Battambang - wtgc4
Battambang is Cambodia's second most populous city and a popular tourist destination due to the many nearby ancient temples, Buddhist shrines and the infamous bamboo railway. It is also the capital city of the Battambang province. It is popular with tourists because of it's blend of modern city, small-town friendliness and some well-preserved colonial architecture, which works together to give the town a unique charm. Battambang's ever increasing variety on food and coffee is a refreshing change from more remote destinations in Cambodia, and has the potential to be as funky as Thailand's Chiang Mai, minus the hordes of tourists. And yes, you can have your latte and your piccolo like you never left home.
Battambang is known for its statues which seemingly decorate every public place. Most are of animals (mythical and real) and divinities.
The most famous of these statues is on the main road in from Phnom Penh and is of an ancient Khmer King holding a stick which he used to quell rebellions in the Battambang area. The name of the town / province comes from this legend.
The Governors Residence is the most impressive colonial building, a legacy of the early 1900s with balconies and wooden shutters and grand reception room with a 5m ceiling. It was designed by an Italian architect for the last Thai governor, who departed in 1907.
Battambang Museum displays fine Angkorian lintels and statuary from all over the Battambang province, including Phnom Banan and Sneng, and it has multi-lingual signs.
Phnom Sampeu's Killing Caves, a hill with the Killing Caves of the Khmer Rouge, a few others caves adorned with Buddhist statues, and a monastery with two Buddhist Stupas on the hilltop.
Wat Banan, the so-called mini-Angkor wat, an impressive flight of stairs lead up to a dilapidated Angkor-style temple which is still in use as a Buddhist shrine. Once at the top of the temple follow the trail on the south side of the hill. It will lead you down and eventually to a breathtaking cave. Huge sky light ceilings and plenty of bats.
Wat Baydamram, a temple where hundreds of fruit bats live in trees under the protection of the Buddhist monks.
Wat Ek Phnom, another Angkor-type temple ruin, about 15 km north west of Battambang. The road runs along lovely small rivers flanked by trees and small villages making it a generally nice area. Approaching Wat Ek Phnom, you suddenly encounter a giant Buddha statue in the Wat, which is certainly picture-worthy. The grounds of the Wat also have an Angkorian era temple which is in relatively good shape and with some interesting carvings. Entry US$1.
Wat Samraong Knong, roughly translated as 'Wat in the forest' is an extremely old pagoda on the eastern side of the Sangker River. The eerie old Wat was used as a Khmer Rouge prison, and there were many executions on the premises. A new pagoda is now being built, and there is a memorial to the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, with graphic illustrations just to the north.