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Guide to Exploring Battambang on a Budget

by Audrey on April 20, 2013

Battambang is a sleepy little city in northeastern Cambodia, and a great place to unwind after the bustle of Phnom Penh or even Siem Reap. Battambang may not have that many attractions, but those who do make it all the way up to this region will be rewarded with great food, friendly faces, and a slower pace. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of your visit:

Battambang, Cambodia

What to See and Do

Cambodian Cooking Class – If you’ve been enjoying Cambodian cuisine and want to take some of the best local dishes back with you, a great way to do so is by taking a half-day cooking course. Nary Kitchen in the heart of Battambang offers a small group learning environment that includes an hour long trip to the local market, and two hours of cooking up Khmer delicacies.

Nary Kitchen cooking school in Battambang, Cambodia

Bamboo Train – This is a 7 km ride on the old rail tracks that run all the way to Phnom Penh (though the full length of the tracks is not currently active). The bamboo train is essentially a wooden platform on wheels, which can reach speeds of 40 km an hour. It is a fun ride through farmland, just be prepared to encounter touts when you reach the village at the end of the line.

Bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia

Tuk-tuk tour – There are a few attractions worth exploring outside of the city, and the best way to see these is by hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the day and having him take you around. Popular stops include the bamboo train, the bat caves, the ancient Khmer ruins, and lots of little villages.

Riding bicycles in Battambang, Cambodia

Rent bicycles – A great way to explore the city’s temples, markets, and other places of interest is to rent a bike for half a day and pedal away. It’ll be hard to get lost as this is a very small city, but you can cycle along the river, ride past the old Governor’s House, visit the abandoned rail station which is now home to squatters, and follow the little dirt roads to see what you find. Don’t forget to bring water and wear your sunscreen, because the sun is unforgiving in these parts.

Phare Ponleu Selpak Children's Circus in Battambang, Cambodia

Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus – This circus is unlike any other I have ever been to. The children’s circus is run as a social center and art school, and seeks to help children find a way out of poverty by training them to become professional artists and performers. Some of the older students from this program have gone on to be accepted to the National Circus School of Montreal and are currently training to become performers for the Cirque du Soleil. Prepare to be amazed!

Where to Eat

Center Cafe -A great little breakfast spot that serves up some great omelets as well as yogurt and muesli. Order the Panang curry for a little taste of Thailand – it’s creamy and coconut-y toΒ  perfection! Best part: this cafe has fast Wifi, which in this city is really hard to find!

Cold drinks in Battambang

Gecko Cafe – This is a cafe that is intent on giving back to the community. Gecko hires staff, many of them young girls in their late teens and twenties, who are currently the sole providers for elderly grandparents or young siblings. Many of these girls are also attending university, which they have to fund themselves. For this reason, Gecko pays their staff salaries that are far above the average wage in Battambang, and tips are most certainly welcome. It’s a great cause to support, and the food is very tasty.

A traditional Khmer dish, beef lok lak

White Rose – This little restaurant is divided into two very distinct parts. The lower level has a more casual feel and caters to locals coming in for a quick bite, while the second floor which has a beautiful balcony caters to tourists.Β  This restaurant offers Chinese and Cambodian dishes, as well as a few western favourites. Service isn’t the quickest, but they serve some great fruit and ice cream shakes that make the wait worth while.

Food at the local market in Battambang

Central Market – The central market isn’t just a place to pick up your groceries! This is a great spot where to try a few local dishes. Grab a plastic chair and order whatever the person next to you seems to be having.

Where to Sleep

Welcome to Battambang, Cambodia

Royal Hotel – If you’re looking for a little bit of luxury while staying on a budget, then this is the right place. Royal Hotel offers large queen sized beds with plush pillows, hand-carved wooden furniture, and flat screen TVs if you’re in the mood to watch your favourite English programs. $12 for a double room.

Chhaya Hotel – This is budget friendly hotel that offers everything from single rooms with shared bathrooms, to double rooms with en suite. The rooms aren’t the most spacious, but it’s a clean hotel in a great location. $10 for a double room.

Have you been to Battambang?
What places would you recommend?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

memographer April 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

Great list accompanied with GREAT PHOTOS!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thanks! Glad you liked the photos! πŸ™‚

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budget jan April 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for this post guys. I will be putting these tips to good use. Enjoy Vietnam. Do you follow Barbara from The Dropout Diaries, she lives in Saigon πŸ™‚

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I wish we could have done one of her food tours, but we just zoomed through Saigon this time around.

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Cam @ Traveling Canucks April 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

We stayed at the Chaya Hotel! Decent place. Enjoyed many Angkor beers on its terrace. Good times!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm

A great little bargain place. πŸ˜‰

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Riyamathur April 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Cambodian food is delicious and White rose wait is worth , its good food !!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Agreed! We’ve enjoyed Cambodian cooking tremendously!

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Andrea April 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

This all sounds so wonderful – Cambodia is really appealing to me as a destination. I’d love to check out that circus!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

The circus was amazing! Truly beyond any expectations we had. Cambodia is a magical destination. πŸ™‚

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Sherry April 24, 2013 at 10:35 am

I love the idea of the Gecko Cafe. It’s a great way to impact the place you live in. I’d eat there, just for the cause.

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Yeah, we’ve actually come across quite a few cafes that give back to the community. It seems to be a growing trend in SE Asia.

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The GypsyNesters April 24, 2013 at 11:13 pm

We have just recently discovered the beauty of cooking classes! We’ve found that it’s one of the best ways to learn about the culture of a place. GREAT tip!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Aren’t cooking classes so much fun?! We’re looking forward to taking a few more as we travel. πŸ˜‰

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Ray @StingyTraveller April 25, 2013 at 2:43 am

Seems like a great place to explore. Thanks for the details about where to eat. Looks delicious!

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

It sure is! You’d enjoy the food there. πŸ™‚

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James April 25, 2013 at 3:49 am

I love the photos with the guys on their bikes

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Bikes and scooters – that’s how everyone gets around. πŸ™‚

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Laura @Travelocafe April 25, 2013 at 3:50 am

Thank you for your great tips. I love the first photo.

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Awesome! Glad you found it helpful.

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Dean April 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

A lot of people seem to skip Battambang..it sounds pretty interesting to me! Great guide.

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Audrey May 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

It’s a nice little place. πŸ™‚ Not the most popular with travellers since it’s a bit out of the way if you’re on a tight schedule, but it’s great for relaxing.

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Craig Makepeace May 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

One of my fave places in Cambodia. Great town and good tips guys!

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