Siem Reap to Battambang by bus
Bus seemed to be the cheapest option and only took 4 hours to get to Battambang from Siem Reap. The roads were real dusky and there was only one road in, meaning traffic got bad at times, especially with the amount of construction occurring on the roads.
On arrival into Battambang we were hassled by 10 or so tuk tuk drivers, all holding signs and wanting us to pick them. As we were dropped off in town and our accommodation was a little way out, we decided to eat nearby and avoided the tuk tuk sellers.
After food we eventually agreed a deal with a tuk tuk driver that became our personal driver for the next day, costing only $18 for 8 hours.
Where to stay in Battambang
Diamond House Hotel (£4 per night)
At £4 a night for a double room including breakfast, we really couldn’t complain about this accommodation. It was a little way from town, a 25 minute walk in fact. But it did have everything you needed, including swimming pool and an on site restaurant serving good food for reasonable prices.
The room was spacious and the facilities were great. We even had a balcony which was perfect for sunrise.
The weird part, was when we were handed a notebook where all our food/drink orders were to be written down. A different concept for us!
Things to do in Battambang
We had our tuk tuk driver from 10am to 6.30pm (costing $18) and this is what we visited…
Black Man Statue (FREE)
This large statue sits in the middle of a roundabout and is an iconic visual to Battambang. It is worshipped for good luck, but I’m not sure a roundabout is the best place for it!
Bamboo Train ($5 each return)
This was a fun part of the day and a must do in Battambang. Both myself and Kelly had seen it on a documentary previously and were excited.
The train ride return cost $5 each and it was a lot faster than expected. Probably faster than it use to be too! It is still made from bamboo, but I’m guessing they are now fitted with quicker engines. Apparently the track used is still part of the original.
It was interesting seeing our driver and another driver pull our train off the track to make way for oncoming traffic as there is only 1 track. The different components look so heavy!
On arrival we were surrounded by children trying to sell handmade wrist bands but they weren’t too pressurising. In fact, we actually ended up playing catch with a half screwed up badminton shuttlecock. We all had a great time, the simplest of pleasures hey!?
I ended up paying a couple of dollars for a Bamboo Train t-shirt, and wore it for the return journey. Someone’s got to?
Kampong Pil Hanging Bridge & Pagoda (FREE)
This hanging bridge was interesting, as bikes take priority. It was a nice little walk, with views either side.
Once over the bridge there is a pagoda complex, which we didn’t spend a significant amount of time at, as Kel wasn’t feeling great.
On return over the bridge Kel’s stomach took a turn for the worse, and with no public toilets in sight our driver Sal kindly asked a local and Kel unfortunately had to do her best with a hole in the ground.
As I waited by the door I watched the kind lady rocked her baby whilst the families dog was getting jiggy over my feet. Odd experience!
So this lead to giving Sal a 2 hour break, so that Kel could be dropped back and see if she felt any better later on for the main event. This did mean that we missed a few temples out of the itinerary, but I got some pool time, whilst Kel rested.
Killing Caves (FREE, local guide for small fee)
When Sal arrived back at 3pm, it was just me getting in the back of the tuk tuk, as Kel was still unwell. Our next stop was the killing caves.
After seeing the killing fields in Phnom Penh, I didn’t actually find these that bad. But that may have been because I didn’t have an audioguide with this one. There are little local girls that you can pay a few dollars to for a tour if you like.
Still, the caves felt very eerie, as essentially bodies were chucked down at some depth. The Pol Pot Regime is really sad, and the caves certainly brought back emotions from the stories I heard at the fields.
Phnom Sampor (FREE)
A little further up from the caves you can visit this spot for superb views of paddy fields and surrounding buildings. You also get to experience mischievous monkeys who are up to their normal tricks – stealing water bottles, fighting and climbing all over the place.
Battambang Bat Caves (FREE, cost of beer for a seat)
This was the main event and I was gutted Kel missed out on this one.
After walking down the steep steps of Phnom Sampor I grabbed a large $2 Angkor beer and reserved my seat for the show. The place filled up pretty quickly from then.
You can hear the bats warming up, but all you can see is a dark gap in the rock formation. At 5.45 the first bats started escaping and then the rest soon flooded out.
They stuck together in a snake like fashion and presented a dark streak across the sky, dispersing outwards from their formation with wind and noise. It was a fascinating spectacle, something the camera just can’t capture!
The bats continue this exiting process for 45 minutes, but I knew the tuk tuk wouldn’t allow this amount of time. I managed a good 20 minutes then we headed back.
Unfortunately none of my photos do any justice to this spectacle, so you’ll have to settle for a photo of my setup…
Where to eat in Battambang
LYLY Restaurant ($10 for two)
Our first meal in Battambang and it lived up to online reviews. Here I had my best chicken amok and drunk beer from a coconut cup. A real authentic and friendly place and a warm welcome into Battambang.
The menu comes on a bottle which is cool, and they even offer up cooking classes.
Jonathan’s Restaurant ($7 for two)
We chose this place as there wasn’t much near us, and we are so glad we did!
It was an odd setup, as the tables were essentially connected to the families living room, where you could watch what is on local TV.
That be said the food was delicious, home cooked and cheap. This place had a real family/welcoming feel to it, and if you love local food, they provide it!
Battambang worth a visit?
All in I personally loved the full day we spent here. Kelly probably felt a little different because of her stomach.
It is in between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh so a good stop to break up a cheap bus journey. It doesn’t cost a lot to stay here and the bamboo train and bat caves are unique experiences well worth trying out.