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 . It's 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 it?s 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. It's 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 country's 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 Battambang-Phnom 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.
The population census in 2007 shows that Battambang is a densely populated province with male 511,378 and female 525,145 and total population of 1,036,523 people. The population density is 68 per km2, which is slightly higher than the national density of 64. The population of this province constitutes 6.9% of the whole Cambodian population. The percentage of female population accounts for 51%.
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate. During the rainy season between mid-April and mid-October the Mekong swells and backs into the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), increasing the size of the lake almost threefold. Between November and April winds are less strong and there are higher temperatures (up to 35?C). General information about the climate:
Rainy season: June - October (<31c)
- Cool season: November- February (>26c)
- Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 28c -35c
The Battambang Rice were the principal exports of Cambodia, but exports fell sharply after the onset of the civil war, which put most of the rubber plantations out of operation. By the 1990s, however, rubber plantings had been undertaken as part of a national recovery program. When we talk about tropical fruites, the Battambang orange is the most famouse among the people. Until recently, inadequate transportation hampered exploitation of the country's vast forests, but by the mid-1990s timber had become the largest source of export income.
Exploitation of mineral resources like phosphate rock, limestone, semiprecious stones, and salt supports important local mining operations. Inflation was 1.6% in 2002, whereas official unemployment figures amounted to 2.6%. Due to closed Thailand there is quite a lot of financial influx from foreign (Thai) investors.
The main means of reaching the city is via buses from Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The airport is not much used, and the passenger rail service has not yet been restored.
There is also (except during the lowest water levels of the dry season) a daily boat connection between Battambang and Siem Reap via the Sangkae River. Since the buses are faster and cheaper, the scenic trip is nowadays used mainly by tourists and some locals who live along the river.
Buses or Vans
There are many Bus companies like Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, PSD Xpress, Sorya Bus, Neak Krohorm, Thero Express (15-seat), Larryta, KSO, Virak Buntham, Kampot Express, Cambodia Post VIP Van offering bus/van services to Battambang town using modern air-conditioned buses/vans. Buses/vans depart every 15 minutes to one hour, daily from 6am-12pm mid night. The prices are reasonable. Online Bus ticket can be purchased in advance.
Featured bus/van to Battambang:
Phnom Penh to Battambang or v.v [Book Now]
Bangkok to Battambang or v.v [Book Now]
Siem Reap to Battambang or v.v [Book Now]
Poipet to Battambang or v.v [Book Now]
Share Taxi Battambang to Phnom Penh US$ 10-15, Battambang to Sisophon 50 baht (US$ 3), Battambang to Pursat 100 baht (US$ 5)
The old saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch, but in Cambodia, the old train is still free. for foreigners, that's 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.
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
It's a tough but definitely doable road if you are on a motorcycle circuit tour. They are slowly (slower than an ant's 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 it's 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 -it's a lot better than it was a few years back, but that knowledge won?t 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 can't 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.It's part of the fun. A round-trip moto-taxi from Battambang is approximately 120 baht (US$ 4.5) including their waiting time.
Eat and Drink
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 aren't 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. It's 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 they're 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. It's 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.
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 (Teo's)
This place has the best Western food in town and also good Asian food in a nice relaxed setting it's popular with ex-pat workers living in Battambang. It's located on East River Road 2 and is next to the hotel.
Where to do 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.