km/hr, come ready for a bumpy ride (and lots of laughing).
Mr. Kim picked us up and took us deep into the countryside on the hunt for the original bamboo train (be careful as there is a new bamboo train that is a recent tourist attraction built near the city).
Bring some small change so you can support the villagers at the end of the tracks by buying a drink.
📍 The original bamboo train on Google Maps here
💰 $5/person if sharing
Learn about the Khmer Rouge at the Killing Cave
The Killing Cave is as it sounds. Once used by the Khmer Rouge as an execution site, it’s a stark reminder of the horrors Cambodians endured during the civil war.
We were running tight on time so didn’t get the chance to see it for ourselves, but there are memorials and temples where you can pay your respects to those who lost their lives here.
Phnom Sampeau 📍 You can either climb 700 steps to the top for free or pay a couple of dollars for a motorbike taxi to take you up the road (tuk-tuks cannot drive up).
Witness a natural phenomenon at the Bat Cave
Seeing millions of bats emerge from their cave at sunset is one of the most popular things to see in Battambang, and for good reason; the sight of it will have you in awe of nature. As the sun fades behind the horizon, the bats escape from the cave, making waves in the sky as they head out to hunt. The spectacle lasts for over 20 minutes.
The cave the bats burst out of is the Killing Cave, which has led some locals to believe that the bats represent the souls of the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide, trying to free themselves from the horrors of the war.
There are two areas where you can witness the bats bursting out of their cave. The first is at the foot of the hill, where street vendors have tables and chairs for you to grab a drink and watch. Alternatively, you head to the “secret bat view” by climbing up the side of the hill towards the exit of the bat cave. We chose the secret viewpoint which brought us close to the action and away from the crowds.
📍 Phnom Sampeau (find the trailhead to the secret bat spot here).
⏰ 5:30pm onwards (timing varies; for us, the bats started to emerge at 6:30pm).
Be mesmerised by the Phare Battambang Circus
In the evening, watch one of the mesmerising performances at the Phare Battambang Circus. Their world-renowned shows combine theatre, dance, music and acrobatics. Tickets support the non-profit creative arts school in Battambang, training the next generation of Cambodian artists.
They rotate shows every evening, so check their schedule on social media to know which shows they are offering during your trip.
⏰ 7pm on Monday and Thursday
Hopefully this guide helps you plan your trip to Battambang and gives you an idea of what you can see with one day in Battambang.
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Planning a Trip to Cambodia
For more information on planning a trip to Battambang and other destinations in Cambodia, be sure to check out my Complete Cambodia Travel Guide which includes everything you need to know for travelling around the country.